Big Ten conference play commenced for most teams on Saturday and we were treated to some close contests that went down to the wire.
The Ohio State Buckeyes kept their nerve late in East Lansing to hand Urban Meyer his first win in the Big Ten at the expense of the Michigan State Spartans, while a second-half surge by the Nebraska Cornhuskers sealed an impressive comeback victory over the Wisconsin Badgers.
The Northwestern Wildcats are still unbeaten following an offensive explosion against the Indiana Hoosiers, and the Penn State Nittany Lions extended their winning streak to three games after their comfortable win over the Illinois Fighting Illini.
The Iowa Hawkeyes reclaimed the Floyd of Rosedale trophy by beating the Minnesota Golden Gophers to round off the action and although the road to the Big Ten Championship is long and arduous there are a few things that are crystal clear after Saturday’s games.
1. Ohio State looks like the class of the Big Ten
The Buckeyes were three-point underdogs heading into their game against Michigan State after unconvincing wins over the California Golden Bears and UAB Blazers, but they flexed their muscles on Saturday with a gutsy display at Spartan Stadium.
The Ohio State defense stepped up to the occasion, neutralizing running back Le’Veon Bell and despite three turnovers Braxton Miller and company moved the chains at key moments to secure a memorable victory for the Buckeyes.
Next up is Nebraska and another win would be a clear indication that Ohio State, who is ineligible for post-season play, is ready to reclaim its status as king of the Big Ten castle.
2. Illinois is in big trouble
The Illini have given up 87 points in their last two games and things might go from bad to worse as they are due to face Wisconsin and the Michigan Wolverines in the next two weeks.
The defense is out of sorts and looks like a shell of the unit that was supposed to carry the team this season for first-year coach Tim Beckman.
Illinois looks lost on the field and a 5-7 record could be on the horizon if Beckman is not able to rally his troops sooner rather than later.
3. Kain Colter is criminally underrated
The Northwestern man does not get as much love as Denard Robinson, Taylor Martinez and Miller but certainly belongs among the upper echelon of Big Ten quarterbacks.
Colter can also line up as a wide receiver as evidenced by his nine catches for 131 yards in the 44-29 victory over Indiana and his 297 total yards against the Hoosiers earned him Co-Big Ten Player of the Week honours.
If Colter continues to terrorize opposing defenses and if the Wildcats can remain unbeaten expect him to garner a lot more buzz outside of the Midwest.
Follow Max De Luca on Twitter @Max_Power78