Big Ten Week Six: What Did We Learn?
Week six of college football is in the books and the Big Ten conference is starting to take shape. There are just four teams with no losses in Big Ten play, and just one team(Ohio State) that still finds themselves undefeated in 2012.
The conference has not lived up to the hype that was bestowed upon them by experts and rankings at the beginning of the season. The Big Ten had five teams ranked in the top 25 to begin the season– after week six they have just two.
It’s no secret– the conference is not what it was at this time last season, and the only undefeated team is one that can’t even make a bowl game and represent the conference in the national title game if they run the table.
Michigan State and Wisconsin have both been offense-less this season. The two teams are basically identical thus far. They both have a star running back that is struggling to find open field this season because the offensive lines have struggled and both have a first-year starter at quarterback.
Ohio State is the real deal
Going into this game nobody knew what to expect from either team. Is Ohio State for real? Does Nebraska have a defense worthy of stopping Big Ten opponents? The answers seemed to be more evident once this game concluded. Nebraska scored an impressive 38 points on the road, but they couldn’t keep up with Braxton Miller and Ohio State’s run game. The Buckeyes racked 371 yards rushing and Miller had 186 yards, while the oft-injured Carlos Hyde put up 140 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the ground.
Although Miller’s passing attack wasn’t as effective as it had been in weeks past, Braxton Miller finds himself in the race for the coveted Heisman Trophy and the Buckeyes find themselves at the top of the Big Ten all by themselves.
Michigan State found their number one receiver
Yes, I said it. Michigan State has a number one receiver, or so it seems. Saturday was a big day for the freshman receiver, Aaron Burbridge, who started his first game as a collegiate player and proved he was ready for the opportunity. The offense was desperately searching for a pass catcher to step up other than tight end Dion Sims who is leading the team in receiving yards this season with 313 yards and two touchdowns.
Andrew Maxwell has been solid for the Spartans lately and although they lead the Big Ten in dropped passing(19) they seem to be on the right track. Burbridge may have emerged as the team’s number one, but the man he replaced had himself a pretty good game as well. As everyone knows by now, the guy that took a back seat to the freshman was junior Bennie Fowler. He caught four passes for 57 yards and the go-ahead touchdown. The Spartans seem to be on the right track in the passing game. The running game is a different story right now.
Penn State is better than we thought
The Nittany Lions started the season with nobody believing they could compete. They started 0-2 and the critics were declaring this team dead. That declaration fueled the team as they reeled off four straight victories, including two conference wins, tying for the top spot in the Big Ten Leaders Division with Ohio State. They are now 4-2 and the self-confidence of the players on this team is sky-high following a comeback win over an undefeated Northwestern team that was the favorite to win the game.
Th Nittany Lions are going nowhere as they seem to be on the best teams in the Big Ten, even with no attainable bowl game following the season’s end. This team is definitely better than we thought.
Purdue isn’t ready to be one of the best in the Big Ten
The Boilermakers squared off against Michigan in what was the Big Ten opener for both teams. Purdue was many people’s pick, including my own, to shock the conference and make it to the Big Ten title game, but Saturday’s performance against the Wolverines showed that they weren’t ready to take that next step.
For a team that returned over 15 starters from a team that made postseason play the year before, it was easy to see why so many people had faith in this Purdue team. Their quarterback, Robert Marve, was experienced, yet often injured, and they had a solid run game. All of that has failed to produce results this season as Marve tore his ACL once again and has not been the same since as he is trying to return to action. I hate to say it, but they may have been a bad pick to win the Leaders Division.