Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Big Ten thoughts

You know what? I'm sick of hearing how bad the Big Ten is. Sure, conference teams have lost some high-profile games, but still, by my count, the Big Ten is no worse than the third-best conference out there. That may be as much a reflection of other leagues' weakness as it is the Big Ten's strength, but whatever Here's how I'd rank the conferences.

1. SEC. Nasty conference. Superior athletes, excellent coaching. Who watched LSU and Auburn butt heads on Saturday? Who watched Georgia dismantle Arizona State, Florida crush Tennessee, Alabama run over Arkansas? Hell, Vanderbilt's ranked.

2. Big 12. Oklahoma and Missouri are real national title contenders. Texas and Texas Tech are overranked, but still very good. And don't forget about Kansas and Colorado.

3. Big Ten. Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Illinois are a very respectable top four, losses by the Buckeyes and Illini notwithstanding. Watch out for Michigan State.

4. Mountain West. Utah, BYU, and TCU are tough. Put them in one of my top three conferences and they'd lose 3-4 games, though.

5. ACC. Is this what these schools had in mind when they poached Miami, Boston College, and Virginia Tech from the Big East? Wake Forest is good, but do they scare anybody legit? Clemson should be good, but laid an egg against Alabama. VaTech could end up being good, but that's about it.

6. Pac-10. USC's dominance obscures the fact that the rest of the conference is freaking horrible. Oregon, which doesn't have a quarterback, and Arizona, which is still not much better than they were when we were in Tucson in 2004, are the only other teams with less than two losses. Pathetic.

7. Big East. Maybe this would be a good time for Marquette to launch a football program. South Florida is on top for now, but do they scare anyone legit? Who's #2 - UConn? Pitt? Louisville? West Virginia is 1-2 and Rutgers is 0-3 ... sad.

So fret not, Big Ten aficionados. Things could be much, much worse.

All that said, what do we know about Big Ten teams after four weeks of pre-conference play? Not much more. Here's how I ranked 'em on August 28:

1. Ohio State, 2. Illinois, 3. Wisconsin, 4. Penn State, 5. Michigan, 6. Michigan State, 7. Purdue, 8. Iowa, 9. Indiana, 10. Northwestern, 11. Minnesota.

Here are my revised rankings:

1. Ohio State. Good move by Jim Tressel not waiting to make Terrelle Pryor the man. Many coaches would have stuck with Todd Boeckman out of loyalty to the senior, but Pryor is what makes this team dangerous.

2. Wisconsin. Hope I'm not overrating our win over Fresno. But I like what we're doing, and think we can still play much, much better.

3. Penn State. They're good, but I'm not buying all the hype that's surrounded this team's start. Beat someone legit and get back to me.

4. Michigan State. Javon Ringer is going to win some games by himself for this team, but they're also going to blow one or two that they should win.

5. Illinois. That loss to Missouri doesn't influence my thoughts on these guys much. Beating Louisiana-Lafayette by three points at home does.

6. Michigan. Much of their pain is self-inflicted, but add a young roster to a new system and the growing pains will likely continue.

7. Purdue. Not much to talk about here.

8. Iowa. Thought they were on the right track, but losing to Pitt? Pitt lost to Bowling Green for goodness sake.

9. Minnesota. At least the Brew Crew beat Bowling Green. Beating bad non-conference opponents like Wisconsin in 1992 ... hope they don't take the next step we took under Barry.

10. Indiana. Have a feeling Kellen Lewis will get hurt at some point and the wheels will fall off.

11. Northwestern. Defense showing signs of life under Mike Hankwitz, but let's see how it holds up against Big Ten teams.

1 comment:

Mr.Man said...

I did not think Sparty was at all impressive in their victory over ND. Their D-line and linebackers played well, and their O-line was okay. But their QB is awful, and they have no depth. Ringer carried the ball 39 times. No other back had a single carry. In regards to Ringer, he's a very good college back, but I don't think he's a great back. He just doesn't have the power to get tough yards and push piles forward like the all-around great ones do. And if Sparty keeps running him 30+ times a game every game, they're going to wear him out.

Finally, the Sparty play-calling seems moronic. With all their fancy recruiting, ND has some athletes on defense. Thus, really wide runs were just not working. But they kept running toss-sweeps, even into the fourth quarter. Totally bizarre.

Whether Illinois is better (after only scoring 13 offensive points at home against the Ragin' Cajuns) is another issue, but I really don't think Sparty's that strong this season.