Well, that was a nice weekend. The Big Ten shook itself up just a tad during Week 2. Let's look at the results, the storylines, what to look for next week, and, finally, you'll get the JGBig11 Rankings.
#3 USC 18 - #8 Ohio State 15 - Ohio State didn't embarrass itself, but it didn't get the job done, either. QB Terrelle Pryor has only started 10 games for the Buckeyes, but he's in the embryonic stages of developing a not-big-enough-for-prime-time reputation (yeah, he led a comeback against Wisconsin. Big deal - both Michigan squads did that in 2008. Pryor, however, lost late to Penn State, Texas and now USC, the true games that matter in Columbus).
#7 Penn State 28 - Syracuse 7 - The point guard went 14 for 20, but Darryl Clark threw for 240 yards and 3 TDs. Penn State lolly-gags to 2-0.
Northwestern 27 - Eastern Michigan 24 - Not impressive by the Evanston folks, as the team formerly known as the Hurons came back to tie NU before Stefan Demos kicked a 49-yard field goal to win.
Central Michigan 29 - Michigan 27 - a SPARTY NO!!!!!! finish John L. Williams would be proud of. After failing on a two-point conversion, CMU recovers an onside kick, misses a field goal, gets another chance due to Sparty NO!!!!!! offside, and then sneaks one inside the uprights for the "upset." That is now 3 wins for Central over Sparty in the past 20 years, and, in my season preview, I must say I predicted this result.
Indiana 23 - Western Michigan 19 - I didn't predict this. Demetrius McCray rushed for 134 yards as the Hoosiers scored a mild upset over the Broncos. Upon seeing this result, it made me think that Michigan's 31-7 over WMU last week wasn't that impressive. Well.....
Michigan 38 - #18 Notre Dame 34 - This one was. Tate Forcier threw a 5-yard pass to WR Greg Mathews with :11 left to overcome the Irish. In defeat, Jimmy Clausen threw for over 300 yards and 3 TDs, and Michael Floyd's Mohawk experience contributed 7 catches for 137 yards and an acrobatic TD.
Wisconsin 34 - Fresno State 31 (2 OTs) - If John Clay isn't starting for Wisconsin next week, Bret Bielema should be quarantined. Clay, as the "backup," rushed 21 times for 143 yards and a 72-yard TD to bring the Badgers back into the game. If Wisconsin realizes Clay is a star, this spells trouble for much of the Big Ten.
Iowa 35 - Iowa State 3 - Blah Cy-Hawk Blah Ricky Stanzi 4 TD passes Blah Wegher for 101 yards rushing Blah.
Oregon 38 - Purdue 36 - Purdue caught a 2-point conversion out of bounds in the final minute of the game in Eugene, securing Chip Kelly's first win as coach. Purdue RB Robert Bolden rushed 29 times for 123 yards and 2 TDs for a team becoming a much more dangerous Homecoming matchup for the Gophers in just under 4 weeks.
Illinois 45 - Illinois State 17 - Perhaps Juice Williams will be scared of running now that he's hurt his quad (perhaps he will begin doing his best Adam Weber circa 2009 impersonation to preserve his NFL draft status?)
Minnesota 20 - Air Force 13 - Look around this E-Blog for news on this here game.
3 Storylines out of Week 2:
(1) The bottom of the Big Ten isn't as bad as we thought - Indiana is 2-0, Purdue played Oregon tough, Wisconsin beat a traditionally tough Fresno team, and Michigan is evidently no longer (after one season) a bottom feeder in this conference. The best thing that can happen for the Big Ten this year is to have one dominant team, no second team bumped up to a BCS bowl, and then let the conference play its bowl games at its "natural" league and bowl positions (meaning, Ohio State, rather than Michigan State, playing Georgia last year, for example). Most importantly, whoever goes to the Rose Bowl has to beat USC / Cal (ergh).
(2) This conference has very good running backs - Every team in this conference has a solid collection of running backs, even Iowa and Indiana. Linebackers are going to feel the pressure as they have to confront the likes of Royster, Clay, Wegher, Crayton, Bolden, Minor, Bennett, and Herron this fall.
(3) Michigan may very well be back - Notre Dame can be downplayed all anyone wants. Their O-line is filled with seniors, their QB is a 3-year starter and was a #1 consensus recruit, no honest Gopher fan hasn't had a daydream of what could have been if Michael Floyd decided to line up opposite Eric Decker (honest answer: Adam Weber probably wouldn't look at him once a play breaks down, but still.....), and ND had 18 returning starters and racked up almost 500 yards of total offense yesterday.
Despite all that, they didn't win. Michigan did, and now will likely be 4-0 going to play Michigan State on October 3rd. It is a benefit for the Big Ten when Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State are all good and winning games of national scope. Saturday, on the balance, helped the Big Ten.
Next week? Obviously, the big game is Minnesota hosting #8 California, and we'll have content for you this week in preparation for the game. Two other interesting tilts are Michigan State at Notre Dame and Arizona at Iowa. Most other conference games, however, are perceived cupcakes - Temple at Penn State, Ohio State v. Toledo in Cleveland, Eastern Michigan at Michigan, Wofford (what?) at Wisconsin, Northern Illinois at Purdue, Indiana at Akron, and Northwestern at Syracuse.
And now, The JGBig11. Note: the JGBig11 rankings are how the Big Ten currently shapes up - it does not look into the future, it does not consider past performance (namely, 2008 or earlier), and it largely bases itself upon records (though, as you'll see, it's very hard for me to penalize Ohio State for losing at home to USC, as I think 115 FBS teams would do the same 95% of the time).
(1) Penn State (2-0).
(2) Michigan (2-0).
(3) Minnesota (2-0).
(4) Ohio State (1-1).
(5) Northwestern (2-0).
(6) Wisconsin (2-0).
(7) Iowa (2-0).
(8) Indiana (2-0).
(9) Michigan State (1-1).
(10) Purdue (1-1).
(11) Illinois (1-1).
Until next week.