Every Sunday after the Big Ten slate of games, I will be bringing you some B1G thoughts on everything that happened! This will include analysis, stats, key players, moments and maybe a joke or two. Be sure to check out the I-70 Football Show in the Land-Grant Holy Land podcast feed for more in-depth analysis and to preview the next week of B1G games.
Despite three of the five teams ranked top 10 in the AP poll enjoying bye weeks, the Big Ten provided an interesting slate of games. No. 2 Iowa fell, Michigan State struggled, and Minnesota showed some promise! Here’s ten thoughts for another great week of Big Ten football.
Tressel Ball lives
After Urban Meyer came to the Big Ten, he was immediately credited with changing the culture of the conference and largely restructuring how schools recruited. There is no denying he had a major impact, but the real trendsetter in the Big Ten was Jim Tressel. The Tressel Ball era lives on.
If you don’t know what Tressel Ball is, just watch any Big Ten game. It’s a focus on defense and special teams, running the ball more than throwing, and grinding the game to a painstaking halt.
Tressel Ball is mistake free, close to the vest, non-aggressive football. Meyer brought the power spread to the Big Ten and yet no one has even attempted to recreate it. Tressel may be the president of Youngstown State now, but his legacy will live on forever in the Big Ten.
The story that was the resurgent Iowa football team has officially ended in not so spectacular fashion. Eventually, a team with a horrid offense and spectacular defense has to regress to the mean in modern college football.
I’ve been saying it all year, Iowa must find an offense to reach their goals, because this defense, while great, can’t be expected to produce 3+ takeaways every game and pitch in on the scoring.
Iowa finally faced a team that didn’t throw the ball with reckless abandon and the Hawkeyes’ defense was unable to force — or luck into — multiple takeaways. Without that factor, Purdue moved the ball relatively at will and was able to beat No. 2 Iowa 24-7.
Iowa can still win the Big Ten West and have a good season, but let’s be honest, if you can only score seven points against Purdue and can’t be trusted to slow down David Bell, what are they going to do against an OSU team with the best offense in the country?
Don’t play Purdue if you’re ranked No. 1 or No. 2.
I’ll keep this very short. Purdue has nine wins against teams ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the AP Poll. After last night’s victory over Iowa, they have back-to-back wins against No. 2 opponents including their 2018 defeat of Ohio State. No other team has more than four such victories. If you’re ranked highly in the polls, Purdue is the last team you should play.
David Bell: Latest Big Ten WR to have a career day
If there is a theme to this season and it’s breakout games from Big Ten wide receivers. This week that wide receiver was David Bell who helped propel Purdue past No. 2 Iowa. Bell was a one-man wrecking crew accounting for 240 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches. That’s good for 21.8 yards per catch.
I may be a homer, but the Big Ten may have the best collection of wide receivers in the country. It appears every week that there is a new breakout star and I for one am loving it.
The real takeaway is what would these wide receivers be if they had good quarterbacks throwing to them? What would they do if they had real offensive coordinators who were aggressive and creative? You look around the NFL and some of the best WRs are Big Ten alums. It makes you wonder why the conference isn’t known for its high-flying talent.
Michigan State survives
Michigan State survived a major scare against Indiana on Saturday. In a game where they got outscored on offense and generally lacked any explosiveness, they’re more than happy to leave with a win.
The Hoosiers are down this season, but with Tom Allen as coach they’re not known for being quitters. What they are known for is an aggressive defense that makes it tough on their opponents. They did exactly that this week holding Michigan State to under 250 yards of total offense. After an explosive showing last week, Indiana put MSU in check.
Last week, I said MSU was Ohio State’s strongest test in the Big Ten. I still believe that, but they’ll need to show it’s not this easy to shut down their offense. When Kenneth Walker III is slowed, they do not have the passing game to save them and that’s a major concern with Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State left on their schedule. Ultimately, they are 7-0 and their bye week has come at the perfect time. Let’s see if they can right the ship and challenge for a trip to Indianapolis.
Must win for Michigan?
I tend to not trust anything from Michigan. Yet, I find myself in a position where I need them to win a game. For the last few weeks, I’ve had my heart set on an undefeated match-up between top 10 Michigan and Michigan State. With MSU going to 7-0 before their bye and TTUN on a bye this week, all I need is TTUN to win next week against Northwestern.
Relying on them to get a win is a scary place to be, but there aren’t too many matchups more exciting than two undefeated rivals playing with a shot at a conference championship on the line. Undefeated Michigan vs. undefeated Michigan State is the game we deserve. Let’s see if Michigan keeps their end of the deal next week.
Nebraska, close but not close enough
For the past three weeks, Nebraska has been close, but just couldn’t quite pull off upsets. Because of that, there has a lot of positive energy around the program and around Scott Frost; even I found myself a prisoner of the moment asking if Frost had done enough to keep his job.
Unfortunately, that does not look to be the case. At a minimum, Frost must reach a bowl game and preferably win it this year to warrant another season. With the start they’ve had to this season, that meant beating everyone they’re supposed to beat including Minnesota.
Instead, the opposite happened and they got beat 30-23 by a struggling Minnesota team — who recently lost to Bowling Green — and now it’s all but ensured they miss bowl season again.
I’m not the Nebraska AD, so I don’t determine if Frost keeps his job or not, but it’s hard to imagine that he will at this point. His tenure has been a major disappointment and Nebraska is nowhere closer being back’ instead, they may be further away.
Rutgers has officially spiraled and there is not much to be excited about for this program right now. Greg Schiano is the right man for the job, and if anyone can turn it around it would be him, but right now they need to focus on getting back on track.
No one can fault them for losing back-to-back-to-back games against Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State — sure, it would’ve been great to get an upset — but that’s a gauntlet no one should have to face.
The problem comes with yesterday’s loss to Northwestern. A team on the rise needs to win this type of game, it can be demoralizing to a team getting beat three consecutive weeks, but you could at least rationalize it by knowing that those losses were all against clearly superior teams ranked top 10.
There are no positives to losing to Northwestern, and now Rutgers will have to fight to make a bowl game. At 3-4 they’ll need to win three of the next five, it’s possible, but it won’t be easy. Hopefully they can swing momentum and finish strong.
Bye Week Planning
I recognize that there is no way that the Big Ten knew that they’d have five teams ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll when the season started. They also couldn’t have known that Wisconsin or Indiana would have such down years. Yet and still, they need to do a better job with planning bye weeks; Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State are their three largest brands and they were all off this weekend. There is no way that all three should be off at the same time. It makes for very tough viewing.
Tired of the transfer conversation
PSA: Players are going to transfer, some of them will play well in their new homes. That doesn’t mean that your team, coach, or other players suck. For most players, the transfer portal is a scary thing, not everyone finds a new home, and many aren’t successful if they do.
Aside from QBs, it’s rare that a player with legitimate talent will transfer and succeed, usually there is a reason that they’re transferring in the first place.
Follow me here, players that transfer usually do so because they are not playing, or aren’t playing well. Now we have special cases like Joe Burrow Kenneth Walker, Jameson Williams, heck, even Zach Charbonnet, but please don’t be a miserable human being that either wishes bad to a player who transfers or plays revisionist history and forgets why they didn’t play for you team.
Sure, sometimes coaches make bad decisions, I’d say choosing anyone over Justin Fields is a very poor decision. In most places, the coaches are doing what’s best for the team and players doing what’s best for them. Let’s just keep a level head and be happy when a player finds success at another school. ESPECIALLY you, Ohio State fans.
You did it with Joe Burrow, you’re doing it with Jameson Williams, and eventually one or two of these quarterbacks are going to transfer. A player succeeding for someone else isn’t an indictment of your coaching staff, and you don’t have to relitigate everything about their time in Columbus or where they end up. Just watch the games and be happy that someone’s dream is coming true, whether it’s for your team or not.