Analysis: Time to reassess each Big Ten football team
We're just two weeks into the college football season, and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is already playing defense.
"We still have more work to do," Delany told ESPN.com. "People can write what they want to write. It's America. But it's at a stage where the narrative is still developing."
The plot took a negative twist Saturday when five Big Ten teams lost nonconference matchups, and none of the eight wins was particularly impressive.
That prompted many national pundits to eliminate the Big Ten from the playoff picture. Delany begs to differ.
What this really calls for is a reassessment. What do we know about specific teams, and where do they stack up in the West and East divisions?
Here's a quick breakdown:
Of note: The Badgers opened the season Aug. 30 against Louisiana State and held a 17-point lead in the second half. They lost 28-24.
Summary: The rest of Wisconsin's schedule is favorable, but that probably won't help in terms of building a postseason resume.
Of note: Bo Pelini's seat was heating up Saturday after a narrow 31-24 win against McNeese State. Might be time for the coach to bring his cat back.
Summary: If tailback Ameer Abdullah stays in the Heisman Trophy chase, his 58-yard catch and run for the winning touchdown will become a signature clip.
Of note: After teetering on the brink of defeat the past two weeks, the Hawkeyes have tricky dates with Iowa State and Pittsburgh.
Summary: Talent is not a problem, especially on offense. This team needs a sense of direction.
Of note: Quarterback Mitch Leidner is 14-of-28 passing in two games, averaging 7.5 yards per attempt.
Summary: Saturday's game at Texas Christian will help us draw a bead on the Gophers, but it sort feels like another 8-4 season.
Of note: Welcome to the Big Ten, Wes Lunt. The former Oklahoma State quarterback threw for 456 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Western Kentucky.
Summary: A sputtering running game will keep the Illini from gaining ground in the division, but they'll be more fun to watch.
Of note: Nine losses in the last 10 games, going back to last season, has people remembering the bad old days of the 1970s and '80s.
Summary: Hawkeye fans know Northern Illinois is no slouch, but the Huskies rushed for 221 yards while beating Northwestern 23-15. The Wildcats ran for just 72 yards.
Of note: Earned a split of directional schools from Michigan, beating Western 43-34 and losing to Central 38-17.
Summary: If the Boilermakers beat Notre Dame this weekend, Michigan coach Brady Hoke might be run out of Ann Arbor.
MICHIGAN STATE (1-1)
Of note: Oregon can be scary good. And even though it's not enough to alter perceptions of the Big Ten, the Spartans led 27-18 midway through the third quarter.
Summary: Spartans deserve to be the new conference title favorite. Connor Cook is completing 68.3 percent of his passes, with five touchdowns and two interceptions.
OHIO STATE (1-1)
Of note: After losing a home opener for the first time since 1978, things can only get better. Right?
Summary: The loss of quarterback Braxton Miller to a shoulder injury will lower expectations, but 10 wins is still possible.
PENN STATE (2-0)
Of note: Suddenly, an opening win against Central Florida looks pretty good. New coach James Franklin is the toast of Happy Valley.
Summary: The Nittany Lions travel to Rutgers this week for a battle of unbeatens.
Of note: Losing to Notre Dame 31-0 was humbling. A loss this week to Miami of Ohio would be embarrassing.
Summary: The Wolverines are averaging 6.3 yards per rushing attempt and 7.8 per pass attempt.
Of note: Team has a chance to enter Big Ten play 4-0, with games against West Virginia and Syracuse coming up.
Summary: The Terrapins are averaging more than 200 rushing yards per game, so they should bring an old-school feel to the conference.
Of note: Funny how people have stopped making jokes about the Scarlet Knights.
Summary: Things get a lot tougher from here on out. After Penn State, Rutgers visits Navy, which gave Ohio State fits.
Of note: Hoosiers were less than impressive in a 28-10 win over Indiana State two weeks ago.
Summary: Still expecting Indiana to be entertaining on offense and porous on defense.
Hawkeye defensive end Drew Ott was named the Big Ten's defensive player of the week after making a career-best 13 tackles, six solo, in a 17-13 win over Ball State. … Iowa released its latest depth chart Monday, with Marshall Koehn and Mick Ellis listed as co-starters at placekicker. The duo combined to miss three field goals Saturday.