Dienhart: Ranking the non-con wins halfway through

We are halfway through the non-conference season. Can you believe it? And, so far, so good for the Big Ten, which has gone 21-3. The losses: Purdue at Cincinnati, 42-7; Iowa to Northern Illinois, 30-27; Indiana to Navy, 41-35. None of those are shameful. And there have been some impressive wins.

Some big matchups loom. This Saturday, we have UCLA at Nebraska; Wisconsin at Arizona State; Ohio State at Cal; Washington vs. Illinois in Chicago. On Sept. 21, we have Michigan State at Notre Dame.

Here is how I rank the Big Ten non-conference wins through two weeks:

1. Michigan 41, Notre Dame 30. Should Devin Gardner be in the Heisman conversation?

2. Northwestern 44, Cal 30. Kain Colter gets dinged, no problem.

3. Illinois 45, Cincinnati 17. Should Nathan Scheelhaase be in the best Big Ten quarterback conversation?

4. Northwestern 48, Syracuse 27. Trevor Siemian, Kain Colter … it doesn’t matter. This offense is rolling.

5. Penn State 23, Syracuse 17. Welcome to college football, Christian Hackenberg.

6. Nebraska 56, Southern Miss 13. This was the type of defense we expected.

7. Michigan 59, Central Michigan 9. Perfect “get fat and happy” opener.

8. Ohio State 42, San Diego State 7. Braxton Miller goes down, no problem. Thank you, Kenny Guiton.

9. Minnesota 51, UNLV 23. Two special teams touchdowns saved the day.

10. Ohio State 40, Buffalo 20. Fast start, slow finish, some grumbling.

11. Michigan State 26, Western Michigan 13. Two defensive touchdowns key this win.

12. Michigan State 21, South Florida 6. Stop me if you’ve heard this: two defensive touchdowns key this win.

13. Minnesota 44, New Mexico State 21. Gophers get physical with a punishing ground game and more big special teams.

14. Wisconsin 45, UMass 0. The only way this is better is if the Badgers held UMass to negative points.

15. Penn State 45, Eastern Michigan 7. The first of many 300-yard passing days for Christian Hackenberg.

16. Nebraska 37, Wyoming 34. The Huskers win but bleed profusely in doing so, allowing 602 yards.

17. Wisconsin 48, Tennessee Tech 0. It’s Tennessee Tech. C’mon.

18. Indiana 73, Indiana State 35 I don’t care who the foe is, 73 points is impressive.

19. Iowa 28, Missouri State 14. This was the definition of “winning ugly.”

20. Illinois 42, Southern Illinois 34. The Illini got off to a flying thud. But, hey, they won.

21. Purdue 20, Indiana State 14. When does a win feel like a loss? Watch this game.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.

Find out more about:

1 Comment

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (1 Comment)
shookwriter27 on 9/9/2013 @ 4:15pm EST Said:

Illinois definitely has one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the conference.