What a difference a season makes. This time last year it all seemed so clear – Michigan and Indiana were to battle it out for Big Ten honors. The Wolverines looked fresh from a memorable journey to the College Cup, where they lost out to eventual winners Akron in the final four. The Hoosiers had that calm, composed, yet confident feel to their program preseason.
Let me start this by saying we’re only two weeks into the college football season. Admittedly, that’s a very small sample size. But in the first two weeks – one good, one bad – there have been many surprises in the Big Ten.
The season is still in its infancy, so the bowl picture remains lucid. Very lucid. The Big Ten has tie-ins with eight bowls—and it has only 10 bowl-eligible schools, as Penn State and Ohio State are on NCAA and banned from the postseason in 2012.
Find out more about: Bowl projections
With Week 2 behind us, it’s time for my latest Big Ten Player Rankings. Again, I’m doing these a little different this year. Whereas I used to rank the top 10 players – a practice that was tough due to all the talent on both sides of the ball – I’ll rank the top six offensive and defensive players each week.
In the first batch of daily links this week, many Big Ten teams showed areas of concern on what was a—ahem—a “Black Saturday,” as Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald writes. For me, the biggest shock was Wisconsin getting unceremoniously dumped at Oregon State, 10-7. Wisconsin, which averaged 44 points a game last season, came within two minutes of getting blanked in the defeat at Oregon State, which ranked 84th in total defense in 2011.
In 2009, the Big Ten Network brought you the inspiring story of Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. – a blue-chip recruit from Chicago’s legendary Mt. Carmel High School who in 2007 was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his left leg just weeks after signing with MSU.