Sunday, August 31, 2008

How far will Penn State and Iowa rise in the Big Ten in '08?

Last year, the Ohio State Buckeyes were #1 in the Big Ten Conference. Nothing in the preseason or after the first weekend of OOC football for the Big Ten teams would change many minds on the Buckeyes, in relation to the rest of the Big Ten.

The Big Ten Network released it's new power ratings today, with the following comments...

"8/31: Penn State, Iowa on the move up"
Of course, the real question will come the last weekend in September, when ten of eleven Big Ten teams open the Big Ten campaign of the 2008 season. Here's how things look after the first weekend of play... my take on the Big Ten:
  1. Ohio State (1-0 overall) - agree, "head and shoulders above the rest"... will they make it 8-0 in '08, after 7-1 in '07? Business like win over Youngstown State in opener 43-0. Next up: Ohio U (0-1).
  2. Penn State (1-0) - the Nittany Lions were 4-4 last year and finished fifth. They should be better in '08, but I am not sure we can take enough away from the 66-10 win over Coastal Carolina to say they will end #2. The game with Oregon State (0-1, 0-1 Pac 10) should provide a better test and measurement for Joe Pa's team for '08.
  3. Wisconsin (1-0) - coach Bret Bielema opens his third season with a solid 38-17 win over Akron... but, can the running game of PJ Hill and company carry the Badgers throughout the meat of their schedule? Do they have a QB to lead the Badgers to another January 1 bowl game? Next up: vs. Marshall (1-0).
  4. Illinois (0-1) - coach Ron Zook lost some key leadership on both sides of the ball, including RB Rashard Mendenhall, LB J Leman and even PK Jason Reda... the 35-45 loss to Missouri in St. Louis still leaves questions regarding the Fighting Illini and QB Juice Williams? Next up: vs. Eastern Illinois (0-1).
  5. Iowa (1-0) - the Hawkeyes put away Maine 46-3 (about as expected... my pick was 45-6), but they have a lot of work ahead, if they are going to move up from the 4-4, fifth place finish in '07. My pick: 5-3 still remains. Next up: vs. Florida International U. (0-1).
  6. Michigan State (0-1) - I would put the Spartans ahead of the two clubs from the State of Indiana, until they meet one another on the field, since the Spartans were 2-0 last year. The loss at California 31-38 was a quality loss, but no one is here to give praise for moral victories. There will be up and downs in '08, for a team that finished 3-5 last year, tied for seventh. Next Up: vs. Eastern Michigan (1-0).
  7. Purdue (0-0) - idle week one and will open this weekend with FCS tune up: Northern Colorado, before playing Top 25 Oregon in two weeks. It will likely be an up and down year, as coach Joe Tiller finishes out his tenure at West Lafayette.
  8. Indiana (1-0) - coach Bill Lynch lead IU to their first bowl trip, since '93 last year. They picked up a nice win vs. Western Kentucky and this week's game vs. Murray State should be another one. QB Kellen Lewis is a very good athlete, but as they face tougher opponents... is there enough other playmakers?
  9. Northwestern (1-0) - the Wildcats pulled out the opening week win 30-10 over Syracuse. They have some good senior leadership and should compete for a bowl bid, after finishing 3-5 in the Big Ten last year and .500 overall. Next up: at Duke (1-0).
  10. Michigan (0-1) - welcome to the Big Ten and Ann Arbor coach Rich Rodriquez... the Utah Utes 25-23 win over the Wolverines is indication that the new gig has some work ahead. Next up: vs. Miami-OH (0-1).
  11. Minnesota (1-0) - the Golden Gophers lost the opener last year 31-32 in OT. The 31-27 win over Northern Illinois is a good thing. I doubt the Golden Gophers go win-less in the Big Ten again in '08. But, there is a lot of work ahead before coach Tim Brewster clearly is a lock for missing the cellar. Next up: at Bowling Green (1-0).

The Big Ten didn't perform well in Week 1. In the big match ups: Illinois, Michigan, and Michigan State all crashed and burned. The Big Ten did win 7, but the 3 losses were key games. A win by one of those teams would have been a nice boost for the Big Ten. Thankfully, I guess one can say none of them were really upsets, but we don't want moral victories in the conference.


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