Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ranking the B1G as September Ends after Week 5 of College Football Season

It has been an interesting start to the 2014 season in College Football. The BCS era is gone. The Big 5 Conferences have taken some hits, as North Dakota State wins fifth straight over a FBS program.

There next opportunity apparently will come in 2016 vs. a B1G program in Week 3. But, they are seeking their fourth straight FCS title, as they hit the MVfC schedule this October.

The excitement of the first College Football Playoff this season has talking heads and media types putting the B1G down, since only one team remains undefeated and they are not named Michigan, Ohio State or Penn State.

Michigan State lost in Week 2 at Oregon, who clearly hold the best win of the early 2014 season, when you consider wins by Florida State, Oklahoma or Alabama in the CFP discussion in September.

The B1G season and schedule will begin for every team, as October games unfold this Saturday.
How the B1G conference power ratings take shape as we end September and Week 5 of the 2014 season?

1. vs. 2.
This Saturday night in East Lansing in prime-time, an early B1G East vs. BIG West game with bragging rights on the line, as the defending B1G champ hosts the lone remaining B1G undefeated team.

Michigan State vs. Nebraska ... for bragging rights and the early lead as front runner of the conference for 2014.

The Spartans are 3-1, with eight B1G regular-season conference games ahead, with a ten game win streak on the line, in East Lansing. Mark Dantonio has the Spartans, in good position, heading into his eighth season at the helm.

They earned #1 in 2013, despite a lackluster 2012, with a 3-5 B1G record. The Spartans have won 3 straight bowl games, with wins over Georgia, TCU and Stanford, last year's Rose Bowl. The ugly 49-7 bowl loss to Alabama is history from the 2010 season.

The challenger for #1 in the B1G power order is Nebraska at 5-0, 1-0 in the new B1G West. Is Nebraska the #2 program in the B1G right now? Despite the undefeated start, they have been written off by ESPN talking heads for a date in the College Football Playoff. Is it B1G East bias for the names, like Michigan, OSU and PSU?

The Cornhuskers in the first six seasons under coach Bo Pelini had one constant. Four losses each season, despite the nine or ten win seasons by each of Pelini's Nebraska teams. This year the seven year itch is off to a perfect 5-0 start with a B1G road opener ahead in East Lansing on Saturday.

3. Ohio State is 3-1 as they head to B1G conference play on the first Saturday of October. The Buckeyes lost in Week 2 in Columbus. A first in three seasons under Urban Meyer. Just how bad was the loss to Virginia Tech?

The Hokies are 3-2, losing back to back games after win in Columbus. The losses were to East Carolina and Georgia Tech, who are a combined 7-1, as South Carolina edged ECU.

The Buckeyes are .500 in the last six games, including two neutral game sites, with losses to MSU in 2013 B1G title game and to Clemson in last year's Orange Bowl. So, the Buckeyes open the B1G with first true away game of season. Win over Navy was in Baltimore.

The Buckeyes head to Maryland (4-1, 1-0 in B1G East) for the B1G opener. The Buckeyes have not had a lost under Meyer, in nine games true road games at Ohio State's helm.

Last Ohio State loss was in 2011, under coach Luke Fickel, at Michigan 40-34. How Michigan has fallen, since the first Brady Hoke season in 2011?

4. Wisconsin is 3-1 to start 2014 in the out of conference. They started well in the first half of the season opener in Houston against LSU. But, by the end of the game, the score was in favor of the Tigers and the Badgers were victims of their third staight loss, including Capital One bowl loss to South Carolina.

The Badgers head to Northwestern (2-2, 1-0 B1G West) for the B1G road opener, with a .500 record in their last six games, like Ohio State.

5. Maryland is 1-0 B1G West replaced Penn State with the early lead in the East division, after a sound road win at Indiana to close out the month of September and open their B1G era, as one of the newest members of the conference.

Huge opportunity to make a statement in the Terrapins B1G home opener, with Ohio State coming to town. However, Penn State found a 1-0 B1G home opener not fun. For Maryland's sake, it will not be Homecoming Saturday, as they welcome their first B1G home game.

The Terrapins have never played Ohio State before. They did win at VA Tech in OT last year, in coach Randy Edsall's third season at College Park.

6. vs. 7.
Iowa vs. Minnesota was the B1G opener the past two seasons, but the game was moved to November in 2014. Iowa has won two straight in the series.

The Hawkeyes (4-1, 1-0 B1G West) have played 12 of 16 B1G openers on the road under coach Kirk Ferentz. Iowa opened at Purdue this year, after win last year over Minnesota. The Hawkeyes have won three straight B1G road openers. With Saturday's win to open B1G in 2014, Hawkeyes have won seven of the last nine over Purdue.

The Golden Gophers (4-1, 1-0 B1G West) win the Little Brown Jug to open B1G season on the road at Michigan. Only the third win, since 1978 over Wolverines. It is a long conference season, but Wisconsin has won ten straight over Minnesota. Coach Jerry Kill, in his fourth season, has more unfinished business during this young season, including a B1G season’s end at Wisconsin.

8. Northwestern opens B1G West at 1-0, as both Minnesota and Wildcats win crossover games to give West 2-0 start over the Media suggested stronger B1G East division. 

The Wildcats host huge game on Saturday, with Wisconsin coming to town. Pat Fitzgerald has never won a division or B1G, as he enters his ninth season. Tall order in 2014, but good start at Happy Valley for Wildcats, especially after 1-7 B1G record lasy season. Two game B1G win streak heading back home to Evanston. Last B1G home win was 2012.

Wisconsin at Northwestern
The home team has won seven straight in this series of late. Wisconsin is 1-8 in B1G road openers dating back to Barry Alvarez's final season. One win was 2009 at Minnesota.

Michigan and Penn State are indeed overrated, suggesting that the difference between the East and West isn't as B1G,  as media suggested headed into the new format for 2014?

9. Penn State (4-1, 1-1 B1G East) has worse lost, since 2001, as Northwestern ruins the Nittany Lions Homecoming to close out September of 2014. The Nittany Lions beat Rutgers to open B1G play on the road in Week 3, under first year coach James Franklin. But, the home opener was not close vs. Northwestern.

10. Michigan (2-3, 0-1 B1G East) has lost more games this September,  then any other September in the school's history of fielding a college football team. Brady Hoke was 11-2, then 8-5, then 7-6 and now is 2-3 heading into October of his fourth season. Talk about a Michigan Man taking down the program. Rich Rodriguez was let go, for not being Michigan enough, after moving the record upwards from 3-9 to 5-7 to 7-6. What have we learned  here outside Ann Arbor? Lloyd Carr was encouraged out the door, after 9-3, 7-5, 11-2 and 9-4.

Michigan at Rutgers on Saturday for first ever meeting
Michigan is 8-17 in B1G road games, in last 25 games. Hoke is 0-1 as a head coach taking a team to Rutgers. He was Ball State's coach in 2007, when Rutgers won 52-30. Ironically, Michigan lost to App State to open 2007 season.

11. Rutgers (4-1, 0-1 B1G East) hosts Michigan, after nice road win at Navy and a win back home over Tulane. The Scarlet Knights opened the season in Seattle, with a nice win over Washington State. Coach Kyle Flood lost running back Paul James for season though at Navy, with ACL injury. Flood is in his third season at the helm in New Brunswick.

12. Indiana (2-2, 0-1 B1G East) has won a game, then lost a game to open the 2014 season. The win at Missouri was impressive, but the follow-up at home in the B1G opener vs. Maryland wasn't close. The Hoosiers close out their non-conference slate hosting North Texas, coached by Dan McCarney. Coach Kevin White has work ahead in his fourth season at IU.

Battle for the Cellar is up next in B1G West on Saturday

13. Illinois (3-2, 0-1 B1G West) are 1-16 under third year coach Tim Beckman, as the battle of the Leaders division moves to the B1G West in 2014 this week with Illinois hosting Purdue on Saturday. The lone win last year was a 20-16 road win over Purdue.

14. Purdue (2-3, 0-1 B1G West) has lost nine staight B1G games under second year coach Darrell Hazell. The Boilermakers were 1-11 last season, so they are improving, especially on defense, but quarterback play has a long ways to go for the Boilermakers.

Iowa, Minnesota and Penn State are idle to open the first Saturday in October. Penn State at Michigan will have two weeks of the Nittany Lions focus, with a lot on the line. Iowa hosts Homecoming in two weeks, when Indiana comes to Kinnick for the B1G home opener,  while Golden Gophers await Northwestern's visit.

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