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College Football: How Big Ten Teams Are Trending at Midseason

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College Football: How Big Ten Teams Are Trending at Midseason

2019-10-17 12:31:11


-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor. (Image Source: Jeff Hanisch/USA Today)

Let’s take a look at how Big Ten teams are trending at the midpoint of the season compared to preseason predictions:

No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes 6-0 (3-0): Trending Up

So far so good on Ryan Day, as the Buckeyes appear to not miss a beat without Urban Meyer, while Justin Fields looks to be the real deal and a legitimate Heisman candidate. Moreover, the defense is much-improved from a year ago.

Counter: OSU still hasn’t played their three toughest opponents.

No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers 6-0 (3-0): Trending Up

The Badgers opened the season No. 19 and now are getting recognized as a playoff contender. It’s more than just Jonathan Taylor, as quarterback Jack Coan has exceeded expectations and the defense (four shutouts) has been elite.

Counter: They’ve faced one offense ranked in the top 75, none in the top 50.

No. 7 Penn State Nittany Lions 6-0 (3-0): Trending Up

Up from No. 15 in the preseason, Penn State’s defense looks as athletic as any in the Big Ten behind the play of Micah Parsons and Yetur Gross-Matos. While not as consistent, the offense can be equally explosive with a bevy of playmakers.

Counter: James Franklin is 3-12 against Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State.

No. 16 Michigan Wolverines 5-1 (3-1): Trending Down

The Wolverines opened the season at No. 7 and despite returning most of their offense from last year’s team, they have regressed on that side of the ball. The new dynamic, up-tempo offense that was advertised has not come to fruition.

Counter: They still control their destiny and there’s time to change the narrative.

No. 20 Minnesota Golden Gophers 6-0 (3-0): Trending Up

Ranked fifth among B1G West teams in the preseason, the Gophers have made the biggest leap. Throwing to big-play receivers Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson, Tanner Morgan is averaging 11.1 yards per pass to lead the Big Ten.  

Counter: Best win is against…Nebraska. Their only FBS foe with a winning record.

No. 23 Iowa Hawkeyes 4-2 (1-2): Trending Even

Maybe down, slightly, as Iowa was tested the past two weeks and failed, as they’ve managed just 15 total points in two games against ranked teams. Nate Stanley was intercepted four times and the offensive line allowed a whopping 20 tackles for loss.

Counter: They’re ranked 5th in total and scoring defense nationally, 7th versus the pass.

Indiana Hoosiers 4-2 (1-2): Trending Up

Only slightly up. With a 4-2 record, IU is in prime position to make a bowl this season but will have to win on the road or beat a ranked team to do so. They must be very happy with what they’ve seen from frosh quarterback Michael Penix Jr.  

Counter: They were 4-1 last season before they finished 5-7.

Michigan State Spartans 4-3 (2-2): Trending Down

This is as disappointing as Michigan State’s first seven games could have gone. They have no good wins and were thoroughly out-played by OSU and Wisconsin, lacking the typical fight Mark Dantonio teams have shown as underdogs.  

Counter: They’ve already played their two toughest games of the season.

Nebraska Cornhuskers 4-3 (2-2): Trending Down

It turns out that the preseason hype (No. 24) was just that…hype. Even in wins, the Huskers have failed to impress. Quarterback Adrian Martinez has regressed and their 34-7 loss to Minnesota without him, indicates he’s only part of the problem.

Counter: They’ve already matched last season’s win total with five games remaining.

Maryland Terrapins 3-3 (1-2): Trending Even

Remember, the Terps were projected to win just four games heading into the season, and at the midway point, they’re almost there. Nevertheless, a 20-17 loss to Temple and a blowout at Purdue, leaves you feeling they should have a better record.   

Counter: They could be the underdog in all six remaining games (three ranked foes).

Purdue Boilermakers 2-4 (1-2): Trending Down

We expected this to be a down season for the Boilermakers but key injuries to their best player (Rondale Moore), their quarterback (Elijah Sindelar), as well as their top two defenders (Markus Bailey, Lorenzo Neal), has hastened things.

Counter: George Karlaftis and David Bell are two of the nation’s top freshmen.

Illinois Fighting Illini 2-4 (0-2): Trending Even

The Illini are bad but they were supposed to be. They’ve thrown 11 touchdown passes, which is more than they had all of last season, however, the rushing game isn’t nearly as explosive as it was in 2018 (5.9 YPC to 3.8 YPC).

Counter: The Scarlet Knights of Rutgers come to Champaign on November 2.

Northwestern Wildcats 1-4 (0-3): Trending Down

The ‘Cats are facing Ohio State this Friday in a rematch of the B1G Championship Game…a game Northwestern will not be returning to. The offense is ranked 128th in scoring and 123rd in passing as Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson has disappointed.

Counter: They end the season with four very winnable games in their final five.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights 1-5 (0-4): Trending Down

Yes, Rutgers was supposed to be bad. But no one is supposed to be this bad. Their head coach was fired. One quarterback retired from football, their other quarterback decided to redshirt, leaving them with an epically bad offense.

Counter: Sorry. I got nothing.

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards.


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