College football insider: The Big Ten blues

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER'SFOOTBALL INSIDER
  • Updated: September 20, 2012 - 10:47 PM

The conference has struggled mightily in the first three weeks, from top to bottom. Unless things change drastically, bowl season might be even uglier.

Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell is hit by Notre Dame's T.J. Jones.

Photo: Al Goldis, Associated Press

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Cancel the Rose Bowl.

Too drastic? Too expensive? Probably so, and ESPN would throw a fit. But allow me to suggest a suitable Plan B for Big Ten fans on New Year's afternoon: Go for a walk. Have an early supper. Read a book. Do anything you can to avoid the proceedings in Pasadena, because there figures to be carnage.

The Big Ten still intends to send a representative to the Rose Bowl, but do you really want to watch how said "champion" fares against the likes of Oregon, or Stanford, or USC? If Jan. 1 looks anything like the first three weeks of September, it's just going to pile more humiliation on top of what the Midwest schools have endured already.

It's Sept. 21, and already every Big Ten contender has been eliminated from the national championship race. That's faster than the Twins or Timberwolves ever even managed. And it's not just that the so-called elite are losing but that they are being exposed as noncompetitive.

First, Michigan was treated like the junior varsity by Alabama. A week later, Wisconsin was 90 seconds from being shut out by Oregon State, while Nebraska allowed the second-most yards in school history in a loss -- at the Rose Bowl -- to UCLA.

And last Saturday, Michigan State looked slower and far less athletic than Notre Dame, failing to even score a touchdown at home, while the Badgers were saved the embarrassment of a home loss to Utah State only because the Aggies' kicker missed a 37-yard field goal on the game's final drive.

"Football can define you at times, and that's what this game will do," Spartans coach Mark Dantonio told reporters after losing to the Irish. "We have to pick up the pieces."

Wisconsin's Bret Bielema was more defensive about the situation as he tries to locate his team's once-unstoppable running game.

"One game doesn't define a season," Bielema said after the Badgers' loss in Corvalis.

Even Ohio State has yet to record a particularly impressive victory; the 3-0 Buckeyes, whose probation will prevent them from playing in a bowl game, have given up 392 yards per game and appeared overmatched against Cal in the second half last week.

This week is the first time since 2001 the league hasn't had a team in AP top 15. In all, the Big Ten is 26-10 in nonconference play, and its members are 4-8 against other BCS conference schools. MAC schools Ohio (against Penn State) and Ball State (against Indiana) have walked away with victories. Its only unbeaten teams are ineligible Ohio State, Northwestern and Minnesota. No offense to the Wildcats and Gophers, but I'm not projecting them to go 12-0 this year.

Right next door, the Big 12 is having no such problems. The league is a combined 22-2 in nonconference play.

The Big Ten is used to bad losses and bad publicity; the conference is, after all, 1-8 in its past nine Rose Bowl trips.

Still, things must be bad when even Jim Delany, commissioner since 1989, can't find a positive in his league's ugly start.

"If there was a way to spin it, I would try to spin it," he admitted to a USA Today columnist last weekend. "... But I'm also realistic in the sense that when you don't perform and you're on a big stage, you're going to get criticized."

That part, the Big Ten is getting good at.

BIG TEN POWER POLL 1. Michigan State (2-0; vs. Notre Dame) Living up to expectations: Defense is ranked eighth nationally. 2. Ohio State (2-0; vs. Cal) 87 points in two games, but Meyer complains of missed chances. 3. Wisconsin (1-1; vs. Utah State) Ball's Heisman run over already? Just 61 yards at Oregon State. 4. Nebraska (1-1; vs. Arkansas State) Offense a nice surprise, but defense a 456-yard-per-game disaster. 5. Michigan (1-1; vs. UMass) Hurting themselves: 144 yards worth of penalties already. 6. Northwestern (2-0; vs. Boston College) Unbeaten despite allowing league-worst 914 yards in two games. 7. Purdue (1-1; vs. Eastern Michigan) Six TD passes lead Big Ten, but so do seven turnovers. 8. Gophers (2-0; vs. Western Michigan) Gray is most efficient QB in conference, but threw just eight times vs. New Hampshire. 9. Illinois (1-1; vs. Charleston Southern) Offense suffered breakdown without Scheelhaase at quarterback. 10. Iowa (1-1; vs. Northern Iowa) Have yet to score a touchdown in six trips into red zone. 11. Penn State (0-2; vs. Navy) O'Brien stands by kicker who missed four FGs and a PAT at Virginia. 12. Indiana (2-0; vs. Ball State) Despite problems, eighth 2-0 start in last nine years.
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New Orleans 28 FINAL
Carolina 10
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 105 FINAL
Orlando 98
Detroit 91 FINAL
Minnesota 97
New York 95 FINAL
Cleveland 90
Utah 102 FINAL
Dallas 120
Oklahoma City 90 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Buffalo 2
Winnipeg 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Chicago 5 FINAL(SO)
Ottawa 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Arizona 1 FINAL
Florida 2
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 4
Anaheim 0 FINAL
St. Louis 2
NY Islanders 0 FINAL
Colorado 5
Montreal 2 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
(2) Florida State 42 FINAL
Louisville 31
Troy 10 FINAL
Ga Southern 42
Cincinnati 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 7:02 PM
Memphis
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
Hamilton 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

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