1. Ohio State 5-0 overall (1-0 Big Ten) No. 12 AP Poll, NA Coaches Poll: Last Week: W 17-16 over Michigan State. Next: vs. Nebraska, 7 p.m. The Buckeyes were able to hang on for dear life against Sparty. Braxton Miller may be the best player in the Big Ten if he can stay healthy. Miller had a scary close call in the MSU game where his knee found a new way to bend. He finished the game, but you have to wonder how many hits he can take. As Miller goes so go the Buckeyes.
2. Northwestern 5-0 (1-0) No. 24/No. 22: Last Week: W 44-29 over Indiana. Next: at Penn State, 11 a.m. Everything man, Kain Colter, ran 14 times for 161 yards and four scores, caught nine passes for 131 yards, yet saw little action throwing the ball as sophomore quarterback Trevor Siemian added 308 yards passing. The Wildcats set a school record with 704 yards of total offense. Expect a repeat performance against Penn State.
3. Nebraska 4-1 (1-0) No. 21/No. 20: Last Week: W 30-27 over Wisconsin. Next: at Ohio State, 7 p.m. The Cornhuskers needed the second-largest comeback in school history to defeat Wisconsin. The first-largest? 2011 Ohio State. Braxton Miller will be a handful for the Big Red as he keeps plays alive with his feet. Still, Nebraska held Wisconsin to an average of 1.4 yards per carry (2.8 for Montee Ball) while averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Ohio State posted similar numbers in its game. Each team faces more dynamic skill players this week. Turnovers and penalties may prove to be huge in this one.
4. Michigan State 3-2 (0-1): Last Week: L 17-16 to Ohio State. Next: at Indiana, 11 a.m. Le’Veon Bell was more effective as a receiver than as the rough-and-tumble back he has been hyped as with 17 rushes for a paltry 45 yards. OSU even put a lid on 6’5″, 285 lb Dion Sims’ receptions. Sparty was still playing enough defense to keep the game in reach. Expect MSU to take its frustration out on the Hoosiers this week.
5. Purdue 3-1 (0-0): Last Week: W 51-41 over Marshall. Next: vs. Michigan, 3 p.m. These Boilermakers are supposed to be hanging their hardhats on defense. They had some nice plays, but still gave up 41 points to high-flying Marshall (2-3). Shutting down Michigan would be better proof that Purdue is for real.
6. Wisconsin 3-2 (0-1): Last Week: L 30-27 to Nebraska. Next: vs. Illinois, 2:30 p.m. The Badgers took advantage of Husker miscues to take what should have been a dominating 20-3 lead. But Wisconsin’s guns all but fell silent as the Huskers shut down the running game and scored 20 unanswered points. Montee Ball didn’t look 100 percent back. He had 32 carries for 90 yards and three scores, none of which came from farther than two yards out. Wisconsin needs to avoid post-comeback concussion symptoms to take out the Illini early this week.
7. Michigan 2-2 (0-0): Last Week: Bye. Next: at Purdue, 3 p.m. Michigan has scored 20 combined points against ranked opponents so far this season. Denard Robinson may be an explosive runner, but after four years he’s still throwing like a freshmen. Robinson has 8 interceptions over four games, half of which came against Notre Dame. The Wolverines may have trouble this week if Purdue’s defense is as good as advertised.
8. Iowa 3-2 (1-0): Last Week: W 31-13 over Minnesota. Next: Bye. Floyd of Rosedale returns to Iowa City. Iowa fullback Mark Weisman ran for 155 yards and a score in the first half as the Hawkeyes smothered the Golden Gophers. Iowa gets a week off before traveling to Michigan State.
9. Minnesota 4-1 (0-1): Last Week: L 31-13 to Iowa. Next: Bye. The Golden Gophers were too full of cupcakes to show up against Iowa. The Gophers need QB MarQueis Gray back from his ankle injury. Minnesota gets a week off before hosting Northwestern.
10. Penn State 3-2 (1-0): Last Week: W 35-7 over Illinois. Next: vs. Northwestern, 11 a.m. Can Penn State overcome turmoil and a horrible start to the season to piece together some wins the likes of which you only see in movies? Northwestern has something to say about that. The Wildcats are good, but not unbeatable.
11. Indiana 2-2 (0-1): Last Week: L 44-29 to Northwestern. Next: vs. Michigan State, 11 a.m. Most of Indiana’s points came after the game was out of hand. Things won’t get any easier against a Michigan State team with something to prove.
12. Illinois 2-3 (0-1): Last Week: L 35-7 to Penn State. Next: at Wisconsin, 2:30 p.m. Dear Ron Zook, we may have made a mistake. Illinois has been pretty bad this season. Nathan Scheelhaase may look to make a statement against the bruised Badgers this week. Anything can happen in the Big Ten.
By Steve Siedlik