Monday, September 1

Week 1 recap B10/Big E

This weekend showed the growth of these two conferences, and where they might be heading in the next few years. There has been a significant drop in talent in both of these conferences, and amazingly they are all still very competitive. However, it clearly showed that these two conferences have a few more years before their parity will climb to the point where they may be able to compete against the SEC.

So to break down what happened this weekend:

Thursday: Connecticut vs Hofstra and Cincinnati vs Eastern Kentucky. Connecticut is an aspiring Top 25 team, having shown last year that they have come a long way by beating Pitt and Rutgers last year. However they still have a ways to go, losing fairly handedly to both Cincinnati and West Virginia.

Cincinnati, on the other hand, was the surprise of the Big East, especially with the loss of a good coach in Dantoni. This should be their year, but next week they face the daunted Sooners. Putting that as a loss, their only real challenge afterwards should be WVU. This game was merely a warmup for the rest of the season.

Iowa State faced SD State. They only gave up two TDs, and in the fourth quarter. We'll really see whether Chizik has made second year improvements in week 3 when they face Iowa.


Ohio State played Tressel's old team, mainly to give the Penguins some money. However, as his moves showed in the first quarter, he used this game to prepare Terrelle Pryor for what's to come this season. You could say that 4 trips into the red zone with 3 field goals in the first half shows weakness, but taking into account that all three quarterbacks went in for a series or two in the first quarter you know that the offense didn't really get into a roll until the end of the second quarter. And in the end, Pryor showed what he was made of (dragging a few defenders into the end zone on a draw) and the defense shut down the Penguins completely. Ohio U has no chance, so we'll see if the offense can get on a better roll next week in preparation for USC in week 3.

Wisconsin may have a rushing attack, but they clearly showed that their passing attack needs work. They have two huge tight ends that can make things happen, but Evridge is only a mediocre quarterback that needs some time for refinement. PJ Hill showed he can still run through tackles and break some good runs, coming away with 210 yards in the game. Trust me, people will be expecting this - they will need some vertical attack to keep him from getting pummelled on every play.

Penn State vs Coastal Carolina? Not even worth three sentences.

Pittsburgh is the biggest disappointment for the Big East in week 1. Bowling Green is a decent MAC team, but they got blanked in the second half. That hand reaching the half century mark in passing is pitiful considering they don't have the quality receivers like Missouri does to make that worthwhile.

Northwestern is still in a rebuilding stage, but Bacher had enough control and their run game was successful against a Syracuse team that just didn't have any fire. The countdown to Robinson's firing started last year (winning 2 games is for n00bs), and the seat is only going to get hotter.

I don't even want to touch the Indiana and Iowa games, except to say that these kinds of matchups are exactly why other conferences say Big 10 sucks. Crap NC games doesn't do anything, doesn't make your team improve by playing bad competition. THANKS DELANEY!

West Virginia, however, is a confusing tale... since the final score hides the fact that they pretty much had the game in hand all the way through (2 td's in the fourth quarter, one with 2 seconds left). However, the baffling statistic is that they achieved less than 200 yards on the ground, which was not an uncommon figure with the Slaton/White duo of last year. Everyone claimed Noel Devine would be able to pick up the slack - but as you can clearly tell by the box score he doesn't have the breakaway talent that Slaton had. This is a cause for concern only if they were in a better conference... but they're not.

Michigan is a team that is TRULY rebuilding - new coach, new scheme, new quarterback, new running back... actually, you can say that pretty much the entire team is brand new. Having lost the race to get Pryor, they are stuck with a mediocre quarterback with no game-breaking ability (not to mention a poor arm and throwing technique). Their defense, which is supposed to keep them in games, made too many mistakes, and their offense will need a few more games to get into rhythm. Utah showed them how to run the option offense. We will have to keep close tabs to see how good Michigan gets by the time conference play rolls around.

Minnesota was the worst team of the Big 10 last year, and that will continue this year. Barely pulling out a win against a Northern Illinois team is sad... especially since Garrett Wolfe is no longer there. They lack playmakers in the backfield, and their rushing must improve by conference play otherwise they'll be blown away for the rest of the season.

Michigan State is on the rise! Yes, they lost to a Cal team that's on the decline, but Dantoni has done a phenomenal job in making this team competitive. Their problems start with penalties, but the positives will help them in the long run. They need to find a way to give the ball to Javon Ringer more - even though he carried the rock 27 times. If their O-line improves play, his yards per carry will increase. Hoyer needs to make better decisions throwing (40% completion percentage) but only threw one pick. The defense came up big, with one interception for a touchdown and another that prevented a touchdown. Both special teams suffered, with a blocked punt each. This is a quality loss for the Spartans, and if they start playing in both halves (they were non-existent in the first half) they really have a chance at beating the middle of the B10 conference.


Losing to the #6 team is not necessarily bad. Especially for an Illinois team that upset OSU last year. They wanted to avenge their loss to the Tigers from last year, but they were unable to keep it together. They had problems with two key things: penalties and turnovers. Would they have clinched out a win had Williams not thrown that 4th quarter interception? Would the defense, which lost their best player to the draft, have stepped up and gotten the ball back? Ron Zook must be happy that this year they competed a lot better than last year, but he knows that penalties and turnovers will kill him in the long run. However, Illinois still has time to blow away their next few opponents before meeting up with Penn State in the conference opener.

Sunday and beyond:

Louisville just sucks. All they get is a safety? Oh, and Rutgers? Nothing without Ray Rice. Fresno State looks to be really good this year...

All in all, we can clearly see that the Big 10 is gaining some momentum. Really - the addition of good coaches over the past 5 years into the league will help its transformation (Zook, Dantoni, Rodriguez, Bielema). We can also see that the Big East was really about star players: Rice made Rutgers, Slaton made WVU (with White), and Brohm made Louisville. Without them, the league is far worse off.