2015 B1G Week #8 Standings.

The East is a a shootout at the top and the West is looking like a runaway.

EAST

Ohio State and Michigan State both still remain undefeated at 8-0 overall and 4-0 in-conference, but Ohio State has the edge at 4-0 vs. 3-0 in-division. Unless something unexpected happens, the showdown will be the penultimate week when Michigan State heads to Columbus to take on Ohio State. Imagine for a moment if the Buckeyes beat the Spartans, and then the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes. That is an ugly scenario that would likely come down to rankings to see who goes to the B1G Championship Game. Let us pray that scenario never plays out. Penn State is sitting in third-place at 2-1 in-conference / in-division.

WEST

Iowa is alone atop the West sitting undefeated at 7-0 and 3-0 in-conference and in-division. Wisconsin is a game back at 3-1 in-conference / in-division with Northwestern jumping up to third-place at 2-2 in-conference and 2-1 in-division.

Buckeyes  VS. Hawkeyes

If the B1G Championship Game was being played today, it would be Ohio State vs. Iowa. Pretty interesting.  Who cold imagine Iowa in this position at the start of the season? Not me.

EAST DIVISION
Overall Conference Division
W-L % W-L % W-L %
1. Ohio State 8-0 1.000 4-0 1.000 4-0 1.000
Michigan State 8-0 1.000 4-0 1.000 3-0 1.000
3. Penn State 6-2 .750 3-1 .750 3-1 .750
4. Michigan 5-2 .714 2-1 .667 1-1 .500
5. Rutgers 3-4 .429 1-3 .250 1-3 .250
6. Maryland 2-5 .286 0-3 .000 0-3 .000
Indiana 4-4 .500 0-4 .000 0-4 .000
WEST DIVISION
Overall Conference Division
W-L % W-L % W-L %
1. Iowa 7-0 1.000 3-0 1.000 3-0 1.000
2. Wisconsin 6-2 .750 3-1 .750 3-1 .750
3. Northwestern 6-2 .750 2-2 .500 2-1 .667
4. Illinois 4-3 .571 1-2 .333 1-2 .333
Minnesota 4-3 .571 1-2 .333 1-2 .333
6. Nebraska 3-5 .375 1-3 .250 1-3 .250
7. Purdue 1-6 .143 0-3 .000 0-2 .000

FYI, click HERE to see the B1G rules regarding a tie-breaker.

Go B1G!

B1G

B1G Week #9 Picks.

This weeks picks are dedicated to Coach Kill (best coach name ever) as he announced his retirement today. I really like and respect Coach Kill and wish him the best.

I did pretty poorly last week going 2-3 so this week I need to lock it down and kick it up all at the same time. Michigan State has the week off so I don’t have any 8-0 Spartan stress on me which means I should crush it.

Alright, let’s kick this pig(skin)…

block-i Lions

Illinois @ Penn State – Noon on ESPN-2.  My knee-jerk reaction is to say the Lions beat up on the Illini, no worries. But then last week Penn State narrowly beat the Maryland by one point, and should that be cause for concern? Hmm. In reality, I think the Terrapins are been a bit better than there record indicates and the Illini are probably not very good even though they beat the Cornhuskers (also not good). So yes, the Lions will win this one. Penn State is a 5.5-point favorite and they win by 10 and cover.

Huskers Boilermakers

Nebraska @ Purdue – Noon on ESPN-U.  The Huskers are struggling and not having a good season under their new head-coach. But let’s be frank, the Boilermakers are really bad. Really bad. I can’t imagine this game being anything but a fun-run for Big Red. Nebraska is a 10.5-point favorite on the road and they win by 17 and cover.

Knights Badgers

Rutgers @ Wisconsin – Noon on BTN.  Oddly enough, this game is relegated to BTN while Nebraska @ Purdue is on ESPN-U? I think this is a much more interesting game. Oh, don’t forget, Rutgers is not to be trusted. The Badgers have two losses, but to two good programs. The Knights have four losses and got pretty much slapped by the Buckeyes last week. That Badger defense is going to shut the Knights offense right down probably cutting their net yardage to half of their season average of 426.6. And in Madison, the Badgers will score at least four TDs. Wisconsin is favored by 20.5-points but they win by 17 and don’t cover.

Terps Hawkeyes

Maryland @ #10 Iowa – 3:30pm on ABC / ESPN-2.  First off, what this clip, it’s so freakin’ funny.

In terms of the game, Maryland is not to be trusted, let’s just start there. And Iowa is undefeated and actually playing some good ball. Who knew they had it in them. In classic B1G style, their defense is the catalyst to they success. And yet their offense is balanced and formidable too. Basically, the Hawkeyes are going to dominate the Terps, no two ways about it. But I just don’t see them dominating in the classic sense where they score a bunch of points and blow the Terps out of the water. Iowa is a 17-point favorite but they win by 14 and don’t cover.

Wolverines Gophers

#15 Michigan @ Minnesota – 7:00pm on ESPN.  I hate Michigan and I’m done feeling sorry for them after they shit the bed against my Spartans. I’m sick of people saying it was a fluke too. It was am unlikely situation set up by superior coaching and player intensity that manifested itself in to an ultra-fortunate turn of events… MSU made it’s own luck on that one. Sorry Ann Arbaugh. If worms had machine guns maybe the Wolverines would know how to protect their punter and put away a close one. Anyway, Coach Kill announced his retirement today. Bummer. For this game I think the Wolverines are the clear favorite and should have little problem beating the Gophers. And, sadly, I think they’ll cover that spread too. Sorry folks, sometimes the bad guys win. Michigan is a 14-point favorite on the road and they win by 28 and cover.

There you have it. I’m feeling pretty good about these picks. And damn that Iowa video is hilarious. As always…

Go B1G!

B1G

2015 Week #8 Rankings & Ramblings.

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Probably the least amount of change of any week so far this season for the B1G.

Buckeyes

The Ohio State Buckeyes remain at #1 after crushing Rutgers. For the first time in many weeks, they are dominant at #1 with the 39 of #1 votes.

Spartans

The Michigan State Spartans move up a tick from #7 to #6 after beating Indiana. Looks like this move had more to do with Utah falling out of the rankings, Clemson after absolutely killing Miami took their spot leaving the #6 spot open for the Spartans.

Hawkeyes

The Iowa Hawkeyes move up from #12 to #10 on their bye week, not bad for watching games on TV. Got to love a vacuum. The Hawkeyes remain unbeaten and their win over Northwestern last week looks even better after Northwestern beat Nebraska this week.

Wolverines

And lastly, the Michigan Wolverines remain at #15 on their bye week.

The B1G is looking pretty good with three squads in the Top10 and four in the Top15. Another four team bye week is coming up which includes the Buckeyes and the Spartans, so the upper end of the chart should stay pretty quiet.  Also, in a week The Committee will release their first CFP Rankings, so stay tuned for that.

And, as always…

Go B1G!

B1G

#7 Michigan State 52, Indiana 26; The Spartans are 8-0, 4-0 in the B1G.

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How awesome is it to be 2/3 of the way through the 2015 season and be undefeated? It’s very awesome. Sure, the Spartans are ranked #7 but they’ll likely move up this week after #3 Utah lost. The issue this year, at least with the polls, is not winning, it’s winning handily. The Spartans haven’t crushed their opposition and so the AP writers haven’t given them higher rankings. I think that’s fair. This is a long race we’re in, no need to worry about position until we come around the final turn.

The Spartans had their hands full with the Hoosiers for much of the game riding on a 1-point lead, then a 2-point lead, until finally busting it wide open in the fourth quarter. The final score looks like a blow-out but it was anything but. Kudos to Indiana for fighting hard, especially on defense which showed well considering it’s their biggest weakness.

OFFENSE

The Spartans prefer a balanced attack, but it was an air war in this game as neither team could really get the running game going. The Spartans had 540 yards of total offense with 33 first downs and converted 13-20 third downs. MSU’s offense stayed on the field grinding up yards and chewing up clock, and that my friends is how you neat a hurry-up passing attack like Indiana’s.

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Our man Connor Cook looked NFL-quality staying in the pocket, mostly avoiding sacks and painting a variety of receivers all over the field. Cook went 30-52 for 398 yards, a personal best, and four TDs. That’s big time production right there. And he looked the part standing tall and leading the team confidently. He took a few hits (he ran the ball more than a few times, and pretty darn well too) and went off for a play after taking a shot to the ribs, but Connor was right back and seemed unaffected.

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The receiver corps had a great day as well 30 receptions by seven different players. Aaron Burbridge continues to delight with eight catches for 128 yards and a TD; he is also looking NFL-quality more and more with each outing.

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R.J. Shelton is Mr. Everywhere hauling in six catches for 76 yards and two TDs.

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Macgarrett Kings Jr. showed great hands pulling in seven for 69 yards, as did Josiah Price with three for 51 and a TD, Paul Lang had three for 35, Gerald Holmes had two for 28 and Jamal Lyles rounded out the group with one for 11. Most of the time, these Burbs and Kings were heavily (overly) covered and had to go get the ball; it was a beautiful thing.

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On the ground, it was a tough day once again as the Spartans could only pick up 142 yards on 44 carries. When your O-line is banged up and depleted, the running game suffers big time. But the Spartan backs continued to pound anyway. True freshman LJ Scott led the way with 11 carries for 68 yards and a TD. This kid is really good and he has a nose for the end zone. Gerald Holmes fought hard for 39 yards and a TD on 10 carries, Holmes showed a lot of promise in this game and with London out, it’s great to see him stepping up.

The O-line health is Michigan State’s biggest issue. Will this bye week coming up help? Yes, but it’s not going to fix the problem, just improve the situation a bit. Down the stretch, protecting Cook and opening the run will be major challenges. I love the heart these guys are showing as “next man up” has gotten well beyond the two-deep list. Every team faces injury challenges of one type or another, and it’s the teams that can dig deep and re-write the game plan that come out on top. I think the Spartans are doing that to the best of their ability.

DEFENSE

When Nate Sudfeld is hurling pin-point passes, I really miss Denard and Waynes. That’s not to diminish the good work this defense is doing, but those guys were weapons and game-changers.

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MSU held Indiana to 389 yards and 20 first downs and only allowed them to convert five of 11 third downs. That’s exactly what the Spartans needed to do: Stop the run, hold them from converting a bunch long passes for first downs or TDs, and get them off the field. The Hoosiers time of possession was only 21:01. Turn-overs helped as well, especially at the end with a pick and a fumble recovery late in the game which opened up opportunity for the Spartan offense to pull away.

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The Hoosiers only netted 81 yards rushing on 23 attempts. The D-line and linebackers played tough against the hurry-up offense with guys like Joel Heath, Shilique Calhoun, Riley Bullough, Shane JonesDemetrious Cox, Grayson Miller (who had a pick on the first play!) and Jon Reschke making a big impact. How about a shout-out to Chris Frey for snagging that fumble recovery! Bullough and Calhoun each had a QB sack, and that is always appreciated.

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Overall, this defense held strong. Indiana did score, but that’s what Indiana does. As the game wore on, our defense got stronger and created the turn-overs that allowed the Spartans to pull away. That’s as much as you can ask for, in my book.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Getting better? Kind of? Let’s start with the good shall we. R.J. Shelton had a really nice kick return for 58 yards that was one man away from being six points. That was nice. Macgarrett Kings Jr. had only one punt return, but it was a nice 17 yards dash that gave the Spartans great field position. Our return men had a much better day than the Hoosier’s, we haven’t been able to say all that much this year.

Redshirt freshman Jake Hartbarger handled all of the punting duties this week and fared pretty well with four punts averaging 42.5 yards. Too my eyes, Hartbarger’s challenge is confidence. He’s got a big leg and when well-protected, he boots it a mile, but when the defense is coming at him, he kicks the laces for 30 yards sometimes. He’s improving. I bet he’s awesome over the next few years.

Place kicker Michael Geiger went one-for-one on two attempts. What? Well, the first one didn’t get kicked as the snap was very high and the holder ended up tucking and running, sort of. But when Geiger did kick, he made it, and that’s good news even if it was only a 21-yarder. I should add that he did make all of his PATs too.

Kickoff specialist Kevin Cronin seems to finally be finding his leg, and he had lots of practice on this day. Cronin kicked off nine times with four touchbacks. I think that is more touchbacks then he has had all year. His last few kicks were pretty short though, but sometimes that works out too as the Hoosiers mishandled one of them and it almost led to a turnover deep in the red zone.

SUMMING UP

A nice win and a good-looking final score, even if the game was much closer than that for three quarters.

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Did you notice that when the deluge of rain came, it was isolated to one Indiana possession? Maybe God favors the Spartans? After last week we can say that God certainly does not favor the Wolverines. Ha!

Next week is a bye week for the Spartans. Time to rest up, heal up and then fire up for a road-trip to Lincoln to take on the Cornhuskers of Nebraska on November 7th. The Huskers are not having a great year, but they won’t go down without a fight either. I really hope to see more starters and two-deepers back for Nebraska, and the rest of the season.

Go GREEN!!!

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B1G Week #8 Winners, Losers and the Point Spread.

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Week #8 is in the books, and an interesting week it was.  Pick-wise, I’m feeling about 50/50 again, but it could be worse.  With only five games you would think I could keep track in my head, but my head ain’t what it used to be. I’m sitting at 40-35 for the season at this  point, FYI. Let’s have a look at how the B1G did as we approach he 2/3 mark on the season.

Wildcats Huskers

Northwestern @ Nebraska – Nebraska is a 7.5-point favorite but they win by 10 and cover.  I really thought the Huskers had some momentum and would be tough playing in Lincoln, but I guess I thought wrong. Coach Fitz continues to surprise me. Northwestern wins by 2, Nebraska doesn’t cover. 40-36

Hoosiers Spartans

Indiana @ #7 Michigan State – Michigan State is a 16.5-point favorite but they win by 10 and don’t cover.  This game was much closer than the final score would indicate, and my pick looked much better until about halfway through the fourth quarter, but that’s okay. I’ll take a Spartan win any way I can get it. Michigan State wins by 26 and covers. 40-37

Badgers block-i

Wisconsin @ Illinois – Wisconsin is a 7-point favorite but they win by 10 and cover.  Note that I said the Badgers would win by “at least 10” which would suggest that they would win by much more than 10. I was kind of right. The Illini are playing tougher than their record would suggest. Wisconsin wins by 11 and covers. 41-37

Lions Terps

Penn State @ Maryland – Penn State is a 6.5-point favorite and they win by seven just covering.  Well, did every underdog play tough this weekend? The Lions and the Terps were back and fourth in a close one but a late pick sealed the deal. But this was as close as they come. Penn State wins by one and does not cover. 41-38

Buckeyes Knights

#1 Ohio State @ Rutgers – Ohio State is a 21-point favorite and they win by 28 and cover.  Just when I was saying that every dog was playing tough, the Scarlet Knights come in and mess that up. The Knights fought hard but the Buckeyes were just too much for them. Ohio State wins by 42 and easily covers. 42-38

Not my best week. I went 2-3 this week putting me at 42-38 or 53%. I need to face the fact that I’m not going to hit my goal of 70% this season. That’s  okay, but I’ll shoot for as high in the 50’s as possible with 60% being my stretch goal at this point.

Next week will see four teams having bye weeks (Michigan State, Ohio State, Indiana and Maryland), so only five games again. Michigan heads to Minnesota for a night game; the battle of the big-ass Ms. Maryland travels to Iowa to try and put a smudge on that perfect record; not likely. Rutgers travels to Madison to take on the Badgers; this could be a really good game. And finally, Nebraska heads to Purdue to probably get an easy win. Enjoy the week off and rest up you bye teams, and for those of you coming off of a bye, let’s get back at it. As always…

Go B!G!

B1G

Ah, the Narrative.

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This post to The Only Colors, an excellent MSU blog in case you are unaware, by MacWhat hits the nail on the head. It covers the MSU-UofM narrative leading up to last Saturday’s game, and where we go from here. No hyperbole here, just a point of view that is sensible and fair to all parties.  Read it HERE.

I’ve already heard it on social media and in face-to-face conversation, so I assume you have heard it too. “Michigan State didn’t really win that game, they just lucked out on a freak play at the end.” I get that angle. It’s totally wrong yet kind of right all at the same time. My breakdown is as follows…

In my opinion, Michigan and Michigan State played a pretty dame evenly matched ball games with MSU gaining more yards but Michigan scoring more points. But not enough points to put State away. That’s the first issue for Michigan.

Unfortunately, the focus has been on the Michigan punter for mishandling a low snap and then continuing to attempt to punt the ball instead of just falling on it. I feel like we need to back it up and look at the play calling. When MSU stacks 11 guys all set to hell-fury-blitz-kill mode, you need to adjust your punt routine accordingly. Coach Harbaugh did not. He did not go with a max-protect formation. He did not call timeout and have a chatty-chat with his guys to tell them the shit was coming and they need to stay home and block for dear life. Nope, he let them proceed as if everything was normal. 11 guys basically against five after you adjust for the punter who can’t block, the two wide-outs and three lineman who haul-ass downfield to tackle the punt returner who isn’t there. Coach Dantonio put his guys in a position to do something, even if it was only to block the punt and get better field position for one last Hail Mary attempt. Coach Harbaugh botched it and his guys were caught off-guard thus the turn-over and touchdown.

Every football game is won on one play, it’s just not typically the final play of regulation. Hell, it often happens in the first half. Don’t get hung up on it being the last play because that isn’t really the important part, it’s only the sensational part. If Michigan State get’s that punt and scores with five minutes left, it’s possibly still the game-winning play based on how these teams were facing off towards the end. But the emotional impact is less intense as Michigan then has a chance to fight back. In this scenario, some other play might be THE play. In this game on this day, MSU made THE play.

It was a great game. Maybe the best ever between these two teams. And it went my way. The Spartans got the win this time. But it was a fight to the end, and that is the way we want it, right? It’s the way I want it. I wan’t Michigan to respect this game. I want Michigan to have to prepare for this game and know it won’t be easy. I could care less if Michigan and Michigan fans believe that Ohio State is their only rival, that’s just part of the narrative. But when you lose seven of the last eight, your narrative starts to run a little thin.

Go GREEN!!!

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B1G Week #8 Picks.

Michigan State beat Michigan! That’s the main take-away from week #7 as far as I’m concerned. Beyond that, my picks were just okay as I went 3-3 on the six games. I kind of have a picking hangover after last weeks Michigan State Miracle Mania, put I’ll do my best to make some solid selections.

Okay, who’s up this week…

Wildcats Huskers

Northwestern @ Nebraska – Noon on ESPN-2.  The Wildcats have the better record but the Huskers seem like the better team. Heck, they’re tied at 1-2 in the B1G. The Huskers are allowing about eight points more per game than the Wildcats, but they’re scoring about 13 points more per game, which is about a five point tilt towards Big Red. Tack on another three points for home field advantage to things are looking up for the Cornhuskers by about a score maybe. I don’t really trust the Husker’s coach. And how do the Wildcats shutout a team one week and then get shutout the next? Okay, I’m just getting random now. Nebraska is a 7.5-point favorite but they win by 10 and cover.

Hoosiers Spartans

Indiana @ #7 Michigan State – 3:30pm on ABC / ESPN-2.  Perhaps we keep this game a little bit less exciting than last weeks game, yes? The Hoosiers have gone through some QBs this year but it looks like their main man Nate Sudfeld is okay and running the offense once again. The Hoosiers offense is a threat and the Spartan defense will have to be up for this game to keep from getting snuck up upon. The difference maker in this one is the Spartan offense versus the Hoosier defense, and I just can’t see Indiana being able to stop that machine once it get’s rolling. They let Rutgers hang 55 on them last week. Ouch. Michigan State is a 16.5-point favorite but they win by 10 and dont cover.

Badgers block-i

Wisconsin @ Illinois – 3:30pm on BTN.  The Badgers appear to be the better team, but the Illini are having a good year and should not be taken lightly. Stave is just a tick better than Lunt when you look at the stats, but Stave does turn the ball over more than he should. The Badger defense is holding opponents to about 50 yards less per game which is a big stat when offensive productivity seems about equal. I feel like the Badgers never fully recovered to that opening game loss to Bama and their new coach hasn’t really impressed me yet. And yet, I just don’t see this being too close. Wisconsin is a 7-point favorite but they win by 10 and cover.

Lions Terps

Penn State @ Maryland – 3:30pm on ESPN.  Never trust Maryland (or Rutgers), I need to always remind myself of that. Both of these offenses are pretty even, they’re both kind of just-okay. The defenses couldn’t be more different though. The Nittany Lions are solid as old Linebacker-U should be (okay, not quite that good, but okay good), whereas the Terrapins are utter crap. The Terps are giving up 15 points and 110 yards on defense versus their offense production. Terrible. Might be why they are 2-4/0-2. And yet (yes, another one of these), Maryland lost to Ohio State by 21 while Penn State lost by 28. Strange. Penn State is a 6.5-point favorite and they win by seven just covering.

Buckeyes Knights

#1 Ohio State @ Rutgers – 8:00pm on ABC.  Never trust Rutgers (we already covered that, but lest we forget).  The Buckeyes should look way different with J.T. Barrett starting over Cardale Jones… who cares. These over-hyped Buckeye QBs have been oh so average this year, and maybe it’s the splitting time or the pre-season hype or the post-championship funk, who knows. As a team, they are good, especially on defense. The Knights are solid on offense but very weak on defense, especially against the pass. And that is what dooms them in this game in their house under their lights. Ohio State is a 21-point favorite and they win by 28 and cover.

That’s the way I see it coming together this weekend. Am I right? Am I so very wrong? Let me know. And enjoy the week off Michigan, Iowa, Purdue and Minnesota.

Go B!G!

B1G

2015 B1G Week #7 Standings.

Now that there are three conference games played for most teams, it seemed like the right time to start tracking the B1G and see who’s plotting a course for Indianapolis this year.

EAST

Ohio State and Michigan State both remain undefeated, but the Buckeyes have a slight edge in being 3-0 in the division. Ohio State should remain undefeated with their major challenge games coming at the end versus MSU and then Michigan. In third place right now it’s Penn State which has a loss to Iowa.

WEST

In the West, things are not really the way most people would have projected. Iowa leads the division with the only unblemished record. Wisconsin is in second place at 2-1 with the one loss to Iowa, and Illinois is in third place at 1-1 with it’s one loss also to Iowa.

Buckeyes  VS. Hawkeyes

If the B1G Championship Game was being played today, it would be Ohio State vs. Iowa. Looking at things right now, that is a likely outcome. Let’s not get to crazy booking hotels in Indy, there are five more conference games to go.

EAST DIVISION
Overall Conference Division
W-L % W-L % W-L %
1. Ohio State 7-0 1.000 3-0 1.000 3-0 1.000
Michigan State 7-0 1.000 3-0 1.000 2-0 1.000
3. Penn State 5-2 .714 2-1 .667 2-1 .667
4. Michigan 5-2 .714 2-1 .667 1-1 .500
5. Rutgers 3-3 .500 1-2 .333 1-2 .333
6. Maryland 2-4 .333 0-2 .000 0-2 .000
Indiana 4-3 .571 0-3 .000 0-3 .000
WEST DIVISION
Overall Conference Division
W-L % W-L % W-L %
1. Iowa 7-0 1.000 3-0 1.000 3-0 1.000
2. Wisconsin 5-2 .714 2-1 .667 2-1 .667
3. Illinois 4-2 .667 1-1 .500 1-1 .500
4. Northwestern 5-2 .714 1-2 .333 1-1 .500
5. Minnesota 4-3 .571 1-2 .333 1-2 .333
Nebraska 3-4 .429 1-2 .333 1-2 .333
7. Purdue 1-6 .143 0-3 .000 0-2 .000

Go B1G!

B1G

2015 Week #7 Rankings & Ramblings.

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We lost one this week, the B1G now has four ranked teams.

Buckeyes

The Ohio State Buckeyes remain at #1 after beating Penn State. I’m interested to see what the committee thinks about the Buckeyes, but for now they are #1 until they lose.

Spartans

The Michigan State Spartans remain at #7 after kicking in-state rivals Michigan in the nuts on the last play of the game. Good enough to win, but not good enough to jump Clemson.

Wolverines

The Michigan Wolverines drop from #12 to #15 after losing to the Spartans. Anybody else that rose that quickly would have dropped much farther, but you know, it’s Harbaugh and Michigan.

Hawkeyes

The Iowa Hawkeyes continue to rise rapidly going from #17 to #12 after beating Northwestern convincingly. Impressive Hawkeyes, nice work.

Wildcats

The Northwestern Wildcats drop out of the rankings after getting schooled two weeks in a row. Not impressive Wildcats, we’ll miss you.

In the almost-but-not-quite-ranked category we have Wisconsin at #34 and Northwestern at #37.

This week was big, next week is not so big. But every game matters, and they all count one. Four teams have bye weeks too so only five games to track.

Go B1G!

B1G