Saturday’s block of games did little to excite the imagination of college football fans. every game in the Big Ten except for Michigan State’s trip to Columbus and the Battle for the #LOLTrophy. The Florida-Alabama battle in the Swamp turned out to be a dud (not completely unexpectedly except by delusional Gator fans… sorry, I had to deal with a lot of them this weekend).
Even the featured battle of Wisconsin and Nebraska turned into a Heisman-reel show for Russell Wilson. So much so, in fact, that the Badgers have reportedly launched Russell-Mania as their official Heisman campaign for the transfer quarterback. Not quite #PersaStrong, but he might be the Big Ten’s best bet for a Heisman.
What we learned this weekend was that Wisconsin is really really good and a real threat not only to win the Big Ten, but also the national championship. The Leaders Division does not feel as strong as the Legends Division with a weakened Ohio State and Penn State still ahead and the surging Illinois team that mounted the comeback against Northwestern.
But we are not talking about that game. At least not here.
Things are setting up well for the Badgers to make a run at the crystal football in New Orleans this year. That is, if Wisconsin does not have karma come back and bite it after continuing to put up running up the score type numbers.
As with every week, here is my ballot for Blog Poll this week. My explanations are below. Leave your comments and I will consider them for a revision of the ballot. The final ballots are due at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on Monday. UPDATED 5:34 p.m. CT
Last Week: W 35-7 over Kentucky; This Week: vs. 16 Florida (2:30 p.m. CT/CBS)
Buzz: All eyes seem to be turning to Nov. 5 and the clash in Tuscaloosa between LSU and Alabama. It will come in due time. The matchup with the Gators at Death Valley will provide the Tigers another stern challenge. But the news that John Brantley will be out with a high ankle sprain and that true freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel will get the start does not bode well for the Gators. This, of course, a week after Alabama’s defensive and offense line simply dominated the game in the Swamp. This might be our best point of comparison before LSU and Alabama meet on the field.
Last Week: W 38-10 over No. 16 Florida; This Week: vs. Vanderbilt (6 p.m./ESPNU)
Buzz: The Crimson Tide rolled over the Gators at the Swamp on Saturday night. There is no other way to put it. Trent Richardson took a respectable Florida defensive line and turned them into his jelly by the second half. The vaunted Alabama defensive line shut down Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, two of the top rushers in the country, to eight yards on 14 carries. Just absolutely stifling stuff.
Last Week: W 62-6 over Ball State; This Week: vs. No. 22 Texas at Dallas (11 a.m./ABC)
Buzz: Oklahoma has been caught victim by how overwhelmingly good Alabama and LSU look. But the Sooners are still in good position. And a 62-6 win over anybody certainly looks pretty good. Now the Sooners get their archrivals from the Longhorn State for the Red River Rivalry. This is a big test for the Sooners who need to keep reminding everyone they are elite, especially as the win over the Seminoles seems to lose its luster with each passing week.
Last Week: W 48-17 over No. 12 Nebraska; This Week: vs. Indiana (11 a.m./BTN)
Buzz: The Badgers announced themselves as legitimate national championship contender by deconstructing the Cornhuskers in the Big Ten opener. It was quite the rude welcome to the conference. Russell Wilson though really makes Wisconsin a complete team. He has a lot of command at quarterback and it is hard to remember that this is his first (and only) year in Madison. Wilson completed 14 of 20 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns. Wilson has been the difference to complement the strong running attack led by Montee Ball.
5. Boise State
Last Week: W 30-10 over Nevada; This Week: at Fresno State (10/7, 8 p.m./ESPN)
Buzz: This is the penalty Boise State must pay for playing in the Mountain West. There is nothing that Boise State can do to stop the tide of impressive wins the schools ahead of them can build. Kellen Moore had a bad game Saturday, completing 19 of 33 passes, throwing two picks and a career-low 142 yards. Yikes. Boise State got its revenge, but needed to keep rolling over opponents to stay nationally relevant while they languish in the Mountain West.
Last Week: W 58-0 over Minnesota; Next Week: at Northwestern (6 p.m./BTN)
Buzz: Who had the Wolverines shutting out an opponent this year after the way they played defense last year? Anybody? I did not think so. Minnesota may not feature an elite, well, anything. The Gophers may not even have a decent anything. But holding a team to 177 total yards while running up and down through them deserves some major kudos. Michigan looked good against the Legends Division’s punching bag. Hopefully NU will provide a sterner challenge.
Last Week: L 48-17 to No. 4 Wisconsin; Next Week: vs. Ohio State (7 p.m./ABC)
Buzz: The Cornhuskers got a rude welcome to the Big Ten. Some of the shortcomings the team had shown in non-conference play were on full display as Wisconsin just dominated the game. Nebraska’s first home Big Ten game will not be as easy either. The Buckeyes get their suspended players back (coincidentally) and put in a decent defensive effort in the loss to the Spartans. Nebraska has to pick itself up pretty quickly to be ready for this matchup.
24. Michigan State
Last Week: W over Ohio State 10-7; Next Week: vs. Michigan (10/5, TBD)
Buzz: The Spartans turned in an impressive defensive performance in scoring a win at the Horseshoe. Yes, Ohio State looks pretty hapless with a freshman quarterback and without the suspended players (due back this week). Michigan State’s defense was nasty in holding Ohio State to 178 total yards and 35 rushing yards. The Buckeyes did not score until there were 33 seconds left. That says more about Kirk Cousins and his veteran offense struggling more than anything. The Spartans have a week to prepare for Denard Robinson and the Wolverines.
Why No Northwestern: Does this need explanation? The Wildcats lost a 28-10 lead in the second half and Pat Fitzgerald fell to 2-4 in Big Ten games when leading by 17 or more points. That is a very very very very bad statistic. Like embarrassingly bad. Something has to change there. And until it does, Northwestern probably should not be ranked.