5 B1G Things To Watch For
Each week Phil Harrison gives you five things to watch as we get ready for the slate of Big Ten games.
We’ve got just one more week before conference play really gets crankin’ which means there’s one more game for most Big Ten teams to get things headed in the right direction before beating up on each other.
For others, it’s time to kick off conference play. Here’s five things to keep an eye on for week four.
5. Can Ohio State continue to get things right?
The loss against Oklahoma exposed some glaring opportunities for improvement for the Scarlet and Gray. The pass defense needs to get much better, the passing game needs to keep taking a step forward, and the linebackers must do a better job of reading plays.
It’s not like OSU is a collection of recycled trash, but it’s high time to step up the areas of need if it wants to get back in the national title picture.
A game at home against UNLV won’t provide much in the way of assessment, but it’s a great chance to work on situations and confidence before beginning Big Ten play.
4. Rutgers or Nebraska?
Okay it would sound silly at the beginning of the year, but do we really know which team is the better one between the Scarlet Knights and Cornhuskers?
Rutgers hasn’t exactly lit it up, but they did look competitive against Washington and were able to blow away an inferior opponent last week. Nebraska on the other hand, has dropped two in a row — first to Oregon on the road, and then last Saturday to a MAC school at home.
My money would be on Nebraska, but the ‘Huskers had better right the ship if they have designs of getting to a bowl — as crazy as that sounds.
3. Just how good is Purdue?
We don’t really know yet do we? The Boilermakers are clearly better than the last few years and headed in the right direction, but now comes a true program measuring type of game against the mighty Wolverines.
The jury is still out on how good Louisville is, and we might find out that Missouri is a train wreck before it’s all said and done. And though I am not sold on Michigan’s ability to move the ball, the defense will provide a true test against the Jeff Brohm offense.
2. Can Sparty continue its rebound?
I have been shouting from the mountain tops that Michigan State is going to surprise folks this year. So far, so good on that front, but we’ll have to wait until the competition level goes up to really know for sure.
I don’t think anyone is ready to consider Notre Dame as a beast of a challenge, but it’s a step in the right direction against a more athletic bunch.
We all know the false sense of hope last year’s game provided, but this is one that will continue the upward trend this year if Mark Dantonio’s crew wants to put the conference on notice.
1. Can Iowa pull off another shocker?
The Hawkeyes have made a habit of losing games they should win, but have also shown a penchant for pulling an upset or two under Kirk Ferentz.
On the latter, guess who’s swashbuckling into Iowa City Saturday? Yes, Penn State. The Nittany Lions have looked like one of the best teams in the country thus far — albeit against less-than-stellar competition.
So here we go. Iowa has also looked very good early on in the season, so we’re going to get a good look at where each team really is Saturday night. Is Iowa really that good, and is Penn State ready to blow the doors off a good team on the road?
Can we kick this when off already?
Phil Harrison is the lead Big Ten writer for College Football News. Get his opinion and analysis all year long. Follow him on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFB