Big Ten Midseason Biggest Surprises
1. OHio State QB Dwayne Haskins
Of course he was always going to be the starting quarterback, and at Ohio State, that means big numbers and big things, but this? He has gone from nice prospect to Heisman contender, looking like the best of the quarterbacking lot in the Urban Meyer era. He might not run much, but he’s the pro style passer who has taken the Buckeyes to a whole other level.
2. Michigan QB SHea Patterson
There was a hope that the Michigan passing game would finally be something other than awful, and Patterson has come through better than you might think. Everyone saw the struggles against Notre Dame and assumed that the passing attack was the same old stuff, but he completed 20-of-30 throws for 227 yards with a pick – he wasn’t that bad. On the year, he’s hitting 69% of his throws with ten scores and three picks.
3. Michigan State
There aren’t enough spots on the disappointment section – so Michigan State gets a special place here. 15th in the final 2017 AP poll and 16th in the Coaches, the Spartans started off the year 11th in the AP and 12th in the Coaches. The pass defense is the worst in the Big Ten, the ground game is the second-worst in the conference, and the team is a pedestrian 3-2 with Michigan, Ohio State and at Penn State yet to go.
Big Ten Midseason Biggest Disappointments
1. BYU 24, Wisconsin 21
This was everything Wisconsin can’t be. It was beaten up, it lost on the lines, and it wasn’t good enough against a team that was smarter, tougher, and far more enthusiastic. The Cougars didn’t do anything special, and they didn’t have some quirky offensive style that couldn’t be figured out. BYU played like Wisconsin, and did it even better.
The Huskers weren’t going to win the Big Ten title right away under Scott Frost, but to start 0-5? The offense has shown sparks, and even though Adrian Martinez is great, he’s still a true freshman – there’s going to be a learning curve.
They were right there against Colorado and Troy, but both games went the other way, and the momentum rolled from there. There are way too many penalties – the most yards by anyone in college football – the special teams aren’t good, and the lines still aren’t there.
3. Minnesota RB Rodney Smith & Northwestern RB Jeremy Larkin
Rodney Smith put together a solid three-year career and was poised for a massive senior season, starting out with 153 yards in the opener against New Mexico State. But he suffered a knee injury early against Fresno State and is out for the year.
Jeremy Larkin took over for Justin Jackson to be Northwestern’s star back. running for 143 yards and two scores against Purdue, hitting Duke for 121 yards, and running for 82 yards and two touchdowns against Akron. He was able to catch a little, too. But an issue emerged with his neck and spine that forced him to retire from football.
And now, the Big Ten is missing two of its top backs, and the two teams lost their workhorses.