MOTSAG Conference Progress Rep

I will be trying something new, but I think it’ll be another fun way to take the MOTSAG faithful into a whole new stratosphere with our new Conference Progress Report.  Here we will take a look at the Big 10 Conference as a whole and grade each team from week to week.  I may or may not take a stab at teams outside of the Big 10 and grade other conferences as well, but let’s focus on the Big 10 first.

#1:  Wisconsin Badgers (2-0)

The Wisconsin Badgers have been a force to be reckoned with and in two games they have outscored opponents 110-0.  In week 3 they are on a bye, but I will still have them ahead of our beloved Buckeyes for the time being at least.  As much as I want to place them ahead, I cannot overlook the fact that they have yet to give up any points.

They look like a well-oiled machine and until someone knocks them off of their perch, I feel the need to leave them because technically they are perfect in the sense that they haven’t given up a point and they haven’t shown any weakness up to this point.  They have the weapons to give other teams fits so for now, they sit as the top team in the Big 10.  They also have Michigan at home so things could change.

#2:  Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0)

As much as I want to put them at the top, I am not prepared to at this point.  It’s not that I am doubting them, I am pretty proud of this team so far, but they are sort of an unfinished product at this point.  Yes, they have outscored opponents 138-31, but they need more time to develop.

The defense is terrific and they are very disruptive, and the tackling is definitely better, but I like they could improve a little bit more.  Sacks are always going to be a thing for this years team, but I want consistency with getting turnovers.  The pick-six from Arnette was a sight for sore eyes, but if they can become a little more consistent with takeaways, I will move them up accordingly.

#3:  Penn State Nittany Lions (3-0)

Okay, they barely skimmed by Pitt in a rivalry game, but they managed to pull it off.  No harm, no foul on their part and I won’t penalize them for being tested.  They have been a terror on offense and they have outscored opponents 141-30.

They showed their grit in week three and their defense answered the call to stop Pitt.  They are disruptive, but if challenged with the right pressure, they looked somewhat beatable.  Penn State always has weapons on offense, so they cannot be taken lightly, but they’re a solid team that could make noise.

#4:  Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0)

The Iowa Hawkeyes were also tested against a feisty Iowa State team, but luck played its hand at the end of this one with one of the most dreadful punt return sequences I’ve seen in a while.

Lady luck certainly favored the Hawkeyes in this battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy, but they too were tested.  Their offense took a step back and only managed 18 points, but a win is a win and they’ve been outscoring opponents 86-31.  They aren’t as flashy as the top three but their system grinds teams down and they just win.

#5:  Michigan Wolverines (2-0)

The hype train ran rampant throughout the and guess who started feeling themselves a little too early on into the season?  Yup, you guessed it, the Team Up North definitely thought they would destroy teams cause of their talent alone, but no one got the memo that your Offensive Coordinator would need some time to adjust to the team as well.

Yes, he came from Alabama but come on it won’t work out that fast.  They showed their potential against Middle Tennessee, but against Army, they barely escaped at home.  They too are on a bye week, but with a trip to Madison on the horizon, we will see exactly what this team can do.

#6:  Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-1)

Okay, some might feel like they are too high, but they can be that Big 10 West team that comes out of nowhere at home and guess who the Buckeyes play in week 5?  I think highly of them because they have everything I need in a team.  A speedy quarterback and a Blackshirt defense that should pose a challenge, especially since it’s a home game.

An explosive offense and a good defense are enough to keep me anxious, but since a lowly Colorado team could squeak out a win against this team, who knows.  They travel to Illinois but they took it on the chin, so they may use them as a tune-up to prepare for Ohio State.

#7:  Michigan State Spartans (2-1)

Michigan State appeared to have it all in the bag, but another bad loss to a young Arizona State team, this time at home, I cannot help but feel robbed at this point.  They have a stifling defense, but the offense looks a bit outdated and boring.

They have been the thorn on Ohio State’s side for a little bit and this gets me pumped for the upcoming clash in Columbus, but they must defeat Northwestern in Evansville.  They seem to be getting into their usual groove so we may see another good win for the Spartans or another tough loss.

#8:  Northwestern Wildcats (1-1)

The Northwestern Wildcats took an early loss to Stanford and they looked like they had regressed.  They beat UNLV and looked better offensively.  They play a Spartans team that took a bad loss to Arizona State and even they are at home, they could get taken out.

Their defense is still the same disciplined team, but their offense is inconsistent.  With Thorson leaving for the NFL, they look confused and they are not as explosive as the Cardiac Cats of old.  They need to find an identity soon, but we will see if they can survive a clash with the Spartans.

#9:  Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-0)

Don’t let the undefeated tag fool you, this team is very inconsistent and they have barely managed to avoid losses to South Dakota State, Fresno State, and wait for it…  Georgia Southern.  The common denominator is they won by the skin of their teeth, by a single score.

Sure, a win is a win and they managed to skim by, but come on.  They should be able to be more consistent, but the talent is still trying to gel together.  I get that, but I cannot help but feel like they should be a little bit better than what they are showing.

#10:  Maryland Terrapins (2-1)

Fools gold!  What was a high-octane offense, but they just flopped against Temple in a rivalry game in Philadelphia.  Their offense was fine, but their defense has been atrocious.  If they can run teams out of the stadium. they’ll be fine.  If not, then they look completely beatable.

This team is improved and they did take the Buckeyes to the absolute limit a season ago.  So they did they just run out of steam or have they peaked as a team too early into the season?  Either way, they have a bye to figure it out before hosting Penn State.

#11:  Indiana Hoosiers (2-1)

So the Hoosiers ran into a buzzsaw and they were trounced at home.  They had two convincing wins against lesser teams, but it is evident that they aren’t ready for big boy football against more elite teams.

They stood no chance against a gritty Buckeye squad who is on a mission.  Looking ahead, they need to refocus their efforts and recover against UConn.  The jury is still out, but I believe Indiana can turn it around.


#12:  Purdue Boilermakers (1-2)

The last team to upset the Buckeyes has struggled to produce wins against Nevada and TCU, but the most recent loss isn’t a bad one in my opinion.  They could certainly rebound against a lowly Minnesota team that has managed to skim by.

Up to this point, the Boilermakers have been off and the jury is still out on this team.  Their schedule looks pretty tough and they could have a bad season if things don’t change soon.  For now, they are underachieving and they could sneak up on a few teams.

#13:  Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-1)

Well, the Scarlet Knights have been a tad bit better this season before they played Iowa.  Either way, they look to be an improved team so far, but they very well might be the same old Rutgers team.

They have a tough schedule as well and they could struggle to make a bowl game once again.  Unless they can sneak up on a couple of unsuspecting teams, but at this point, it is very doubtful.  This team has some moxie and they can be explosive against the right opponent.

#14:  Illinois Fighting Illini (2-1)

So Lovie Smith will have a hard time coming back from a bad loss against Eastern Michigan.  Sure, he is 2-1 but he has to get his team back after such a devastating loss.  It won’t be easy against Nebraska, but like the previous three or four, it might not be easy in the Big 10 schedule.

In what could be his last season, Smith would need a miracle to save his job.  He would have to beat a good team or win all of his rivalry games before the end of the season.  They should be relieved that Illibuck isn’t on the docket, but they could still mess it up for themselves.

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