Week 2 of college football is in the books. So what have we learned this week?
#1 – The Big Ten Is Dead
Or at least on life support. The conference went 8-4 last weekend which doesn’t seem that bad on the surface, but dig a little deeper and you’ll see some big time problems in the Big Ten:
– Ohio State, the pre-season hands-down best team in the conference, lost to Virginia Tech at home in primetime by 14 points. Ouch.
– Illinois struggled at home nearly all game against Western Kentucky before pulling away 42-34 late.
– Northwestern lost to Northern Illinois, a MAC team, 23-15 at home.
– Nebraska needed a late surge to defeat McNeese State at home.
– Purdue, perpetually the Big Ten’s cellar dweller, lost to Central Michigan 38-17 at home.
– Iowa nearly lost at home to Ball State before getting a late score to take the game 17-13.
– Michigan State, pretty much the only team that could’ve dethroned Ohio State according to preseason pundits, fell 46-27 to Oregon after surrendering 28 second half points and scoring only a field goal in the second half.
– Michigan got blown out 31-0 against Notre Dame in what was supposed to be a wire-to-wire farewell to a storied rivalry.
The only bright spots in the conference was Penn State’s 21-3 victory over Akron and Wisconsin’s 37-3 drubbing of Western Illinois. The Big Ten has been deteriorating for a long time (more on this in an article to come), but it seems this season may be the worst for one of the most-storied conferences in college football.
#2 – USC Is Back
It’s becoming more and more apparent head coach Steve Sarkisian was absolutely the right hire in Southern California as he’s got his Trojans off to a 2-0 start with a big win over Stanford on the road. There’s still three more big tests to come for USC (Arizona State on Oct. 4, at UCLA on Nov. 22, and at home against Notre Dame on Nov. 29), but it looks like USC has firmly inserted themselves in the race for the Pac-12 title. Oh, and they avoid the best team in the conference (Oregon) until perhaps the Pac-12 Championship Game on December 5 in Santa Clara, California.
#3 – Oregon Is For Real … For Now
Oregon fought back from a 24-18 halftime deficit and blasted Sparty 28-3 in the second half for the 46-27 win and have since moved into #2 in the AP poll and #4 in the USA Today poll. What’s more for the Ducks is their defense played outstanding late in the win over Michigan State, something the Ducks have been lacking for several years. If that offense keeps firing, the defense still stuffs teams, and with only UCLA, Stanford, and maybe Washington remaining on the schedule as teams who could challenge the Ducks, the likelihood of an undefeated season has skyrocketed.
#4 – Cupcake Games Need To Go
This isn’t anything we learned over the weekend, but it becomes more and more obvious every single season: big schools need to eliminate FBS-FCS games. It gives us bad games with lopsided scores and half-full stadiums. It doesn’t help the big schools in any way to play the Lamar’s, Sam Houston State’s, McNeese State’s, or Western Illinois’ other than to get an easy W, a couple of extra dollars in their pockets from gate receipts, and a “gimme” win coaches can put on their resume. I want less Wisconsin-Western Illinois, FSU-Citadel, Alabama-Florida Atlantic, and more Oregon-Michigan State, Ohio State-Virginia Tech and pretty much any SEC-SEC or Pac-12-Pac-12 game you can give me!