BY CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Sports Editor
It has not been a good start to the 2012 season for the B1G Ten. With the offseason turmoil surrounding Penn State and the scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, and the sanctions imposed on Ohio State University after former coach Jim Tressel left the program in ruins two years ago, the B1G Ten is not having a good year.
The Michigan Wolverines started out the season with a big game against second ranked and the defending National Champions, Alabama Crimson Tide. The Wolverines started out ranked eighth in the country, but it proved to be too much for the Brady Hoke-led Wolverines. A big loss resulted in a giant drop in the rankings to 19 the week after. They beat Air Force this past weekend and jumped up to 17 in the rankings.
The Michigan State Spartans were second ranked team, 13 going into the first week of the season, and they jumped up to 10 after beating Boise State at home, in a close game, and then tearing apart local rival Central Michigan. They are still ranked 10 heading into week three.
Finally, Wisconsin started the year out ranked 12. They barely beat Northern Iowa in the first week, and dropped from the Top 25 after that close game. It didn’t help that they lost to Oregon State in Week 2, and somehow stayed in the top 25 in the coaches poll after that loss.
They are the only three B1G Ten teams in the Top 25. Ohio State is not allowed to be ranked in the top 25 because of their sanctions, they have a bowl ban, and Penn State cannot participate in postseason play for the next four years.
Illinois is looking to improve off a disappointing 7-6 year last year, along with a win against UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, in which both head coaches were fired before the game. The Indiana Hoosiers were absolutely terrible last year, finishing 1-11. They have already improved with two wins this year, but still have a long way to go.
The Iowa Hawkeyes, one of only two teams to beat Michigan last year are also trying to improve. They finished 7-6, with a win against Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl. Their schedule is fairly easy, with only two games against ranked teams, so it will be tough to become ranked. Minnesota has had some tough years in the B1G Ten. With each year, they improve, and they finished 3-9 last year. They are 2-0 on the season but still have a tough schedule ahead against better teams in the B1G Ten. Nebraska is in it’s second season in the B1G Ten and has already suffered a tough loss against UCLA in Week 2. They are looking to build off of a 9-4 season that included a loss to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.
Northwestern beat an SEC team this past weekend, which should be a record, but it was against Vanderbilt (0-2 this season). Last season they finished 6-7, which included a loss to Texas A&M in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. Ohio State has won both of it’s games so far, but can only go so far in the season and beat Michigan, which they have said is “their bowl game.” Penn State is faltering under new head coach Bill O’Brien, who replaces the historic Joe Paterno after he was fired amid the Sandusky scandal and passed away earlier this year. They have a long way to go to rebuilt that program.
Finally, Purdue will look to improve its program, but has already started out the season 1-1, with a loss to Notre Dame this past week.
The B1G Ten has a long way to go before competing with the best in the bowl games.