From Ohio State trying to defend its national championship, to Michigan State ascending to the top five, to Northwestern in the top 15, to Michigan in the top 20, to Iowa in the top 25, there are a lot of great storylines in the Big Ten this year.
In fact, the aforementioned quintet is a combined 24-1, with the only loss being Michigan’s season-opener at Utah (4-0), which is ranked fifth in this week’s poll.
So yeah, maybe the conference isn’t so bad after all.
But what’s been the best storyline in the Big Ten this season?
“Well, l I think probably the best stories are going to go head-to-head this weekend in Ann Arbor,” Big Ten Network host Dave Revsine said in-studio on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I think Michigan and Northwestern have probably been the best stories to this point, and Jim Harbaugh has the Wolverines off to a really good start. They lost to Utah, but obviously no shame in that with the way Utah has played. And the defense has just been phenomenal.”
Michigan has given up just 105 yards in each of its last two games, both shutouts.
You hear that? That’s 210 yards in two games.
“I mean, that was a quarter under Rich Rodriguez – and I love Rich,” Revsine said. “But (Harbaugh has) transformed (that defense). Now they inherited a pretty good defense from Brady Hoke, but still they’re really good. And then Northwestern is completely unexpected. I mean, they’ve matched their win total of each of the last two years already in the first five games. Their defense is lights out. So that should be a really compelling game this Saturday.”
No. 18 Michigan (4-1) and No. 13 Northwestern (5-0) kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Ohio State, meanwhile, remains the No. 1 team in the country, but the Buckeyes have been anything but dominant this season, as they needed late defensive stops to hold off Northern Illinois and Indiana.
The defense, however, has been stellar. Cardale Jones, on the other hand? Not so much. Last year’s playoff darling has just six touchdowns and five interceptions through five games.
Do the Buckeyes need to make a change at quarterback?
“I felt like J.T. Barrett was a better fit at quarterback,” Revsine said. “For whatever reason – and look, Urban Meyer is arguably the best coach going in college football. (It’s) probably been Urban and Nick Saban. He’s going to be a Hall of Famer. He’s going to go down as one of the greatest coaches in this game. So if he feels like Cardale Jones is the best guy for his team, who are we to argue? Maybe there’s more to it. The offensive line hasn’t played well. Tom Herman, who was their offensive coordinator, is now the head coach at the University of Houston and is doing fabulously there. They’re on the verge of breaking into the Top 25. So that could be part of it. They lost a play caller. There’s a lot of different things that go into this.
“But for whatever reason, their offense isn’t clicking,” Revsine continued, “and I think it’s kind of easy to look at the quarterback because that’s the guy who handles the ball on every play. Obviously the quarterbacks were so good a year ago. They went through essentially three . . . and they still end up winning the national championship. So they got a lot of the credit last year. Maybe that wasn’t completely fair. They’re getting a lot of the blame this year, and maybe that isn’t completely fair. But I think at a certain point, you got to make a change.”
Ohio State hosts Maryland (2-3) this Saturday at noon.