State of Big Ten football: Ohio State, Michigan and a host of challengers #news

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By RJ Young
FOX Sports College Football Writer

We’ve already taken a take a look at the state of the Big 12 and the Pac-12. Now, as we sit down kind of a quarter of the best way in the course of the season, let’s take a take a look at some key storylines within the Big Ten.

Is Michigan for actual?

As I wrote in our roundtable this week, best rival fanatics and media care that “You Played Somebody.” Three cupcakes to start out the yr? That simply reasons other folks like me to yell, “They ain’t played nobody!”

But via December, when that very same group is hitting 9 or 10 wins? That’s the way you fundraise. 

But when you lose to a cupcake, you might be gonna catch a load of cream filling on your face like a clown.

Of direction, that is not the issue at Michigan, which is 3-0 after a trio of simple wins over Colorado State, Hawaii and UConn.

Now that the Wolverines have eaten their dessert prior to the primary direction, although, let’s see if they are able to nonetheless consume their greens — i.e. Maryland

Is Michigan’s agenda too cushy for the CFP?

RJ Young examines how excellent the Michigan Wolverines have regarded to this point following their victory over UConn.

The opening line this week has shriveled from 3 touchdowns right down to 17 (per FOX Bet). Last yr the Wolverines have been a two-touchdown favourite towards Maryland and gained 59-18. I need to know if Michigan simply will get up for Maryland or if this sport is a harbinger of convention video games to come back, because it was once a yr in the past.

Now the Wolverines are within the thick of issues. Another lopsided win towards the Terps would do extra to persuade doubters that they are able to shield their first Big Ten crown since 2004 and end up, once more, to have the measure of the Ohio State Buckeyes.

But I would not rely on it. Because this version of the Buckeyes is legitimately terrifying.

Is the Ohio State revenge excursion on?

The quick solution? Yes.

The 2022 Buckeyes have needed to concentrate for the easier phase of 8 months about how they weren’t bodily sufficient — even cushy — towards That Team Up North in Ann Arbor, Michigan, remaining season.

The Wolverines passed the Buckeyes their butts in the back of a dominant defensive efficiency and five-touchdown dashing efficiency from Hassan Haskins that tied a Michigan document.

For point of view, working again Blake Corum additionally tied that document this season — towards UConn. That’s no longer the type of corporate the Buckeyes’ protection desires to stay.

But that’s the tale for Ohio State in 2022. We know that Ryan Day, quarterback C.J. Stroud and the remaining of the Buckeye offense are gonna make like a crew of Top Gun graduates flying 100 toes above mountainous terrain to nail a goal 3 toes huge, best to dogfight their as far back as the boat.

C.J. Stroud tosses 5 TD passes vs. Toledo

C.J. Stroud placed on a medical institution towards the Toledo Rockets, passing for 367 yards and 5 touchdowns within the 77-21 victory.

What is still observed is that if defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ protection is legitimately higher than predecessor Kerry Coombs’ was once in 2021. After Week 1, I assumed we’d heard the solution with a dominating efficiency towards a then top-five Notre Dame.

But the Fighting Irish have since been overwhelmed via Marshall and slightly were given previous Cal. Beating up on Arkansas State and Toledo doesn’t let us know a lot. Shutting down a Wisconsin group led via All-Big Ten-caliber working again Braelon Allen would let us know extra. 

It’s exhausting to look how those Buckeyes don’t finally end up in a Big Ten East showdown for the precise to play within the convention identify sport, and they’re going to most likely be the favourite to win the league identify and earn a call for participation to the College Football Playoff.

Speaking of the Big Ten East … it is a monster.

That’s no longer an opinion. That’s no longer a query. It’s a easy fact. It’s a reality, just about as immutable as gravity. As I wrote in my Week 4 Top 25 rankings, because the Big Ten was once break up into two divisions in 2014, there hasn’t ever been a season when both Big Ten department noticed all seven groups start their respective seasons 3-0, consistent with FOX Sports analysis.

This season, the Big Ten East would have pulled it off if no longer for Michigan State’s stumble at Washington on Saturday.

There hasn’t ever been a higher argument for the Big Ten to disband its divisions and let the 2 groups with the most efficient data play every different for the league identify.

And now that we are in convention play, all of the ones groups must play every different. Outside of Ohio State and Michigan, the Penn State Nittany Lions really feel just like the group maximum succesful of emerging to the highest of the department, however they have got questions that will have to be replied nonetheless, too.

Starting with the massive one …

Is Penn State for actual?

I used to be loud about two issues associated with Penn State soccer all the way through preseason. The first is that the Nittany Lions started this season with out a unmarried participant who had rushed for 100-plus yards in any sport remaining season. In reality, Penn State needed to glance again to November 2020 for his or her remaining 100-yard rusher.

The 2nd is that true freshman Nick Singleton would put an finish to that streak. Even as James Franklin and Sean Clifford every sat throughout from me at Big Ten Media Days and confident me that they’ll want all of their tailbacks to run the ball successfully, I used to be insistent that Singleton was once a reduce above the remaining.

Nicholas Singleton breaks out for 53-yard run

Nicholas Singleton helped the Penn State Nittany Lions acquire a 21-6 lead vs. the Auburn Tigers, because of a 53-yard run that arrange his dashing landing from the 1-yard line.

He’s since rushed for no less than 124 yards in every of Penn State’s remaining two video games. In 3 video games, he’s carried the ball simply 30 occasions for 334 yards.

He is probably the most proficient and productive tailback at Penn State since Saquon Barkley. As he is going, so is going this Penn State group. Simply put, if we occur to appear up and see Penn State has gained its first convention identify since 2016, relaxation confident that Singleton will probably be on the middle of its luck.

Are the Golden Gophers as excellent as I believe they’re?

Here’s how a lot I consider in Minnesota: The Gophers have all of the items to position in combination an disenchanted towards Ohio State.

Yeah, I mentioned it. But with excellent reason why.

P.J. Fleck has effectively put the band again in combination — the band that led Minnesota to an 11-win season and an Outback Bowl win in 2019.

That band contains quarterback Tanner Morgan, offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarocca, defensive coordinator Joe Rossi and working again Mohamed Ibrahim.

For our functions, Ibrahim is as essential to Minnesota as Freddie Mercury is to Queen. He is their frontman, and the Golden Gophers merely don’t run with out him — actually.

Why Minnesota is a top-10 group

RJ Young explains why he thinks the Golden Gophers can win the Big Ten West and play Ohio State within the Big Ten Championship Game.

As I wrote in our personnel choices piece this week, Ibrahim rushed for greater than 200 yards towards Colorado remaining week and has put in combination 12-straight 100-yard dashing performances relationship again to 2019. The Gophers are one of simply two groups averaging greater than 300 rush yards in keeping with sport this season. The different is an academy group (Air Force). 

The Gophers are my pick out to constitute the Big Ten West within the Big Ten identify sport and the department’s absolute best wager to win the convention identify for the primary time in a decade.

Elsewhere …

Iowa

Show me an offense that the Hawkeyes protection can rely on, and I’ll display you a group that may problem Minnesota for Big Ten West supremacy. But that’s a large ask judging via the play of quarterback Spencer Petras and the play-calling of offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz.

Perspective: Last yr, the Hawkeyes counted Charlie Jones as one of their huge receivers. He stuck 21 passes for 323 yards and 3 TDs all remaining season. Since shifting to Purdue, he’s stuck 32 passes for 474 yards and 5 TDs. It’s no longer that Iowa doesn’t have playmakers. It’s that Iowa refuses to make use of them.

Wisconsin

The remaining Big Ten West group to win the league identify doesn’t really feel aggressive sufficient to do it this yr. Graham Mertz has but to look as the second one coming of Russell Wilson, and even Allen can best do such a lot when the protection is aware of the quarterback isn’t a risk to overcome them.

Michigan State 

After a promising begin to the season, Mel Tucker’s Spartans have been punched within the mouth via a Pac-12 program in transition with a new head trainer, switch quarterback and little-to-no expectation to compete for his or her league’s identify.

Now, with Minnesota on deck, it’s gut-check time in East Lansing for a group that completed 11-2 in 2021.

Read extra:

– CFP, Heisman and other predictions from FOX Sports staff 

– Pac-12 is back in the spotlight, for all the right reasons 

– The Ultimate College Football Road Trip hits Tennessee

– Maryland-Michigan and more: Week 4 by the numbers

– Oklahoma on the rise: Joel Klatt’s top 10

– USC, Oklahoma on a CFP collision course?

RJ Young is a nationwide faculty soccer creator and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast “The Number One College Football Show.” Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young and subscribe to “The RJ Young Show” on YouTube.


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