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The Big Ten's strengths, weaknesses and Michigan ... again

Drew Hamm is back to pick on Michigan, college football's easiest target.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

I watched exactly three quarters of Big Ten football this weekend, and two of them were the first half of the Wisconsin game, which shouldn't really count as watching football.

It is with this wealth of knowledge that I started to analyze (read: look for glaring statistical oddities that I can mock) the box scores from Saturday. My favorite was Trevor Siemian's rushing stat line. He had five attempts for minus-8 yards and three touchdowns. I'm thinking if the Badgers can hold him to minus-10 yards or less (more?) they should be OK this week.

Big Ten East


S&P+ rank: 66th overall; 59th offense, 68th defense

Biggest strength: Hospitality. Allowed Maryland to feel right at home in the Big Ten, where everyone beats Indiana in everything.

Biggest weakness: The passing game. Nate Sudfeld averaged 3.4 yards per attempt. My roommate for much of college was a math major and he tells me 3.4 isn't a high number. Combined with my knowledge of football, which states that you want your yards per attempt to be a high number, that leads me to the conclusion that Nate Sudfeld eats butt. Q.E.D.

Remaining schedule: Play North Texas next week. Are they in the Big Ten? The game is on BTN, so I'm going to say yes. Keep the welcome wagon rolling, Hoosiers!


S&P+ rank: 45th overall; 66th offense, 33rd defense

Biggest strength: The Terps have two very good wide receivers in Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. They combined for 16 catches, 220 yards and one touchdown against Indiana. When they play Wisconsin, I conservatively predict they will combine for 1 million catches for 8 million yards and zero touchdowns. The Badgers will still win, duh.

Only get married if your future spouse doesn't like doing Seasonal Fun Activities.

Biggest weakness: I went to an apple orchard and picked apples on Sunday morning/afternoon instead of sitting on my couch drinking beer and watching sports. Only get married if your future spouse doesn't like doing Seasonal Fun Activities.

Remaining schedule: First Big Ten home game coming up! Playing Ohio State! On national TV! Store owners of Maryland heed this warning: people in Ohio deal primarily in counterfeit money. Please don't accept any non-legal tender for goods or services, or else the rest of the country may become susceptible to the scourge of Ohioans.


S&P+ rank: 35th overall; 48th offense, 25th defense

Biggest strength: I got done with work Saturday night at around 4 in the morning. I went with my co-workers to a late-night bar for a post-work beer. They were showing highlights of the Michigan game on ESPN when we walked in. The first stat they showed was that this was the first time in the entire history of Michigan football that the Wolverines had three losses before October. I burst out laughing and my boss looked at me funny. Stupid Michigan, making me look weird in front of my boss.

Biggest weakness: Concussion evaluationThis should not go unpunished.

He's overweight, too! Don't forget about that.

Remaining schedule: Does it matter? #Kiffin4Michigan

Michigan State

S&P+ rank: 13th overall; 3rd offense, 29th defense

Biggest strength: MSU has scored 201 points in four games. I wonder what that averages out to? /calls math major roommate //gets voicemail ///DAMMIT

Biggest weakness: AIN'T PLAYED NOB... oh, wait, they played Oregon. Well, they lost that game, though, so that's probably a weakness. Also, haven't had any rappers hang out with their head coach yet.

Remaining schedule: Huge intra-divisional matchup under the lights against Nebraska. No snark here. Should be a really fun game.

Ohio State

S&P+ rank: 20th overall; 13th offesne, 36th defense

Biggest strength: Their quarterback, J.T. Barrett, is truly a dual-threat. I wish it was spelled "duel-threat" because then QBs would have pistols and that would be badass, albeit dangerous.

Biggest weakness: Holy crap, did Gunner Kiel throw for a bunch of yards against them. This pass defense could make Tanner McEvoy look like an all-conference quarterback.

Remaining schedule: Travel to Maryland for crabcakes and football. Which is what Maryland does.

Penn State

S&P+ rank: 36th overall; 65th offense, 18th defense

Biggest strength: Despite losing to Northwestern at home (LOL), Penn State can still hang its hat on having won in three countries this year: Ireland, USA and New Jersey. Penn State, truly an international powerhouse.

Biggest weakness: They seriously lost to Northwestern at home. I wasn't making that part up.

Remaining schedule: A bye and then a rebound game against the worst team in the country, the Michigan Wolverines.


S&P+ rank: 46th overall; 43rd offense, 50th defense

Biggest strength: Rutgers is 4-1 this year and might be the best team in Big Ten history. Good add, Jim Delany.

Biggest weakness: The title to ESPN's game recap of the Tulane vs. Rutgers game is "Nova throws 3 TDs and sets Rutgers career mark." Even with the "TDs" in the title, I assumed that he set an interception record.

Remaining schedule: The Scarlet Knights are 0-1 in B1G play. Despite playing Michigan next, I can't imagine it will get better for them.

Big Ten West


S&P+ rank: 64th overall; 70th offense, 61st defense

Biggest strength: Wisconsin plays at Northwestern this weekend. My beer preview post is going to be 8,000 words long. I've got "hot Chicago beer takes."

Biggest weakness: Gave up 458 rushing yards to Nebraska. That probably qualifies as a weakness.

Remaining schedule: Returns home to play Purdue in a game that ESPN is televising due to contractual reasons.


S&P+ rank: 62nd overall; 89th offense, 40th defense

Biggest strength: Iowa didn't have any strengths last week. The Hawkeyes continue to have two scholarship punters on their roster, and as such, they don't have any strengths this week.

Biggest weakness: Had to go to Purdue. That's a terrible fate.

Remaining schedule: Gets to play Indiana at home. Woof.


S&P+ rank: 31st overall; 67th offense, 12th defense

Biggest strength: My wife is from Minnesota and has many friends on Facebook that attended the state university there. Hoo boy, are they excited about their win on Saturday. I can't wait for them to lose to BYE this week.

Biggest weakness: Trophy ownership. I don't care that they have the Little Brown Jug. They will never get Paul Bunyan's Axe. Never.

Remaining schedule: If the Gophers ever want to make the Playoff, they need to stop scheduling teams like Michigan.


S&P+ rank: 32nd overall; 25th offense, 43rd defense

Might be the best team in the conference.

Biggest strength: Might be the best team in the conference. We'll find out Saturday night. Again, I'm excited to see the game against Michigan State. Should be fun. *joke about sports*

Biggest weakness: The Cornhuskers are averaging over 45 points per game. This isn't a weakness -- this is incredible.

Remaining schedule: Seriously. Don't get too drunk on Saturday and fall asleep before the Nebraska/MSU game. It should be a good one.


S&P+ rank: 58th overall; 107th offense, 19th defense

Biggest strength: Proximity to my apartment. I'll see you all in Evanston on Saturday!

Biggest weakness: I know that none of the players on Wisconsin's roster have ever played at Ryan Field. I know this. I'm still terrified that Wisconsin will lose this weekend because Wisconsin never wins at Northwestern. Just to be safe I'm going to start tailgaiting now.



S&P+ rank: 89th overall; 99th offense, 71st defense

Biggest strength: Pass. I'm allowed to pass on some of these, right?

Biggest weakness: Lost to Iowa. The same Iowa that has two scholarship punters.

Remaining schedule: Plays Illinois this weekend. I can't think of anything I care less about than this game.


S&P+ rank: 22nd overall; 37th offense, 13th defense

Biggest strength: Halftime adjustments. Did you know Wisconsin had three points at halftime against South Florida? Three. *pukes*

Biggest weakness: Deep balls. If Tanner McEvoy throws a pass longer than 10 yards against Northwestern, I'm going to write snarky things on the internet. OK, I'm going to do that anyways, but Andy Ludwig should really consider throwing short passes for the rest of the season.

Remaining schedule: I live on the 48th floor of a high=rise in Chicago. I can see Northwestern's campus from my living room. I've been glaring out the window all week. HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE STARTS HERE!