Big Ten football: so far, so less than good | Bleader

Big Ten football: so far, so less than good

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The Ohio State marching band: one of the few Big Ten squads that hasnt underperformed this season
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  • The Ohio State marching band: one of the few Big Ten squads that hasn't underperformed this season
Years ago, I went to dinner with my brother and a friend. I mean, I've gone out to dinner many times since, but I remember this particular outing because of the candor of our waiter.

"How's the crab rangoon?" our friend asked.

The waiter thought a moment before answering. "Not very crab," he said.

Our friend wisely ordered the chicken chow mein.

I thought of that during last weekend's college football action. If you didn't know already, you might wonder, how's the Big Ten? And I'd have to tell you: not very big.

All right, it's not quite true that the entire conference stinks. After two games, a number of teams appear to be decent at times—like Michigan State, and Ohio State, and . . . and . . .

But let's review the league's accomplishments to date.

Two weeks ago, Michigan, one of the conference favorites, came up four touchdowns short against Alabama. Meanwhile, Penn State began its new era by laying a stinker at home against Ohio (not State).

Last weekend was even more illuminating. Nebraska and Wisconsin were upset on the road by teams expected to finish in the middle of the Pac-12; Illinois was bombed back to Champaign by another Pac-12 also-ran; Iowa couldn't quite score a touchdown in succumbing to Iowa State; Penn State missed roughly 17 field goals in a loss to UVa; and Purdue disappointed Notre Dame loathers everywhere by letting the Irish leg out a 20-17 win.

Sure, it's easy for me to play armchair football blogger and say that the Big Ten looks weak, especially since the Big Ten looks weak. In fairness, though, I should note that other power conferences have suffered their own indignities—starting with the mighty SEC and No. 8 Arkansas, which lost in overtime to Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday. Before then, most members of the Razorback team couldn't have even told you where that school was located.

In short, it's still early, and there's plenty of time for the Big Ten to get its mojo back before losing it again during the bowl season.

And on to this week's games.

Ohio State over Cal: Aside from a postseason ban, the Buckeyes are looking solid again. This displeases me.

Minnesota over Western Michigan: But it won't be easy, unless somehow it is.

Nebraska over Arkansas State: The (Occasionally) Big Red Machine should plow through the Red Wolves.

Illinois over Charleston Southern: Who?

Purdue over Eastern Michigan: Eastern isn't, well, good.

Northwestern over Boston College: My Wildcats are 2-0 and should be ready to take on another nerdy academic school. In other words, there's reason to be nervous.

Michigan over UMass: Like beating up the scrawny kid who just moved into the neighborhood.

Penn State over Navy: For best results, kick the ball between the uprights.

Iowa over Northern Iowa: Something tells me the Hawkeyes' chances will improve dramatically if they can score some points.

Ball State over Indiana: But first the good news: the Hoosiers have already doubled last year's win total.

Michigan State over Notre Dame: For the love of humanity! Did I mention how I feel about Notre Dame football?

Wisconsin over Utah State: Note to the Badgers: kickoff is at 7. Try to make it this week.

Other games of note:

USC over Stanford: Who says Los Angeles doesn't have a pro team?

Elmhurst College over the University of Chicago: A week after being nipped 36-37 by Concordia Chicago, the original Monsters of the Midway have to venture into the western burbs to play the undefeated Blue Jays. Have you heard about the U. of C.'s No. 4 national ranking? That was for academics.

Last week I went a mere 9-5. Thank you very little, Big guys. Season: 22-6.

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