Big Ten Blazing Four: Who’s Hot Entering this Week in B1G Football
The Big Ten blazing four will be a preview for the hottest teams entering the college football weekend. *Not Rankings*. Despite the lousy weekend, which included seven losses to unranked teams (same total all of last year), there’s still a ton to look forward to for this Saturday.
Conference play begins this weekend for most of the B1G and teams like Minnesota, Indiana, and Iowa will be itching for a 4-0 start.
Also, the return of one of the top coaches in the nation happens this weekend. Urban Meyer will be taking over the reigns of a 3-0 Ohio State football team, coming off of a strong victory in neutral field against TCU, while previously defeating arguably the worst teams in both the Pac-12 and the B1G (Oregon State and Rutgers). Conference play will be at high stakes this weekend and the Big Ten holds tough with five teams in the AP top-25 Poll. Lets Dive.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
(3-0, 0-0) last week: 26-3 WIN vs. Miami OH
This week: at Maryland
Emotion and grit is what’s driving this young and athletic Gopher’s squad. They’ve started the season quietly undefeated but Minnesota had a similar start to their season last year, before things quickly unraveled. This time, they look to take advantage of the hot start which starts this weekend against familiar foe, Maryland.
Despite losing their most accomplished player, in Rodney Smith to a knee injury a couple weeks ago, the Gophers look as though they haven’t lost a step with Freshman Bryce Williams ready and willing to carry the load over the past two games. Last week, he gnashed 4.2 ypc against Miami (Ohio).
Head coach, PJ Fleck is repetitive in reminding his team that last year’s meeting with Maryland, which resulted in a loss at TCF Bank Stadium to conclude the season, does not matter anymore whatsoever. Minnesota is relying heavily on their young talent this season, with five offensive freshman starters. A 4-0 start with coach Fleck in his second campaign would be huge for the fan base. In fact, it is being noticed by coach Fleck that his team is picking up a “refuse to lose” mentality.
Ohio State Buckeyes
(3-0, 1-0) last week: 40-28 WIN vs. No.15 TCU
This week: vs Akron
Going into the season, I was mainly focused on J.K. Dobbins, and whoever they’d have at the Quarterback position (Tate Martell was battling Haskins throughout the off-season). Dwayne Haskins is definitely the smoothest pure-passer I’ve seen at Ohio State, quickly turning heads across the nation, even earning the title of a Heisman candidate.
Since the Braxton Miller era, Ohio State has used an unorthodox passer with a strong run game. Even against a tough TCU defense, at a neutral site in AT&T Stadium, Dwayne Haskins completed 63.3% of his passes. He is arguably the purest passer the Buckeyes have had in decades.
The offense should only get more explosive, from this point on, with Urban Meyer back at helm. After this match up with Tulane, they’ll kick off real competition against Penn State. I have the Buckeyes in my blazing four because the presence of Urban Meyer. They’re coming off of a signature non-conference win, having not shown a sign of slippage.
However, what’s not so hot for the Buckeyes, is the injury of star defensive end Nick Bosa. He is scheduled to have core muscle surgery which will likely end his season. The loss of Bosa won’t be as noticed this weekend, as the Buckeye offense is rolling, but wait until the week after in a showdown with the Nittany Lions.
(3-0, 0-0) last week: 38-14 WIN vs Northern Iowa
This week: vs Wisconsin
Iowa is playing extremely physical right now, with their defense shutting teams down early. With a good coaching staff and tough players, the sky is the limit.
I was mostly impressed with the defensive performance they put up against in-state rival, Iowa State, which held an athletic Cyclone’s team to just three points. The Hawkeye defense has traveled with the offense the whole way through, currently tied for 2nd in the nation with 8.0 points allowed, so far, and are 7th in total yardage given up.
It helps that they have a safe and stout quarterback in Nate Stanley, who has only 29 incomplete passes on the season (just six last week against NIU). I don’t expect Iowa’s defense to win at the line of scrimmage but I do see them winning in the run-game. I also expect Iowa’s home-field advantage to wreak some havoc on Wisconsin’s offense.
Michigan Wolverines (Editor’s warning: A Michigan fan wrote this article):
(2-1, 0-0) last week: 45-20 WIN vs SMU
This week: vs Nebraska
Michigan has been absolutely rolling since being routed by Notre Dame. The passing game has had some questionable play calling, but that doesn’t seem to hold QB Shae Patterson back, having only nine of his passes over the past two weeks land incomplete. Shae still hasn’t been let loose, in the deep-ball play-calling, but is expected to this week.
2016 recruit Donovon Peoples-Jones has been the offensive spark in the passing game with four touchdowns on eight receptions the past two weeks. The run game didn’t skip a beat last week, with Chris Evans receiving a majority of the carries, while also introducing Tru Wilson to the scene. The defense is holding opponents to 15.7 points per game on the season thus far, which is certainly contributing to the offense’s success.
Michigan is opening up conference play in the Big House against an 0-2 Nebraska team, which should only heighten their confidence
Nate Johnson (Michigan Fan) @skolDuckJohnson
Minnesota Sports Fan