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Big Ten Football: Contenders and Pretenders

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[lead align=”default”]Ohio State and Michigan seem to be the best teams this Big Ten football season, but they have competition.[/lead]

The Buckeyes and Wolverines are a possible playoff matchup, as well as hated rivals. They also happen to be two good teams in a top-heavy conference. It’s time they made room for teams like Wisconsin, who showed their stuff this part weekend.

How else does Big Ten football look this year? Do any other teams have a legitimate claim to the top of the conference?

Big Ten West: Favorites

Wisconsin Badgers. All the Badgers have done is beat two top-ten teams, neither of which were at home. That earns you favoritism in your division.

Big Ten West: Other Contenders

Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Huskers see the above and say, “what, are we chopped liver or something? We’re 4-0.” Correct, they are 4-0, which makes them a contender, but not the favorite. They beat one ranked team, Oregon, and their second-best win is Wyoming. Wisconsin’s second-best win was LSU, who were ranked at the time.

Iowa Hawkeyes. At 3-1 (1-0), yes, they have a chance. A few things breaking their way and sure. Right now, their pile of wins is less impressive than the teams above them.

Big Ten West: On the Fringe

Minnesota Golden Gophers. Even at 3-0, Minnesota does not come across as a powerhouse. They need to beat someone worth a damn before becoming a contender in the Big Ten West.

Big Ten West: Pretenders/Non-Contenders

Purdue Boilermakers. The Boilermakers are 2-1 so far this season, but it’s tough to ask a team that’s been down for so long to contend in a division like this. It’s also completely infeasible.

Illinois Fighting Illini. Lovie’s got a lot of work to do. If they beat Nebraska, then sure, maybe they’re a better team than they appear.

Northwestern Wildcats. The Wildcats look quite bad. They don’t give up too many points, but they don’t score, either.

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