Halfway through the college football season, these teams and players are standing out...not always in a good way!
- Michigan State is 5-1, one win away from bowl eligibility, and just beat its arch rival on the road in the Big-Tenniest game of the year. After going 1-8 in conference in 2016, facing unlimited off-season scandals and player dismissals, Mark Dantonio has the Spartans looking like a competent, and even good football team again. MSU has crept up to No. 20 in the nation in S&P+, though tilts with Penn State and Ohio State loom in back-to-back weeks. An eight or nine win season would cap a remarkable turnaround for the bunch from East Lansing.
- Jeff Brohm has Purdue actually playing respectable football! After going 9-39 over the last four seasons, the Boilermakers are sitting at 3-3. They gave Louisville and Wisconsin all they could handle, and will have a legitimate chance to win 3-5 more games. A 50-spot jump in S&P+ over 2016 shows that the win increase isn't just smoke and mirrors. Should the Brohm Squad hold to form, Purdue will make a bowl game for the first time since the 2012 season.
How big is the buyout?:
- Raise your hand if you thought Nebraska would be fighting to be the worst team in the conference (non-Illinois/Rutgers division). Other than the two wins against the Illini and Scarlet Knights, the Cornhuskers squeaked out a victory against Arkansas State, and that's it. After starting 2016 7-0 and ranked No. 7 in the nation, Nebraska is 5-8 in its last 13 games, and probably only favored in one of their remaining five contests. It's been a devastatingly rapid descent for Mike Riley's squad.
perpetual basement project:
- How long can Lovie Smith do this? Illinois is one of the three worst Power 5 teams and is likely headed to a 2-10 season following an 11-point loss to Rutgers. It was the first conference win for Rutgers in two years.
- The top two rushers in the conference are freshmen. Seriously. Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor and Ohio State's J.K. Dobbins are each averaging 7.8 yards/carry and setting the tone for two of the conference's top offenses. With Saquon Barkley, Justin Jackson, Akrum Wadley, etc. already well established, the B1G may have the best ensemble of running backs in the country.
- After a pretty solid 2016 with over 3,300 passing yards, 19 TDs and a 128.8 QB rating, Indiana's Richard (Dicky) Lagow was cast aside in favor of freshman Peyton Ramsey. The coaches room in Bloomington seems to like Ramsey's mobility and dislikes Lagow's penchant for turning the ball over. It was a good run, Dicky. A good run indeed.