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Saturday, February 24, 2024

The Badgers defense has been a force so far in the season, propelling the team into the AP top 10.

Wisconsin and Ohio State fight for the top of the Big Ten, Michigan and Nebraska disappoint

We are now well into the college football season, and it’s been a fun year so far. Week 4 saw the continued dominance of a national powerhouse, Ohio State, and the continued downfall of another, in Michigan. 

The most important Big Ten match-up of the weekend was No.11 Michigan (2-1 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) at No.13 Wisconsin (3-0 overall, 1-0 Big Ten). The Badgers were 4-0 in their previous four meetings with Michigan at Camp Randall and improved their record to 5-0 after a beat-down of the Wolverines. 

As the Wolverines fail to live up to preseason expectations and move out of the playoff conversation, the Badgers have taken their spot in the national conversation — and rightfully so, this team looks legit. 

Michigan has yet to look the part of the top ten team they were pegged as to start the year. Outside of a week 1 win over Middle Tennessee, where they gave up 21 points, these Wolverines look more like a team that should be in the mid-20s instead of at the top of polls. Michigan raised a ton of eyebrows when they barely squeaked out a win at home over Army, and did nothing to quiet the critics as they got trounced by Wisconsin. However, they still have a ton of opportunities for marquee wins coming up with games against Iowa, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio State. 

However, while the team in Ann Arbor has failed to live up to the hype, the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes have been up to the task.

After losing quarterback Dwayne Haskins to the pros, the Buckeyes somehow have another quarterback in Heisman contention. Justin Fields, who transferred from Georgia this offseason, has surpassed any and all expectations so far this season. 

He has thrown for nearly 900 yards, 13 touchdowns and completed 70 percent of his passes. All eyes will be on their match-up against Wisconsin in five weeks time as the biggest game of the year for the Big Ten. 

The Big Ten East was 3-2 overall this weekend with the other loss coming from Rutgers, who already matched their 2018 win total with a win last week. Will Rutgers win another game this year, honestly the odds aren’t great, but who doesn’t like a good David and Goliath story?

Indiana came away with a dominant win over UConn at home and improved to 3-1. They head to East Lansing next week in a game where they might be able to come away with the upset. 

Speaking of East Lansing, the No. 25 Michigan State Spartans took care of the Northwestern Wildcats easily in Evanston. The Michigan State offense, which has been scrutinized all year, looked good as quarterback Brian Lewerke threw for three scores on the day. 

Michigan State is back in the top 25 after falling out last week, but have a tough road ahead and will need more out of Lewerke and the offense. They have four top 25 match-ups left, with two against top ten teams in Ohio State and Wisconsin both on the road. 

On the other hand of that blowout were the defending Big Ten West, Northwestern. After going 8-4 in the regular season last year, which included an 8-1 record in conference play, the Wildcats have started 1-2 and are coming off a terrible loss. The good news is that the two losses have come against respectable teams, but the bad news is that the schedule doesn’t get much easier, with a date in Madison against the top ten Badgers coming up. 

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The Illinois Fighting Illini welcomed the much talked about Nebraska Cornhuskers in a game that turned out to be more exciting than anyone could have predicted. Illinois and Nebraska went back and forth for much of the game until Nebraska broke through with a 15 point fourth quarter. Nebraska avoided a big upset and netted their first road win in the Scott Frost era.

The favorites to win the West needed the win to keep up in the division, especially the way the Iowa Hawkeyes and Badgers look. 

The Big Ten West came into the season with a ton of intrigue and excitement with most teams having a shot to win the division, but outside of Iowa and Wisconsin the division has disappointed, to say the least. 

The most interesting match-up next week will be in Lincoln, as the Buckeyes visit Nebraska. Minnesota at Purdue should also be a fun game with talented receivers Tyler Johnson and Rondale Moore on either side of the game. 

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