Ohio State is the best team in the Big Ten. This isn’t really a hot take or news in any way. Even without head coach Urban Meyer, they got off to a great start, outscoring opponents in the first three weeks 169-62, including a signature non conference win against a stout TCU team. But let’s try to think outside the box. Today, it was announced Nick Bosa had surgery and has no timetable for return. This is problematic not only because Bosa is objectively at least a top two player on the roster, but also because the Buckeyes open their conference season (I’m not forgetting about Rutgers, I’m just ignoring them) against Penn State in Happy Valley.
For Penn State, this is the first in a string of home games against tough conference opponents. Of Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa, the only team Penn State has to play on the road is Michigan. That’s just about as juicy of a schedule as they could have. Following a week one scare against Appalachian State, they have done what they should, absolutely shitting on inferior opponents with a dynamic offense and good special teams, which really makes a difference in college because everyone sucks at special teams. Ohio State will not have Bosa when they travel to Beaver Stadium and also have to play Michigan State on the road later in the season.
In the west, Wisconsin looks like they might not be able to cover up their massive, glaring flaw (Alex Hornibrook, the man whose arm might be fettuccine). This week, Wisconsin visits Iowa in a game that will more than likely decide the winner of the Big Ten West. It will be a defensive bloodbath akin to the Iowa versus Penn State game last season where Saquon Barkley was jumping over cars and shit en route to a 21-19 victory. Iowa’s defense has not dropped at all and their offense is a year older. Also, Wisconsin is not what Penn State was last season. I predict Iowa to win this game, enter the top 25 (finally), and finish the season 11-1, good enough for the Big Ten West crown.
Wisconsin, coming off a loss to BYU, have the aforementioned game at Kinnick Stadium, but also have to play games on the road against Michigan and Penn State. If they win more than one of those games, I will be shocked. If they win all three, they will be the annual they-should-be-a-Playoff-team-but-oh-my-god-they-have-that-one-loss team. Needless to say, they will not win all three. I think they will only win the Michigan game and finish the year 9-3.
Now, I have an opportunity to plug myself a bit. One month ago, Cody and I recorded our Big Ten preview for The Campus Cover. I worked myself into a bit of a frenzy on a few topics during this episode. For starters, I had a borderline sexual attention to Nate Stanley, even dubbing the term “a Stanley” for a guy that is really good. Additionally, I talked myself into taking the season win total under for the Wisconsin Badgers, which was helped out a lot by the BYU loss.
Finally, and most importantly, I predicted the Big Ten Championship to feature Iowa from the west and Penn State from the East. Both teams have highly favorable schedules to go along with at least one unit that is amongst the elite not only in their conference but in their nation. Iowa’s defense can go up against any offense in the nation and probably hold them to under 25. Also, they have Nate Stanley, who I am still in love with and is officially back following a stellar performance against Northern Iowa. Penn State has maybe the most dynamic quarterback in the conference and a high-powered offensive unit.
You can have your Ohio State v Wisconsin Big Ten Championship. For me? I’ll take Iowa and Penn State duking it out for a probable spot in the College Football Playoff and a Big Ten Championship.