Q. What did we learn about the Big Ten after the league’s opening weekend of play?
Hard to believe the conference has sorted things out already. There are three teams of national consequence – Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin. Rutgers, Indiana, Purdue and Northwestern (last in the Big Ten West a year ago after winning the division in 2018) are potential feel-good stories but aren’t good enough to make an impact otherwise. Maryland, Illinois and Michigan State look like bad football teams. Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Penn State are already disappointments (Nebraska because of the no-longer-deserved high opinion the Cornhuskers have of themselves).
All that from just one weekend of games. Talk about fast-developing story lines.
Q. Are we getting used to the new normal yet in college football?
Four very “2020” things happened on Saturday.
FAU was without 43 players who began fall camp for its game against Marshall, managing to bring just 57 players on the trip – barely above the minimum of 53 required to play. The Owls have had five of their first six games canceled due to COVID-19.
Army improved to 6-1 and accepted a bid to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., to face a team from the Pac-12, even though the Pac-12 hasn’t started playing yet.
Chattanooga lost to Western Kentucky, 13-10, in the only game the Mocs will play this fall. They are scheduled to play an eight-game schedule in the Southern Conference in the spring.
Ohio State’s game against Nebraska was limited to 1,344 fans in 105,000-seat Ohio Stadium due to COVID-19 restrictions. It’s believed to be the smallest crowd to see the Buckeyes play since before 1910. No script “Ohio” either.
2020. The year that just keeps on bizarrely giving.
Q. How good is Oklahoma State?
We know this about the 4-0 Mullet Men: They play terrific defense and have one of the best running backs in the country. This is a defense that is good well beyond the Big 12’s ridiculously low standards of judging that side of the ball. Saturday’s 24-21 victory over conference wannabe contender Iowa State kept the Cowboys in the hunt for a playoff spot – if they can get through the rest of the schedule unbeaten. The upcoming three-game stretch (Texas, at Kansas State and at Oklahoma) will tell a lot more about Mike Gundy’s squad.
But right now, OSU and Kansas State are the only Big 12 teams capable of making any inroads on the national scene, with the 4-1 Wildcats having won four straight since a stunning opening-game loss to Arkansas State.
Good defense, Chuba Hubbard and just enough solid play from QB Spencer Sanders have the Cowboys looking like a dangerous team right now. We’ll know more about them soon enough.
Q. Did Indiana QB Michael Penix Jr. actually cross the plane of the goal line during his controversial two-point run that gave the Hoosiers a 36-35 upset of No. 8 Penn State in overtime?
With video replay the