What We Learned About the Big Ten in Week 2

Andrew Coppens@@andycoppensContributor ISeptember 8, 2013

Well, that didn't go exactly as planned, especially for Indiana and the national perception of Tim Beckman and the Illini. The results were vastly different for two teams everyone thought were heading in opposite directions, and they were both telling as to what we can expect moving forward. 

Indiana is going to score points but not stop anyone on defense once again, and Illinois is a different animal in 2013 with Bill Cubit's offense.

Everyone else in the Big Ten pretty much held serve and that shouldn't be shocking as it was cupcake city for the majority of the conference for the second straight week. 

However, there was plenty to learn about the league and the players in it during those cupcake matchups. So, what exactly did we learn in Week 2 of the season? 


No Braxton Miller, No Problem for Buckeyes

Sure, it was just San Diego State, but if you would've put a No. 5 jersey on Kenny Guiton on Saturday no one would've been the wiser. That's scary for opposing defenses who are also having to deal with a backfield that is showing it has more than one or two weapons itself. 

Guiton was 19-of-28 passing for 152 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Miller. He added a team-high 87 yards rushing on just nine carries with a touchdown as well. 

The offense didn't miss a beat with Braxton Miller out against San Diego State, but the question is will Guiton and Co. be able to do that against a defense that didn't allow 40 points to an FCS opponent? 

Watching the game yesterday, there's no doubting that Guiton has a firm command of the offense and that OSU would be just fine with him behind center regardless of the opponent. That has to be comforting to Buckeye fans around the country. 


Wisconsin Has the Nation's Best Running Back Corp. 

Yes, I just said that and yes I'm aware that the opening opponents were UMass and Tennessee Tech. However, anytime you get not one, not two...but THREE running backs to go over the 100-yard mark in back-to-back games, you've done something special. 

In fact, coming up to the 2012 Big Ten Championship Game the Badgers had a grand total of one time where three backs went for 100 yards a piece. Now, Wisconsin has done it in three of their last four games. 

What was perhaps even more impressive was that on Saturday, it wasn't senior James White or sophomore Melvin Gordon leading the group. Instead, it was true freshman Corey Clement, who was supposed to come in and grind it out but exploded for a 75-yard touchdown run on his way to a team-best 149 yards for the game. 

The Badgers have 120 yards more rushing than the next closest team in the Big Ten so far this season and are averaging 390 yards per game as a team. Impressive numbers no matter the opponent.

Opposing defenses now have to prepare for three completely different styles of running backs and that has to keep defensive coordinators up at night all over Big Ten country.


Purdue Is Struggling with Offensive Transition and Struggling Bad

The numbers have been brutal and the results nearly as bad for the Boilermakers to open up the Darrell Hazell era. Hell, they nearly got knocked off by FCS foe Indiana State, who got worked over by rival Indiana last week. 

Not good to say the least and the numbers are just as ugly as you would think. Purdue is ranked last in the Big Ten in scoring offense (13.5 points a game), total offense (255 yards a game) and rushing offense (99.5 yards a game). The lowly saving grace offensively is in the passing game where they rank all of 10th, averaging 155.5 yards a game. 

Those are all brutal numbers and while it is only two games, the numbers against Indiana State weren't all that much better than in Week 1. Something has to change between John Shoop, Darrell Hazell and the offensive personnel for this team to be anywhere near successful inside conference play. 

Perhaps Hazell and Co. need to think about finding a way to marry their philosophy more closely to what the players are best suited for. Rob Henry is not a straight up passer and this team isn't built for the power running game just yet either. However, it appears Purdue's offense would rather fit a square peg in to a round hole than adapt.


Penn State Looks Like a Contender, Even if They Can't Win a Title

Christian Hackenberg is the real deal. His Week 2 performance was very impressive, especially in the first half of the Nittany Lions' 45-7 win over Eastern Michigan. However, that wasn't the whole story for this team and that game. 

The defense looks every bit the part of a contender, and they look more aggressive than a season ago as well. Over two games, they are allowing the opposition to average just 66 yards rushing and 155 yards through the air. Additionally, Penn State has forced three turnovers on the defensive side of the ball. 

As a whole, this team has room for improvement, especially in the turnover department where they have given away the ball six times already this season. However, the good news is that improvement is coming from the young guys stepping into new roles and, by the time the Big Ten slate rolls around, these guys are going to be a factor. 

Don't be surprised to see Penn State win eight or nine games this season and have one or two of those wins derail the opposition's hopes for a Big Ten title along the way. 


Michigan State's Offense Is... Well, Offensive

Michigan State's defensive players have more than carried their load through the first two weeks of the season. They have allowed all of 12 points against them and they have managed to outscore their offensive opponents 28-12 themselves. 

Unfortunately, they've needed every one of those 28 points in order to put away juggernauts like Western Michigan and South Florida and that's because MSU has looked all sorts of terrible on offense.

The quarterback battle waged on in Week 2 and only got worse as not a single one of the three quarterbacks looked competent enough to run a high school offense, let alone Michigan State's. 

All three combined for all of 12-of-24 passing for just 94 yards. If you are looking for the silver lining, at least none of them threw an interception, I guess. 

There is simply no way Michigan State can survive as a contender in the Big Ten on defense alone and, instead of getting better in Week 2, the quarterback situation just got more offensive. Something needs to change quickly or they will be lucky to make a bowl game. 

That would be a shame, because the defense could be the best in the nation and it won't matter.


Iowa Has a Quarterback, but No Secondary

After a narrow and bitter defeat to Northern Illinois, the Hawkeyes got a win in Week 2, showing some good news on offense and some terrible news on defense as well. 

Missouri State isn't a good FCS program, yet it managed to do something it couldn't do against Northwestern State a week before—score a touchdown through the air. In fact, the Bears only had less than 60 yards fewer against the Hawkeyes as they did against their fellow FCS opponent the week before in the passing game. 

Jake Rudock has proven that he is at least a competent quarterback and that should be enough to right the ship for the Hawkeyes. So far this year, he is a decent 40-of-65 passing for 449 yards. The only catch is he has been prone to throwing interceptions. 

It happened this past weekend and it ended in a pick-six for one of the Bears' two scores. 

While he isn't perfect, he has shown the ability to be a game changer behind center and with his legs. It's just too bad that the secondary for Iowa appears to be just as bad as it was a season ago and, against the likes of the Big Ten, that's going to really hurt them. 


Michigan May Be the Big Ten's Most Complete Team

No, I'm not saying they are the best team in the Big Ten, but from unit to unit, they may be the most complete collection of player the conference has. 

Devin Gardner had his first major coming out party last night against a very good Notre Dame defense; the defense showed that it has playmakers in it and the special teams unit was also very good. 

Looking across the conference, there are more questions than answers at certain spots for contenders like Ohio State, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Nebraska. 

Wisconsin has issues on special teams, Northwestern gives up too many big plays on defense, Nebraska's defense hasn't earned the blackshirts they were given and Ohio State has given up a ton of yards and points in the secondary. 

Michigan, well they've taken on the best opponent of anyone of those teams and came out winners. They may not win the Big Ten, but they sure look the best of the bunch after two weeks worth of results.


*Andy Coppens is the lead Big Ten writer for Bleacher Report. You can find more Big Ten discussion by following him on Twitter.


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