1. The Big Ten was 10-1 last weekend but it was close to being 7-4. Was it a good opening week for the conference or not?
With an offseason filled with questions surrounding the Big Ten's legitimacy in the ranks of college football, the first weekend of the season did little to quiet critics. In fact, it kept fueling their fire.
Ohio State is supposed to be the pride of the Big Ten, and they looked far from it in their 31-27 win over Navy. Had Navy tied the game with the two-point conversion, an upset-loss for the Buckeyes would have been detrimental to not only their season, but the Big Ten as a whole. Terrelle Pryor will need to be clutch for the Buckeyes down the stretch, which he was not last weekend.
Minnesota had to win in overtime against Greg Paulus and Syracuse, who are supposed to be at the bottom of the Big East. Iowa may be without Jewel Hampton, but there are no excuses for their squeeker-win over Northern Iowa. Illinois' collapse against Missouri on national television did anything but help the Big Ten's image.
2. Clearly the big game this week is Ohio State hosting USC. Does the Big Ten need Ohio State to win this game?
Winning the game may be asking too much, but Ohio State definitely has to show that the top of the Big Ten can at least compete with the tops of the other conferences. Pryor must show that he is ahead of USC's true freshman quarterback Matt Barkley, and a close, competitive game will go a long way in restoring the Big Ten's image.
3. What was the biggest surprise from last week's games?
I am tempted to say Illinois' lopsided loss to Missouri, but there are a lot of people out there that saw this coming. I saw Navy as a potential trap game for Ohio State as they looked ahead to USC, but I never imagined that the best team in the Big Ten would have to run back a two-point conversion attempt late in the fourth quarter to win the game.
4. How important is it for Michigan to beat Notre Dame this weekend?
The battle between struggling powerhouses sporting top-tier talent, this game is more important for the Big Ten to win, merely because it is a winnable game. Michigan looked sharp last weekend, and Notre Dame has yet to prove that it can play up to their opponents. Notre Dame may be ranked higher in the polls and have a more experienced offense, but this is absolutely a winnable game for the Wolverines. Whoever loses this game may feel their seat getting warmer and warmer.
5. What record will the Big Ten have this weekend?
Eastern Michigan vs Northwestern
Western Michigan vs Indiana
Fresno State vs Wisconsin
Syracuse vs Penn State
Central Michigan vs Michgan State
Iowa vs Iowa State
Notre Dame vs Michigan
Air Force vs Minnesota
Illinois St. vs Illinois
USC vs Ohio State
Purdue vs Oregon
6. Does Ohio State beat USC?
I can't see it happening. The Buckeye faithful will give them an advantage at the horseshoe, but the Trojans have an unstoppable running game and a defense that will put the pressure on Pryor and company.
7. How will the team you cover do this weekend?
Ron Zook and the Illini reward me for not writing them off after the Mizzou debacle by creaming Illinois State, who are coming off a big loss to Eastern Illinois. Anything less, and it may be a long season for the Illini.