Five B1G Things We Learned - Post Week Five

Posted Sep 30, 2013

Phil Harrison solves the world's problems one reflection at a time. If that falls short, he can at least give you five of the biggest things to take away from each week's Big Ten action. It's football in the heartland -- so read on.

By Phil Harrison
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Five B1G Things We Learned - Post Week 5

5. Braxton Miller is clearly the starter under center for Ohio State

For all the folks who believed that Kenny Guiton had elbowed his way into significant playing time with the first-string Ohio State offense, time to pump the brakes. There is no doubt that "Kenny G" acclimated himself nicely while Miller was holed up watching Duck Dynasty and Breaking Bad, but to believe that a sample size of three games against horrible defenses would take precedent over the two years of Heisman-caliber flashes by Miller was ludicrous in the first place.

Miller looked sharp coming back from injury against Wisconsin. He showed poise, good decision making, and put Kenny Guiton back behind the glass to break in case of emergency. This is the junior QBs team, and anyone who says any different needs their football debate card turned in and shredded. For now though, there is clearly depth at the QB position in Columbus and there could be much worse options behind numero uno.

4. Iowa may just be the real deal

Nobody's ready to anoint the Hawkeyes as a contender in the Big Ten race, but it's becoming more clear that this Iowa team is closer to the form of Kirk Ferentz teams past than the teams we saw over the last couple of years.

The offensive line has blocked better, the defense has been more sound, and the skill-positions (though short of electric) have been able to make plays on a much more consistent basis. Oh, and about that loss at home to Northern Illinois, just ask Purdue how good the Huskies are. There's no shame in that and if things break nicely, Iowa could be in the mix in the Legends division for a good part of 2013.

3. Back down to earth for Minnesota

On the flip side of the clinic Iowa put on in Minneapolis, is the reality that expectations are being reset in the Twin Cities. The Golden Gophers had looked like young Fabio through the first four weeks of the season, but playing some football against a team with a pulse seems to have changed all of that to old, out-of-shape Fabio. The offense that had been clicking against the likes of UNLV and San Jose State couldn't gobble up chunks on the ground, and Philip Wilson -- back after two weeks of injury -- couldn't make up for the lack of production through the air.

And things don't get any easier for Jerry Kill's squad either. There's not one game on the roster that is a sure win, and trying to squeak a couple more victories out of a schedule that has road games against Michigan, Northwestern, Indiana, and Michigan State to go with home contests against Nebraska, Penn State, and Wisconsin will be a tall order. Don't take time off of work around bowl-season just yet Minnesota fans.

2. Illinois has taken a giant leap forward from last season … me thinks

So this is what it's supposed to look like post Ron Zook. To be fair, the timing of Tim Beckman's hiring in Champaign was not an easy one to deal with. The search was a meticulous one that was concluded long after other programs with coaching changes had pulled the string on hirings. As a result, Beckman had to scramble just to fill out a recruiting class in 2012 and got little to know time to begin changing the culture on campus before the season rolled around.

A year later, and things seem to be pointed due North. For one, quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has looked like the Nathan Scheelhaase of old. Also, the much maligned defense from last year has looked much, much better, and everyone on the team seems to be playing with purpose and interest -- unlike last year. Before we get ahead of ourselves though, there's a long way to go against a pretty stiff conference schedule. Still, maybe just maybe interest won't wane as we get closer to basketball season for the ILL-INI!

1. Good golly Purdue

Clearly there is a long way to go before the Boilermaker train will be able to gain steam. For all of the good intentions and awe shucks moments Danny Hope provided, things got very bad from a confidence and culture standpoint, and it seems to be much of the same so far under the Darrell Hazell watch.

I've said it many times before, but it bears repeating; this team has more talent than what's being shown on the field. The same sad tale was told under Hope, and it has the same storyline under Hazell. We'll give the new head man a pass, much like what happened for Beckman at Illinois, but there is a ton of work to do in order for the future to look brighter in West Lafayette. This team has to at least show more effort and interest on the field -- like yesterday.

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