Among the emerging story lines across the college football landscape following Saturday’s Week 2 action were Oregon and Marcus Mariota re-establishing themselves as major players on the national title chase, Everett Golson returning better than ever to Notre Dame, and a perfect day for the ACC capped by Virginia Tech’s best regular-season road win in a decade. Each of those came at the expense of the Big Ten.
No. 7 Michigan State built a 27-18 lead at No. 3 Oregon, and then saw it evaporate into a 46-27 loss. Michigan was never in the game against No. 16 Notre Dame, taking a 31-0 blanking in the series’ final scheduled game. To cap it all off, No. 8 Ohio State fell behind unranked Virginia Tech 21-7, tied the game at 21-21, and then allowed the Hokies to score the game’s final two touchdowns in a 35-21 loss.
The beginning of the day wasn’t any better. In fact, it was worse.
No. 19 Nebraska appeared like it was headed to overtime with McNeese State until Ameer Abdullah provided the best individual effort of the season in a game-winning 58-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Penn State and Akron were locked in a 7-3 tussle before the Nittany Lions pulled away for a 21-3 win. Iowa trailed Ball State 13-3 in the second half before rallying for a 17-13 victory. Illinois trailed Western Kentucky in the second half before coming back for a 42-27 win. Maryland trailed South Florida in the second half before gutting out a 24-17 win. Northwestern lost to Northern Illinois. Purdue was blown out by Central Michigan.
It was an all around terrible day for Jim Delany’s conference, from top to rock bottom.
The Big Ten commissioner, though, took it all in stride. Delany told Ralph Russo of the Associated Press that he was “disappointed” in Saturday’s events, saying, “the narrative is still developing for each team and each of the conferences. It will develop into a full narrative by December 7, not September 7.” Delany also noted that Auburn was not on anyone’s national championship radar through two weeks of the 2013 season. Of course, Auburn had five Top 25 wins and three victories against Top 10 foes to its credit in its improbable run through the SEC. As things stand today, the Big Ten has just three ranked teams in the AP Top 25, and only one among the nation’s top 15.
“You don’t play your way into contention after two weeks. You play your way into contention after 13 weeks,” Delany told Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com. “You want to make sure the narrative and the facts are aligned at the end,” he said. “It’s too early for any narrative for the narrative to be fully developed. We had some opportunities we didn’t cash in on. I realize that they’re disproportionately impactful but they’re not dispositive. If they were, we’d cut the line here.
“We’ll get back to work and get better and see what the full narrative looks like on December 7.”
How’s this for a narrative? Among the Power Five conferences, the Big Ten has the longest drought between national championship appearances (six seasons) and a national title winner (11). Without flawless play by a league contender and chaos elsewhere, those twin streaks are certain to continue.