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Your Midseason Big Ten Stock Prospectus

The midpoint in the college football season is approaching. Most teams have played either five or six of their twelve regular season games. At this time, it's safe to start drawing conclusions from what we've seen with our own eyes, rather than rely upon preconceived notions and expectations.

With that, I present to you the Midseason Big Ten Stock Prospectus, where you'll learn everything necessary in order to make informed investments.


Illinois Fighting Illini

Pertinent Statistics
Record: 6-0 (2-0)
Offensive Numbers: 34.7 points/game (31st nationally), 447.7 yards/game (32nd)
Defensive Numbers: 17.8 points/game (18th), 297.2 yards/game (15th)

Current Status: Rising. Improbably rising.

The Illini are the most surprising team in the Big Ten thus far. They've put together an explosive offense centered around Nathan Scheelhaase and A.J. Jenkins, and have reeled off six straight wins to start the season. However, the only two wins of any note were both by three points (over Arizona State and Northwestern). Early returns have been positive, but the Illini have yet to begin the difficult portion of their schedule.

Recommended Action: Hold.

Things look promising for Illinois, but Ron Zook is not a person I'm too keen on trusting to deliver top fight returns. That said, this team is unlikely to revert to their previous form.

Indiana Hoosiers

Pertinent Statistics
Record: 1-5 (0-2)
Offensive Numbers: 23.3 points/game (88th), 368.8 yards/game (82nd)
Defensive Numbers: 27.2 points/game (65th), 421.5 yards/game (97th)

Current Status: Bottomed out.

There's no kind way to put it: The Hoosiers stink. Kevin Wilson was left with next to nothing to work with after Bill Lynch finished tossing his gum all over Bloomington, but the early returns have been uglier than anticipated. This team has lost games to Ball State and North Texas. That's really all you need to know.

Recommended Action: Sell.

It's comical to think that anyone would even own stock in Indiana at the start of the season. However, if you're one of the unlucky few that did, you may as well hold onto it for another month or two before tossing it in the fireplace on a cold evening.

Iowa Hawkeyes

Pertinent Statistics
Record: 3-2 (0-1)
Offensive Numbers: 30.8 points/game (50th), 388 yards/game (70th)
Defensive Numbers: 21.6 points/game (38th), 387.6 (66th)

Current Status: Uncertain.

The Hawkeyes looked good against inferior competition, but had to muster a huge 4th quarter comeback to beat Pitt, and got shut down by Penn State. The big problem is that their normally stout defensive line has been left porous and accommodating by attrition. The good news for Iowa, though, is that the B1G is not exactly loaded with high powered offenses, and may be able to overcome their shortcomings against pretty much everyone left on their schedule except for Michigan and Nebraska.

Recommended Action: Cautiously buy.

Iowa caught a break by missing Wisconsin this season, and their remaining schedule is maneuverable. They face nemesis Northwestern next week, but have Michigan and Michigan State at home before ending the season in Lincoln. Interspersed in there are a lot of winnable games against the B1G's underbelly. Worst case scenario for the Hawkeyes at this point is 6-6, with 8-4 being a reasonable possibility.

Michigan Wolverines

Pertinent Statistics
Record: 6-0 (2-0)
Offensive Numbers: 38 points/game (21st), 457.5 yards/game (26th)
Defensive Numbers: 12.5 points/game (8th), 336.5 yards/game (30th)

Current Status: Rising! [points upward]

The Wolverines have been surprisingly good so far, but this is a team that has repeatedly started quickly before faltering in spectacular fashion in recent years. One of the questions going into the year was how Denard Robinson was going to be able to adapt to a more traditional Al Borges offense, and the answer has been... okay? Robinson frequently starts the game trying to pass from the pocket before switching back into shotgun sets and running wild. In that way, the offense is still somewhat similar to what we're used to. The defense, however, might be very different. The GERGfenses of the past few seasons were historically bad, to the point where sound tackling by Michigan defenders is reason to take notice. The secondary is undoubtedly the weakness, but it remains to be seen whether anyone in the conference can really take advantage of it.

Recommended Action: Sell.

Michigan still has to go to East Lansing this weekend, and still have to face Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and their old enemy, Ohio State. They won't lose all of those games, but I think it's too soon for Michigan to shake off their history of poor finishes. Also, Denard Robinson is a high injury risk due to his slight frame and wild style of play, and if they lose him, they are in deeeeeeeeeeep trouble.

Michigan St. Spartans

Pertinent Statistics
Record: 4-1 (1-0)
Offensive Numbers: 28 points/game (62nd), 398 yards/game (61st)
Defensive Numbers: 10.2 points/game (3rd), 173.4 yards/game (1st)

Current Status: Teetering.

Sparty's 4-1, but it's very difficult to shake their loss to Notre Dame. They lost the game despite outgaining the Irish by about 100 yards, and didn't turn the ball over as much as Notre Dame. What's been problematic has been the lack of a running game. Defensively, however, the Spartans have been a huge surprise. Those numbers may be a bit slanted based on their early season competition, but you can't say Michigan State doesn't have a very good defense at this point. They'll need it too, as the next three weeks will more or less decide their season (Michigan, Wisconsin, @Nebraska).

Recommended Action: Hold.

The next three weeks will decide how Michigan State's season goes. If the Spartans can come out of that stretch with at least two wins, they should be in the driver's seat to get to the B1G Championship Game. If they lose two or more of those games, then anything above 8-4 is a pipedream. I'll be very interested in seeing how Jerel Worthy and Sparty's front seven handle containing Denard Robinson this weekend.

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Pertinent Statistics
Record: 1-5 (0-2)
Offensive Numbers: 18 points/game (109th), 300.3 yards/game (110th)
Defensive Numbers: 35 points/game (110th), 414.2 (91st)

Current Status: Smoldering at the bottom of a crater.

Minnesota is one of the five worst teams in college football. There's no way to dress that up. Tim Brewster left the cupboard completely bare for Jerry Kill, and the results on the field reflect that. To make matters worse, Kill's health concerns may derail a coach who has proven he can build a competent program from nothing. Nobody was expecting much from the Gophers this year, but good lord, this is ugly.

Recommended Action: Sell for Confederate currency.

This is going to get worse before it gets better, as Goldy's remaining schedule is @Nebraska, Iowa, @Sparty, Wisconsin, @jNW, Illinois. I'll be shocked if Minnesota wins another game this year.

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Pertinent Statistics
Record: 5-1 (1-1)
Offensive Numbers: 37 points/game (26th), 419 yards/game (46th)
Defensive Numbers: 27.2 points/game (65th), 372.7 yards/game (59th)

Current Status: Maintaining through turbulence.

I'm not sure what to think about Nebraska. The Huskers were expected to come in and be the big boy on the block immediately, but that notion was put to rest after they were thoroughly mashed out in Camp Randall two weeks ago. They followed up that effort by falling behind big to Ohio State early before making a huge (albeit Bauserman-aided) comeback to win. They can definitely run the ball, but Taylor Martinez is painful to watch when he throws the ball. That would be less of an issue if the defense was still a top end unit, but that has slipped as well. I think the Huskers are better than most of the teams in the Big Ten, but they are capable of laying an egg at any time.

Recommended Action: Buy, but preferably with someone else's money.

If Nebraska beats the two Michigan schools, they'll go to the conference championship game. It's that simple. They have the talent to do it, but schizophrenic quarterbacking and psychotic coaching may derail them. Honestly, I have no clue who's going to win the Legends West Corn division, but the Huskers are as good of a bet as anyone else.

just Northwestern Wildcats

Pertinent Statistics
Record: 2-3 (0-2)
Offensive Numbers: 27.8 points/game (64th), 388 yards/game (70th)
Defensive Numbers: 27.8 points/game (73rd), 444.2 yards/game (106th)

Current Status: Falling.

This won't be news to anyone, but Northwestern will go as far as Dan Persa takes them. This is even more true now that they lost Mike Trumpy for the year with a torn ACL. The Wildcats need Persa to have a monster game every week because, as you can see, they can't really stop anybody. That's a precarious position to be in, as he's coming off a major injury, and still isn't 100%.

Recommended Action: Sell.

I like Northwestern. I really do. I think Pat Fitzgerald is a good coach that's trying to make the best of a difficult situation, but this won't be a vintage year for the Wildcats. Looking at their schedule for the rest of the year, I think getting bowl eligible would be a significant accomplishment.

Ohio St. Buckeyes

Pertinent Statistics
Record: 3-3 (0-2)
Offensive Numbers: 24.3 points/game (86rd), 315.3 yards/game (105th)
Defensive Numbers: 17.8 points/game (17th), 308.2 yards/game (22nd)

Current Status: Reeling.

Where do I start? In some ways, the Buckeyes are very similar to Penn State this year, as they're both teams propped up by their defenses. However, Ohio State has to deal with never-ending controversy, missing players, and an almost certain one and done head coach. The Buckeyes finally showed signs of life on offense last week, but that died immediately after Braxton Miller got injured. If Miller has to miss any significant stretch of time, this season could get much, much uglier than we all predicted.

For the record, I originally thought Ohio State would go 9-3 this year. We all make mistakes.


There's a very real chance Ohio State doesn't become bowl eligible this year. They play in Champaigne this week, although Miller is expected to start that game. The week after is Wisconsin, and still waiting are Penn State and @Michigan. If Miller can stay healthy, they at least have a chance to be competitive. If Joe Bauserman has to play, well... They don't.

Penn St. Nittany Lions

Pertinent Statistics
Record: 5-1 (2-0)
Offensive Numbers: 21.5 points/game (93rd), 374.2 yards/game (81st)
Defensive Numbers: 10.5 (5th), 250.8 yards/game (4th)

Current Status: Grinding onward inefficiently.

You all know full well how this team is doing right now, so I won't waste your time. I will simply highlight that this team's last five games are: @jNW, Illinois, Nebraska, @OSU, @Wisconsin. Rubber, meet road.

Recommended Action: Hold.

I'm not the optimist that many of y'all are. There are undoubtedly reasons to be hopeful going into the second half of the season, but I'm struggling to figure out where the points are going to come from when Penn State plays good defenses. If the offensive line continues to show improvement, things may start clicking for the offense. Until then, we will have to wait and see.


Pertinent Statistics
Record: 3-2 (1-0)
Offensive Numbers: 32.6 points/game (41st), 412.2 yards/game (50th)
Defensive Numbers: 20.6 points/game (29th), 345.8 yards/game (38th)

Current Status: Probably at peak value.

Purdue's already lost to Rice, and still have to face @Penn State, Illinois, @Michigan, @Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Iowa. All in a row. Yep.

Recommended Action: Sell with all speed.


I'm sorry, Pete.

Wisconsin Badgers

Pertinent Statistics
Record: 5-0 (1-0)
Offensive Numbers: 48.4 points/game (3rd), 523 yards/game (9th)
Defensive Numbers: 10.2 points/game (3rd), 263.8 yards/game (7th)

Current Status: Skyrocketing.

Say, have you heard about this Russell Wilson character? The Badgers have smashed every team they've faced to bits, including Nebraska two weeks ago. It's true that they haven't faced a difficult schedule thus far, but Wisconsin has done everything that you'd expect out of a top five team. Their schedule is fairly maneuverable as well, as they still have to play @Sparty in two weeks before going to Columbus. After that are a few snoozers before ending the year @Illinois and then hosting Penn State.

Recommended Action: Take out a loan against your retirement plan and buy.

The Badgers probably won't go undefeated, but they are head and shoulders above everyone else in the B1G. They're also a team that doesn't take their foot off the gas once they have a lead. That's not a good combination if you're looking for an upset. Their offense is a good balance of run and pass, and if either Montee Ball or James White goes down with injury, I'm sure some other running back just like them will pop up, not unlike a shark's tooth.