Coming into this season, many analysts thought Ohio State and Michigan would be the top teams in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes have lived up to their expectations, but the Wolverines are no longer considered the second-best team in their conference.
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit discussed the overall landscape of the Big Ten during his weekly podcast on Monday.
Herbstreit has Ohio State as the best team in its conference. As for the second-best team in the Big Ten, he’s siding with the Wisconsin Badgers.
Wisconsin is 5-0 through the first month of the season and has blown out every team on its schedule.
The Badgers have an impressive defense and an extraordinary running game led by Jonathan Taylor.
Here’s why Herbstreit is confident in Wisconsin, via 247Sports:
“I probably would lean towards Wisconsin,” Herbstreit said. “I’m not yet sure if they have the balance in their offense to be able to win some of these big games that they have coming up. So far, Paul Chryst has been very careful with his quarterback Jack Coan. He’s not really putting him in a position to win games, but he’s just throwing high-percentage throws, not coming up with a lot of yards right now. They’re just dinking and dunking, but they haven’t really needed to. They have Jonathan Taylor. They have a great defense. In their passing game, they’re just doing what they need to do. I think they’re just so darn good at their DNA and what they do. I think their defense, their running game and playing efficient, complementary football gives him an edge.”
Another program in the Big Ten that has impressed Herbstreit is Penn State. However, he wants to see more from quarterback Sean Clifford before crowning the Nittany Lions as the second-best team in the conference.
Wisconsin can validate its status as an elite team this year with a win over Ohio State in three weeks.