Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big Ten [Print without images]

Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Poll: Panic time in the Big Ten

By Adam Rittenberg

We're just two weeks into the 2012 season, but there's some angst building around the Big Ten, especially after last Saturday's nightmarish results.

Is it too soon to panic? Probably. The entire Big Ten season remains, and teams have plenty of time to turn things around. Still, there are very real concerns in several Big Ten locales that must be addressed in a hurry.

Today's poll question asks: Which Big Ten team should panic the most after the first two games?

Here are four choices ...

Iowa: The Hawkeyes are fortunate not to be 0-2 after scoring a grand total of one offensive touchdown through the first two games. The offense has stalled under new coordinator Greg Davis, and senior quarterback James Vandenberg hasn't performed anywhere near expectations so far. With little depth at running back and receiver, Iowa desperately needs playmakers to emerge around Vandenberg. After dropping its second consecutive game to Iowa State, Iowa can't afford to stumble Saturday against FCS Northern Iowa at Kinnick Stadium.

Wisconsin: Coach Bret Bielema dumped offensive line coach Mike Markuson after only two games, a day after the Badgers turned in their most feeble offensive performance in years. Bielema said Monday that "panic is for the outside world," but his decision with Markuson shows not all is well in Badger Country. After record-setting offensive performances in 2010 and 2011, Wisconsin is trying to re-establish its core identity on offense. The Badgers barely survived against Northern Iowa and were nearly shut out at Oregon State. They hardly look like the team pegged as the consensus Leaders division favorite before the season.

Penn State: The Lions are the only winless team in the Big Ten, so they might seem like the obvious choice. But you can argue Penn State has looked better than some of the other teams here, especially when factoring in some decent competition (Ohio, Virginia). If the Lions could finish drives or make field goals, they could very well be 2-0. But confidence could be an issue after last week's heartbreaking loss, and you have to wonder how much more disappointment this team can take, especially after what happened in the offseason.

Nebraska: Things looked promising for Nebraska after the opener, but Bo Pelini and his players left the Rose Bowl "embarrassed" following last Saturday's loss to UCLA. A veteran Husker defense has to be questioning itself after surrendering more than 650 yards to the Bruins and missing a flurry of tackles. Every loss sparks panic in this football-crazed state, and folks are wondering whether Nebraska will ever show the type of consistency it needs under Pelini, especially away from Lincoln.