Strong start for Big Ten, but finish means more


Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The real referendum on the Big Ten comes this afternoon and tonight, but the league avoided any setbacks in the early games. Michigan State's Javon Ringer can expect a helmet sticker in his future after rushing for 276 yards and two scores on 43 carries, but defense dominated in East Lansing and elsewhere in the early games.

Michigan State, Iowa and Northwestern allowed a combined 10 points in victories. Spartans coach Mark Dantonio has to be thrilled with his defense, which underachieved earlier this year, and Iowa's looked solid protecting the red zone.

Illinois should be a little worried after having to hang on against Louisiana-Lafayette. The defense struggled in the fourth quarter and Juice Williams couldn't find a passing rhythm in the rain. A 3-point win at home could knock the Illini out of the polls.

Surprisingly, the sun is out here at Ross-Ade Stadium, but a strong wind is blowing to the northeast. Could be trouble for Curtis Painter and the Purdue offense. And there's still a chance for thunderstorms. Game-time temperature is 88 degrees (heat index of 92).

I'm no fashion guru, but Oregon's road unis look chic: green pants, white jerseys and white helmets. It's certainly an upgrade from these eyesores. The Ducks coaches look a bit like crossing guards in their bright yellow shirts, but overall, not bad.

The world's largest drum made its appearance with Purdue's marching band. Those guys with conquistador hats ran it around the field. A pretty funny sight.

A couple of depth chart changes for Purdue: