Michigan hits a soft part of its schedule starting this week, as they continue their climb out of the shadows. The Wolverines go to Northwestern. The Wildcats are still struggling the post-Randy Walker era, having narrowly escaped Nevada and lost to Duke. Even granting this year's Blue Devil team is better then most, Northwestern is still their only win. Michigan should have no difficulty rolling through this week and next week's game against Eastern Michigan to push to a respectable 4-2 by the time Purdue comes to town.
As the Wolverines emerge from the darkness, Mike Hart should start to emerge in the Heisman polls. ESPN's Heisman watch does not have him registering much right now. But it's hard to see Darren McFadden remaining a serious contender as Arkansas falters. West Virginia's two stars of Slaton and White will split votes. Of the leaders on the board, only Tim Tebow has the name recognition to have staying power, and you can expect John David Booty to move up the list if Southern Cal keeps winning its big games. But if Michigan gets in the mix of the Big Ten race, as appears likely, Hart will get more and more looks. And voters may see he was someone who wasn't AWOL those dark first two weeks.
Ohio State had its crack at Northwestern last week, and they found their passing game. Todd Boeckman to Brian Robiskie was a devastating combination that lit up the Wildcats. The road won't get any tougher this week. The Buckeyes go up to Minnesota, who has been an absolute sieve defensively. Even though the Gopher offense has score 30+ each time out, they are still 1-3, including a loss to Florida Atlantic. Minnesota also turns the ball over too frequently to keep up with a Tressel-coached team. Turns out that getting rid of Glen Mason wasn't the magic elixir they thought it was.
Iowa hosts Indiana. with a good chance to get their first conference win. The Hawks confirmed that receiver Andy Brodell is gone for the year, and tight end Tony Moeaki is out indefintely. It's not going to be an easy year for Ferentz's program, but they can hang their hat on defense. Pat Harty at Hawk Central writes how Mitch King is becoming one of the conference's best defenders.