Week 7 provided a rather sparse helping of B1G action thanks to Maryland, Ohio State, Rutgers, and Nebraska all having the weekend off. Nonetheless, there were still a couple of intriguing storylines that were written, let's have a quick look, shall we?
Wisconsin 38, Illinois 28
Coming off the heels of an inexplicable loss to Purdue the previous week, Illinois came out playing like a team that was actually fighting to save their embattled coach's job by jumping out to an early 14-7 lead. Of course, this is the Tim Beckman Farewell Tour we're talking about, so Wisconsin then proceeded to run off 31 straight points before the Illini tacked on a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to make the final score a little more respectable. Wisconsin as usual, abandoned the pass early into the game and went straight into "f**k it, pounding the rock" mode, with Melvin Gordon (27 carries, 175 yards, 4 TD's) and Corey Clement (13 carries, 164 yards, 1 TD) taking their fair share of carries, allotting for all but a handful of the Badgers' 401 total rushing yards. Illinois starter Reilly O'Toole was benched in the fourth quarter in favor of sophomore 'dual threat' Aaron Bailey. While Bailey's passing stats (2-for-5, 39 yards and an interception) left more to be desired, he did end up as Illinois' leading rusher on the day, finishing with 75 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. With West Lunt still out for at least a few more weeks, look for Bailey to become the full-time starter, given his running abilities (not that it will do much to negate the Beckman Factor, or anything).
Iowa 45, Indiana 29
I don't know what's more shocking: Iowa rattling off 28 points in the first quarter (let alone, an entire game), or Indiana's tailback extraordinaire Tevin Coleman running for 219 yards and three touchdowns against a Top 10 rushing defense like Iowa's. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, not only did their defense get shredded yet again, but the point guard of their offense, quarterback Nate Sudfeld, went down with a shoulder separation. This forced freshman Chris Covington into action, and things proceeded to get one-dimensional in a hurry for the Indiana offense. There's no official timetable set yet for Sudfeld's return (he is currently listed as 'doubtful' for next week's game against Michigan State) and any prolonged absence would kill IU's already-shaky bowl hopes. Sudfeld's injury situation is also something Penn State fans should keep an eye out for, as that game may become more favorable for PSU should he still be out of commission a few weeks from now.
[UPDATE: Sudfeld is indeed, out for the year, per The Crimson Quarry]
Nate Sudfeld: Out for the Year #IUFB http://t.co/hBLhCBKKRY— The Crimson Quarry (@crimsonquarry) October 13, 2014
Minnesota 24, Northwestern 17
The Golden Gophers' B1G West title hopes remained intact as Minnesota gutted out a win against Northwestern, in a contest that was tight the entire way through. The game-winning play turned out to be a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Minnesota's Jalen Myrick midway through the fourth quarter, right after Northwestern's Trevor Siemian plunged into the end zone to tie the game at 17. With back-to-back games against Illinois and Purdue coming up, Minnesota should be rocking a nice 4-0 B1G record by the time they host their bitter rival Iowa in November.
Michigan State 45, Purdue 31
Perhaps it was the Oregon copycat uniforms Purdue was rocking, or perhaps it was a case of Michigan State getting too complacent or too cute with the play calling at times (i.e. calling a fake punt in your own territory midway through the fourth quarter, despite leading by 14 points). Either way, Sparty raced out to seemingly insurmountable leads of 21-3 and 38-17, only to give the viewing audience a double dose of SPARTY NO. Purdue rallied from the 21-3 deficit to make it a 24-17 game at the half, and after that aforementioned fake punt disaster, made it a 38-31 game with a little over six minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Purdue in fact, had the ball with a minute and a half to play, and a chance to inexplicably tie (or even win) the game with a touchdown but Austin Appleby's pass was pick-sixed by Sparty's Darien Harris to seal the deal. Connor Cook once again was solid for Sparty, throwing for 238 yards, three touchdowns, and a pick on 19-of-37 passing, while his go-to receiving target Tony Lippett caught seven balls for 138 yards and a touchdown.
A couple of things you can take away from this game are that Austin Appleby is the clear shot in the arm at quarterback that Purdue's offense sorely needed (which means former starter Danny Etling is already thinking of transfer destinations), and that Sparty has a disturbing knack for getting too relaxed when building a significant lead, allowing opponents to quietly crawl back into games, and unless Mark Dantonio's staff figures out a way to get that patched up, it could very well come back to haunt them later on in the season.