Overtime craziness in Happy Valley aside, there was one other shocking result in Week 9 of Big Ten football action as Illinois beat West division leaders Minnesota. The rest of the results were (for the most part) kind of on the 'expected' side of things. Anyway, here's your recap:
Illinois 28, Minnesota 24
Stop rubbing your eyes. Tim Beckman managed to notch his first Big Ten win over a team not named Purdue. The Illini jumped out to an early 14-0 advantage, thanks to some Reilly O'Toole quarterbacking magic (again, stop rubbing your eyes). O'Toole threw for and ran it in for a touchdown in the first quarter, which had Minnesota playing catch up for most of the game. Mitch Leidner's arm and David Cobb's legs however, helped the Gophers gradually chip away at the deficit, ultimately taking a 24-21 lead late in the third quarter. Lo and behold though, Illinois' defense actually stepped up for once, as cornerback V'Angelo Bentley came up with a clutch scoop-n-score midway through the fourth quarter to permanently regain the lead for the Illini, shocking the once-leaders of the B1G's Western division.
Wisconsin 52, Maryland 7
In what essentially seemed like a football snuff film to Maryland fans, Wisconsin outgained the Terps 527 to 175 on the day in total yards. Once again, the Badgers' rushing attack led the way, as Melvin Gordon put together a hat trick of touchdowns (3) on merely 22 carries and 122 yards rushing while Corey Clement (17 carries, 90 yards) and quarterback Tanner McEvoy added rushing TD's of their own. The Terps meanwhile, came within 57 seconds of getting shut out in Madison before Stefon Diggs (surprise!) grabbed a garbage-time touchdown pass from C.J. Brown.
You have to think Bob Shoop and his staff will be licking their chops when they review the film from this game during the week, given that PSU's defense was able to contain a more talented spread offensive team in Ohio State. Not to mention, with the offense starting to show a few signs of life, an already shaky Maryland defense will need to string together a far better performance than what they put on this past weekend.
Nebraska 42, Big Ten Powerhouse Rutgers 24
Once again, Ameer Abdullah was the star of the show for Nebraska. This time, he racked up 341 all-purpose yards, including 225 rushing yards and a hat trick of touchdowns against a BTPR defense that has found itself realizing just how real the struggle is. To make matters worse for BTPR, Gary Nova went down with an undisclosed injury, which meant that backup Chris Laviano was forced into duty at quarterback. Nova did throw a touchdown strike to his favorite target Leonte Carroo to tie the game at seven late in the first quarter, but the Huskers would run off 21 straight points from there to essentially put this game out of reach.
As for the possibliity that BTPR may be without Champagne Gary Nova in their critical home tilt against Wisconsin next Saturday:
Michigan State 35, Michigan 11
I sure hope Michigan fans enjoyed the win over Penn State, because it was back to reality for Brady Hoke's crew this past weekend. Mark Dantonio's strategy was simple: Pound the rock with Jeremy Langford (35 carries, 177 yards and three touchdowns), let Connor Cook air it out when necessary (12 for 22, 222 yards and a touchdown) and let the defense take care of the rest (Sparty held Michigan to 186 total yards and also scored on a pick-six).
Really, the top story from this game was MSU running up the score with Langford garnering his third touchdown of the day from five yards out with only 28 seconds left in the ball game and the final outcome long since decided in Sparty's favor. According to Dantonio, it was a his way saying 'eff you' to Michigan's pre-game planting of a stake into midfield as an intimidation tactic. Not surprisingly, Brady Hoke played his somewhat aloof self when pressed about the incident. I highly recommend reading the mothership's coverage of Stakegate if you want to know more.