Ohio State- 49
Michigan State- 37
Just when it appeared Michigan State was ready to claim the title of the premiere Big Ten program, Ohio State stormed into East Lansing and mostly dominated the Spartans. J.T. Barrett played the game of his life, passing for 300 yards and three touchdowns while scampering for 86 yards and another two scores on the ground. Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliot added another 154 yards with two scores to tear apart the much-heralded Spartans defense. Elliot is slowly working his way into the class of an extraordinary group of Big Ten running backs, and may be the best in the conference heading into 2015.
The game was a back-and-forth affair for most of the first half until the Buckeyes offense gained control, scoring touchdowns on seven of eight possessions. Something special is brewing on the offensive side of the ball in Columbus. The Buckeyes offense is filled with several young players who have improved from week-to-week (well, with the the exception of one week) who seem capable of lighting up the scoreboard against the rest of the teams on the schedule. After beating Michigan State in such an impressive manner, expect to hear plenty of noise about Ohio State being included in the playoff. It will take require some external luck and sound victories throughout the remainder of the season, but what didn't seem plausible before last week just may happen.
In a game that featured less offense than the Penn State-Indiana game, Michigan once again stole a victory from Northwestern in the closing seconds. The game remained scoreless until midway through the third quarter when Michigan running back DeVeon Smith powered in a three-yard run. The teams exchanged field goals in the fourth quarter, when Northwestern's offense finally came alive. Trevor Siemian led the Wildcat offense on a 14-play drive that culminated int he end zone with just :03 remaining. Rather than play for overtime, Pat Fitzgerald kept the offense on the field for the two-point conversion and the win. It was a calculated risk since Northwestern finally had Michigan's defense on its toes, but an unblocked defender led to Siemian tripping and falling at the 10-yard line, allowing the Wolverines to escape with their fifth win of the season. Michigan heads into a bye week with a victory against Maryland or Ohio State needed to claim bowl eligibility.
In a game between two 7-2 teams that looked to have major implications for the Big Ten West crown, Minnesota dominated from beginning to end. After a one-yard touchdown plunge by Iowa running back Marc Weisman, the Gophers went on to score 51 unanswered points. Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams made several highlight-reel receptions that included three touchdown grabs. Sophomore quarterback Mitch Leidner had the best game of his young career, connecting on 10 of 13 attempts, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also led the Gophers rushing attack with 75 yards. The Gophers are getting hot at the right time, as they host an unexpectedly huge matchup against Ohio State on Saturday. Iowa is likely out of the Big Ten West picture, but could still make some noise with home games against Wisconsin and Nebraska to close out the season.
Purdue fought valiantly, but stopping Melvin Gordon was just too much to ask of the young Boilermakers squad. Gordon furthered his case as a Heisman candidate by rumbling for 205 yards and a touchdown while also picking up 44 yards and another score out of the backfield. Purdue pulled to within eight points after a 79 yard touchdown reception by Akeem Hunt, but the Badgers closed out the game with 10 unanswered points to secure the victory. Wisconsin improved to 7-2 and will now prepare for a match-up against Nebraska on Saturday that could likely determine the West Division representative in the Big Ten Championship Game. Despite Purdue's 3-7 record, the Boilermakers are a much improved team from a year ago and should be fighting for bowl eligibility in 2015.