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Creepin' The B1G: Week 8 Recap

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Ohio State is in mid-season form, Northwestern put the skids on its losing streak, and other happenings from a rather sparse week in the Big Ten.

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#1 Ohio State 49, Big Ten Powerhouse Rutgers 7

How this game was an 8 PM kickoff on national TV is a mystery to you and I. Behind newly-minted starting quarterback J.T. Barrett, the Buckeyes rolled BTPR, with Barrett leading the way via 223 yards passing and 101 yards rushing and four total touchdowns (three passing, one running). Ezekiel Elliott led all rushers with 142 yards and a pair of TD's while Michael Thomas eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards with 103 and a TD of his own. Defensively, the Buckeyes held Rutgers to under 300 total yards of offense (293) and nearly pitched a shutout except for a touchdown scored by BTPR in the game's final minute.

What This Means for Ohio State: The Buckeyes appear to be clicking on all cylinders at just the right time as they head into the November slate of games, where their final two games of the regular season will be at home against Michigan State and on the road at Michigan, two games that will surely decide who represents the East Division in Indianapolis on December 5th.

What This Means for BTPR: Not much, really. It confirms that they have a looooooong way to go if they want to seriously compete in the B1G and at this point, it remains to be seen whether Kyle Flood will survive beyond this season.

Up Next For Ohio State (8-0, 4-0 in the B1G): home against Minnesota on 11/7

Up Next for BTPR (3-4, 1-3): at Wisconsin on 10/31

#7 Michigan State 52, Indiana 26

This game had plenty of SPARTY NO potential, as the Hoosiers, behind Nate Sudfeld (308 yards passing, 3 TD's and an interception) and Jordan Howard (78 rushing yards and a TD) hung right with Michigan State, merely trailing 28-26 going into the fourth quarter. That's about the time when things began to unravel for IU, as Sparty would run off 24 points to finish the game with a misleading 52-26 win. Connor Cook threw for 398 yards and four touchdowns and L.J. Scott added 68 yards and a rushing touchdown, himself for Sparty.

What This Means for Michigan State: With their next two games being at a floundering Nebraska team and home against Maryland, Sparty appears to be on a collision for a battle of undefeateds with Ohio State on November 21st.

What This Means for Indiana: You have to give props to IU for coming into this game and playing Sparty tough after blowing what seemed like a sure-fire blowout win over BTPR last weekend. Unfortunately, the lack of defense continues to be this team's Achilles' Heel and with dates against Iowa and Michigan coming up, it's going to come down to their final two games against Maryland and Purdue with regards to determining their bowl fate (and consequently, whether Indiana joins an ever-so-crowded coaching carousel).

Up Next for Michigan State (8-0, 4-0): at Nebraska on 11/7

Up Next for Indiana (4-4, 0-4): vs. Iowa on 11/7

Northwestern 30, Nebraska 28

In what was a back-and-forth contest, Clayton Thorson led the way for Northwestern, racking up 177 yards passing and 126 more on the ground for two total touchdowns (one passing, one rushing). It was Thorson's go-ahead touchdown pass to Dan Vitale midway through the fourth quarter that put Northwestern back up for good at 27-22. The Wildcats would add a field goal and Nebraska would answer with a touchdown but the ensuing two-point conversion failed. Northwestern ended up hanging on for the two-point win, as a result.

What This Means for Northwestern: With this game marking win number six on the year, the Wildcats have secured bowl eligibility for the first time in three years. More importantly, they stopped the bleeding on what appeared to be another mid-season collapse in the making, just in time before a home date with Penn State coming up (goddamnit).

What This Means for Nebraska: The Huskers have now lost five games by a combined 13 points in what continues to be an agonizing debut season for Mike Riley and his staff. Unfortunately, with games against Michigan State and Iowa still looming (in addition to more winnable games against Purdue and Rutgers), it looks increasingly likely that Nebraska will be staying home for the holidays chugging on eggnog (or whatever the hell it is that they drink in Nebraska).

Up Next for Northwestern (6-2, 2-2): home against Penn State on 11/7

Up Next for Nebraska (3-5, 1-3): at Purdue on 10/31

Wisconsin 24, Illinois 13

The Illini put up a good fight but ultimately, the Badgers proved to be a little too much as Bart Houston, spelling for a concussed Joel Stave, led Wisconsin to 232 yards on 27-of-33 passing for two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Alex Erickson caught 10 balls for 96 yards and a TD and also rushed for 81 yards on four carries, as Wisconsin was desperately seeking for ways to get its moribund ground game going.

What This Means for Wisconsin: With sole possession of second place in the B1G West, the Badgers will need to keep winning and then hope that Iowa loses twice in order to have any chance at getting back to Indy in December (Wisconsin's lone loss in B1G play was to Iowa).

What This Means for Illinois: The defense certainly appears to be an improvement over the past few years, and that's a reason why this team sits at 4-3 with a chance to win as many as four more games (Ohio State is the lone remaining opponent whom winning against seems like an improbable task) before season's end. However, unless the offense can start to put things together on a more consistent basis, just getting back to bowl eligibility will be a challenge.

Up Next for Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1): home against Rutgers on 10/31

Up Next for Illinois (4-3, 1-2): at Penn State on 10/31

Off This Week:

Purdue, Michigan, Minnesota, and Iowa