Illinois 48, Purdue 14
In this week's edition of College Football Is Weird, the same Illinois team that was shut out by Penn State last week lit up a Purdue team for 48 points and held the Boilermakers to 14 points in the process. Yes, that same Purdue team that lit up Nebraska for 55 points last week. Wes Lunt threw for 167 yards and three touchdowns and Ke'Shawn Vaughn (180 yards and two TD's) and Josh Ferguson (133 rush yards, 41 receiving yards and a receiving TD) provided a nice 1-2 punch for the Illini backfield.
What This Means for Illinois: The Illini put the brakes on a three-game losing skid and are now merely one win away from earning bowl eligibility under interim coach Bill Cubit, who is certainly making a case to earn the permanent gig in Champaign.
What This Means for Purdue: Back to reality for the Boilers. Road trips at Northwestern and Iowa loom before their annual rivalry showdown against Indiana. While reports are indicating that Darrell Hazell will be back in 2016, he will likely be sitting on a scorching hot seat.
Up Next for Illinois (5-4 overall, 2-3 Big Ten): vs. #3 Ohio State on 11/14
Up Next for Purdue (2-7, 1-4): at #21 Northwestern on 11/14
#17 Michigan 49, Big Ten Powerhouse Rutgers 16
BTPR never stood a chance in this one, as Michigan's defense held BTPR to 128 yards rushing and 97 yards passing. Erstwhile, Jake Rudock threw for 337 yards on 18-for-25 passing and four total TD's (three passing, one running), Jake Butt went over 100 yards receiving, and even Jabrill Peppers found the end zone while being utilized on the offensive side of the ball.
What This Means for BTPR: At 3-6, the Scarlet Knights must win their remaining three games in the regular season in order to earn bowl eligibility (and perhaps for Kyle Flood to keep his job)
What This Means for Michigan: The Wolverines remain in the thick of the B1G East race but must now avoid a potential slip-up with back-to-back road games looming at Indiana (who may be the peskiest 4-5 team in the country) and Penn State before the much anticipated Harbaugh-Meyer I showdown against Ohio State at home.
Up Next for BTPR (3-6, 1-5): vs. Nebraska on 11/14
Up Next for Michigan (7-2, 4-1): at Indiana on 11/14
Wisconsin 31, Maryland 24
Maryland treating its Homecoming crowd to quite the effort, going toe-to-toe with the Badgers until the final quarter, when Wisconsin finally increased their lead to more than a touchdown. Wisconsin had to rely on a 98-yard kickoff return for a TD and a 57-yard run by a linebacker on a fake punt to produce scores in the first half but Joel Stave ultimately got his act together, tossing for 188 yards and a touchdown (along with an interception). Perry Hills threw for a TD and INT himself but struggled with consistency, going only 6-for-16 passing for 107 yards and was ineffective on the ground (-14 yards on 11 carries). Caleb Rowe also saw playing time under center for the Terps but wasn't any better (7-for-18 for 97 yards, a TD and an INT). The leading rushers for Wisconsin and Maryland respectively were a linebacker (Joe Schobert - 57 yards) and cornerback/punt returner (Will Likely - 56 yards).
What This Means for Wisconsin: The Badgers still have outside (but slim) hopes of winning the B1G West, although that would involve Iowa having to stumble twice since the Hawkeyes own the head-to-head tiebreaker. Nonetheless, they are quietly stringing together a solid season.
What This Means for Maryland: At 2-7, the Terps are officially out of bowl contention and their concerns now flock mainly to who they will hire as the next head coach. While playing a pissed-off Michigan State team next week isn't what the doctor ordered, their final two games being against Indiana and Rutgers present opportunities to win another game in 2015.
Up Next for Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1): vs. #21 Northwestern on 11/21
Up Next for Maryland (2-7, 0-5): at #7 Michigan State on 11/14
#9 Iowa 35, Indiana 27
This is becoming a broken record played backwards and spewing subliminal messages for Indiana. Another Top 25 team came into Bloomington and found itself in a dogfight with the Hoosiers but ultimately came away victorious. Jordan Howard almost single-handedly kept the Hoosiers in this game, running for 174 yards and two TD's, especially with Nate Sudfeld having a rough day (16-for-37 for 180 yards, a TD, and an INT). Iowa however was able to counter with a solid ground game of their own, courtesy of Akrum Wadley's 120 yards and a TD and LeShun Daniels' 78 yards and a pair of TD's. C.J. Beathard also added 233 yards and a TD through the air on 19-of-31 passing.
What This Means for Iowa (9-0, 5-0): With essentially a two-game cushion over Wisconsin and with games remaining against Minnesota, Purdue, and Nebraska, it will take an epic disaster for the Hawkeyes to not be playing in the Big Ten Championship game in December. This is a veteran team that appears to be putting it together on both sides of the ball and shows no signs of letting up.
What This Means for Indiana (4-5, 0-5): While you can never say never with the way the Hoosiers have performed at home, they will most likely have to rely on beating both Maryland and Purdue on the road after they play host to Michigan this upcoming weekend in order to reach bowl eligibility (and perhaps for Kevin Wilson to save his job).
Up Next for Iowa: vs. Minnesota on 11/14
Up Next for Indiana: vs. #17 Michigan on 11/14
#3 Ohio State 28, Minnesota 14
Making his first start since the Penn State game, Cardale Jones picked up where he left off in terms of making the Buckeye fan base skittish and hoping for J.T. Barrett to reclaim the spot soon enough. To his credit though, Jones did throw for a touchdown and ran in the game-sealing TD with OSU clinging to a 21-14 lead late in the game. Ezekiel Elliott was the most consistent offensive star of the night, however, leading a steady running attack with 114 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. OSU actually led this one 21-0 going into the fourth quarter before Mitch Leidner suddenly turned into Joe Montana and threw for a pair of touchdowns to whittle the game down to a 21-14 deficit. Unfortunately, Minnesota was unable to recover the onside kick and Cardale subsequently made them pay with the aforementioned TD run.
What This Means for Minnesota: Credit to the Gophers for putting up a fight at the very end, especially when they were likely emotionally spent after last week's heartbreaking loss to Michigan. Once again though, Tracy Claeys is still looking for his first victory as interim coach and at 4-5 with games against Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin remaining, it seems unlikely that they will reach bowl eligibility.
What This Means for Ohio State: Despite the setbacks, the Buckeyes just keep on finding a way to take care of business. They get a road trip at Illinois before back-to-back games against the Michigan schools, which will determine who represents the East division in Indianapolis. Getting Barrett back as soon as possible will certainly help the cause.
Up next for Minnesota (4-5, 1-4): at #9 Iowa on 11/14
Up Next for Ohio State (9-0, 5-0): at Illinois on 11/14
Nebraska 39, #7 Michigan State 38
Remember the good ol' days of SPARTY NO? I sure as hell do, and it came back in a spectacular fashion at Nebraska. The Huskers, fresh off of an embarrassing 55-45 defeat at Purdue, leaped out to a 10-0 start under the lights at home before Sparty got it together and reclaimed the lead before the two teams continually traded blows throughout the course of the game. A Gerald Holmes touchdown run though with a little over four minutes left, put Sparty up with a seemingly insurmountable 38-26 lead. Nebraska had other plans however, as Tommy Armstrong led a quick drive downfield for a TD and the Huskers recovered the ensuing onside kick, setting up an amazing final-minute and highly-controversial go-ahead TD pass from Armstrong to Brandon Reilly. Reilly had stepped out of bounds before coming back in to make the catch, which is typically a penalty for being an ineligible receiver. However, the refs had ruled that a Michigan State player had forced Reilly out of bounds and thus, Reilly remained an eligible receiver (cause you know, #B1GRefs and whatnot). This of course, caused former Sparty receiver Plaxico Burress to get mad online. Connor Cook had a chance to lead Sparty downfield to set up a game-winning field goal try but took a little too much time throwing the ball away with seven seconds left and with that, Mike Riley redeemed himself faster than Jeff Daniels redeemed himself to Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber.
What This Means for Michigan State: A Sparty squad that had looked shaky all season long and seemingly played down to the level of its opponents finally saw that type of performance bite them in the ass. While this loss may have been a significant blow to their playoff hopes, Michigan State is still very much a team that controls its own destiny in the B1G East. Win out and they're playing in Indy.
What This Means for Nebraska: At 4-6 and with games remaining at home against Rutgers and on the road at Iowa, the Huskers will need to produce some upset magic in Iowa City if they want to avoid sitting at home for the bowl season. With that being said, you have to feel happy for Husker fans who had watched their team suffer agonizing close defeat after agonizing close defeat finally have something to cheer about in year one of the Mike Riley era.
Up Next for Michigan State (8-1, 4-1): vs. Maryland on 11/14
Up Next for Nebraska (4-6, 2-4): vs. BTPR on 11/14