Another week of Big Ten play left a pretty clear picture of exactly who has a path the rest of the way in each division. Wisconsin may be one of the best teams in the Big Ten, but they are now behind the eight ball in the Big Ten West race by virtue of having two losses. They cannot afford another loss if they want to have a chance. On the other side, it looks like it’s going to be a collision course between Ohio State and Michigan for the East crown.
Illinois 24, Rutgers 7
This will be one of the few times I’ll say I actually feel bad for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights had multiple scoring opportunities, and when they weren’t turning the ball over, they were mishandling the snap on fourth down to end the drive. Many of these unfortunate turnovers happened deep in Illinois territory, which makes the loss more painful. Down 17-7 with a chance to cut the lead to 3, Giovanni Rescigno threw a costly interception that Illinois returned for a touchdown, which sealed the game.
What this means for Illinois: Lovie Smith’s team won’t finish without an FBS win, or a Big Ten win this season. From here on out, it will be almost impossible to pick up another win.
Up Next: at Michigan
What this means for Rutgers: This was probably the only winnable game left in Rutgers’ schedule. Better luck next season.
Up Next: at Minnesota
Iowa 49, Purdue 35
Don’t let the score fool you. Iowa was in control for most of the game. Iowa found itself up 42-14 in the fourth quarter, and Purdue poured 21 to make it look worse for the Hawkeyes than it actually was.
What this means for Iowa: They are still in the Big Ten West race. If they can avoid another inexplicable loss along the way, they should be in it till the very end.
Up Next: Wisconsin
What this means for Purdue: Nobody expected Purdue to beat Iowa, let alone score as much as they did. Sure, it was in garbage time, but 35 is 35.
Up Next: at No. 8 Nebraska
Minnesota 31, Maryland 10
The moment of truth has come for the Terrapins. They have now been blown out twice since their 4-0 start, and the sledding doesn’t get any easier with the rest of their schedule. Minnesota, on the other hand, finally put a gameplan that works for the personnel they have in hand. It worked for them in the end.
What this means for Minnesota: Winning the West is probably not realistic at this point, since Minnesota still has to play at both Wisconsin and Nebraska, but eclipsing the 6-win mark set by last year’s team should be no problem this season.
Up Next: Rutgers
What this means for Maryland: Suddenly, Maryland is staring down the barrel of another bowl-less season. Their most beatable opponent is Michigan State, and if they don’t win that game, they may not win again until the season finale against Rutgers. How’s their APR?
Up Next: Michigan State
Northwestern 54, Michigan State 40
There is a realistic scenario where Michigan State comes into Beaver Stadium needing to win just to become bowl eligible. A program coming off a playoff appearance might not actually make a bowl this season. Think about that for a second. Northwestern, on the other hand, has suddenly found new life after beating two Big Ten opponents to claw their way back to a .500 record. Of course, that means they’ll lose to Purdue and Illinois later on.
What this means for Northwestern: As mentioned above, they’ve now beaten two teams they were supposed to lose to. Avoid losing to some teams you’re supposed to beat, and maybe making a bowl is still in the picture. They need to beat one of Indiana, Ohio State, Wisconsin, or Minnesota to make sure they’re in a bowl game.
Up Next: Indiana
What this means for Michigan State: They might not make a bowl this year. The mighty aren’t supposed to fall this far.
Up Next: at Maryland
No. 8 Nebraska 27, Indiana 22
Once again, the Hoosiers found themselves in a battle with a top team late. This time the opponent was Nebraska. Indiana held the Cornhuskers in check for most of the game, allowing only 17 in the first three quarters. However, Nebraska tacked on another 10 in the fourth (which is still well below their scoring output in the 4th quarter in most of their games), and Indiana came just short of the comeback. A late fumble review went Nebraska’s way, and that pretty much did it.
What this means for Nebraska: For the first time since 2001, Nebraska starts the year 6-0. They have yet to play the top of the Big Ten, however, so this win doesn’t really answer much.
Up Next: Purdue
What this means for Indiana: There is only one game they can’t win the rest of the way, and that’s the date against No. 3 Michigan on November 19th. Everyone else, take Indiana lightly at your own risk (read: Everyone else means Penn State. Indiana is beating the others).
Up Next: at Northwestern
No. 2 Ohio State 30, No. 10 Wisconsin 23
Once again Wisconsin found itself on the losing end of a top team matchup. Not to take anything away from the Badgers, but their win against Michigan State now looks like something they were supposed to do, and while LSU is bouncing back as well, they still haven’t looked like a top ten team. That aforementioned Michigan State game is their largest scoring output against a power 5 opponent to date. The 30 points Ohio State scored against Wisconsin are the least they’ve scored all season. The Buckeyes also allowed a rushing touchdown for the first time this season.
What this means for Ohio State: It’s not advisable, but the Buckeyes can probably start setting their sights on their November 26 game against Michigan, which is right now looks like it will be for the division.
Up Next: at Penn State
What this means for Wisconsin: While the defense might be enough against teams like Iowa and Minnesota, they’re going to need to score points to beat Nebraska. I don’t see how they can win the West without beating the Huskers.
Up Next: at Iowa