Another week, another slate of Big Ten games that shed some light on who the top teams in the conference are. It’s between Michigan and Ohio State in the East, and likely between Wisconsin and Nebraska in the West.
Northwestern 38, Iowa 31
If not for Desmond King giving Iowa great field position in the game, this would have been a laugher for Northwestern. And even in some of the drives where they started in great field position, the Hawkeyes weren’t able to capitalize. It’s notable to point out that both of these teams won double-digit games last season. It’s looking like neither will reach nine wins a year (and an almost intact starting lineup) later.
What this means for Northwestern: It’s nice to go out and get a win on the road, especially when you were a double-digit underdog going in. At 2-3, however, and with games against Purdue and Illinois being the only ones that could be considered a guarantee, Northwestern will need a few more or these upsets in order to make a bowl.
Up Next: BYE
What this means for Iowa: They can kiss their Big Ten West hopes good bye, as they’d have to win out to guarantee themselves a shot with tiebreakers.
Up Next: at Minnesota
No. 2 Ohio State 58, Rutgers 0
Let’s not dwell on this game too much. Rutgers is without its best offensive weapon in Janarion Grant, and Ohio State has maybe 1 player rated as a 3-star or lower in its roster. The end.
What this means for Ohio State: Urban Meyer will not let the foot off the gas even against his former disciples. Let’s hope they face Houston in a bowl game this season.
Up Next: vs Indiana
What this means for Rutgers: Their worst beatdown of the season is likely out of the way.
Up Next: vs Michigan
Maryland 50, Purdue 7
Let’s not confuse Purdue with a juggernaut, but Maryland, with the exception of UCF, is doing what it’s supposed to do. The terrapins are beating the teams below them, most times in blowout fashion. Maryland has already surpassed last year’s record after four games, and is looking for more in D.J. Durkin’s first season at the helm.
What this means for Maryland: As touched above, they surpassed their win total for last season. Their schedule, however, doesn’t get any easier moving forward. Rutgers is the only team left on the schedule who’s as bad as the ones they’ve already played. This is when we start to find out how good Maryland really is.
Up Next: at Penn State
What this means for Purdue: Barring a miraculous turnaround, this is Darrell Hazell’s last season at Purdue. Every time the Boilermakers take a step forward, they take about 20 steps back. It’s time.
Up Next: at Illinois
No. 12 Nebraska 31, Illinois 16
Would you believe it if I told you that Illinois was leading this game to start the fourth quarter? The Fighting Illini had done a tremendous job of stuffing Nebraska’s running attack with success early in the game, but the Huskers were finally able to break through in the fourth quarter, to the tune of 21 points. Illinois was unable to keep up.
What this means for Nebraska: The Huskers are suddenly in contention for the Big Ten West, and currently sit atop the division with zero Big Ten losses. Take care of business the rest of the way, and, assuming both they and Wisconsin lose to Ohio State, let the tiebreakers do the rest.
Up Next : BYE
What this means for Illinois: Nobody expected the Illini to contend in Lovie Smith’s first season in Champaign. However, they can’t let games slip away in the fourth quarter the way this one did. The team that put a clinic on Murray State seems far gone by now.
Up Next: vs Purdue
No. 4 Michigan 14, No. 11 Wisconsin 7
A matchup between two top ten teams (at the time) turned out exactly as you’d expect, especially in the Big Ten. It was a defensive battle though and through, coming down to the wire. Jourdan Lewis removed any hopes of a Wisconsin comeback when they intercepted Alex Hornibrook’s last ditch attempt pass to get Wisconsin the tying score. It’s clear that Wisconsin’s defense is very, very good, but they need to shore up the offense if they want to keep pace in two weeks. On the other side, Wilton Speight had a pedestrian, but highly accurate day, completing 20 of his 32 pass attempts for 219 yards and a touchdown (with an interception).
What this means for Michigan: This is the first real test for the Wolverines, and they did what they needed to and came out with a win. Michigan’s string of home games ends this weekend though, but the competition they face won’t provide much of a challenge.
Up Next: at Rutgers
What this means for Wisconsin: It was unrealistic to expect Wisconsin to beat top ten team after top ten team, but credit to them for keeping this game within reach. Their defense will keep them in games for the rest of the season. Let’s see what the offense can do.
Up Next: BYE
Indiana 24, Michigan State 21
At last, the Hoosiers broke through and beat one of the top teams in the Big Ten. They’ve been knocking on the door so many times in the past few seasons that we all knew it would eventually happen. It was only a matter of when. Credit Indiana’s turnaround on defense this season, which allows it to stay in games even when the offense isn’t as potent as it’s been in years past.
What this means for Indiana: With this game in the bag, and games against Northwestern, Purdue, and Rutgers still left on the schedule, bowl eligibility is not as big a stretch as it would have seemed a week ago. Don’t be surprised if Indiana gives another top team a game either. With their lingering liability over the past few years virtually gone, it’s going to be a lot easier for the Hoosier to stay in, and finish, these games.
What this means for Michigan State: Dantonio can’t play the disrespect card this year. They’ve now gotten embarrassed at home against Wisconsin, and gone on the road and lost to Indiana. They’ve played themselves out of the East title barring some major chaos, and they have yet to play Michigan and Ohio State. Maybe the Spartans can’t reload the way the Buckeyes can...