This week brought a lot of close games around the conference. Games that were supposed to be no contests went down to the wire. Michigan escaped a tight one in East Lansing, while Ohio State avoided another upset against an unranked team in Columbus. Wisconsin has completed step one in their quest to a West title, and now they need Nebraska to lose once more.
No. 2 Michigan 32, Michigan State 23
This is a very disappointing game for the Spartans, who left about 13 points on the field on Saturday. Michigan State went for it on 4th down on three separate occasions, which is something many people would celebrate. Being aggressive and hopefully being rewarded with the higher scoring output is great in theory, but as we found out in this game, it doesn’t always work. Had Michigan State opted to kick a field goal in each of its two drives inside the Michigan 20, their final touchdown drive could have been to tie the game. Instead, they had to settle for a close score.
What this means for Michigan: The Big Ten East is within their grasp. Their only true challenge remaining is against Ohio State. A loss to anyone else would be considered a massive upset.
Up Next: Maryland
What this means for Michigan State: Win out or miss a bowl game.
Up Next: at Illinois
Minnesota 40, Illinois 17
The Golden Gophers stifled Illinois on the ground, and took advantage of multiple Fighting Illini turnovers to score on short fields. Leidner needed only 19 passes to get it done.
What this means for Minnesota: That’s three wins in a row for the Gophers. They could be 7-2 when they reach their final stretch against Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin.
Up Next: Purdue
What this means for Illinois: Illinois’s best chance to notch another win the rest of the way is next Saturday, as they end their schedule with Wisconsin, Iowa, and Northwestern.
Up Next: Michigan State
Indiana 42, Maryland 36
A back and forth affair that saw Maryland take a 5-point lead at halftime blew open in the second half, when Indiana used its wildcat package to throw the Terrapins off balance. Indiana, who had trouble running the ball coming into this game, ran for 414 yards on 57 carries. Three different Hoosiers went for over 100 yards.
What this means for Indiana: This is a game they had to have if they planned to make a bowl game. With Rutgers and Purdue still on the schedule, the postseason is still within reach. Now, if they could just find a way to beat Michigan...
Up Next: at Rutgers
What this means for Maryland: Like Indiana, they still have Rutgers left on the schedule, so making a bowl game should still within reach. If not, they could always upset Michigan next Saturday.
Up Next: at Michigan
Ohio State 24, Northwestern 20
Ohio State’s struggles on offense continue, as J.T. Barret cannot consistently connect on throws of 20+ yards. Curtis Samuel played a larger role in this game, and it was just enough to keep Northwestern at bay. On the other side, the Wildcats’ recent run ends with Ohio State, but there are enough wins left on the schedule to make a bowl game.
What this means for Ohio State: If they don’t figure out the offense quickly, they might not be a factor in the East. Michigan is not the only game on the Buckeyes’ schedule who can take advantage of their struggles.
Up Next: Nebraska
What this means for Northwestern: No reasonable person expected the Wildcats to go into the Horseshoe and come out with a victory. The fact that they kept it close is a testament to their turnaround. Even better, the West is still within reach for Northwestern, but they’ll need Nebraska to lose two more games in order to win it.
Up Next: Wisconsin
Wisconsin 23, Nebraska 17
For the first time since joining the Big Ten, Nebraska didn’t get run out of Camp Randall with their tails between their legs. Wisconsin built a 10-point lead early, but Nebraska came back and tied it up to force overtime. This time around, however, Wisconsin found a way to close.
What this means for Wisconsin: The West is still a possibility for the Badgers. They have to avoid another loss at all costs, while hoping Nebraska stumbles once more.
Up Next: at Northwestern
What this means for Nebraska: They’re still in control of the West, as long as they can avoid another loss. Which, given their next opponent, is a tough proposition.
Up Next: at Ohio State