What a crazy weekend that was! All in all, seven unranked teams beat top 25 foes this weekend. Four of those teams were in the top 10. While Chaos did show its face in Big Ten country, each ranked team avoid costly upsets against their unranked opponent. Here’s how it all played out.
Rutgers 35, Illinois 24
Yes folks, that’s Rutgers with a conference win. The Scarlet Knights snapped a 16-game conference losing streak with the win, and on the road no less. As has been the case all season, Illinois didn’t have an answer for Rutgers’ running game, allowing 274 yards on the ground. Rutgers attempted 12 passes as a team, for 102 yards. Illinois, on the other hand, attempted 38 passes for 308 yards. Problem, of course, was the two interceptions in the game at very inopportune times. Then again, this game would have looked worse for Illinois if not for Rutgers’ own turnovers, two of which came in Illinois territory.
What this means for Rutgers: Even if they lose out, they won’t go down winless in conference play. It’s progress.
Up Next: vs Purdue
What this means for Illinois: This was their most winnable game. Can they upset someone down the road?
Up Next: at Minnesota
No. 17 Michigan 27, Indiana 20 (OT)
If I am an Indiana fan, I am rightfully livid at some of the calls in this game. Michigan played sloppy football for the majority of the time, but their defense proved to be too much for the Hoosiers to deal with. Penalties were aplenty in this game. Michigan had 16 themselves, and at one point had a play with three penalties called on them. Back to rightful indignation, Indiana had three massive calls go against them. First, an interception was called back due to pass interference, which led to Michigan points. Second, a Simmie Cobbs catch that would have put Indiana in great scoring position was called back due to him being pushed out of bounds before making the catch (think 2015 Michigan State/Nebraska). Third, an onside kick attempt was called back due to Cobbs not having full control of the ball before he went out of bounds. In fairness, all three calls were close enough that they could have gone either way, but it doesn’t help but add to the narrative that, when the game is on the line, the boys in blue will get the benefit of the doubt. Oh, and Michigan found a running game.
What this means for Michigan: This win could be the difference between 8-4 and 7-5, barring a massive upset in the coming weeks.
Up Next: COMEUPPANCE
What this means for Indiana: Once again, they come excruciatingly close to a win against one of the top teams in the Big Ten, only to fall just short. They do get two more chances though: next week, and at home against Wisconsin.
Up Next: at Michigan State
No. 7 Wisconsin 17, Purdue 9
Either Wisconsin is a paper tiger, or Purdue is better than even our adjusted expectations predicted. Wisconsin, outside of Jonathan Taylor [Thomas], didn’t do much do win this game. Purdue lost it. They blocked a punt that would have made the game 14-10 at the time, only for Race Johnson to fall down before running the ball in. Purdue came away with no points on that possession. Then, Alex Hornibrook was intercepted in Purdue terrirory, the interception returned all the way to the Wisconsin 28. Purdue came away with 3 points on that possession. On the last possession of the game, Purdue moved the ball all the way to the Wisconsin 7, down 17-9, only to have the ball intercepted to seal the game. Give credit to the Wisconsin defense though, they did everything they could to ensure they came away with this win.
What this means for Wisconsin: Sure, Taylor got his yards (219 of them, at that), but Michigan, and even Iowa, will be much better on defense than Purdue. They play those two back to back.
Up Next: vs Maryland
What this means for Purdue: Nobody likes moral victories, but clean up those turnovers and you got a chance the rest of the way. A bowl game almost looks like a given at this point, with the way their schedule shakes out moving forward.
Up Next: at Rutgers
Northwestern 37, Maryland 21
This game was actually closer than the score indicated. The Terrapins kept pace for three quarters, but a couple of failed fourth down conversions pretty much sealed their fate in the fourth quarter. Northwestern’s offense looked like an offense again, with both Clayton Thorson and Justin Jackson looking like their former selves, despite the turnovers. Maryland got another scare with Max Bortenschlager, who went down with what looked like an elbow injury. He came back in the game after a series though.
What this means for Northwestern: Making a bowl game is still on the table, and this game went a long way in making that possible.
Up Next: vs Iowa
What this means for Maryland: They needed this game as badly as Northwestern did, because they probably don’t have three wins left on the schedule without a big upset down the road.
Up Next: at Wisconsin
No. 9 Ohio State 56, Nebraska 14
Ohio State continues to look dominant against overmatched teams. Nebraska didn’t score until the Buckeyes had 42 on the board, at which point Ohio State had started to let their foot off the gas. J.T. Barrett and J.K. Dobbins have looked unstoppable over the past two weeks. The deep ball isn’t there yet, but like Penn State, they haven’t needed it over the past three weeks. They might in two weeks though. On the Nebraska side, the silver lining is that Tanner Lee did not throw a pick-six.
What this means for Ohio State: The easy part of the schedule is over with. Four of their five remaining games are against the top five teams in the Big Ten.
Up Next: BYE
What this means for Nebraska: They’re likely looking for a new coach at the end of the season. Such a shame. Let’s remember that one of the reason for getting rid of the former coach was that he got blown out in big games with relative regularity.
Up Next: BYE
No. 21 Michigan State 30, Minnesota 27
Michigan State tried to employ the “let’s score all our points in the first half and cruise in the second” strategy, but Minnesota had other ideas. The Spartans went into the half up 17-6, and tacked on two more field goals to make it 23-6 with 15 seconds left in the third quarter. This is where I, admittedly, went to bed thinking the game was well in hand. Boy was I wrong. Minnesota scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, coming within three and needing an onside kick to finish the upset bid. Unfortunately, luck was not on the Gophers’ side, as the Spartans recovered the kick and finished out the game.
What this means for Michigan State: They avoided the upset, and welcomed L.J. Scott back after not playing against Michigan. Scott proved to be the difference maker in the game.
Up Next: vs Indiana
What this means for Minnesota: Can they reach five wins and go to a bowl based on APR? We shall see.
Up Next: vs Rutgers
Did Not Play: Penn State, Iowa