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Creeping The B1G: Close Games Across The Board

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Indiana, yet again, comes oh-so-close to a top-25 win.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

All but one of this week’s games were decided by one score, excepting Penn State’s own beatdown of Michigan. The surprise team of the week though, is the one everyone wants to kick out of the Big Ten.

Northwestern 17, Iowa 10 (OT)

This was a typical Big Ten game, where defense decided the outcome more so than the offense. Iowa went into the half up 7-0 and looking like they’d control the game. Northwestern had other ideas. The Wildcats adjusted to Iowa’s pressure and started throwing the same kinds of throws that burned Maryland all game long last week, and managed to the take the lead in the second half. Due to an Iowa missed field goal earlier in the game, Iowa found itself down three late instead of being tied, yet with a chance to win the game on the last possession of regulation. With a fourth and inches inside the Northwestern 20, the Iowa offense got a costly false start penalty that forced the Hawkeyes to kick the game-tying field goal. After Northwestern took the 17-10 lead on a broken defensive play by the Hawkeyes, Iowa proceeded to run on third and seven on their own possession, only to lose the game on a dropped pass on fourth and three.

What this means for Northwestern: A bowl game is back on the table for the wildcats. With games against Minnesota, Purdue, and Illinois left, they should manage two more wins to reach bowl eligibility.
Up Next: vs Michigan State
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What this means for Iowa: Like Northwestern, Iowa is assured a bowl game simply by beating their next two opponents. One of those opponents, however, is Ohio State.
Up Next: vs Minnesota

Rutgers 14, Purdue 12

Maybe Purdue is coming back down to earth a little bit. After losing a really close game against Wisconsin last week, they followed it up by laying an egg at Rutgers, displaying the same issues that they did against Wisconsin. Purdue moved the ball well between the 20s, but once they got into the red zone, they just couldn’t do anything. They had 474 yards of offense to Rutgers’ 217, yet they only managed two field goals until the very end of of the game, when they scored a touchdown and failed to convert the two-point play to tie it. Give credit to Rutgers though. This is their second straight Big Ten conference win, and it comes against the team (and coach) getting all the hype so far this season. In a Big Ten game, they played prototypical Big Ten football: score just enough to win, and let the defense do the rest.

What this means for Rutgers: They’re not the worst team in the Big Ten. Won’t go bowling, probably, but certainly won’t be in the basement either.
Up Next: at Michigan
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What this means for Purdue: Reaching a bowl game is now becoming questionable for the Boilermakers. This game was supposed to go a long way in reaching that goal.
Up next: vs Nebraska

No. 5 Wisconsin 38, Maryland 13

This game was never going to be competitive. However, Wisconsin’s trend to shoot itself in the foot showed up yet again in this contest. The Badgers committed two turnovers in the first half, but Maryland was unable to do anything with the gifts. Against a team that can take advantage of the mistakes, the early mishaps could prove costly.

What this means for Wisconsin: Add another win to the tally. Clean up the mistakes and this could be a scary team by season’s end.
Up Next: at Illinois
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What this means for Maryland: The Terrapins’ season went down the drain the minute their top two quarterbacks went down. At this point is about getting experience for their young players and maybe getting another win or two.
Up Next: vs Indiana

Minnesota 24, Illinois 17

This is another game that went down to the wire. Illinois is starting to look like a football team, but they just can’t get it done when it counts. Both teams moved the ball fairly easily, only to falter in the red zone. Both teams had missed field goals in the game, both teams had fumbles in the game, and both teams had interceptions in the game. Minnesota, however, returned Illinois interception for a touchdown, and that proved to be the difference late.

What this means for Minnesota: Two more wins and a bowl is attainable. Who those wins will come against, is a good question.
Up Next: at Iowa
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What this means for Illinois: The youth is starting to look like they’re settling into the speed of college football. It’s too late for the experience to pay dividends this season, but it might make a world of difference next season.
Up Next: vs Wisconsin

No. 18 Michigan State 17, Indiana 9

Yet again, Indiana comes *this* close to winning a game against a ranked opponent, only to lose it late. The Hoosiers had Michigan State on the ropes for most of the game, but couldn’t convert any of their red zone opportunities into touchdowns. After taking a 9-3 lead late in the fourth quarter, Michigan State did just enough to scrape a touchdown drive out of their offense. They tacked on another score after forcing Indiana to punt with less than four minutes left in the game, but scored too soon and gave Indiana another chance to tie it. Unfortunately, we know how the story goes. The Hoosiers failed to convert on a fourth down play, and that was the end of that.

What this means for Michigan State: They’re still undefeated in Big Ten play, and have already reached bowl eligibility. They could be 7-1 when they host Penn State in two weeks.
Up Next: at Northwestern
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What this means for Indiana: They’re still looking for that elusive win against a top opponent. They get another crack at one when they host Wisconsin later in the season.
Up Next: at Maryland

Did Not Play: Ohio State, Nebraska