It’s official. The Big Ten will need a minor miracle to get a team in the College Football playoff. After this weekend, Wisconsin is the only team with less than two losses left in the conference, and their schedule is so terrible they’re actually at risk of missing out even if they only lose once.
Purdue 29, Illinois 10
This game went exactly as you would expect, with Purdue and Illinois locked in a tight one early, only for the dam to break for the Illini late. The Boilermakers took a 13-10 lead to the half, aided by a David Blough touchdown drive and two other field goal drives, and would take a 16-13 lead late in the third quarter. After a two-point attempt failed to make it a two touchdown game, a hit on Blough that looked like targeting but wasn’t called forced him out of the game and straight to a medical facility. Purdue would score again out of spite, and that was the end of that.
What this means for Purdue: Three games left and two wins required for a bowl might be a tall task for the Boilermakers, but not entirely impossible.
Up Next: at Northwestern
What this means for Illinois: Officially out of bowl contention, the Illini now look to avoid going 0-9 in conference play.
Up Next: vs Indiana
No. 9 Wisconsin 45, Indiana 17
Another game, another slow start for Wisconsin. Another first quarter interception by Alex Hornibrook led to an Indiana touchdown, and the Hoosiers soon found themselves up 10-0 on the Badgers. Of course, this wouldn’t last, because Wisconsin has the uncanny ability to put overmatched opponents away after digging themselves into early holes. Sounds familiar? Anyway, the Badgers rode Jonathan Taylor the rest of the way, and slowly choked the life out of Indiana.
What this means for Wisconsin: With minimal chaos, Wisconsin can make the playoff as an undefeated Power 5 team. If they want to do that, though, they’ll need to stop gifting the other team points early.
Up Next: vs Iowa
What this means for Indiana: Finally, no more top teams on the schedule! Needing three more wins for bowl eligibility, there is no margin for error, however.
Up Next: at Illinois
Rutgers 31, Maryland 24
Rutgers has three conference wins, folks. They’ll need a major upset somewhere to actually go bowling, but the fact that this is a possibility now is nothing short of amazing. A team that went 2-10 last season, 0-9 in the Big Ten, and looked dead in the water this season after losing to Eastern Michigan (they’re probably kicking themselves for that one right about now) is now one upset away from going bowling, or an Indiana win away from backing itself into a bowl game at 5-7. As per Maryland, we all knew the season was kind of over when they lost their top two quarterbacks, but they’re still sitting at 4-5 and an upset away from getting to a bowl game themselves. These will be a fun three weeks for fans of these two teams. Oh yeah, about the game itself, it was a back and forth affair that came down to the last possession, with Maryland missing out on a game-tying score on fourth and 10 from the Rutgers 15. Also, Maryland lost Max Bortenschlager late in the game. They’re now down to their walk-ons at QB.
What this means for Rutgers: As mentioned above, the fact that Rutgers can realistically talk about a bowl game after last season, combined with how this season began, is nothing short of a miracle.
Up Next: A BLOWOUT LOSS
What this means for Maryland: The fact that it took this long for the bottom to fall out is actually a testament to the job D.J. Durkin is doing in College Park. The Terrapins are down to their walk-ons at quarterback, yet they’re still two wins away from a bowl game.
Up Next: vs Michigan
Northwestern 31, Nebraska 24 (OT)
For those of you counting, this is the third straight overtime win by the Wildcats. A win is a win, but hopefully they’ll get there without needing extra time this week, for their fans’ sakes. This was another back and fourth game that, surprisingly, featured a Clayton Thorson pick six, instead of the usual Tanner Lee pick-six. Northwestern would open up the scoring, but Nebraska had an answer for every Wildcat score. The Huskers would eventually take a touchdown lead late, but couldn’t stop Northwestern’s offense in the end. To make matters worse, the Huskers punted on fourth and five from the Northwestern 40, giving the Wildcats an opportunity to win the game late. They didn’t, overtime happened, and Northwestern won anyway.
What this means for Northwestern: Nebraska was the toughest game remaining on their schedule. Barring a big upset, they should finish the season with nine wins. Maybe next season they’ll avoid shooting themselves in the foot early.
Up Next: vs Purdue
What this means for Nebraska: The Huskers are in the same spot as Rutgers and Maryland (wow!), needing a major upset in the next three weeks to break six wins. It’s not likely to happen.
Up Next: at Minnesota
Iowa 55, No. 6 Ohio State 24
Man oh man, this is a hangover. Yes, Penn State lost their hangover game too, but at the very least it came on a last-second field goal after a late penalty gave the Spartans what they needed. This? This was utter domination. It’s almost as if J.T. Barrett going 16 for 16 in the 4th quarter a week ago was not sustainable. Case in point, Ohio State is now in the same position as the Nittany Lions, but they still have two tough games left. As per Iowa, well, what did you expect? It’s Iowa. Oh yeah, Ohio State scored a garbage time touchdown to make the score look more respectable.
What this means for Iowa: Just like last season, Iowa saved their best for last. They could finish with at least eight wins for a second straight season, and with enough chaos might actually make the Big Ten Championship Game.
Up Next: at Wisconsin
What this means for Ohio State: Outside of what was outlined above? Well, this might be the first 3- or 4-loss season in the Urban Meyer era if the Buckeyes don’t shake this loss off immediately.
Up Next: vs Michigan State
Michigan 33, Minnesota 10
Did Michigan find its quarterback? We don’t know because they only threw the ball 13 times. Brandon Peters went eight of 13 for 56 yards and a touchdown, and that’s about all the Wolverines needed from their signal caller in this game, as Michigan racked up 371 yards on the ground. Karan Higdon ran for 200, and Chris Evans (not that Chris Evans) ran for another 191. Minnesota tried to employ the same strategy on their end, with Demry Croft only throwing the ball 12 times, but the results were not as effective.
What this means for Michigan: The expectation is still eight wins, but their newfound, uh, non-sucktitude on offense might propel them to nine, or even 10 wins.
Up Next: at Maryland
What this means for Minnesota: Another team in the mumbo jumbo of 4-5 teams, Minnesota doesn’t actually need a miracle to reach six wins. All they need is win their next two home games and they’re in. Yes, one of those home game is Wisconsin, but if they can take the likely touchdown or two the Badgers will gift them to start the game, they might be able to just run out the clock from there on out.
Up Next: vs Nebraska