It was an interesting week of Big Ten football. Only one team expected to lose did, and three others went into the games as favorites, only to come out as losers. Two of those lost in blowout fashion. Let’s review.
Purdue 44, Ohio 21
A nail biter against Louisville is followed up by a complete demolition of Ohio, a team that has given Power 5 opponents (the good ones) some fits in the past. Purdue looked efficient on offense, having David Blough reach 235 yards on only 13 attempts. The running game complemented the passing attack beautifully, as the Boilermakers ran for 263 yards. Purdue led 34-7 at halftime, and simply cruised to victory after that.
What this means for Purdue: If they keep performing like this week in and week out, they might surprise some teams down the stretch.
Up Next: at Missouri
Iowa 44, Iowa State 40 (OT)
Iowa state scored first, and moved the ball pretty efficiently throughout the game. Iowa, however, found away to go up 21-10 early in the third quarter. The Cyclones stormed back to grab a two score lead of their own, but Akrum Wadley would not let the Hawkeyes go down without a fight. His touchdown grab with 1:09 left int he game tied it up at 38 apiece, sending the game to overtime. A touchdown later, Iowa came away with the three-point victory in Ames. Iowa still showed the issues that has plagued the defense under Kirk Ferentz. Uptempo teams who can move around the pocket can gain big chunks of yards against the Hawkeyes, and Iowa State did that efficiently on Saturday. They’ll need to figure that out as the competition toughens up.
What this means for Iowa: The defense might still get burned by mobile quarterbacks, but at least the offense has an ability to score quickly when it needs to. That might help against the better teams on the schedule.
Up Next: vs North Texas
No. 8 Michigan 36, Cincinnati 14
Michigan scored the first 14 points of the game, one of which came on a pick six. At one point, however, this was a 17-14 contest with Cincinnati threatening to take the lead. The Bearcats had the ball at the Michigan 46-yard line, but weren’t able to move the ball beyond that point. The Cincinnati offense fell apart after that, allowing a safety and another pick six to make the score look worse than the game.
What this means for Michigan: Credit the Wolverine defense for the two takeaways (and its excellence at stopping the run), but we also saw that the defense is indeed human, now that they played a team with anything remotely resembling an offense. Their own offense, on the other hand, has some work to do.
Up Next: vs Air Force
No. 9 Wisconsin 31, Florida Atlantic 14
This was a ho-hum game for Wisconsin. They started a little slow, as they did last week against Utah State, but the game was never in doubt. They ate clock, scored just enough to keep Florida Atlantic at bay, and went back to the locker room with a win. Surprisingly enough, though Alex Hornibrook threw the ball 28 times in this contest. That’s probably the most interesting thing you can take away from his game.
What this means for Wisconsin: Absolutely nothing. The Owls are a terrible team, nobody got injured, the Badgers won. Moving on.
Up Next: at BYU
Duke 41, Northwestern 17
Northwestern scored the first three points, then Duke did everything else. Remember when everyone was shitting their pants over how Penn State’s offense would take a step back without Chris Godwin? They should have been looking west, where the vaunted combination of Clayton Thorson and Justin Jackson is struggling to live up to the hype they got all offseason, now that Austin Carr is off to the NFL. Jackson managed 18 yards on seven carries (a dumbfounding stat on its own. How do you give your best player only seven carries in a game? Sure, he’s not 100%, but dear lord why not just give him the day off?), the team as a whole managed 22 (minus the 40 on Clayton Thorson), and the passing game was no more efficient. Thorson went 11 of 29 for 120 yards with 2 interceptions. This game was a domination from start to finish.
What this means for Northwestern: We’ve come to expect this out of Northwestern, but Duke wasn’t supposed to be that much better than the Wildcats. Any delusions of competing for the West they may have had can safely be put away, but hey, they might win seven games again and we’ll slobber all over them sometime soon.
Up Next: Some other team that’s probably going to beat them too, IDK.
Maryland 63, Towson 17
Maryland did what teams are supposed to do against FCS teams. 367 yards on the ground, 163 yards through the air (13 of 16 for Kasim Hill), and the game was well out of hand early. We will know more about Maryland in two weeks, though.
What this means for Maryland: Like Wisconsin and Florida Atlantic, there isn’t much Maryland can take out of this game. Towson is an FCS team, and not of the “North Dakota State” variety. Feels good to blow someone out of the water, though.
Up Next: BYE
Michigan State 28, Western Michigan 14
The Broncos gave USC all they could handle a week ago, and played it close enough against the Spartans on Saturday. They, however, never really threatened. Michigan State maintained a 14-point lead through most of the game, and one of Western Michgian’s two scores came in the form of a defensive touchdown. Might the Spartans truly be back? Stay tuned.
What this means for Michigan State: Step one in a rebuild is to not lose against teams you’re supposed to beat. Two games in, and they’re delivering. Let’s see what happens next time out.
Up Next: BYE
Eastern Michigan 16, Rutgers 13
Oh Rutgers. You gave your fanbase so much hope after not getting destroyed by Washington, and followed it up by giving Eastern Michigan its first win over a Big Ten team, ever (its first over a Power 5 opponent in 58 tries). The good news is that the defense is actually not that bad this season. Baby steps.
What this means for Rutgers: They’re probably going 1-11.
Up Next: vs Morgan State
Illinois 20, Western Kentucky 7
Is Illinois actually good, or is Western Kentucky not who they used to be with Jeff Brohm making Purdue look like a team that exists? We’ll find out soon enough, but suffice it to say, Illinois was a two-score underdog in this game, and came away with the straight up win. After needing a last-second field goal block to hold off Ball State a week ago, it has to be refreshing of the Illini to respond the way they did. The passing game needs some work still, but it looks like their ground game might be able to mitigate some of their deficiencies, at least against teams at their own level.
What this means for Illinois: Beating teams everyone expects you to lose to is always good, and sets Illinois up to perform better than expected for the season. Though, “better than expected” might still only translate to four or five wins.
Up Next: at South Florida
Indiana 34, Virginia 17
This game was a targeting penalty away from looking even more lopsided. Richard Lagow, however, wasn’t the reason why Indiana won this game. He went 3 for 10 for 24 yards and an interception, and was replaced by Peyton Ramsey after the first quarter, who himself went 17 of 20 for 173 yards. On the Virginia side, Kurt Benkert passed the ball 66 times, which, as Indiana showed last week, may not be the best recipe for a win (unless you’re Washington State, then bombs away!).
What this means for Indiana: Was the benching of Lagow a one-game thing, or did Ramsey make this a competition? Regardless of the result, Indiana certainly looks like a team that will give the rest of the conference fits. They get Michigan and Wisconsin at home this season.
Up Next: vs Florida International
Oregon 42, Nebraska 35
After Oregon opened up a 42-14 lead in the second quarter, everyone assumed this would be a blowout of massive proportions. Nebraska, however, made it a game early in the third, scoring two quick touchdowns to get within striking distance. An Oregon fumble with a little less than six minutes in the game gave Nebraska some life, and a touchdown deficit, but the Huskers weren't able to capitalize on their last drive of the game. Tanner Lee was intercepted on the first and only play of that drive, to seal the Ducks victory.
What this means for Nebraska: The offense doesn’t seem to be a problem**, but that defense really needs to get going if Nebraska wants to contend this season.
Up Next: vs Northern Illinois
No. 5 Oklahoma 31, No. 2 Ohio State 16
Let’s give Kirk Herbstreit some credit here. It could be true that Richard Lagow* and Simmie Cobbs were the best quarterback/receiver tandem the Buckeyes would see all year, but Indiana was far from the best team Ohio State would see all year. This was immediately showcased in Okahoma’s domination of the Buckeyes, where Baker Mayfield went 27 of 35 for 386 yards and three touchdowns. Oklahoma managed a mere 104 yards rushing as a team, and still beat Urban Meyer’s team by two scores. On the other side of the ball, Ohio State managed 167 yards on the ground and 183 through the air, but J.T. Barret, once again, did not look comfortable, with zero touchdowns and an interception to his name. Like Northwestern above, it’s dumbfounding to me how Barrett got more carries than J.K. Dobbins —what it with Ohio State and all these J.-something names? Dobbins and Mike Webber combined for 16 carries in the game, while Barret rushed 18 times.
What this means for Ohio State: Conspiracy theories aside, Ohio State has zero margin of error the rest of the year. Another loss knocks them out of the playoff picture, even with a Big Ten championship under their belts.***
Up Next: vs Army
Minnesota 48, Oregon State 14
“Oh My Minnesota, what big score you have?”
“The better to emulate Penn State, my dear!”
Jokes aside, Minnesota looked like a completely different team against an admittedly bad Oregon State team. Minnesota did this week what they didn’t do last, and it worked rather well for them. Connor Rhoda threw the ball eight times (eight!), completed seven of those attempts, with a touchdown. Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks combined for 47 carries and 183 yards, and that was all she wrote. Minnesota didn’t try to carousel themselves into a quarterback competition, allowed their offense to do what they’re strong at, and took care of the Beavers on the road. As they should.
What this means for Minnesota: Sure, some will say they’re Wisconsin lite, but who cares? If it leads to wins, do what you gotta do.
Up Next: vs Middle Tennessee
*And even that is now in question, after Lagow’s performance at Virginia.
**Outside of Tanner Lee’s four interceptions in the game, that is.
***Of course, this would be the year that every team except Alabama loses two games and they make it in anyway.