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Creeping the B1G: Nebraska’s Gamble is Paying Off

Bo Pelini is sitting somewhere, caressing a cat, and laughing manically.

NCAA Football: Northern Illinois at Nebraska
Buddy, you’re going for the wrong record.
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

This was supposed to be the boring week in the Big Ten, with seemingly every team playing either an overmatched opponent or someone at their own level. With the exception of Purdue and Illinois, who were road underdogs, every Big Ten team was favored by double-digits. As we all know, that’s not exactly how it played out.

No. 22 South Florida 47, Illinois 23

South Florida started the game slow for the third time, but Illinois was unable to take advantage. The Fighting Illini could not find anything on offense until the game was well out of hand, and a manageable 16-9 deficit quickly turned into a devastating 37-9 hole. By the time the Illini scored again, The Bulls we already playing backups. Illinois’ lack of depth combined with their inability to get off the field on defense really showed in this game. There were plenty of times where Quinton Flowers was in a bad position on third down, only to find a way to make a big play for a score. For a team that didn’t practice, South Florida looked pretty good once they got going. Oh, and this match nearly broke the record for penalties in a game. Good stuff.

What this means for Illinois: Nobody expected them to win this game, so nothing really changes for them. They’ll need to find a way to get something going offensively though if they want to reach six wins.
Up Next: BYE

No. 7 Michigan 29, Air Force 13

The score is fairly deceiving, as it was within three for most of the game. Nearing the end of the third quarter, Michigan scored another field goal to make it 13-19, and in turn forced the Falcons out of their comfort zone. Another Wolverine field goal and a missed field goal on Air Force’s side, and the game was essentially out of hand. The late touchdown to make the score 29-13 was just for decoration. Too bad it was the only offensive touchdown of the day for Michigan.

What this means for Michigan: Their defense is good, but is showing signs of humanity with every passing (no pun intended) game. Their offense, on the other hand, is in a world of hurt if they don’t get their issues figured out soon.
Up Next: at Purdue (!!!)

Northern Illinois 21, Nebraska 17

This is what Nebraska fired Bo Pelini for. There are plenty of of legitimate reasons for firing Pelini, especially if personality is something you value in a coach. The problem is that Nebraska went and hired literal opposite in more ways than one. Pelini could never really beat the top teams, but he also rarely got upset. Mike Riley, on the other hand, has the ability to beat the top teams, but is never really able to have top teams himself. I guess having a nice coach is worth it.

Onto the game, Tanner Lee threw another three interceptions to bring is total to seven in the past two games. Two of his interceptions in this game went for touchdowns, putting the Huskers in a 14-0 hole early. Ironically, this was the day the defense played its best game to date, allowing one offensive touchdown for Northern Illinois.

What this means for Nebraska: Their schedule is about to get tougher, and the bottom teams in the West look way better than them right now. Not good Bob!
Up Next: vs Rutgers

No. 10 Wisconsin 40, BYU 6

BYU has turned out to be much worse than anyone expected, but it’s good to see Wisconsin dominate from start to finish. The issues that plagued the Badgers the past two weeks were mostly gone, and the defense was able to replicate the performances of of BYU’s previous opponents. Alex Hornibrook looked pretty good, going 18 of 19 for 256 yards and four touchdowns.

What this means for Wisconsin: Their hardest non-conference game of the season turned out to be their easiest. That’s as much as you can take away from this game.
Up Next: vs Northwestern

Minnesota 34, Middle Tennessee 3

Sticking to Connor Rhoda is paying dividends for P.J. Fleck’s team, as the Gophers are looking like their week one woes are well past behind them. It’s not that Rhoda lit up the scoreboard (he went 11 of 18 for 122 yards), but not having multiple quarterbacks playing in the game* has allowed the running game to take over, doing what it was intended to do from the start.

What this means for Minnesota: Before the season, it was expected that Minnesota would take a step back due to their personnel losses. Now, they look like they can contend for the West.
Up Next: BYE

Iowa 31, North Texas 14

Iowa deserves some credit here. After the refs took 14 points off the board, it looked like North Texas was going to take over the game. Several mental mistakes and key penalties kept the Mean Green in the game, so much so that they had a 14-10 lead at halftime. After their adjustments on defense, the Hawkeyes established their run game and dominated on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately, this came at the cost of both of their top running backs in Akrum Wadley and James Butler. Both left the game with undisclosed injuries.

What this means for Iowa: Just like Minnesota, they’re no longer thinking bowl game. Their thinking West.
Up Next: PAIN

Purdue 35, Missouri 3

Yes folks, you read that right. Purdue not only won the game, they worked ran Tigers off their own damn field! It’s no surprise that the Boilermakers were able to score on Missouri, as they just fired their defensive coordinator after allowing 74 points in two games. It’s the fact that Purdue held the Tiger offense to 3 points that’s amazing. This game was expected to be a shootout, and Purdue made sure it was anything but. Missouri, obviously, is not Alabama (only Alabama is Alabama), but when’s the last time looked this dominant on the road against ANYONE?

What this means for Purdue: With Rutgers, Illinois, and Nebraska (yes, Nebraska), still on the schedule, the Boilermakers might have enough to reach the back end of bowl eligibility.
Up Next: vs Michigan (!!!)

Rutgers 65, Morgan State 0

I didn’t watch this game, and neither did you. Moving on.

What this means for Rutgers: They won their only game of the season.
Up Next: at Nebraska

No. 8 Ohio State 38, Army 7

Ohio State bounced back nicely enough after getting blown out last week, and while Army hasn’t been as bad recently as they had been for a long time, this was still a game the Buckeyes were never going to struggle with. Army runs the exact type of offense the Ohio State defense is prepared to stop, and that they did. Army made it interesting after closing the gap at 14-7, but it was all Ohio State after that. J.T. Barrett looked better in this game, but it was Army. Next week won’t tell us anything either.

What this means for Ohio State: Not much. Army wasn’t supposed to be a threat, and it wasn’t.
Up Next: vs UNLV

Northwestern 49, Bowling Green 7

For the first time this season, Northwestern looked competent against a team they were supposed to handle. It may turn out that Duke is actually a pretty good team when it’s all said and done, and there’s no denying that Bowling Green is one of the worst teams in the country, let alone the MAC, but it must still feel good to be able to establish the run while being efficient through the air. Justin Jackson gained 121 on the ground on 18 carries, and Clayton Thorson had 370 yards on 23-30 passing. Take these with a grain of salt given the opposition, but these are still good numbers.

What this means for Northwestern: They won’t start the season 1-2, like they did last year. If they perform like this Saturday, maybe the game will be competitive.
Up Next: at Wisconsin

Did Not Play: Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State


*While Demry Croft is taking some time away from the Gophers for personal reasons, Rhoda was named the starter before that decision.