The glorious smorgasbord of 36 Big Ten games in three weeks is over. This was the final week in which all 12 teams were playing in 12 separate games. Ten of the remaining 12 non-conference games will take place this weekend, with Purdue-Notre Dame the following weekend and northwestern-Rice later on in the season as the last two out of conference contests. As usual, we had a "go sit in the corner and think about what you've done" loss. In week one it was Indiana to Ball State. Week 2 had multiple ones with New Mexico State over Minnesota (mulligan because of the Jerry Kill scenario) and Rice over Purdue.
As we take a look around this past weekend there were a few near misses, but the definite winner of the "sit in the corner and think about what you've done" loss category is Northwestern losing at Army.
Army 21, Northwestern 14
Oh Northwestern. You go right back to your normal ways of dropping one non-conference game you have no business losing just as we all start to believe in you. This is a sacred tradition started when the program began in 1995, as Miami (OH) upset the Wildcats after their epic Notre Dame upset. That loss could have cost Northwestern a National Championship, as a win would have meant an undefeated season before the Rose Bowl. Sippin' On Purple has a love letter for Dan Persa, as they have fallen back to earth during the Kain Colter era. At least Mike Kafka has his NFL debut last night.
Michigan 31, Eastern Michigan 3
This was expected, as Eastern Michigan is a pretty bad team that needed two FCS teams to start 2-0. You can consider this to be the tune up portion of the schedule for the Wolverines, with San Diego State next.
Purdue 59, Southeast Missouri State 0
A final note on our own game: This was our biggest shutout victory since beating Rose Hulman (the Fightin' Engineers!) 62-0 on November 8, 1913. This was a year after we earned the biggest win in program history over Rose Hulman, when we beat them 91-0. Our last four games against Rose Hulman saw us win by a combined score of 238-3, but we last played them in 1925. Take that, nerds!
Penn State 14, Temple 10
I was right about this game in that it was closer than expected. The Nittany Lions are a hot mess offensively, and will likely win games based on their defense. Their 28 game win streak against Temple was in danger until a ballsy 4th and 1 call saw Brandon Beachum convert. Penn State went for it mostly because kicker Shanky McShankerson missed two field goals earlier. Call me crazy, but I think a win in Happy Valley is possible now as long as they continue to struggle on offense. Choosing between Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden at this point is like being at a used car dealership and being forced to pick between a Gremlin and a Yugo.
Iowa 31, Pittsburgh 27
This was almost a replay of the Michigan-Notre Dame game from a week before. Pittsburgh was in complete control before Iowa made a surprising comeback for the win. According to OMHR's propaganda site this was the biggest come from behind win in Iowa history. Who knew that James Vandenberg (who really needs a nickname at this point) would be one of the Big Ten's best quarterbacks this early in the year? He was even named Big Ten player of the Week. Iowa is not the Iowa of old, but they're still a good team.
Indiana 38, South Carolina State 21
It was sloppy, but it was a win. That's all Indiana needed. Losing to Virginia was respectable even though Indiana choked away a great comeback. Losing to Ball State in Lucas Oil was embarrassing when they got pushed around by a smaller MAC team, Losing to an FCS foe would have been unforgiveable for Kevin Wilson, and would have meant an 0-12 season would be a real possibility. Now, for the second straight year, the Hoosiers go on the road against a Sun Belt team.
Notre Dame 31, Michigan State 13
I would love to be as out of touch from reality as Lou Holtz. He stated that this game wasn't as close as the score at the end. I would argue it was closer. When Kirk Cousins throws a key interception as the Spartans are about to get a touchdown and make it 28-20, but it leads to a field goal at the other end, I would say the game was closer. There was plenty of time for MSU to get a stop and potential tying score. Instead, the Fighting Irish benefitted from a red zone turnover this week. I like to rag on ND as much as possible, but this is a dangerous team that, if it can ever stop turning the ball over (13 through three games) it will be very good. Hopefully they will solve the turnover woes on October 2nd.
Minnesota 29, Miami (OH) 23
They had to survive a fourth down pass into the end zone, but the Golden Gophers assured that they, too, will avoid an 0-12 season. Given Minnesota's recent history with FCS foes, especially North Dakota State, that was a real possibility. It is still likely going to be a very long year for coach Kill, but at least he got some good news after a scary week. The Daily Gopher notes that consistency was a major factor in this game.
Nebraska 51, Washington 38
Fans of the Cornhuskers are still not sold on the defense, but Nebraska is 3-0 and still in the top 10. Corn Nation notes that negative plays need to become more of the norm if the Nebraska defense is truly going to become the Blackshirts again. There should be an opportunity to work on the pass defense in a few weeks when Ohio State comes to town.
Wisconsin 49, Northern Illinois 7
I nearly put the Badgers on upset watch since they were facing a pretty good Northern Illinois team and a quarterback in Nathan Chandler that almost pulled the upset in Madison two years ago. In the words of Ron Burgundy, "I immediately regret this decision." If you can find a defense that will slow down Wisconsin while having an offense that can score enough on their defense, good luck. With a solid running game, elusive passer, and stout defense this is looking like an undefeated National title contender.
Illinois 17, Arizona State 14
The Fighting Illini are currently the second best team in the Leaders' Division and, with a home game late in the season against Wisconsin, could earn a trip to Indianapolis to play for the Division title. They could even be undefeated by then. They get the three worst teams in the conference on the road, and the other road trip (Penn State) hardly looks intimidating right now. They also dodge Nebraska, Michigan State, and Iowa from the Legends Division. All they really need is a little more offense.
Miami (FL) 24, Ohio State 6
The Buckeyes are in serious trouble. Maryland threw the ball over Miami in the season opener, and the Buckeyes could only manage 35 yards through the air. Lamar Miller proved you can run on the defense and this year good Jacory Harris outweighed bad Jacory Harris. Mrs. T-Mill was especially happy now that vengeance for 2002 has been paid. Joe Bauserman can't run the offense and Braxton Miller is playing like a freshman.
Other non-conference opponents:
Middle Tennessee State - BYE
Rice - BYE