The Whistlestop Tour: Week 10 Of Big Ten Football

Gregory Shamus

Wrapping up the 10th week of football in the Big Ten as Purdue is now on the brink of bowl elimination.

Like many of you, I am just tired of football. That's said because I usually love college football Saturdays. I am ready to turn to basketball and forget this lost season that was so promising as recently as six weeks ago. So, I apologize if this recap of the week is a little half-assed, but I am just tired.

Michigan 35, Minnesota 13

The big news was that Denard Robinson did not play. Instead, Devin Gardner played, overcame a 7-0 deficit in the second quarter, and threw three TDs as the wolverines kept themselves alive for the Legends Division title. Purdue fans will be somewhat pleased to see that Russell Bellomy, who spurned Purdue, has been passed over:

It isn't Russell Bellomy. Devin Gardner took more snaps at quarterback this week for "precautionary reasons", only to play the entire game. Devin didn't come out shining, throwing an errant interception to a defensive back who was stalking his tight end the entire play. His play picked up substantially after that, throwing two touchdowns and rushing for another on his way to a career day. Gardner showed us all why he was a five-star recruit out of high school by accounting for 255 total yards and 3 total touchdowns.

The Golden Gophers are disappointed after falling to 3-38 against Michigan since 1967, but a bowl game is still within reach:

I'll save some of my perspective for Monday but the story of the season is improvement. The Gopher margin of loss improved by 36 points. Sure some of that was due to Robinson not playing but I guarantee you Jeffrick won't be writing about the University shutting down the football program (which led to me getting a call from the Athletic Communications Dept because the University was getting calls asking if it were true from alumni and recruits...true story). This defense played better, the offense had opportunities for more points and Gopher football is getting better.

Indiana 24, Iowa 21

Things are getting really delusional in Bloomington. The hype over the basketball team is warranted, but after two straight Big Ten wins the Hoosiers and their fans actually think they have a chance to reach the Big Ten title game. To do so they will have to win a third Big Ten game in a row, something that has not happened since 1993:

The Wisconsin game is, quite simply, the biggest regular season game IU has played since 1993, when IU made its first ever trip to Penn State with a 7-1/4-1 record. IU lost by 7 that day, and hasn't been in Rose Bowl contention since. It's quite a long shot for IU and requires unprecedented circumstances, and IU still is more likely than not to miss the postseason altogether, but the fact remains: it is November 4, and if IU wins its remaining games, the Hoosiers will play in the Rose Bowl.

It is absolutely pathetic that Indiana is still in the Big Ten title race and we are not. It's an indictment of how badly the coaching staff has screwed up this season.

As for Hawkeyes, they join us and Illinois as teams that are pretty much playing like absolute crap at the moment:

The offense? Yeah, it still sucks. The scoreboard says Iowa scored 21 points, but the offense only contributed 14 of those points. 21 points still would have been a dispiriting performance -- Indiana gives up, on average, 28.9 points a game -- but 14 points is even more pathetic. The only opposing offense to score fewer than 14 points against Indiana? Massachusetts, who scored all of six points in a 45-6 drubbing. Iowa racked up 345 yards of offense yesterday, roughly 85 yards less than Indiana's average (428.1 yards per game). That included 96 rushing yards, roughly 112 yards less than Indiana's average (208.4 yards per game), and 249 passing yards, actually 30 yards more than Indiana's average (219.7 yards per game). I don't think that implies Indiana has a decent pass defense; rather, teams rarely need to test it because they can run all over Indiana. Except Iowa.

Penn State 34, Purdue 9

I've said all I need to say about this game. Black Shoe Diaries is, of course, pleased that the Nittany Lions recovered from a loss to enjoy the spoils of victory:

After last week's loss, many, myself included, openly wondered whether this team could find the enthusiasm to keep playing at the high level they'd accustomed themselves to. This game was certainly an answer in the affirmative. Purdue certainly didn't prove a challenging test--they drop to 0-5 in the conference, and Danny Hope's job prospects slip more and more with each passing week--but Penn State did to them what good teams do to bad ones. Next week's trip to Lincoln beckons, and Penn State's got the momentum headed back in the right direction.

"Purdue certainly didn't prove a challenging test."

Yikes.

Nebraska 28, Michigan State 24

The Cornhuskers won late thanks to a few questionable calls:

Excuse the double negative, but I can't not start out against the erroneous pass interference call against Darqueze Dennard that gave Nebraska the first down for the game-winning score. That call was brutal, but they went both ways: Michigan State was the beneficiary of a couple of dodgy pass interference calls when the ball may have been uncatchable and a personal foul call when a Nebraska player was blocked into a Spartan going out of bounds; Nebraska got the call above. The flags seemed to be thrown at a whim today, that's inexcusable.

While the Spartans were fuming, Corn Nation took the high road:

Would that have sealed the game for Michigan State? Hardly. Not with Taylor Martinez at quarterback. Martinez still had three possessions left in the game, and Nebraska scored on two of them. Give Martinez more time, and you never know what would have happened. Would this game have been different if Martinez hadn't turned the ball over? Yes. Would this game have been different if the officials had kept their flags in their pocket? Probably not.

Ohio State 52, Illinois 22

The Buckeyes are really good...

While Ohio State has made a living this season playing down (and up) to opposition as the situation dictated it, the 2012 Buckeyes had their first (almost) wire-to-wire complete game against the unquestionably down Illinois Fighting Illinois en route to a 52-22 win. Carlos Hyde had his best game of the year for the Buckeyes running the ball 18 times for 138 yards and 3 TDs. Braxton Miller was his usual brilliant self as well, completing 12/20 for 226 yards and 2 TDs while also adding 13 carries for 73 yards and a TD there as well.

... and the Fighting Illini most definitely are not:

The Illini lost by 30 yesterday, but make no mistake, they didn't actually play that well. The only reason they got within 30 points of Ohio State is because Ohio State let it happen. The first Ohio State turnover came in the third quarter. The Illini would take advantage of Rod Smith's fumble and two Ohio State personal fouls to move down the field and score their first touchdown of the day.

Non-conference opponents:

Eastern Kentucky 31, Southeast Missouri State 7 - This year's FCS opponent easily beat last year's FCS opponent.

Notre Dame 29, Pittsburgh 26 3 OT - The Fighting Irish once again escaped at home.

Ohio 45, Eastern Michigan 14 - Another week, another blowout loss for EMU.

Marshall 38, Memphis 28 - We're in danger of having a win over a bowl-eligible team!

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