Purdue, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan had the week off this week, while Penn State and Illinois wish they had it off. The Nittany Lions and Fighting Illini had pretty awful weeks on the wrong-end of blowouts, as we'll see in this week's Whistlestop Tour.
Minnesota 34, Nebraska 23
The Golden Gophers earned their first win over the Cornhuskers since 1960 thanks to a strong running game, something that will be huge next week when they head to Indiana. Minnesota had 247 yards on the ground as it reached bowl eligibility:
Overall the Gopher's domination of the stat sheet was reflected in the final score. 430 yards of total offense, 270 on the ground and the team never waivered, even as Nebraska scored on back-to-back 2nd half possessions to bring the score to within 4 points. A tremendous stand by the Gopher D when Nebraska was pinned at their own 10. That was followed by the game-capping touchdown drive to take an 11-point lead with under 20 seconds in the game. That score essentially put Nebraska away, but a Jeremy Baltazar interception sealed it and allowed the Gophers to line up in the victory formation.
The win caused some seriously damage to Nebraska's hopes in the Legends Division with game remaining against Michigan and Michigan State:
The Huskers at times looked lost on defense, especially when it came to covering Minnesota's TE's. Several catches and open drops were prevalent throughout the entire game. However, the bigger issue was the 282 total rushing yards by Minnesota, led by David Cobb and his 31 carry, 144 yard effort.
Iowa 17, Northwestern 10 (OT)
It sounds like this game set offenses back about 15 years, or to the current levels that Purdue is at. Stephen Buckley had 99 yards as the most effective player on the day, but that doesn't change the fact that Northwestern is in deep, deep trouble:
This game was one of the #B1Ggiest #B1Gs that ever #B1Gged. Iowa moved the ball easily on their first drive and scored a TD, but didn't manage any touchdowns after that. Northwestern's defense was really sound all day on all fronts. Northwestern looked horrendous at first, but was haunted by a few costly penalties and some bad turnovers by Mike Trumpy that killed two of the Wildcats' biggest drives.
For the Hawkeyes, Black Heart Gold Pants will certainly take the win, even if it is painful for their Most Hated Rivals:
It was impossible to know then how important that play would become for the 2002 season, or how iconic it would be for years to come. All we knew was that we'd beaten a 3-2 Purdue team that methodically beaten the Iowa defense with a running quarterback, and that the Iowa State loss was looking better with every week.
Eleven years later, Iowa lined up on 3rd and 7 at the Northwestern 8 yard line, going to the same end zone where Banks connected with Clark. Northwestern brought an all-out safety blitz, leaving man coverage on the outside. Iowa flooded the right, then slipped tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz into the flat. With a charging defender in his face, Jake Rudock floated a pass to the flat, the Polish Hat chased it down, and Iowa took the lead.
Michigan State 42, Illinois 3
The Fighting Illini took a 3-0 lead early, then proceeded to do nothing:
I don't even want to talk about yesterday's game. You saw it, and even if you didn't see it, the 42-3 score tells you almost all of what you need to know. Instead I'd like to talk more about the reaction I've seen and heard from Illinois fans everywhere following the loss. And that reaction is that Tim Beckman needs to go.
If only it were that simple.
At least it means Purdue might win a game this year when Illinois comes to town on November 23. For the Spartans, it was another defensive masterpiece leading up to the game with Michigan this week:
The defense's dominance is slightly exaggerated by the fact that Illinois only had 8 real shots at driving the ball. But it was still plenty dominant. Nathan Scheelhaase was 5 for 8 for 59 yards on Illinois' opening drive. He was 8 for 13 for 44 yards for the remainder of the game. Josh Ferguson was almost completely bottled up until a 21-yard rush late in the game.
Ohio State 63, Penn State 14
The Buckeyes are certainly flying high before they come to Ross-Ade. They couldn't have put on a better performance than they did on Saturday. I guess it means we're supposed to be afraid, but I am not. Not when Braxton Miller blows up everyone else but struggles against Purdue:
Braxton Miller, on the other hand, was outstanding. Miller picked up his first rushing touchdown of the season for the Buckeye's second score, a 39 yard scamper early in the first quarter to go up 14-0. He added his second, a 6-yard designed run, with two minutes into the second quarter, to give the Buckeyes a 21-0 lead. His decision making throwing the football was also excellent, finding Chris Fields for a 3-yard lob for the Buckeye's 4th TD, and then perhaps his most impressive, a 25-yard bullet to Philly Brown with only three seconds left in the first half, giving us the immortal Braxton Miller Finger Guns. Hackenberg's 12-yard scoring toss to Brandon Felder was the only blemish on what would have been a nearly flawless first half.
As expected, things couldn't have really been worse for Penn State:
There are losses. There are bad losses. There are brutal losses. There are the kinds of losses that make you go into a bit of a rut for a few days, one that you eventually come out of. And then there's what Ohio State did to Penn State last weekend.
All game, the Nittany Lions were thoroughly outclassed by the #4 team in the country in a performance that had "we're playing for style points" written all over it. Penn State had no chance, and outside of a few nice runs from Bill Belton and Allen Robinson doing Allen Robinson things, that was apparent.
Cincinnati - On Bye
North Dakota State 56, Indiana State 10 - The Trees fall to 1-7 as NDSU gets revenge for its only loss in the last two seasons.
Notre Dame 45, Air Force 10 - The Irish feel better about themselves after beating up a service academy.
Northern Illinois 59, Eastern Michigan 20 - As someone points out yesterday, NIU has as many wins over Big Ten foes as Indiana, Purdue, Penn State, Illinois, and Northwestern combined.