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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 8 of Big Ten Football

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Indiana sucks again, while Ohio State is rolling again.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue has earned a much-needed week off this coming week. The Boilers fought hard in Minneapolis but came up just short in yet another gut-wrenching loss. While it is good to be competitive again, we have been here before. It means nothing unless we start winning some of these. The loss dealt a serious blow to any hopes of a bowl game, but If Purdue can figure things out enough to stun Nebraska or Wisconsin those hopes will be renewed.

Meanwhile, here is what went down with the rest of the conference:

Maryland 38, Iowa 31

The Terrapins are alive and well in the Big Ten East race, though still a little back with their loss to Ohio State. Testudo Times credits play from both lines in the win:

Other Maryland defensive linemen - Darius Kilgo, Keith Bowers, Spencer Myers and Roman Braglio - found themselves in the Iowa backfield frequently as well. The Terrapins' line controlled the flow of the contest and forced Iowa into a game it almost certainly didn't want to play.

For Iowa, it was an up and down game, as the Hawkeyes started strong before fading:

After completing his first seven pass attempts, Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock found receivers on just three of his next twelve pass attempts.  The use of 'receivers' is extremely liberal: Rudock did not target a wide receiver until the second half, and did not complete a pass to a wideout until eight minutes into the third quarter.  Early in the fourth quarter, with Iowa facing a 3rd and 6 but down by just three points and holding a thread of momentum, Rudock attempted a three-yard out route to the outside receiver on the opposite sideline.  It was a 30-yard throw into a 20 mph wind designed to gain three yards.  It was, in short, the dumbest pass pattern in the history of pass patterns.  It was intercepted by Maryland defensive back Will Likely and returned for a touchdown, precisely the result it deserved.

Minnesota 39, Purdue 38

The Golden Gophers were elated to pull out the win, as it meant they took over full possession of first place in the West:

The Gophers survived what was a well executed Purdue gameplan for two quarters.  Their offense made a living off the edges of the defense and getting the ball to their playmakers out in space.  The Gopher defense eventually settled down and the offense once again made the plays when they had to be made.  An exciting game and a great atmosphere at The Bank.  Now your Golden Gophers currently sit alone atop the Big Ten West standings, though we all know greater tests await.  But 6-1 and 3-0 in the Big Ten is nothing to be ashamed of.  A confidence building, come-from-behind, double-digit-deficit win.  Not very often we've been able to say such a thing, enjoy it Gopher fans.

The Boiled Sports guys are pretty much in the same boat as me, that is, they are encouraged and discouraged at the same time:

Just as we said Purdue won as a team in Champaign, they lost as one in Minneapolis.  Coaching, offense and defense were all at fault in this one...And how about this- even with all of the mistakes, the Boilers almost won on the road. In spite of the clear need for improvement, I'm confident that these guys will beat Nebraska following the bye week next week; but am not sure why. Nebraska isn't as smart or well-coached as Minnesota...Methinks Pelini will do something dumb to aid the good guys; but it's just a hunch.

Ohio State 56, Rutgers 17

This is probably what people expected from Rutgers all season as the Buckeyes rolled:

From just about the opening drive -- in which OSU forced a Rutgers three-and-out -- on through the final whistle, the Buckeyes' welcoming of Rutgers to the Big Ten wasn't particularly merciful. The Bucks continued to look like a burgeoning, potential playoff side, where as Rutgers undid much of the good will they'd earned in an upset of Michigan in the Big House two weeks prior. Ohio State accrued well over 500 total yards, while it took garbage time for Rutgers to crack 300.

As expected, it was a rough day for the On the Banks crew:

The Scarlet Knight defense simply failed to show up in this game. They could not get consistent pressure at all on Barrett, and whenever OSU's receivers were covered, Barrett would scramble for a first down with ease. Poor tackling was a pain point for Kyle Flood once again, as the Buckeyes feasted on yards after the first hit. It's tough to say what exactly the factor was for the poor showing, whether it was the home field advantage of Ohio Stadium or the difference in talent for RU, but the Knights just didn't have the intensity in this game. The best plays in the first half were false starts by Ohio State or missed passes by the quarterback. Quite simply, it looked way too easy for OSU to find the end zone on each and every drive.

Michigan State 56, Indiana 17

The Hoosiers put a scare into Michigan State early, but the passing game was virtually non-existent as the Spartans made Bloomington a no-fly zone:

The defense's propensity to be absolutely gashed in the running game at times has been a recurring problem throughout the year and Saturday was no different as Indiana's Tevin Coleman, the nation's leading rusher, had 132 of the Hoosiers' 213 rushing yards, an output aided by a 75-yard TD run from Shane Wynn that brought Indiana to within 14-10 early in the second quarter.

With nothing working in the post-Nate Sudfeld era, a once promising season for Indiana is now in ruins:

This certainly wasn't the way Zander Diamont envisioned starting his collegiate career. The son of a soap opera star was not able to provide much drama yesterday, and after the third quarter, he was 4-for-13 with negative-2 pass yards. Diamont showed some legs as he ran it in for a touchdown that briefly put the Hoosiers ahead in the second quarter, but his passing looked like it still needed much work. To be fair, he was going up against a tough MSU defense; however, there were not many positives to take away from his performance. In addition, seeing the offense struggle was particularly frustrating, because entertaining offenses have been a highlight of the Kevin Wilson era.

Nebraska 38, Northwestern 17

Purdue's next opponent used a dominant second half to roll over Northwestern:

Ameer Abdullah got untracked in the fourth quarter, starting with a 50 yard run that set up one of Abdullah's four touchdowns on the day.  Abdullah rushed for 146 yards for the game; 107 in the second half.  Reserve defensive tackle Kevin Williams became Siemian's latest Nebraska nightmare, sacking him three times in the second half.  Williams was in for an injured Vincent Valentine, who dinged up his elbow.  Randy Gregory also left the game twice with an apparent leg injury, but returned later in the game.

Northwestern fans aren't exactly thrilled about their team's performance:

Rather than try to win by as much as possible, NU did the "safe" thing - which, ironically, is not the safest idea - and tried to control the game. Failed drive after failed drive due to ultra-conservative play-calling and bad execution kept the defense on the field longer and longer, and whoosh, the lead was suddenly a blowout. As I wrote last week, that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, but against all of our hope, it happened again: A boring, frustrating game, and another reminder that Northwestern is entirely irrelevant on the national scene.

Non-conference opponents:

Western Michigan 26, Bowling Green 14 - The Broncos are proving to be a decent MAC team, as they went to Bowling Green and did what Indiana could not: Win.

Ball State 32, Central Michigan 29 - Ball State sprung an upset on Central Michigan by hitting a 55-yard field goal with 17 seconds left.

Florida State 31, Notre Dame 27 - I despise both teams, but at least FSU gave us maximum anguish as Notre Dame fans across the country are whining about the TD that wasn't. I am thankful, because if that was a TD we were going to have to hear about the 4th and 16 that ND converted as the greatest play in the history of football for the next 50 years.

Youngstown State 26, Southern Illinois 14 - The Missouri Valley football conference is tough, as this was a possible playoff elimination game.