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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 10 of Big Ten Football

It looks like the Big Ten is going to fill all of its bowl spots.

Eric Francis

So far, no one has officially been eliminated from bowl consideration, but Purdue is the first to six losses and can be eliminated this week. On the other side, seven teams are now eligible with Rutgers still a game away.  Since the league has 10 tie-ins now for 14 teams three more need to get there.

Rutgers still has a solid chance with a game left against a punchless Indiana team. The Penn State-Illinois winner would need one more victory, and they could get it as Penn State still plays Indiana and Illinois plays Northwestern. Northwestern, also on four wins, has Purdue and Illinois left. Michigan now needs two wins, but would have to go 2-1 against Northwestern, Maryland, and Ohio State. The only two three-win teams are Purdue and Indiana. The Boilers would have to stun Wisconsin, but I can see them beating Northwestern and Indiana. The Hoosiers could also still bowl with Penn State, Rutgers, and Purdue as three possible wins, but they would need to find a quarterback of even poor skill to be an upgrade.

At least it looks like all 10 spots would be filled. Should Purdue upset Wisconsin and stay alive the most likely destinations would be Detroit for the QuickLane Bowl or Dallas for the Heart of Dallas Bowl. That's getting ahead of ourselves, however. Here was Saturday in the B1G:

Iowa 48, Northwestern 7

This was a good old-fashioned ass-kicking, and the Black Heart Gold Pants Crew enjoyed it:

Just when you think you have all the answers... Iowa football changes the question.  Two weeks after a frustrating, not-really-as-close-as-the-score-said 38-31 loss to Maryland and after a week full of dispiriting news about injuries (LeShun Daniels, Jr.), suspensions (Reggie Spearman), and departures (Derrick Willies), all Iowa did was demolish Northwestern, 48-7.  Just like we all expected, right?  Halloween might have been yesterday, but there was plenty of trick-or-treating on display in Kinnick Stadium today -- and Iowa handed out a lot of treats to a fanbase starving for reasons to cheer.

As expected, InsideNU is as emo as a teenage girl this morning:

Northwestern was as badly prepared as I have ever seen a football team. And out of a bye! How is that possible? They didn't see outside zone to the left coming? They left guys wide open on those deep play-action slants over the middle? Those are literally the only two things Iowa does. And Iowa will readily admit that! You just have to out-execute them.

Maryland 20, Penn State 19

A lot of news was made about Handshake-gate, and it was a pretty dick move by Maryland. They still finally got the upper hand in this "rivalry" that actually has a little spice now:

"Let the rivalry begin." Those four words, uttered by head coach Randy Edsall following Maryland's 20-19 win over Penn State in State College on Saturday, in a way summed up how a lot of Maryland fan were feeling heading into this match-up with that team from Pennsylvania. For years, Maryland fans have had to endure the same narrative about the Nittany Lions' dominance over the Terps in football; just one win, a tie, and thirty five losses. While a lot of those loses were also blow out, there were several games that were within eight points, but no matter what, Maryland never seemed able to get over the hump and beat the Nittany Lions.

Penn State is also feeling the sting of a letdown:

So, another game, another dominating performance by a Penn State defense that held Maryland to just 192 yards, and a PSU offense that can't get out of it's own way. The running game managed a measly 66 yards on 30 carries on designed runs. Hackenberg alternated between running for his life, and not finding open receivers, and occasionally, yelling at any teammate or coach that would listen. Frustration has clearly set in among the sophomore captain, and with just 4 games remaining, and no more off weeks, time is running out to find 2 more wins, and send a deserving senior class out with a bowl game.

Wisconsin 37, Rutgers 0

Hopefully the Badgers got their beatdown out of their system, because they are starting to turn it on at the right time with a tough closing stretch coming up after Purdue:

After a convincing 52-7 win over Maryland last week, the Wisconsin Badgers looked to continue their impressive play this week in their first ever conference matchup against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. There were sloppy conditions in Piscataway on Saturday, but the cold, rain and win had no impact on the Badgers' defense, as they turned in yet another impressive performance against the Scarlet Knights.

For Rutgers, that continued a stretch of Homecoming games that have been awful of late:

The losing streak for Rutgers now stands at three games, and the Knights will have to carry that streak into the final bye week of the season. RU has three chances to get to bowl eligibility from here on out, and with two games against Michigan State and Maryland, Rutgers final home game against Indiana becomes that much more important.

Michigan 34, Indiana 10

Indiana is back to being the cure for all ills, as only the Hoosiers can make this Michigan team look good:

It did just that after the Wolverines (4-5, 2-3 Big Ten East) dispatched Indiana in deciding fashion by the score of 34-10. It also marked the 19th-straight victory and 34th victory in the last 35 meetings over the Hoosiers (3-5, 0-5 Big Ten East).

The football program is currently in the midst of major distractions since the beginning of the season. It had another one added to the entire athletic department when athletic director Dave Brandon's resignation was made official on Friday.

Indiana's season of promise is now falling apart because of terrible quarterback play, and the win at Missouri looks like a gross aberration:

Unfortunately, when injuries (and transfers) pile up at the QB position, seasons tend to spiral out of control, take a peak at Maryland's 2012 season if you want a recent analog. Indiana had three capable starting quarterbacks (Sudfeld, Roberson, and Coffman) in January of this year and they lost every single one of them by Halloween. Zander Diamont enrolled in January, meaning he was the 5th guy throughout Spring practice. Historically, Indiana hasn't been a program to have a lot of quality depth, it shouldn't be surprising they're struggling so much when they're this far down the quarterback list.

Nebraska 35, Purdue 14

Even Corn Nation recognizes that this was a three-touchdown win that did not feel like a three touchdown win:

Nebraska barely beat the Purdue Boilermakers by 21 points in an offensively sloppy game after Ameer Abdullah left the game after the Huskers second offensive possession. Nebraska started their first three offensive possessions deep in Purdue territory but only came away with seven points. Nebraska scored a touchdown on one possession, turned it over on downs after a mishandled snap on another, and missed a field goal on the third.

The Boiled Sports guys saw yesterday as a loss of momentum:

The stats don't tell the story of this game. Purdue had more yards than Nebraska and nearly as many first downs...But two blocked punts hurt our Boilers...and the offense's inability to make plays left them perpetually in third and long situations. The play calling took over where Shoop and Hazell left off in the second half of the Minnesota game. And Appleby looked rattled at times for the first time as a starter. He ended the day 18/46 with 216 yards, 1 TD thrown, 1 running and 2 interceptions. The most noteworthy was an ugly forced pass to Yancey in the endzone...A truly awful pass and assessment of the defense...but horrible effort by Yancey on the other end of the ball as he pretty much watched the Nebraska DB catch it without fighting at all for it.

Ohio State 55, Illinois 14

The Marshall of the Big Ten beat up on another crappy team. Whoopee:

The defense clearly plays better when the Buckeye offense is on point and can establish an early comfortable lead. The Buckeyes picked O'Toole off twice and played tight coverage on Illini receivers. That was apparent twice in the first half. First, the Illini reeled off a 56-yard play on a trick formation, but then the Buckeyes tightened down to force an incompletion and a missed field goal in what would be first of many red zone struggles for the Illini. The second came when backup quarterback Aaron Bailey entered the game and drove the Illini offense to the Ohio State 12 yard line. However, Joey "shrug" Bosa tackled Bailey for a loss of two on fourth down to force a turnover on downs.

Illinois did not have a lot of good to see:

In lieu of actual writing, which this game certainly doesn't deserve, here is a collection of gifs and vines I viewed on Twitter today that made me feel sad

Non-conference update:

Western Michigan 41, Miami (OH) 10 - Don't look now, but the Broncos are bowl eligible and this might be Purdue's best victory.

Central Michigan 38, Eastern Michigan 7 - The Chippewas are also bowl eligible now. I really wish we could play this game again right now.

Notre Dame 49, Navy 39 - The Irish once again beat Navy. Lather, Rinse Repeat.

Southern Illinois - on bye