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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 8 of Big Ten Football

With an off week the Big Ten did not have Purdue to beat up on.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It was kind of nice to have a break from football on Saturday. I tracked a few games, but for the most part I did not care what happened. There was more excitement about following the basketball scrimmages on Twitter than anything else. It was even a short week for the Big ten with four teams on bye instead of the usual two.

Ohio State 49, Rutgers 7

I pity Rutgers, who scored with less than 20 seconds left to ruin a shutout as the Buckeyes appear to have the rolling death machine up and running. This is a fully armed and operational Death Star now:

Rutgers managed four explosive plays -- which is actually a little concerning for the defense -- but the Buckeyes were incredibly efficient otherwise. Leonte Carroo was likely still a little slowed by injury, but was held to just three catches for 55 yards. Right now I'd say this is the biggest concern for the entire team -- whether an opposing offense can exploit some holes in the defense for explosive plays.

What do you say if you're Rutgers? You say you got your ass whipped, that's what:

Rutgers was embarrassed in every phase of the game last night, so badly that our cannon patriots were mocked by Ohio State fans and Brutus the Buckeye.  It was even worse considering it happened with the entire college football world watching live on national television and in front of a house full of top recruits.  We knew the talent level of Ohio State far outweighed the Rutgers roster, but we all thought the home team would put up a fight.  And they did to a degree for the first quarter, but then the wheels not only came off, the car tumbled down the hill and the engine exploded, leaving the team for dead. This type of loss could have long term effects on the psyche of the team as they prepare to face a trio of Big Ten marquee names in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Nebraska. If a domino effect ensues, what does it mean for the future of the football program?

Michigan State 52, Indiana 26

Once again, the Spartans were in a close game in the fourth quarter, but they hit the NOS for 24 points to double up IU:

Finally, a spread-covering blowout win for this MSU team! After several weeks' worth of struggling with inferior opponents (cough Rutgers cough Purdue cough) this MSU team put away a team with authority. Though MSU had a slim 21-20 halftime lead, and almost lost that lead on a late 3rd quarter field goal (both favors from IU kicker Griffen Oakes), MSU scored touchdowns on all three fourth quarter drives en route to doubling up IU, 52-26.

Indiana fans are now questioning a bowl game that seemed all but certain a few weeks ago:

And the concern for this Indiana team and program is if not now, when? In the Big Ten East alone, the cards are stacked against the Hoosiers in future seasons. Ohio State and Michigan State have solidified themselves as perennial powers that are here to stay. Penn State and Michigan each have dynamic coaches and recruiters that have both programs better than they should be, already. All four of those schools have top 11 recruiting classes next season right now, per 247 sports. In those same rankings, Indiana's ahead of only two other power five schools: Purdue and Kansas. Maryland will have locally-driven class centered around quarterback prospect Dwayne Haskins and Under Armour money to throw at a big-name coach. Indiana hasn't beaten Rutgers in the Big Ten yet. This thing isn't getting any easier.

Northwestern 30, Nebraska 28

After dropping a pair of games the Wildcats are bowl eligible, something that eluded a teamt hat started strong last year too:

Is Northwestern the Big Ten West title contender we thought they were after Minnesota? No, probably not. But this team has always been solid, built on a defense that still makes plays despite being banged up and an offense that, while perhaps prone to periods of struggle, can always bust out for big gains.

Nebraska loses yet again in the finale minutes, this time because they were unable to convert a two-point conversion to tie. They look vulnerable, but they will likely blast Purdue this weekend:

Be nice to each other. Maybe even find a hobby because we all know that Husker football is getting hard to watch and distractions might be helpful. Whatever you do, PLEASE don't tweet mean things at players. If you want to blame anyone, blame Husker Mike. After all, he got smug about his perfect picks in Husker games so far this year (no- don't do that I am just kidding) These young men playing for Nebraska are even more frustrated and disappointed than we are.

Wisconsin 24, Illinois 13

The Badgers once again used defense to hold a team at bay while scoring 24 points:

Wisconsin's defense contained a potent receiving target and passing offense. The Badgers gave up 333 yards on the afternoon -- only 55 rushing -- to an Illini offense that many were worried about. They held wide receiver Geronimo Allison to only eight receptions for 99 yards, and they held quarterback Wes Lunt to just over a 50 percent completion percentage.

The Illini are now 4-3, but still have a few opportunities to snag two more wins for a bowl game:

Illinois fell to Wisconsin again, this year on Homecoming. You obviously never want to see an opposing player go down with an injury, but it admittedly seemed like a good thing for the Illini when Joel Stave, Wisconsin's starting quarterback, exited after the first drive. But this is Illinois Football, so it was a bad thing. Bart Houston came out firing, and Wisconsin's stagnant offense found new life.

Penn State 31, Maryland 30

This was much closer than it should have been, but Penn State made a 1 point lead hold up for the final 10 minutes:

Yes, we can all be happy that Penn State secured their sixth win of the season, and third of the B1G year. The former matching last year's regular season total, and the latter surpassing last season's 2-6 conference mark. But man, was that some ugly, uh, football. The Lions put the ball on the ground four times with fumbles, losing three. Coming into the game, PSU only had six total fumbles in seven games (losing just two). The "host" Terrapins were not much better in the ball security department, losing two fumbles, and throwing three interceptions.

The Terrapins are now 2-5, but unfortunately do not get to play Purdue in a Cripplefight for last place:

Maryland was competitive from the game's outset and actually outplayed Penn State for most of the first half. The Terps moved the ball with efficiency, getting inside Nittany Lion territory on each of their first seven possessions - bolstered, no doubt, by repeatedly strong field position. But Hills threw an interception on Maryland's first drive and then fumbled in the shadow of Penn State's goalposts later in the quarter. And when Penn State running back Saquon Barkley fumbled the ball away in the second quarter deep inside Lion territory. (After six weeks without attempting a field goal, Brad Craddock missed a 51-yarder in his first attempt Saturday.)

Non-Conference Opponents

Marshall 30, North Texas 13 - The Thundering Herd continues to roll and is now 7-1.

North Dakota State 28, Indiana State 14 - The Trees were tied 14-14 in the third quarter with the four-time defending National Champions, but could not swing the upset.

Duke 45, Virginia Tech 43 4OT - The Hokies now fall to 3-5 and have really only looked good against Purdue.

Bowling Green 48, Kent State 0 - at least Hazell's current team did better than his old team.