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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 11 of Big Ten Football

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Don’t worry kids, it’s almost over.

Purdue v Minnesota Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

At least it is basketball season and we only have to deal with football for two more weeks. After that, it is flight aware season as we look to see flights from Baton Rouge, Kalamazoo, and other far flung places into West Lafayette.

In the meantime, we still have some football to write about.

Northwestern 45, Purdue 17

After getting their lips bloodied by falling behind 10-0 Northwestern rolled. InsideNU said they got back to basics:

Northwestern was down 10-0 to a Purdue team that hadn’t led by double digits since Halloween 2015. Having allowed an 11-play, 61-yard scoring drive to start the game down 3-0, the Wildcats fell had fallen further behind after a brutal interception from Clayton Thorson that led to a short Boilermaker touchdown.

Wake-up call.

The Wildcats, as they have all year, responded, but this time it was the defense leading the way. Montre Hartage came away with his third pick of the year, stepping in front of Purdue standout receiver DeAngelo Yancey to put the offense in business. Four plays later, Northwestern found itself on the board, courtesy of a Clayton Thorson pass to a somehow wide open Austin Carr. Two drives later, the Wildcat defense once again stood tall on fourth down, and Northwestern took the lead on the ensuing drive with Carr breaking open deep.

Our friends at Boiled Sports are just as tired as we are:

Listen, at this point during the Gerad Parker era there’s a decent shot any of us could write these postgames from memory, without watching the game or looking at stats. So I’m going to add pictures to prove I watched the game, but nobody should spend hours reading or writing detailed breakdowns of this game unless you’re getting paid by the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of Awful Football Teams to document the 2013-2016 Purdue Boilermakers for historical record.

Iowa 14, Michigan 13

The Hawkeyes got a walk-off game-winning kick to ruin Harbaugh’s perfect season and sadly keep Penn State alive to win the conference:

So...ummm...yeah...well...hmmm...that...uhhh...happened. This is why they play the game, folks. I am the first to admit when I call something totally wrong and am forced to eat a big plate of crow with seconds. Based on what I had seen the last few weeks, I thought this game was going to be a remake of the 2012 Penn State game, in which the Hawks got pantsed on national TV. Instead, it turned into a remake of the 2008 Penn State game, in which an underachieving Iowa team turned its season around on Daniel Murray’s last-second kick to stun the #3 Nittany Lions.

The loss was stunning for Maize N’ Brew:

Sometimes, the referee doesn’t call the facemask penalty. Sometimes, the fumble rolls out of bounds or the bobbled pass falls harmlessly to the ground.

And sometimes you lose to Iowa.

The dream of a perfect season ended Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium. It ended with the pillars of this Michigan football team crumbling almost simultaneously — the high-powered offense going three-and-out, the rarely penalized unit committing a key infraction, the elite defense getting gashed up the middle, the veteran coaching staff sending out 10 men for the final play.

Ohio State 62, Maryland 3

That’s back-to-back weeks of 62-3 scores for the Buckeyes, who are crushing skulls again:

Last week's win was a dominant performance over a good opponent; this was an even more dominant performance against a pretty bad opponent. As you can see in the table below, the Buckeyes were even more efficient and explosive on a per-play basis. Through two games, the offense has only had one inefficient drive in non-garbage time play (i.e., a drive that didn't end with a scoring opportunity). The defense has only allowed a total of four explosive plays in that time span.

Maryland should just burn the tape, to be quite honest:

Maryland football lost by 59 points to Ohio State in College Park on Saturday. The 62-3 loss to the Buckeyes followed up a 59-3 drubbing by Michigan. The Terps have lost three straight games, and five of their last six, to fall to 5-5 on the season.

This isn’t exactly a surprise, as Maryland’s last six opponents are all several steps better than its first four. But the way it’s happened is a little disheartening. The Terps looked fantastic in their 4-0 start and were favored at Penn State—which, in retrospect, is probably the dumbest thing that’s happened this college football season—before emphatically plunging back to Earth.

Wisconsin 48, Illinois 3

Purdue’s next opponent is really good and now controls its destiny for the Big Ten West title:

On Saturday, No. 7 Wisconsin (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) finished with a season-high 363 rushing yards, the most since Paul Chryst took over the program as head coach, en route to a 48-3 win over Illinois. With that, the Badgers may have also solidified not just two, but three legitimate running threats.

Also, Illinois is really bad at football:

Jeff George Jr. made his fourth consecutive start and promptly threw four interceptions in the first half while trying to push the ball down the field. He was just 5-of-16 passing for 79 yards and the only player with multiple catches in the first half was Wisconsin safety Leo Musso, who had a pair of picks.

Penn State 45, Indiana 31

The Nittany Lions were pushed hard by Indiana, but a late charge led to an important win in their Big Tent title quest:

Penn State entered the game with Indiana riding a high from the effects of defeating Iowa handily the week before, and with national attention as the No. 10 team in the college football playoff rankings. Following the Penn State victory, chaos around the college football landscape has brought the Lions just one game away from holding its national championship hopes in its own hands.

Indiana still needs one more win for a bowl game, and they get the benefit of Purdue on their schedule:

It’s exhausting to write about Indiana’s almost wins over ranked teams the past two seasons, but move this one near the top of the list. The Nittany Lions were banged up on the offensive line and didn’t have their ‘A’ game for much of the day.

But five Hoosier turnovers, including same at critical junctures, helped Indiana sufficiently shoot themselves in the foot. This wasn’t a game Indiana needed to have, but it sure would have been nice to take a game that Penn State was more than willing to hand away today.

Nebraska 24, Minnesota 17

The chair is back in Lincoln!

Nebraska’s win over Minnesota knocked the Gophers out of the driver’s seat in the B1G West division. The Badgers now have control and as long as they win, will be the West representative in the Big Ten Championship. If they stumble, the Husker have a chance to take over.

The Daily Gopher is lamenting the loss of the Chair:

I’m not sure what happened to the Gophers’ tackling ability in the second half. Basic fundamentals deserted them on every Nebraska scoring drive. The Gophers needed to play a mistake free game to beat the Huskers, and on defense did anything but. Credit to Nebraska’s offensive play calling, which made the necessary adjustments to Sawvel’s game plan. The Cornhuskers were creative on offense and exploited the edges of Minnesota’s defense. Still, it was depressing to see the defense regress so much in the second half.

Michigan State 49, Rutgers 0

I have no idea why Juan went to this game, but the Spartans cruised:

For the first time in eight weeks the Spartans won a football game and did so in convincing fashion. No longer are they mired in a seven game losing streak and no longer do they have to endure a miserable post-loss week of practice.

Before you say “it was Rutgers” take a moment to enjoy life and not get caught up in the details because at this point, who cares? A win is a win. Enjoy it.

Finally, Rutgers is just a godawful football team that has now lost conference games 49-0, 58-0, and 78-0:

It's disheartening to see this type of performance from our beloved Knights, but I am not one to point figures at individual players. While I am wondering what Jay Niemman worked on with his players in practice this week, what I saw today was a team whose losing record finally caught up with them. Let us not forget that despite our record, this is a team that has shown tremendous heart and determination this season. They have continued to dig themselves out of holes, and fight until the bitter end.

Non-conference opponents:

Eastern Kentucky 67, Austin Peay 30 – The Colonels break a 4-game losing streak with a resounding win.

Central Florida 24, Cincinnati 3 – The Bearcats are now 4-6 and it looks like Hazell really screwed the pooch in that game.

San Diego State 46, Nevada 16 – The Wolf Pack is now 3-7 on the year.