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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 10 of Big Ten Football

In this week’s Whistlestop Tour there was blood on the field in Columbus and Ann Arbor

Purdue v Minnesota Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

This week there are seven games to go back and look at, so that means 14 total stops along the Whistlestop Tour. Let’s begin in Minneapolis:

Minnesota 44, Purdue 31

The Daily Gopher had the opposite problem of Purdue fans. They loved the second half but hated the first half:

Rodney Smith. The Gophers handed the ball to Rodney Smith. Rodney Smith did with the ball what Rodney Smith always does with the ball. With Shannon Brooks (hip) sidelined, Smith was a one-man show, rushing for 153 yards on 24 carries with three touchdowns. Smith now has 954 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns on the season. With four games left, including a bowl game, he needs six more rushing touchdowns to break the single season school record of 18 set by Gary Russell in 2005.

For the record, Purdue’s 4th straight loss to Minnesota was the first time ever Purdue has lost four in a row to the Gophers. Over at Boiled Sports they remind us that it will all be over soon:

But at the end of the day, it's still the same coaches, still the same players. Still the same weak schemes, still the beat-up roster. As they are currently constructed, Purdue simply cannot be competitive for a full Big 10 game. As fired up and focused as they may be, as hard as they may work, none of that changes the fact that when Purdue lines up against any of its remaining opponents they are, man-to-man, at a decided and noticeable disadvantage.

Michigan 59, Maryland 3

As usual, Michigan completely and utterly destroyed an opponent, as they will not be challenged until they face Ohio State:

Michigan opened the scoring with a 34-yard connection between Speight and Amara Darboh. The wide receiver found the end zone with 9:50 remaining in the first quarter to give Michigan a 7-0 lead.

Speight was solid through the air all game, but impressed late in the first quarter with a 10-yard rushing touchdown. De’Veon Smith and Khalid Hill added rushing touchdowns of their own in the second quarter to push Michigan’s lead to 28 points.

There wasn’t a whole lot to say from the Maryland perspective:

Maryland couldn’t get any offense going in the game, as the Terps were stumped by Michigan’s top-ranked defense. Maryland’s defense was hopeless to stop Michigan, whether the Wolverines ran or passed. This one was over early, but Maryland fans shouldn’t feel too disheartened by the loss. After all, Michigan visited a 78-0 thumping upon Rutgers back in early October.

Ohio State 62, Nebraska 3

I am convinced that the only losses Ohio State has under Urban Meyer come in games where they are completely disinterested. There is no way that they should have lost to Penn State, as this game showed:

Saturday night, Ohio State sorted out its issues while also incorporating a few fun wrinkles in a 62-3, Truman-esque beat down of Nebraska, its second straight home demolition of the Cornhuskers. (The Buckeyes prevailed 63-38 in 2012.) Ohio State cobbled together its best all-round effort since its stunningly easy win in Norman in September. J.T. Barrett (and Joe Burrow in relief) conducted an outstanding offensive effort (590 yards, 11-of-15 on third downs) and the Silver Bullets limited Nebraska to 204 yards, with the unit recording pick-sixes No. 5 and No. 6of the season (a new school record) in the process.

There was not a whole lot positive to say from Nebraska, either:

Well, okay, we did get a field goal on our second offensive possession that was actually a decent drive that clock, yardage, and resulted in points. On our first possession, quarterback Tommy Armstrong threw a pick six interception and that set the tone for the entire night.

Nebraska’s defense, which had played so well coming into this game, couldn’t make tackles, and couldn’t get Ohio State’s offense off the field when they had the chance - the Buckeyes finished 11-for-15 on third down conversions.

Wisconsin 21, Northwestern 7

If this were the SEC this would be lauded as a defensive slugfest. Instead, it was a Big Ten slog between Purdue’s next two opponents. Wisconsin basically sat on Northwestern’s head for 3.5 hours:

The No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers continued their bid for a Big Ten West division title, defeating the Northwestern Wildcats 21-7 at Ryan Field on Saturday. It’s the first time UW (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) has won in Evanston against NU (4-5, 3-3) since 1999.

In another positive development for the offense, Wisconsin ran for 190 yards on the way to 333 total yards. Running back Corey Clement gained 106 yards and one touchdown on 32 carries, while redshirt freshman Bradrick Shaw ran for 54 yards off of 11 attempts.

Northwestern had inconsistent offense once again, something it will try to fix at Purdue:

It was a performance reminiscent of earlier this season, albeit against a much, much better team: The Badgers physically dominated the Wildcats all day at the lines of scrimmage, and individual breakdowns on the offensive line at key moments made it difficult for the Wildcat offense to keep drives alive. The stat of the day, undoubtedly, was the time of possession: The Badgers held the ball for over 40 minutes today.

Penn State 41, Iowa 14

Penn State might actually be a good team, and that just sucks. They destroyed Iowa with ease Saturday night:

You know the story. Iowa has won eight of the last 11 games. Iowa somehow always finds a way to beat ranked Penn State teams. Iowa just finds ways to drag Penn State down to its level, and takes advantage of the Nittany Lions’ own mistakes to come out victorious. It almost looked like it would be a repeat of one of those dreary nights. Penn State came out swinging in their first drive, quickly scoring a touchdown on aggressive plays. In the ensuing drives, the Nittany Lions couldn’t convert on third down and settled for a field goal, only to have it blocked by the Hawkeyes.

Iowa fans are there lamenting another Ferentz letdown since his huge extension:

I mean what analysis is there? The game was eerily similar to the 2012 ass kicking Penn State delivered on a hapless Iowa squad. Iowa will be lucky to get to a bowl this year and frankly, I don’t think it would do the program any favors to get matched up with a 6-6 SEC team in Detroit and still get smoked. For the better part of Kirk Ferentz’s 17 years, I have been a pretty staunch optimist. I don’t like the doom and gloom. But I also don’t like apathy (hello Mr. Lickliter) and that is quickly where Iowa football is headed and even the most ardent optimist (aside from Gary Barta) can see it.

Indiana 33, Rutgers 27

The Hoosiers are a win away from being bowl eligible, but they did not look good for long stretches of this one:

It was an infuriating day for Indiana fans. Interceptions, fumbles, false starts, blocked kicks, botched snaps, a defender lost in the open field, and a putrid conversion rate inside the Rutger 30.

It was also a glorious day. 567 yards of offense and 27 first downs resulting from an offense that couldn’t be stopped by anyone but themselves, a defense that allowed just two sustained drives in 27+ minutes of Rutger possession, playmakers showing off some dazzling talent, and a monstrous fifth win.

Rutgers was tantalizingly close to a win, but the offense could not capitalize on several opportunities:

All three units for Rutgers had their moments in yesterday’s 33-27 loss to Indiana. The special teams blocked two field goals and forced a fumble on a kickoff return that they recovered. The defense forced three turnovers and scored a touchdown in a second consecutive game. On offense, quarterback Gio Rescigno threw a 68 yard touchdown to Andre Patton in the 1st quarter. However, in terms of big plays and sustained drives on offense, they were few and far between, which put too much pressure on the defense and sank any chance Rutgers had to win the game.

Illinois 31, Michigan State 27

The Illini are now ahead of Purdue with two conference wins and they eliminated Michigan State from bowl consideration:

Faced with a three-point deficit against Michigan State, Jeff George Jr. engineered an impressive drive to give Illinois a lead with a late touchdown to topple the Spartans.

Saturday’s game against Michigan State (2-7, 0-6 Big Ten) marked Illinois’ (3-6, 2-4) best chance to beat the Spartans in recent memory. It seemed that the Illini squandered this chance when RJ Shelton gave the Spartans a 27-24 lead with 2:52 remaining, but George Jr. responded.

For Sparty, the season has been a disaster:

Not only was this another painful loss, Michigan State also struggled with injuries during the game, with Riley Bullough, Malik McDowell, O’Connor and Brian Allen all having to exit the contest.

The Spartans will not be going to a bowl game the year after appearing in the College Football Playoff, and the team is on its first seven-game losing streak since 1982.

Non-conference opponents:

Murray State 41, Eastern Kentucky 28 – The Colonels are now 2-7 in their first season under a new coach.

BYU 20, Cincinnati 3 – Cincinnati is only 4-5 on the season, so it is not like they have rolled since beating Purdue.

New Mexico 35, Nevada 26 – The Wolfpack threw for 301 yards but still lost.