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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 4 of Big Ten Football

A couple of underdogs came up just short this week.

Penn State v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Purdue is coming down to earth a bit. Into the third quarter we were riding high with a 10-7 lead over No. 8 Michigan, but the Wolverines’ superior talent dominated the final 20 minutes going away. That’s what really happened across the conference. Iowa had Penn state on the ropes but couldn’t hold on for one more play. Rutgers (!?!?) was playing well enough to win at Nebraska. The biggest surprise was probably Maryland getting trounced at home.

Michigan 28, Purdue 10

Even in a loss, it seems like Purdue earned some respect. The Michigan defense was excellent in the second half and that was really the difference:

Zero third-down conversions converted? Check. Thirty rushing yards allowed? Check. Holding Purdue to 10 TOTAL YARDS in the second half? CHECK CHECK! Get used to this, Michigan fans. Don Brown is an elite football coach, and that's at any level. The game plans, play calling, and talent that his defenses have will continue to keep them in games.

Man, this defense this special! I don't think I've seen a Wolverine defense fly to the ball as quick as these guys do. If you take out those two misdirection passes to the tight end, Purdue wasn't moving the ball much at all on Saturday. They're already elite, but watching them improve on their outstanding play as the year goes on is a scary thought.

The Boiled Sports guys agree that Purdue put forth a valiant effort, but we’re not quite there just yet:

I'll admit it multiple times later this week, but I'll do it here too- I was wrong. I thought Brohm's Boys were ready to go toe-to-toe with an Blue Blood due to UM's offensive struggles. I was also wrong in that I thought Purdue wouldn't help UM find their way. Ironically, the best thing that might have happened to UM this season thus far was losing their starting QB. O'Korn's ability to extend a play seems advantageous to my untrained eye.

Penn State 21, Iowa 19

The Nittany Lions pulled it off thanks to a last second touchdown pass for a big road win:

For those of you who feared this game would just like the many between Iowa and Penn State, your fears were not unfounded. Those of you who thought the Lions had too much talent to give this game away in the way they had so many times before, you were right too. And finally, after so many tries, it was the Nittany Lions who came away victorious after being in a dogfight all game. This will serve as very valuable experience as they move on in the conference slate. Survive and advance is fine with me.

For Iowa, it was a gut punch of a loss at home, but they still have a lot to build on:

That was gut-wrenching, heart-breaking and borderline soul-crushing. But it was also exhiirating and damn entertaining. The Hawkeyes, of course, came up just short of yet another victory over a top-5 opponent inside Kinnick Stadium. And as devestating as it was for many a fan to have victory within our collective grasps, only to have it stolen away at the very last moment, I would still much rather have that outcome than the one most of the nation and all of Vegas had predicted heading into Saturday’s contest.

Ohio State 54, UNLV 21

This was a contest, as expected. The Buckeyes led 44-7 at halftime and let off the gas in the second half:

With backups playing so much it’s no surprise that Ohio State had a little bit of a sloppy game, but some of the biggest mistakes were actually by starters, including Kendall Sheffield’s penalties and coverage, Campbell’s fumble, and the offensive line allowing a few sacks. But really we’re just nitpicking — the Buckeyes mostly took care of business while the game was competitive.

Central Florida 38, Maryland 10

So much for that hot start by Maryland. After the surprising win at Texas this was probably the more shocking result:

Maryland’s offense needs one of Kasim Hill or Tyrrell Pigrome. Pigrome, obviously, is out for the season, so there goes that one. Nobody knows yet the extent of Hill’s injury, or exactly what it is just yet. But the drop off in offensive production between Hill and Bortenschlager was clear.

Nebraska 27, Rutgers 17

At least Lincoln won’t burn to the ground with a loss against Rutgers. Things were better, but they are far from satisfying for the Cornhuskers:

Behind a stellar defensive performance, an 100 yard result from Devine Ozigbo and a massive ownage of Time of Possession in the second half, the Huskers came from behind with timely plays to defeat the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 27-17 Saturday afternoon.

The Huskers, 2-2 on the season but 1-0 in the Big Ten West, played an incomplete game in the wake of trouble. Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst was fired on Thursday, and the entire Nebraska AD was put on notice, especially Mike Riley and the Football team.

Rutgersfans are not satisfied even in a competitive loss:

Rutgers has now lost fifteen consecutive Big Ten games. They lost to a vulnerable Nebraska team in a game that was for the taking. The fan base is upset and rightfully so. After going to a bowl game in nine of ten years, this will be the third straight losing season for the program. However, it’s also important when looking at the obvious problems that continue to be major issues, to also look at the details and see what positives are happening as well.

Indiana 52, Georgia Southern 17

This was no contest as Indiana led 21-0 after a quarter and never looked back:

The biggest criticism of Indiana through two games was the abysmal play of the offensive line and, subsequently, the putrid run game. The line played better, albeit it against a weaker foe, and as a result, Morgan Ellison looked great, running for 186 yard and two touchdowns. As a team, the Hoosiers ran for 282 yards and averaged 6.0 yards per carry.

It all comes with the caveat of playing against Georgia Southern, but the defensive line was the Eagles’ biggest strength defensive and the Hoosiers negated them.

Notre Dame 38, Michigan State 18

What a dismal effort at home for the Spartans. They were flat and never really in it:

LJ Scott’s fumbling is back: His goal line fumble took MSU out of the game. Simple as that. Instead of a 7-point deficit, MSU went down 21 points after Scott – once again – coughed up the ball in a crucial spot. His fumbling issues are the one glaring problem in his game and it’s clearly not close to being fixed.

And I’m amazed at how the coaching staff handles it. He started the second half, despite there being two great running backs behind him that are fully capable of carrying the load. Gerald Holmes and Madre London need to get more spin. They’re not out there taking the energy straight out of the stadium with fumbles.

Scott is talented (duh), but how many more of these fumbles do we need to see before something is changed up?

Non-Conference Opponents

Louisville 42, Kent State 3 – The Cardinals were not challenged at all.

Ohio 27, Eastern Michigan 20 2 OT – This was probably the game of the week in the MAC.

Auburn 51, Missouri 14 – I really think we broke Missouri, guys.