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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 8 of Big Ten Football

The Midwest was underwater this week, but we still had to play football.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana is bowl eligible and we are in the last weekend of October. Clearly this is the end times. Illinois has climbed out of the grave to get close to bowl eligibility while Minnesota is dominating the Big Ten West.

Minnesota 52, Maryland 10

The Golden Gophers are now 8-0 and now in full control of the west with a two game lead in the loss column and gamed to play against Iowa and Wisconsin. Win one of those and they are off to Indy:

The Minnesota Golden Gophers are undefeated, 8-0, after beating Maryland 52-10. A game that was never in doubt as Minnesota dominated both sides of the ball from the opening kickoff.

It was the second play of the game when Antoine Winfield Jr. intercepted Tyrrell Pigrome, returning it to the Maryland 20. Four plays later Tanner Morgan hit Rashod Bateman on a 9-yard back-shoulder throw for the very early 7-0 lead. And from there the Gophers never really let off the gas.

Maryland continues to struggle after its 2-0 start:

Maryland’s struggles began early, taking itself out of the game due to offensive miscues. On the second play of the game, Pigrome tried to hit Demus on slant route. But for the first time in the half, the wide receiver dropped the pass, which was snagged by Minnesota defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr.

Iowa 20, Northwestern 0

The Hawkeyes continue to have a dominant defense with a solid road win:

Everyone and their mothers experienced technical difficulties with ESPN2 so we all missed Iowa go 3-and-out to start the game. This is going to be a terrible, no good day isn’t it?

And before I could even blink and get comfortable after freaking out about having to watch crappy baseball highlights, Chauncey Golston picks of Aidan Smith and takes over on the Northwestern 21-yard line. This is an elite defense and while our offense might have struggles, there is no way Northwestern is scoring enough today. Cornelison and ESPN2 difficulties be damned.

Northwestern just cannot move the ball through the air:

Once again, the Northwestern passing game could not find any rhythm. With Aidan Smith making his third straight start, the junior managed just 38 passing yards in the first half even when the offensive line was providing him time to throw (which was not all the time). With Hunter Johnson on the sideline, the coaching staff elected to keep Smith in despite his struggles.

He had a chance to hit Riley Lees for a big pass midway through the second quarter, but overthrew him by just a hair. For all of the offense’s struggles this season — they came into this game averaging 9.5 points per conference game — they hit a new low today. A week after suffering their worst loss of the Pat Fitzgerald era, the ‘Cats were shut out for the first time since 2015 at Michigan.

Illinois 24, Purdue 6

The Fighting Illini rolled with a dominant ground game in the rain:

For the first time since 2014, Illinois (4-4, 2-3 Big Ten) has won back-to-back Big Ten games with a 24-6 victory over Purdue (2-6, 1-4 Big Ten) in West Lafayette on Saturday afternoon. The Illini have now matched their win total from last season with four games to play.

The Illini came into the game as an underdog again, but as proven last week against Wisconsin, that doesn’t bother them much. The Illini rode a strong running game and a stingy defense to put the Illini at .500 entering November for the first time since 2014, the last time Illinois went bowling.

Rutgers 44, Liberty 34

Mandatory Rutgers content within:

Another Saturday, another home underdog as the Scarlet Knights hosted the FBS Independent Liberty Flames. Last week Liberty scored on their first eight possessions. Rutgers hasn’t scored more than 16 points since the season opener. As it turned out, defense was hard to come by in the first half.

On the opening kickoff, Rutgers appears to come out of the pile with the football, but the officials ruled it still belonged to Liberty. On the ensuing drive, Liberty moved the ball with some big plays through the air, the biggest being a 38 yard trick throw from wide receiver DJ Stubbs to tight end Zac Foutz that got the ball down to the RU 29.

Ohio State 38, Wisconsin 7

The Buckeyes are on a mission towards the playoff:

The No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes faced their first tall task of the season on Saturday afternoon as they welcomed the No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers into The Horseshoe for some good ole’ fashioned Big Ten football. It was exactly ideal football weather in Columbus, with a driving rain and temperatures in the mid-50s. Wet conditions, as well as the two top defenses in the country, combined for a recipe for a low-scoring, messy affair.

The Badgers have struggled big time the last two weeks and are reeling:

Of Ohio State’s six scoring drives, four of them lasted less than three minutes, clocking in at 1:54 (8-plays, 85 yards), 2:34 (8-plays, 75 yards), 1:47 (4-plays, 53 yards) and 2:20 (5-plays, 55 yards). While Ohio State’s other two scoring drives lasted longer than four minutes; 4:35 (12-plays, 41 yards) and 4:10 (8-plays, 45 yards).

Apart from Fields, the main catalyst for Ohio State’s offense, was running back J.K. Dobbins, who racked up 163 rush yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. Dobbins also recorded 58 receiving yards.

Indiana 38, Nebraska 31

The Hoosiers are bowl eligibile in October and are going to win 9 games:

Ramsey gets a ton of flack from Indiana fans for what he isn’t, but it’s time to change the narrative and appreciate him for what he is: a fighter, a gamer, whatever cliche you want to use here. Ramsey, quite simply, was huge today and largely the reason that the Hoosiers won. Here’s his stat line: 27-41, 351 yards, two TDs and a pick to go with 51 yards on the ground and another score.

The Cornhuskers are in the midst of their own lost season, so next week will be fun:

Third and seven....Sigh....first down Ramsey. Scott Frost looks like he is visibly ill on the sideline.

Another first down. 2:30 left in the game. First down again (near the red zone) 1:30 left. Huskers down to one timeout. Game over. The Huskers needed this one and didn’t get it.

This sucks. Be nice.

Penn State 28, Michigan State 7

I saw the second half of this game and it was rather pointless:

Considering that he had to battle the weather in East Lansing on Saturday (shocking!), Sean Clifford was pretty darn good against the Spartans in the first half. He made some great decisions and at briefly seemed unstoppable through the air. At one point on Saturday, Clifford was 15 for 21 through the air and ultimately ended up at 18 for 32. Obviously, you don’t want to see that type of drop off.

The Only Colors has not provided a game wrap as of 11:30pm

Michigan 45, Notre Dame 14

The Wolverines did the Lord’s work by knocking the Irish out of the Playoff:

Michigan and Notre Dame renewed one of the most historic rivalries in college football for the last-scheduled time for the next 14 years on Saturday night, and while it was ugly times, boy, was it fun to be a Wolverine fan if you were one of the 110,000 at a rainy Big House.

Michigan obliterated the eighth-ranked fighting Irish by a score of 45-7 to move to 6-2 on the season and respond to last week’s tough loss at Penn State in the only ideal way they could: with a decisive victory in a rivalry game.

Non-Conference Opponents:

Wyoming 31, Nevada 3 - I still can’t believe we lost to Nevada.

Vanderbilt - On Bye

TCU 37, Texas 27 - The Horned Frogs got a top 20 upset at home.