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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 5 of Big Ten Football

Yes, there were other games yesterday while we were all fuming.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

I am still pissed off. I am sure you are too. Purdue should be 3-1 right now. In fact, they are 3-1 in my mind. If not for the absolute horseshit call Minnesota would have had to drive the length of the field for a touchdown in roughly 45 seconds. Even our defense could have gotten the stop there. Yes, Purdue had mistakes and left points on the field, but it still recovered and went out and won the game if not for that call. Tomorrow we’ll get some BS apology from the league office, but it won’t change the official record, which sucks because we had a real shot at being 5-1 and in the top 25 headed to IU.

It also doesn’t help that it made Brohm 8-14 in games decided by eight points or less since he came to Purdue. I still like the guy and think we’re headed in the right direction because we’re still a relatively young team, but the 8-14 does not inspire confidence. He is now 19-23 at Purdue. That is what Danny Hope’s record was at the exact same point in his Purdue tenure. Hope also had the one big Ohio State upset with a lot of close, head-scratching losses. Brohm is going to get more time than Hope just because of his contract and I still think We can go something like 5-3 in this weird season, setting up for what needs to be an 8-9 win year next year, but the close game thing bothers me. This week’s game with Rutgers really feels like a tipping point, especially coming off of a loss that really shouldn’t have (and didn’t) happen.

I am sure I will have more to say on that later, but for now, let’s look back at the week:

Minnesota 34, Purdue 31

Officially, Minnesota won the game, and I like the guys over at The Daily Gopher, but even they thought the call was questionable at best:

I’m not about to go nuclear like the Purdue fans who spent Friday night rage Tweeting about P.J. Fleck for not committing seppuku and vacating the win in his postgame press conference, but the officiating was poor from the get-go, when the refs thought Cam Wiley fumbled the opening kickoff while laying flat on the ground. There was the phantom DPI call on Tyler Nubin on 3rd & 7 at the Minnesota 11, which gifted Purdue a fresh set of downs and then a touchdown on the next play to cut the Gophers’ lead to 34-31 midway through the fourth quarter. And then of course there was the controversial OPI call against Purdue tight end Payne Durham in the closing minute that cost the Boilermakers a go-ahead touchdown. Purdue missed two field goals, gave up 34 points to a team missing 22 players, and threw an interception when they still had a chance to win or tie, but sure, one questionable call was the difference in the game.

Yes, guys. It was the difference when it happens with 45 frigging seconds left, just like Miami not being called down on their infamous kick return against Duke a few years ago.

Ohio State 42, Indiana 35

The Buckeyes survived their de facto Big Ten semifinal and likely have smooth sailing to Indianapolis now with only Illinois, Michigan State, and Michigan left:

Despite some really pathetic defense in a wet and chilly Ohio Stadium, the Buckeyes managed to pull out a 42-35 victory over Tom Allen’s Hoosiers. Justin Fields played perhaps the worst game of his career, uncharacteristically throwing three interceptions, but still finished with 300 yards passing and two TDs and another 78 yards and a score on the ground. The Buckeyes poured in over 600 total yards of offense, but the real area of concern was the defense.

Indiana is legitimately good and cane easily go 8-1 and play in a major bowl game. I fear what they are going to do to our defense:

No, Indiana didn’t end its skid against Ohio State — that streak extended to 25 consecutive losses with a 42-35 defeat on Saturday at Ohio Stadium — but the Hoosiers did show that the gap is narrowing.

They also demonstrated that they are, in fact, a good football team. Not Fake Good, as the haters and cops want you to believe, but Actually Good. Yeah, we’re trending toward moral victory territory here, but there’s a lot to be encouraged by — even on a day when several agonizing errors ultimately doomed IU to defeat. You shouldn’t be satisfied, but you ought to feel excited about what’s still to come.

Northwestern 17, Wisconsin 7

Looks like it is going to be one of those random Northwestern years where they have a tough defense and win something like 8 games by a total of 23 points. With Wisconsin still having to play Indiana (I can’t believe I am saying that) and Purdue getting screwed they have all but won the West:

Aside from Fitz scolding of Joey Galloway in his post-game interview with Molly McGrath, he also praised longtime defensive coordinator and Broyles Award favorite Mike Hankwitz. Fitz said, “Mike is the coach’s coach. There’s so many other names that get talked about about great defensive coordinators in the country. Mike Hankwitz never gets mentioned, and I hope he becomes a household name.”

Hankwitz’s unit was rocking on Saturday night. Remove Cam Ruiz being burned by Chimere Dike for the Badgers’ first touchdown, and the Wildcat defense played a flawless football game. The unit gave up seven points, held Wisconsin to 3-of-16 on third down efficiency and took away the ball five times with three interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Wisconsin’s struggles continued in Evanston:

After gaining 430 yards in the opener and 468 last week, Wisconsin only amassed 366 yards of total offense against Northwestern, but turned the ball over five times after only turning the ball over once in its first two games. Four of the Badgers turnovers, came in the first half alone against Northwestern and led to what would be an insurmountable lead.

Three of the first half turnovers belonged to quarterback Graham Mertz (one fumble, two interceptions). Mertz finished the game 23-of-41 for 230 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

Illinois 41, Nebraska 23

Now I did not see this one coming. Illinois flat out embarrassed the Cornhuskers, and that is a huge boost for the Illini:

Head Coach Lovie Smith always says his goal for his team in the takeaway department is at least three per game. In the first half against Nebraska the defense had its trio of takeaways: a fumble recovery from Jake Hansen, and interceptions by Tarique Barnes and Tony Adams. The defense added a fourth takeaway with a Khalan Tolson forced fumble and recovery late in the third quarter. A fifth takeaway came in the fourth with a Hansen interception.

Those takeaways led to 20 points for Illinois.

The Cornhuskers whined all summer for football, and now they have to seal with losing to Illinois at home by 18:

I’m not sure there is much to say. It was a bad day for Nebraska football.

Five turnovers against a good team is devastating. Five turnovers against a team that is 1-3 is also not ideal. It’s hard to beat any team when you lose the turnover battle by five.

Add this to the fact that the quarterback play for Nebraska has not been good. Nebraska fans need to dig in. Things will not be corrected this year.

Iowa 41, Penn State 21

Iowa had little trouble in this one and, after an 0-2 start with narrow losses to Purdue and Northwestern, are playing really well:

Your Iowa Hawkeyes took a bleach hose to Penn State’s spotless 0-4 record and wiped a big ‘ol 5 on there in a 41-21 win over the Nots Nits.

The win made for Kirk Ferentz’s 100th Big Ten victory, moving him up to No. 4 in conference win totals all-time.

Penn State is the first team ever to start the season in the top 10 and then go 0-5, which is hilarious:

Every single Penn State game this season has been the same script. Turn the ball over. Get behind early. Struggle to run the ball. Get lit up defensively. Making some minor tweaks at halftime. Make what appears to be a half-hearted attempt at a comeback, and ultimately fail in spectacular fashion.

Spare me the excuses. They’re useless. Every single team in the country is facing some form of the adversity that Penn State is facing and yet the Nittany Lions truly appear to be the worst Power Five team in the nation. It’s disgraceful.

Michigan 48, Rutgers 42 3OT

My goodness this was an entertaining game. Michigan needed a comeback and a missed field goal to survive Rutgers:

It was a road filled with some bumps and bruises over the last number of weeks, but the Michigan Wolverines appear to have found a quarterback that can run the offense and consistently make plays in Cade McNamara. The redshirt freshman was inserted into Saturday night’s game at Rutgers facing a 17-0 deficit and was able to rally the troops in what became a 48-42 triple-overtime win for the Wolverines.

McNamara finished the night 27-for-36 for 260 yards and five total touchdowns and feels like he has done more than enough to warrant keeping the quarterback job for himself moving forward.

Playing Rutgers this year feels like getting a root canal. You might win, but it is going to suck and they are going to play their ass off for 60 minutes. You have to hope they don’t beat a reeling Purdue team this week:

The last time Rutgers and Michigan met before Saturday night was in Ann Arbor on the last weekend of September last season. The 52-0 loss turned out to be the last of the Chris Ash era, as one of the worst coaches in program history was fired the next day.

The two teams that met this season were both dramatically different. Michigan had lost three straight games entering this matchup and had been struggling on both sides of the ball. They couldn’t run and couldn’t stop the pass. Rutgers on the other hand, came into Saturday’s game as flawed team with plenty of heart but one week after a disappointing loss after leading by 10 points in the second half.