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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 8 of Big Ten Football

What a week!

NCAA Football: Illinois at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

It was nice to be ranked for a week, but that is done for Purdue. The goal is back to “just make a bowl”, which is still very much alive. A big reason for that is due to teams elsewhere in the conference struggling.

Illinois 20, Penn State 18 9OT

Illinois shocked everyone by pulling a Swayzee and winning in 9 overtimes:

In front of a national audience at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pa., the Illini went back-and-forth with Penn State with the Illini coming out on top, 20-18. The victory Illinois’ first road win over an AP Top-10 squad as an unranked team since 2007 against Ohio State.

After eight overtimes that left the game tied at 18, the ninth overtime finally tipped in the Illini’s favor. After stopping Penn State’s two-point attempt, Brandon Peters — who replaced an injured Art Sitkowski — connected with Casey Washington in the back of the endzone for the win.

It was an incredibly disappointing result for Penn State:

Entering the season tight ends were expected to be a strength for Penn State. Following the collective performance of Brenton Strange, Theo Johnson and Tyler Warren against Auburn this appears to be happening. Since then, the tight ends have regressed tremendously.

Saturday afternoon they each struggled to block. This led to multiple running plays being blown up before they started. Johnson dropped a likely go-ahead touchdown early in the 4th quarter, Warren (who was a high school quarterback) badly under threw a wide open Clifford on a trick play that would have won the game in overtime and Strange had a costly drop in overtime as well.

Michigan 33, Northwestern 7

It was a slow start for the Wolverines, but they got it going eventually in this one:

Pass deflections, quarterback hits, sacks, tackles for loss, what can’t Aidan Hutchinson do? You can count the mistakes he’s made this year on one hand and need a long highlight reel to show all the tremendous plays he has made — a lot of which come when he is double teamed or being held. Hutchinson continues to bolster his draft stock and he seems like a lock to go in the top 15 of the NFL Draft. Hutchinson coming back to Michigan for the 2021 season was one hell of a wise decision.

Northwestern continues to struggle big time offensively:

Obviously, protecting the pocket against a defensive line as fearsome as Michigan’s is an easier task to write about than it is to accomplish in reality. However, the fact of the matter is that the NU front did little to stop Aidan Hutchinson and Co. from disrupting Northwestern’s offensive scheme, both by getting to Ryan Hilinski within seconds of the snap and by locking up NU’s running backs in the backfield. Many expected a massacre in the trenches during this one, and that’s just what they got.

Wisconsin 30, Purdue 13

The Badgers fixed their things at least for a week:

While the ground attack was the driving force for the Wisconsin offense, Leo Chenal was the driving force for the Badger defense, as it stymied the Boilermaker offense.

Purdue managed just 206 yards of offense, including -13 rushing yards. This was the first time this season that Wisconsin has held the opposition to negative rushing yards and they are now allowing an average of 53.3 yards per game on the ground, which would give Wisconsin the stingiest rushing defense in the nation as of the time of posting.

Minnesota 34, Maryland 16

This was a really good win for the Gophers, who need only one more win for a bowl game:

It was total domination on the ground today for Minnesota. Ky Thomas had over 100 yards at halftime, finishing with 129 and a touchdown. Bucky Irving also hit the century mark with 105 yards and a touchdown for himself. Bryce Williams, after 127 yards last week, also had a touchdown to go with his 48 yards rushing. Cole Kramer chipped in a rushing touchdown of his own to give the Gophers 4 rushing touchdowns.

Maryland’s woes continue with a third straight loss:

With five and a half minutes remaining, the Golden Gophers then capped off a four-play drive with their fourth rushing touchdown of the day. The first career touchdown by running back Mar’Keise Irving also marked the fourth player to score a rushing touchdown for Minnesota on the day.

The Terps could not stop Minnesota’s running game as they allowed it to pick up 326 rushing yards and score four rushing touchdowns en route to a 34-16 loss.

Ohio State 54, Indiana 7

The Buckeyes are playing angry after the loss to Oregon earlier:

Before the season began, this game was circled on the calendar. It would determine the Big Ten east champ, offering the Hoosiers an opportunity to avenge last year’s narrow loss. Wrong. It was a 54-7 blowout. Indiana, with injuries and woes on both sides of the ball, is not what we thought they would be. And Ohio State? The Buckeyes just keep getting better . . . and better. With Penn State’s nine-overtime loss to Illinois, the circled game is now the final one in Ann Arbor. I guess that one’s always been circled.

Crimson Quarry has not yet written a recap.

Non-Conference Opponents:

Oregon State 42, Utah 34 - The Beavers are 5-2 and Purdue’s win over them looks really good.

Middle Tennessee State 44, UConn 13 - So much for that UConn winning streak.

Notre Dame 31, USC 16 - The Irish knock off their rival at home.