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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 9 of Big Ten Football

Recapping the latest week of B1G football.

Purdue v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

The dream of a 7-way tie for the Big Ten west appears to be dead. Minnesota has moved to the front of the line though. The Gophers, left for dead after the Bowling Green loss, now lead the West and have firm control in the division. In the East, It is Ohio State and Michigan State, who happen to be Purdue’s next two opponents. Perhaps we can throw a wrench into that.

At least Purdue is in great position to make a bowl game, and that is all I really asked for this year. That leads into our weekly recap of the league:

Purdue 28, Nebraska 23

The Boilers grab another road win, and Nebraska fans want Scott Frost gone as a result:

This was a very winnable game for Nebraska against a not very good Purdue team. Frost had a bye week to prepare for this game, and this was the result. He had an entire offseason to prepare for a poor Illinois team, knowing damned well how important it was, and we saw how that turned out.

This was a great year for Frost to win a weak Big Ten West division.

We have no clue as what we’re doing on offense. We have some good athletes, probably more than the rest of the Big Ten West. We still can’t figure out how to win games after four years. The loss by one score has become a running joke.

Michigan State 37, Michigan 33

The Spartans are flying high at 8-0 and are clearly the surprise of the East. It would be a shame if something happened to their high ranking:

Paul Bunyan will be staying in East Lansing for at least one more year. In an epic and historic matchup of top-10 teams, the Michigan State Spartans clawed back from a 16-point second half deficit to beat the Michigan Wolverines 37-33. The Spartans have now defeated the Wolverines 10 times in the last 14 games, and Coach Mel Tucker became the first Spartan head man to win his first two games against the team from Ann Arbor.

Michigan’s season was quietly strong until blowing a big lead today:

This team shot itself in the foot several times in the game: they couldn’t convert touchdowns off of turnovers, they got too comfortable with a lead, they continued their two-quarterback approach which resulted in a silly turnover, and in the game’s biggest moments, they shrunk, again.

Close, but no cigar. That should be the motto for Harbaugh’s time at Michigan and especially against Michigan State. His record falls to 3-4 against Michigan State in his tenure. All four losses have come by four points or less. Meanwhile, Mel Tucker’s improves to 2-0, the first time a Michigan State head coach has boasted that feat.

Wisconsin 27, Iowa 7

Apparently the solution for fixing Wisconsin is to have them play Purdue:

“I think that each week is a different week, different set of challenges, but I think the one thing that has stayed constant is their approach, and that as a coach, you appreciate,” Chryst said. “I think that all season long our defense has been playing at a really high level and its been fun to see it be challenged in different ways, but still really the results have been impressive and that will continue, we’re ready to keep going.”

Purdue may have fixed Wisconsin, but they broke Iowa:

There was obviously some semblance of “what can go wrong, did go wrong” but the staff rolled out a genuinely disappointing gameplan with an extra week’s time. After 6 weeks of “this is just how complementary football works!” it’s clear that you need to be perfect in every other area Iowa to win in spite of the dreaded “complementary football.”

Rutgers 20, Illinois 14

The Scarlet Knights got off the schneid and got a much needed win:

Rutgers had three quarterbacks make an impact on what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter. The Scarlet Knights got the ball back trailing 14-10 with 4:20 left in the third quarter. On a third-and-nine from its own 13-yard line, Noah Vedral hit Johnny Langan for a 27-yard connection to keep the drive alive.

For Illinois, it was another disappointing thud as they tried to achieve momentum:

Illinois shredded Penn State’s top-ranked rushing defense for 357 yards last week, so naturally, The Scarlet Knights were able to bottle up the Illini running game on Saturday, holding Illinois to 107 yards.

This game is yet another in a long line of frustrating, disheartening, stupefying Illini losses. After such a thrilling victory last weekend, this was an absolute letdown — ESPECIALLY at home.

Maryland 38, Indiana 35

The Terrapins are another team that broke their losing streak, and they are now a win from getting to a bowl game:

With wide receivers Dontay Demus Jr. and Jeshaun Jones both out for the remainder of the season, it was expected that Maryland would lean more on its running backs through the air. The running backs stepped up in a big way in this one to help out Tagovailoa. Fleet-Davis, Faamatau and freshman Colby McDonald combined for five catches and 101 yards that provided a huge boost to Maryland’s efforts in the passing game.

Indiana’s greatest season in decades will now likely end in West Lafayette on November 27 (and Crimson Quarry has not produced a game wrap).

Minnesota 41, Northwestern 14

The Gophers are rolling now, as they ran all over Northwestern in this one:

On what I am told from our man on the ground was a lovely day at Ryan Field, Minnesota routed a not very good Northwestern team 41-14. The Gophers ran for 308 yards and held the ball for over forty minutes to Tressel ball their way to bowl eligibility.

Northwestern appears lost on the year now:

Like 2019’s home game versus Minnesota, the Wildcats buried themselves in an early hole and called Andrew Marty into relief at quarterback. While Marty entered the game in 2019 due to Hunter Johnson suffering an injury, he entered this year’s game due to Ryan Hilinski’s poor performance.

Ohio State 33, Penn State 24

The Buckeyes really had to work in this one, but benefitted from a Fat Man Touchdown:

Plenty of plusses and minuses for the Ohio State defense. First, there was a lot to like. Penn State, a team that likes to run the ball, netted only 33 rushing yards, on a paltry 1.1 yard average per attempt. The Bucks were much more aggressive with their pass rush, blitzing frequently and harassing Sean Clifford all night. They collected four sacks and a lot of hits and hurries. The Buckeye defense intercepted a pass and forced two fumbles, the fleet-footed Jerron Cage returning one 57 yards for a touchdown. Good stuff!

Penn State has now completed a tumble from “top 5” to “Out of the AP Poll”:

For the most part, the Nittany Lions did what they need to do to win the game. The defense — despite giving up 33 points — played out of their minds, keeping the offense in the game. Meanwhile, the offense didn’t play all too poorly either, to the tune of 361 passing yards and 24 points. But three turnovers — a Noah Cain fumble, Sean Clifford interception, and a Clifford fumble which led to a scoop-and-score was too much to overcome.

Non-Conference Opponents:

California 39, Oregon State 25 – The Beavers have a shockingly poor game in a loss to the Golden Bears.

UConnon bye

Notre Dame 44, North Carolina 34 – There were points in South Bend Saturday night.