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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 10 of Big Ten Football

The West is now a mess.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Purdue Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The good news is that Purdue is tied for first place in the Big Ten West. The bad news is that it would need help to win it, as it is tied with Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The Badgers and Gophers must play each other still, but that winner of that game would need to lose more and Purdue would need to win out in order to win the division. That, of course, would have to include the Boilers’ first win at Ohio State since 1988, but if we’re unranked this week and they are in the top five...

As fun as this season has been, to be as close as that Minnesota loss (a game Purdue should have won) from being in being in full control for the division. It is probably going to be Wisconsin in the end because it is always Wisconsin, but if Iowa could beat Minnesota this coming week and Purdue beats Ohio State, we only need a Minnesota win in the season finale, plus wins over Northwestern and Indiana to move on.

Purdue 40, Michigan State 29

As much joy as we had, Michigan State saw its stunning undefeated season go up in flames. The Spartans still have a lot to play for, but this one stings:

Despite the loss, the Spartans’ goals are still obtainable with only one loss and games looming against Ohio State and Penn State in November.

“This is a pretty aware football team,” Tucker said when asked about how the team handled its first loss of the season. “The guys have been through a lot together...We have a lot of football ahead of us and all of our goals are still there.”

It is important to note that most most of the players on this team haven’t came close to experiencing the same level of success as this season and are actually more adept to handling losses.

Ohio State 26, Nebraska 17

The Buckeyes struggled to finish drives, but still have not lose to a Big Ten team since a certain night in October 2018.

They are clearly the most talented team, but there’s a lot that’s just not right with them right now, from the quarterback to the offensive line to the defensive secondary to the offensive play-calling, it just feels like there is a disconnect on this team between what they are capable of and what they are doing.

It was a familiar refrain for Nebraska: Play close, then lose on dumb mistakes:

This Scott Frost coached football team fought until the end against the fifth ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.

Unfortunately, the mistakes cost Nebraska again. This time it wasn’t something new to mark off on the bingo card. Again it was special teams mistakes made by the specialists.

If you want to upset a team that is eyeing the College Football Playoff then you cannot miss chip shot field goals. You cannot shank a punt for 13 yards.

Michigan 29, Indiana 7

Michigan had a bit of a letdown from last week’s emotions, but still won handily:

Hassan Haskins and Luke Schoonmaker carried the load offensively for the Wolverines, scoring all three touchdowns for Michigan. Haskins rushed for 168 yards and scored 1 touchdown while Schoonmaker had 2 touchdowns on the night.

Michigan typically splits up the carries between Haskins and Blake Corum, but Corum went down with an apparent leg injury on his first rush of the game, leaving Haskins to carry the load. Haskins ended up with 27 carries on the night, but said his body was fine.

Indiana’s dream season is basically over now, as the Hoosiers are staring into the abyss of a winless B1G run.

(Crimson Quarry has yet to provide a game wrap).

Illinois 14, Minnesota 6

Illinois’ offense is pretty bad, but they have a defense that will drag you down into the muck with them as we saw against Purdue. now they got another ranked team road win:

After knocking off No. 7 Penn State in historic fashion two weeks ago, the Illini traveled to No. 20 Minnesota on Saturday and knocked off the Golden Gophers, 14-6.

Offensively, the Illini’s recipe for success was the ground game. Chase Brown led the way for the rushing attack, notching 147 yards on 32 carries and sparked a dominant opening half. The Illini couldn’t get much going in the second half, but luckily didn’t need to after mounting a lead early.

The Gophers had yet another head scratching loss at home after looking so good:

The Gophers picked the most opportune time to embarrass themselves. This week, Minnesota stood alone atop the Big Ten West standings for the first time this season, checked in at No. 20 in the College Football Playoff committee’s first Top 25, and even signed head coach P.J. Fleck to a new seven-year contract. It all culminated in a face plant. They still control their own destiny in the Big Ten West, but good luck finding anyone who believes this team can win out. They won’t be ranked at any point the rest of the season. And we can all now look forward to seven more years of losses to teams like Bowling Green and Illinois.

Wisconsin 52, Rutgers 3

Wisconsin is Wisconsin again. they only needed a boost from Purdue:

The top-ranked Badger defense continued to show why it is the best in the nation, holding Rutgers to 207 total yards, while forcing four turnovers — one of which was a 29-yard pick-six by sixth year senior, Caesar Williams, who now has two interceptions on the season.

Rutgers finished the game 1-of-11 on third down and 1-of-4 on fourth down.

The Badger defense recorded two sacks, one by Jack Sanborn who paced the Badgers in tackles with nine (two solo) and the other by Nick Herbig, who now has a team-high seven on the season. Herbig also recorded two of Wisconsin’s five tackles for loss on the afternoon.

Rutgers sucks again:

They lost in large part due the two turnovers in the second quarter that increased a 10-3 Wisconsin lead to 24-3 with only 14 seconds counting off the game clock. The Rutgers offense was as bad as could be against the top defense in the nation. Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz exceeded the amount of passing yards he had thrown in each of his previous five games by halftime against Rutgers. Injuries piled up in a major way to key players and the team’s depth is now in serious question heading into the final three games of the season.

With all that being said, the worst part of Saturday’s loss to Wisconsin was how uncompetitive it was and how disheartening of a performance it was, both by the players and coaching staff.

Iowa 17, Northwestern 12

Do not speak of this game:

Some of that certainly faded in the second half as six possessions resulted in five punts and just three points. It’s hard to know just how much of the second half slumping was the result of Northwestern settling in against the new QB and how much of it was the Ferentzi stalling out in a game where two scores seemed to be a nearly insurmountable lead for the Wildcats to overcome.

What we do know is Ferentz will do his best to make this into a non-controversy controversy. In his post-game remarks, the head coach indicated we would have to “cross that bridge when we get there” in terms of deciding who the starter is next week. This after reiterating at halftime that starter Spencer Petras had been dealing with a shoulder injury all week (a detail not revealed during media availability, but confirmed by Tyler Goodson in the postgame) and that had caused his removal.

The Wildcats were punchless offensively and still nearly won:

In the fourth quarter, neither offense gained any traction, combining for two punts to open the frame. The Wildcats gained some momentum due to two Iowa pass interference calls, but Marty was intercepted on third-and-4 when looking deep. Somehow, someway, Northwestern meandered its way into Iowa territory due to an explosive catch and run from Hull, but they again trotted off the field without having put any points on the board.

The ‘Cats made things interesting thanks to an Evan Hull 31-yard receiving touchdown with 2:21 left in the fourth, and Fitzgerald’s team had momentum after stopping Gavin Williams and Goodson to get the ball back, but Marty promptly tossed his third INT of the night, putting the game to bed.

Penn State 31, Maryland 14

Penn State found its mojo again, just by playing their non-rival:

Jahan Dotson continues to solidify himself as not just one of the best wide receivers in the country, but also one of the best wide receivers in program history. When the Nittany Lion offense needed a play on Saturday the senior wide receiver stepped up and took the game over.

Dotson hauled in a career high tying 11 passes for 242 yards and 3 touchdowns. Dotson’s 242 yards is a new single game program record, while his 3 touchdowns are a new career high and tie for the second most in a single game in program history.

The Terrapins had a decent passing game, but could not finish drives:

Late in the third quarter, Maryland had just scored a touchdown and converted a two-point conversation to tie the game at 14-14.

With Penn State deep in its own territory with possession, quarterback Sean Clifford sat back on 2nd-and-17 to deliver a pass to his go-to weapon, wide receiver Jahan Dotson who torched the Terps all day. Dotson took the catch-and-run 86 yards to the house, regaining Penn State’s lead, one it wouldn’t surrender the rest of the night.

Maryland was a play and a step behind all day as they fell to No. 22 Penn State, 31-14, in College Park on Saturday. Maryland’s offense took a while to find its rhythm and the defense stopped the run but failed to contain Dotson, who went off for 242 yards and three touchdowns. A plethora of costly mistakes found the Terps playing from behind, failing to overcome avoidable errors.

Non-Conference Opponents

Colorado 37, Oregon State 34 - This was a decent upset, as Colorado had been bad all year.

UConn - On Bye again

Notre Dame 34, Navy 6 - Even though the Irish won, it was great to see their tradition with Navy get revived.