At halftime of a couple of games on Saturday, it looked like it could be a huge week for the Big Ten. Iowa was getting killed and Penn State was edged by our very own Northwestern. At the end of the day, though, the biggest upset was Illinois beating Michigan — and the Wolverines had lost three of its last four games. The Big Ten relied on its running backs and defenses to keep things in line this weekend.
Ohio State 45, New Mexico State 0
For the second week in a row, it was just too easy for Ohio State. There’s not really much to say past that. The Buckeyes held the Aggies to a hilarious 62 total yards, while combining for 559 of their own. Nobody really stood out for Ohio State, but three different throwers combined for 249 yards and two touchdowns through the air, and ten different runners combined for 310 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Ohio State probably loved having this gimmick because after a bye week, it has to take on Iowa, Penn State and Michigan to end the season. With a win against Iowa, the Buckeyes could head to another Rose Bowl.
Wisconsin 37, Purdue 0
You never know what to expect from Purdue. They’ll lose a bunch in a row, then upset Ohio State and look solid again only to be dismantled by Wisconsin. The Badgers continued to ride sophomore halfback John Clay as far as he’ll go. Clay ran for 123 yards and three touchdowns, while junior Lance Kendricks ran for 91 more. The passing game was not very effective, throwing for only 115 yards and an interception, but the defense and running game was enough for the win. Purdue was held to only 141 total yards as senior quarterback Joey Elliott completed only five of his 23 passing attempts. Wisconsin, who has only lost to highly ranked Ohio State and Iowa, could easily run the table and finish the season an impressive 10-2. With Northwestern as arguably its toughest opponent yet, the Badgers could sneak into a top bowl.
Iowa 42, Indiana 24
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: there’s something magical about this Iowa team. Down 21-7 at halftime and 24-14 after the third quarter, the Hawkeyes scored 28 points in the fourth quarter to overcome Indiana’s upset bid. Despite throwing for a career high of five interceptions, junior quarterback Ricky Stanzi looked like a Heisman candidate in the fourth quarter and finished with 337 yards and two touchdowns on the day. Iowa won with its foolproof formula of running and defense, though. Freshman halfback Brandon Wegher filled in nicely for Adam Robinson, rushing for 118 yards and three touchdowns while the defense intercepted Indiana’s junior quarterback Ben Chappell three times, including one that was returned for a touchdown. Chappell put in a decent effort, throwing for 227 yards and three touchdowns, but fell apart in the fourth quarter. Iowa’s bid for an undefeated season will have another test next week when it hosts the ‘Cats, and hopefully the team will be looking forward to its matchup against Ohio State the following week.
Illinois 38, Michigan 13
What’s going on in Ann Arbor? The Wolverines started the season an impressive 4-0, but have only won one game since. The Fighting Illini finally showed some potential this week, combining for 500 total yards behind the 377 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, each by a different runner. Two Illinois runners beat the 100-yard mark, while senior quarterback Juice Williams fell just short at 97. Michigan did show some burst offensively, as freshman quarterback Tate Forcier threw for 257 yards and senior halfback Carlos Brown ran for 94 yards and a touchdown but it was just too little against such a powerful Illinois offensive performance. Illinois’ season is all but over, but Michigan can still bounce back. It has three games left, including one that is very winnable against Purdue. Then again, if they lost to Illinois, who knows?
Minnesota 42, Michigan State 34
The Minnesota offense has gone through one player this season and one player only: Eric Decker. With Decker out with an ankle injury, the Minnesota offense was all but lost, right? Wrong. Junior quarterback Adam Weber had a career day, throwing for 416 yards and five touchdowns. Maybe balance was something that Minnesota needed, after all. Michigan State’s offense was impressive as well, but was just not enough to overcome the Golden Gophers’ aerial assault. Sophomore quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns, but there was not enough consistency on the ground. Aside from a 84-yard run for a touchdown by sophomore Keshawn Martin, the Spartans only gained 40 yards on the ground. Both teams have Purdue, a cupcake and a tough opponent left on their schedule, making for a whole bunch of 7-5 or 6-6 teams.