Sandra Dukes-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
The Big Ten in review and preview
Let's not talk about what Northwestern did last week.
Ohio State 63, Nebraska 38
If you needed more proof that Ohio State is the best team in the Big Ten, this game provided it. Nebraska moved the ball well, but 4 turnovers (one returned for a touchdown), a punt return touchdown (note to Bo Pelini: please kick to Venric Mark when you come to Evanston), and a 371 yard rushing day from Ohio State turned this game into a blowout. Nebraska was within 4 in the third quarter when Ohio State scored 21 straight points to put the game away. Because this is Nebraska, rumblings of putting Bo Pelini on the hotseat have been heard. I don't think Pelini has anything to fear this season, but he needs to at least get to Indianapolis in the next couple of years or calls for his head will become more serious.
Michigan 44, Purdue 13
In the first conference game for these two teams, Denard Robinson ran for 235 yards on 24 carries and threw for 105 more on 16 attempts. Purdue, meanwhile, gained only 213 total yards and turned the ball over 4 times. So far this year, Michigan's offense has depended entirely on Denard's running; against teams that can't contain him, they have been unstoppable, while teams that can shut him down have dominated. Their defense appears to have solidified after looking helpless against Alabama and surprisingly vulnerable against Air Force, which puts them in good position to compete for a spot in the conference championship game. If this game is any indication, Purdue won't be making a serious run at a berth in that game unless Wisconsin collapses again.
Michigan State 31, Indiana 27
Indiana scored on the opening drive and didn't relinquish the lead until there was 6:35 left in the game, but they couldn't hang on thanks to a second half shutout from the Michigan State defense. This should still be seen as a sign of progress for Kevin Wilson; Indiana provided more evidence that their offense is genuinely dangerous, if prone to shutting down for large parts of the game. Michigan State, on the other hand, struggled to get LeVeon Bell rolling (121 yards on 37 carries for an anemic 3.3 YPC), though Andrew Maxwell found success against the Indiana secondary (24-40, 290 yards). For Michigan State, this game confirmed that their offense will keep every game they play close, though their defense should be enough to win most of their remaining games.
Wisconsin 31, Illinois 14
Illinois put up a good fight, going into halftime with a 7-7 tie, but Wisconsin eventually got on track, scoring two touchdowns in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter to break the game open. With Indiana looking lifelike, Illinois is now my pick as the worst team in the Big Ten. Wisconsin, meanwhile, continues to struggle to find their form on offense, though the defense had a solid outing against a bad Illinois offense.
Byes: Iowa, Minnesota
Iowa had some players make news off the field, while Minnesota is the third opponent this season to have a bye week before playing the Cats. Hopefully it works as well for them as it did for South Dakota and Indiana.
Syracuse 14, Pittsburgh 13
Syracuse opened Big East play with a win on Friday night, scoring two touchdowns (one off a fumble recovery) in the first quarter and holding that lead for the rest of the game. Ryan Nassib had his worst game of the season, completing only 19 of 30 for 185 yards and an interception, while the Syracuse defense stepped up by holding Ray Graham to only 57 yards on 24 carries.
Vanderbilt 19, Missouri 15
Vandy finally played an opponent with a loss, and they came through for their first conference win of the season. Like Syracuse, the Vanderbilt defense pitched in by recording a safety, while Zac Stacy spiced up a bad day on the ground (29 carries for 72 yards) by scoring both Vanderbilt touchdowns.
Boston College 31, Army 34
BC gave up 516 rushing yards on 79 attempts to Army's option offense, with three Black Knights rushing for over 100 yards. On the other side of the ball, a 99 yard Andre Williams touchdown run was the highlight of the day, but Chase Rettig was sacked 5 times as the offense went 3 and out on 5 of 12 drives. Not only has BC has not beaten an FBS opponent, they were Army's first win of the season. The main question surrounding Frank Spaziani after this loss is whether he will last until the end of the year.
On Tap This Week
Wisconsin @ Purdue
This game matches the two most likely candidates to represent the Big Ten East in the conference championship game. It is a noon kickoff on BTN. That says it all.
Iowa @ Michigan State
This is easily the best Big Ten matchup this week. It should be a throwback affair, with each team running a big running back into the teeth of a good defense. Michigan State has the advantage on paper, especially with the game being played in East Lansing, but in a game that may not reach the 20s a few plays could let Iowa come out on top.
#8 Ohio State @ Indiana
Indiana will probably win a conference game this year. It just won't be this one.
Illinois @ #25 Michigan
Illinois might win a conference game this year. As with Indiana, this won't be the week.
Byes: Penn State, Nebraska
In a departure from the theme of the season, Penn State has their bye week the week after playing Northwestern. Nebraska is here to restore order by taking theirs the week before visiting Evanston. These teams are probably buried too far in the "others receiving votes" column to have a shot at becoming ranked while idle.
Syracuse @ #20 Rutgers
Rutgers has managed a 5-0 start by playing dominant defense against against a soft schedule. With 4 wins needed for bowl eligibility and three games against currently ranked opponents remaining, Syracuse needs to find an upset to give themselves a punchers chance. Desperation is the default smell of Big East football.
Vanderbilt vs. #4 Florida
After starting the season with South Carolina and visiting Georgia two weeks ago, Vanderbilt plays the last of the three SEC East contenders at home this week. Georgia's 48-3 mark will be difficult to match, but Florida should do better than South Carolina's 17-13 victory. Even if this game goes badly, the Commodores should see the light at the end of the tunnel, as Florida is the last ranked team on a schedule that features home games against UMass and Auburn to go with trips to Kentucky and Wake Forest. One of Northwestern's out of conference opponents may yet become bowl eligible (emphasis on may).
Boston College @ #12 Florida State
Florida State should be ready to play after suffering their first loss last week on a visit to NC State. ACC logic dictates that FSU will win by 50 a week before losing by 40 to Miami.
Between the Big Ten and former opponents, that is 7 games and not one that I want to watch. Saturday afternoon sounds like a great time to get some work done.