Wednesday Sampler: Week 8

Mike Carter-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The Big Ten in review and preview

Last Week

Last week, both division races were clarified.

Iowa 19, Michigan State 16

Do you love punting? Then you loved this game, with a combined 17 punts. In the end, Iowa's punter-by-committee approach (6 by Connor Kornbrath, 2 by John Wienke) helped the Hawkeyes come back from a touchdown deficit to send the game to overtime. The teams exchanged field goals in the first overtime, while Iowa won in the second when Andrew Maxwell's attempt to answer an Iowa field goal resulted in an interception. This game really was the most Kirk Ferentz game ever. It also puts Iowa in good position in the division race at 2-0 in Big Ten play, with both wins coming in division games. Michigan State needs to win out to have any realistic shot at a trip to Indianapolis. The bad news for Iowa is that Mark Weisman was injured in the win.

Ohio State 52, Indiana 49

Indiana scored two touchdowns and a two point conversion to make this one look close, but for most of the game they trailed by at least two scores. Still, hanging with the best team in the conference is the third decent showing in a row for the Hoosiers, following an attempted comeback against Northwestern and a dominant first half against Michigan State. For Ohio State, this game dramatically confirmed that, while Urban Meyer's offense has been a great fit for Braxton Miller, the defense is likely to cost them a game at some point this season.

Wisconsin 38, Purdue 14

So, Purdue might not make the championship game. Wisconsin looked like the teams they fielded in 2010 and 2011, running for 467 of their 645 total yards and scoring 4 of their 5 touchdowns on the ground. Montee Ball's three touchdowns moved his career total to 72, which is a Big Ten record and third on the NCAA leaderboard. With Purdue, Illinois, and Indiana all winless in conference play and the head-to-head tiebreaker against Illinois and Purdue in hand, Wisconsin would have to work hard to avoid playing in the conference championship game.

Michigan 45, Illinois 0

Once again, Denard Robinson ran all over an opponent in a Michigan win. Robinson's rushing splits are ridiculous: in Michigan's 4 wins, he has recorded 65 rushes for 687 yards (10.57 YPC) and 5 touchdowns, while he has only managed 36 for 117 (3.25 YPC) and 1 touchdown in their losses.

Byes: Nebraska, Penn State

Neither team did anything exciting.

Syracuse 15, Rutgers 23

Syracuse outgained Rutgers 418 yards to 237, but 4 turnovers and a blocked field goal returned for a Rutgers touchdown ruined any chance of the upset. This game wasn't a must-win for Syracuse to make a bowl, but falling to 2-4 puts the Orange in a tough spot.

Vanderbilt 17, Florida 31

Vanderbilt kept this close for most of the game, as Florida iced the game with a 70 yard run from quarterback Jeff Driskel (who broke Tim Tebow's school record for rushing yards in a single game by a quarterback) with 2:20 remaining in the game. Like Syracuse, Vanderbilt still has a realistic chance at bowl eligibility in spite of their 2-4 start.

Boston College 7, Florida State 51

The only question left about BC's season is whether Frank Spaziani will last until the end of the year. Expect to hear that a few more times in the weeks to come.

This Week

With Wisconsin in control of the Sanctions Division, this week's focus is on the West.

Michigan State @ Michigan

Michigan State needs a win to remain on the edges of the division race, while Michigan is playing their first division game. Add in an in-state rivalry and this game becomes the most interesting Big Ten game not being played in Evanston; unfortunately, this game shares the 2:30 CT time slot with Northwestern's game against Nebraska. Michigan is favored by 10, but their last two games against defenses of Michigan State's quality haven't ended well for the Wolverines.

Penn State @ Iowa

After their win over Michigan State, Iowa returns home to take on another strong defense. Mark Weisman is out with an injury, hampering an already limited Iowa offense, but the Iowa defense should be enough to give them a shot at the win. If Iowa can win this game, they stand a good chance of getting through their cross-divisional schedule without a loss; the only other team in the West that still has a realistic chance of this is Michigan.

Minnesota @ Wisconsin

Wisconsin can probably go to Indianapolis with 4 wins, so a win here is likely and almost certainly unnecessary. Minnesota is looking for 2 conference wins to become bowl eligible; I don't think they will get one this week.

Purdue @ Ohio State

Purdue's crushing defeat against Wisconsin drained this game of any excitement. Ohio State should keep rolling to 8-0.

Indiana @ Navy

Indiana closes out the Big Ten nonconference schedule with a midseason visit to Annapolis. Navy is a slight favorite, but Kevin Wilson's boys can keep their slim bowl hopes alive with a win.

Bye: Illinois

Illinois is alone on the bye thanks to Indiana's non-conference outing.

Syracuse vs. UCONN

Two bad Big East teams slug it out on Friday night in the Carrier Dome. Will I watch it? Probably. Should you? No. With two ranked teams left on the schedule, Syracuse needs a win here if they are going to rally to bowl eligibility.

Vanderbilt vs. Auburn

In spite of their 2-4 record, I think Vanderbilt should make a bowl this year. Their 3 best conference opponents and their best non-conference opponent are all in the rear-view mirror, and this week starts a two game homestand that should get the Commodores to 4-4. First up is 1-5 Auburn. Remember when they bought won a national championship two years ago? Their fans might want to watch highlights of that team instead of this game.

Boston College @ Georgia Tech

Two weeks ago, Army set a school record for offense against BC. This week, BC visits another option offense. This could get ugly in the first half.

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