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Big Ten Football: Week Five in Review

The first week of intra-conference games bore some surprising results

NCAA Football: Iowa at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The heart of the 2017 Big Ten football season is underway. This past weekend’s games were only games between conference rivals for the first time this year, and all did not go as the prognosticators predicted. Those results were interesting, to say the least. Let get to them...

Nebraska 28 Illinois 6

This game went as expected, with the Huskers rolling over the Illini. Nebraska surpassed the home team in every offensive and defensive category. Most tellingly, Nebraska gained an average of 6.6 yards per play, with Illinois averaging only 3.8 per play.

Wisconsin 33 Northwestern 24

Northwestern looked good in the first half, and Wisconsin did not seem like it wanted the ball, having trouble holding onto it. Northwestern led at the half 10-7, but there was a definite momentum shift in the second half, as Wisconsin roared back with 24 unanswered points. With about nine minutes left in the game, Wisconsin was in gear, and rolling with a 31-10 lead. Another momentum shift later, and Northwestern scored two quick touchdowns, and got the ball back with time left. However, the frantic comeback was for naught, as Wildcat QB Scott Thorsen was tackled for a safety with less than a minute left in the game, sealing the win for Wisconsin.

Maryland 31 Minnesota 24

The Golden Gophers were held to only 80 rushing yards on the day, and Maryland’s third-string quarterback did his best Tom Brady impression as the injury-plagued Terrapins shocked Minnesota on the road in Minneapolis. Max Bortenschlager took over behind center after Maryland’s top two quarterbacks have been knocked out of games with injuries. Bortenschlager passed for two touchdowns and ran for a third, but the game was tied with with just over a minute left in the game. Minnesota, whose run defense was ranked as the top in the country going into this game, gave up a 34 yard TD by running back Ty Johnson and Maryland came away the victors.

Penn State 45 Indiana 14

Nittany Lion’s DaeSean Hamilton caught three TD passes before a home crowd that not only beat Indiana but also set the all-time record for the most receptions by any player in Penn State history. Hamilton caught two passes from quarterback Trace McSorley, and a third from running back Saquon Barkley to finish the Nittany Lion scoring for the day. Barkley not only threw for a touchdown, but also ran the opening kickoff to score a 98 yard TD en route to compiling 221 yards on the day.

Michigan State 17 Iowa 10

The Spartans came out and scored two quick first quarter touchdowns to stun the visiting Iowa Hawkeyes yesterday. With the exception of a Hawkeye field goal well into the 4th quarter, the scoring for the day was over by halftime, when Michigan State led 17-7. Two critical turnovers by the Hawkeyes in the 3rd quarter squandered scoring opportunities for Iowa, and the Hawkeyes, who have looked strong early on, have now dropped to 0-2 in conference play.

Ohio State 56 Rutgers 0

In a continuation of conference futility, the Scarlet Knights have extended their conference losing streak to 16 games. You can read about the game and more here. Below are some highlights (if that phrase can be used on such a game) from yesterday’s loss to the Buckeyes.


The first week of conference-only play was a demonstration of much of the parity of the conference these days. Surprising comebacks, last minute victories, and “more the the same” were the order of the day in many of the games. Michigan State, whose head coach Mark Dantonio was considered to be on the hot seat is now 3-1, 1-0 on the season, and Ohio State and Penn State continue to demonstrate their dominance in the conference. Conference play will continue to be interesting, to say the least, in 2017.