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Big Ten Football: Week 10 Review

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An amazing weekend that has upended the entire conference

Photo courtesy of Bruce Adler

What a Saturday! More upsets, more thrills, and even a blowout all took place around the conference. Let’s start with the shockers:

Iowa 55 Ohio State 24

When J.T. Barrett is intercepted on his first pass of the day, you may think, “This may not be a good day for him.” In fact, that was the case, but it was not the offense that was an issue yesterday. Ohio State’s vaunted defense was picked apart by Iowa’s Nate Stanley, who threw for 226 yards and five touchdowns.

It wasn’t a blowout at the beginning of the game. Up through most of the second quarter, the teams were tied up at 17 apiece, and then in the last three minutes of the first half, Iowa tacked on a pair of TDs, and they were off to the races. In the second half, three Iowa touchdowns and a field goal was responded to by only one touchdown by the Buckeyes, and that was with less than five minutes remaining in the game. It didn’t help that Ohio State’s Nick Bosa was ejected for targeting, and nine penalties were hung on the Buckeyes. This was their most lopsided conference loss since Urban Meyer arrived to pilot the Buckeyes in 2012.

Michigan State 27 Penn State 24

They say good things come to those who wait, and the Spartans were more than willing to wait last evening. As a result, they were able to squeak out a victory over the #7 Nittany Lions. The noontime game did not end until after 7:00 PM due to a weather delay.

Penn State’s main weapons are quarterback Trace McSorley and running back (and Heisman candidate) Saquon Barkley. It is almost impossible to hold both in check, as the Spartans were able to see. McSorley threw for 381 yards and three touchdowns, but Barkley was held to only 63 yards on the day, all of which were in the second half. McSorley was intercepted on three occasions as well.

Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns, but his most important play was a roughing penalty he absorbed at the end of the game. Lewerke threw an incomplete pass, but the penalty kept the drive going, and ran down the clock to kick the winning field goal as time expired, giving them the victory.

Wisconsin 45 Indiana 17

Wisconsin remains the lone undefeated team in the conference, demonstrating that in a convincing manner. The Badgers rolled over the Hoosiers on the road in Bloomington. True freshman Jonathan Taylor ran for 183 yards and a touchdown, and help set up fullback Alex Ingold for three more for this game that was never really in question. Indiana was able to make it as close as 24-17 in the third quarter, but two interceptions on their next two possessions made the score 38-17, thanks to two of Ingold’s three TD runs.

Purdue 29 Illinois 10

The Boilermakers were determined to win this battle to see who would end up in the basement of the Big Ten for 2017, and their defense did the trick, holding the Illini scoreless in the second half. Purdue outscored the Illini 16-0 after halftime.

However, the victory came with a price. The Boilermaker’s junior quarterback David Blough was tackled inside the Illinois five-yard line, and likely received a season-ending injury as a result. Purdue coach Jeff Brohm described the lower-leg injury as “...I know it's a lower-leg injury... It's a fairly severe injury that hopefully he can come back from.”

Michigan 33 Minnesota 10

Another game that was never really in question, the Wolverines ran all over the Golden Gophers in the conference’s late game. Michigan’s tandem of Karan Hidden and Chris Evans ran for almost 400 yards and combined for four touchdowns, and literally ran away with this game.

Minnesota’s lone touchdown occurred in the first quarter, making the score tied at 7-7. They did not score again until a field goal in the final two minutes of the game. As Minnesota’s head coach P.J. Fleck stated bluntly, “We got whooped.”

Northwestern 31 Nebraska 24

The first of two thrillers that ended with the same final score took place in Lincoln, Nebraska where it went into overtime before the Wildcats were able to finally top the Huskers. This is a familiar place for Northwestern, and in fact set a record as the first FBS team in history to win three consecutive games in overtime.

Husker quarterback Tanner Lee again was plagued by interceptions, with three on the day. Lee now has 13 INTs on the season, and Mike Riley’s tenure in Lincoln may be coming to a swift end.

Rutgers 31 Maryland 24

The annual East Coast battle between the Big Ten’s most recent additions was a back and forth affair that was a nail biter for both sides. The lead changed hands four times, and not until late in the fourth quarter was it decided. An interception by Kiy Hester was taken to the house for a touchdown that gave the Scarlet Knights a 10-point lead, but Maryland took the lead again in the 3rd quarter and led 24-17 late in the third quarter. Robert Martin scored the touchdown to tie it up in the 4th quarter.

The Scarlet Knight’s running back Gus Edwards had a total of 132 yards fro scrimmage and caught what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown midway through the 4th quarter. However, an offsides call against Rutgers that may have been in error incensed the relatively small crowd at High Point Solutions Stadium. A loud and long chorus of boos rained onto the field from the stands, and even head coach Chris Ash was visibly incensed by the call. Following that, the Rutgers defense stiffened and held the Terps scoreless for the remainder of the game.

Summary

At this point, unless Wisconsin can win out the remainder of their conference schedule and win the conference championship in Indianapolis next month, there may not be a Big Ten team in the College Football Playoff in January. The overall strength of the conference may prove to be a curse if no team emerges as a convincing champion this year.

That notwithstanding, the games in week ten have shown how strong the conference is top-to-bottom, and the fact that no one team may emerge is actually better long-term for the conference overall, even if the Big Ten is eliminated from contention in the Playoff.