Another slate of games for the Big Ten Championship has been completed, and it was an important one for several teams. Though this is certainly not a year where the Scarlet Knights are even being remotely mentioned for a title, other teams had important milestones that will impact their chances. However, the grandaddy of impacts happened in the late game on Saturday, which absolutely impacts and could kill a playoff opportunity.
#19 Iowa (6-1) 23 Maryland (4-4) 0
Iowa becomes bowl eligible by moving past the Terrapins. The Hawkeyes kept their ranking in place by pummeling Maryland on a windy day that made every play look difficult. If the Hawkeyes can upend Penn State next weekend, they may end up being in the conversation for the playoffs this year, as they should be favored in their last four games.
#6 Michigan (7-1) 21 #24 Michigan State (4-3) 7
In what turned out to be a real grudge match, Michigan upended their in-state rival after some tussles between players, as well as the coaches calling out their opponents. In the game, Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns and the Spartan offense scored their sole touchdown courtesy of a Michigan fumble as well as a trick play to tie up the score in the third quarter. However the antics of both teams, but particularly Michigan linebacker Devin Bush and the comments of Wolverine lineman Chase Winovich and Head Coach Jim Harbaugh added to the post-game tension. This was Michigan’s third win in the last 10 games between the two long-standing rivals.
#23 Wisconsin (5-2) 49 Illinois (3-4) 20
Nationally-ranked Wisconsin was able to come back from a tough loss last week to score big over a Big Ten West foe and demonstrate their offensive strength against a hapless Illinois squad. The Badger 1-2 running combination of Jonathan Taylor and Taiwan Deal gained a total of 270 yards and two touchdowns, and Illinois suffered five turnovers in the first half to doom their chances against Wisconsin. The Badgers built a 28-10 halftime score on the back of three interceptions and two fumbles by the Illini to make them ready for a matchup next week against the Northwestern Wildcats.
Nebraska (1-6) 53 Minnesota (3-4) 28
Nebraska snapped their season-long losing streak at the expense of the Golden Gophers in an impressive fashion, The ‘Huskers ran off to a 28-0 lead before Minnesota fought back to trail 28-22 mid-way through the third quarter. However, Nebraska turned on the jets again and ran away with the victory.
#18 Penn State (4-2) 33 Indiana (4-3) 28
Penn State was able to snap a two-game losing streak, but it wasn’t done easily as the Nittany Lions struggled past the Hoosiers on the road in Bloomington, Indiana. Indiana took a 21-20 lead deep into the third quarter, but Penn State was able to rally to score two touchdowns to take firm possession of the lead. A late Hoosier quarterback closed the margin of victory, but did not impact the outcome of the game.
Purdue (4-3) 49 #2 Ohio State (6-1) 20
This was the shocker of the college football weekend, bar none. Ohio State seemed unable to move the ball on the ground against Purdue, and their defense couldn’t stop the combination of quarterback David Blough’s arm and freshman receiver Rondale Moore. Blough threw for 378 yards, and Moore was on the receiving end of 175 of those yards. Two of those catches went for touchdowns as well. The Boilermakers used a combination of power and trickery to make the Buckeyes look very vulnerable on defense, giving up over 500 yards total to Purdue. All in all, it was a stunning upset.
Northwestern (4-3) 18 Rutgers (1-7) 15
Northwestern rallied late to overcome the Scarlet Knights, who put up a strong fight against the Wildcats. Rutgers held a lead until halfway through the fourth quarter when Wildcat running back Isaiah Bowser ran for a five yard touchdown for the lead which was the final margin of victory.
Rutgers took their initial lead when freshman running back Isaiah Pacheco scored a touchdown on an exciting 44 yard run in the second quarter.
The Scarlet Knights are idle next week before taking on the challenge of four of the strongest teams in the Big Ten for their final four weeks, playing Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State in succession to close out the 2018 season.
While Ohio State’s loss does not knock them out of the playoff picture, it certainly exposed them as a vulnerable team. Barring another loss, they will remain in the hunt in the Big Ten East along with Michigan, who also has a single loss, a first week drop to Notre Dame. The matchup the The Game this year will determine the East winner, or so it seems.
In the Big Ten West, the #19 Iowa Hawkeyes seem to be a serious contender to #23 Wisconsin’s string of division titles. Iowa, having lost to Wisconsin in Week 4 still has an uphill battle for the division title. However, Iowa faces their last big challenge next week, when the Hawkeyes travel to State College, PA to take on the Nittany Lions.