I missed a week on this feature, but the Big Ten featured a pretty competitive slate of games. Four of five conference games were decided by a single possession.
Ohio State 24, Penn State 7: The biggest matchup of the week was the most lopsided of the conference games. Ohio State dominated the Nittany Lions at Happy Valley. We Will Always Have Tempe has kind words, somewhat, for the Buckeyes' Pennsylvania-bred quarterback:
This is Terrelle Pryor's signature "Terrelle Pryor" win. He was not amazing. For an entire half, he wasn't even particularly good. But on two out of three instances when Ohio State badly, badly needed him to just be a competent quarterback, he actually did it. Against an excellent defense, no less. He nailed that bomb to Posey perfectly, did an excellent job of hitting his checkdown on Brandon Saine's receiving TD, and he juuuust overshot Sanzenbacher before the half. There were arm punts here and there, but the fact that they didn't land in the hands of some greedy DB has to count as some bit of progress. Overall, I don't think you can deny that he did the best job yet in his young career of "managing the game", as the cliché goes.
Black Shoe Diaries has harsh words for the Penn State staff:
What kind of big play were you hoping for, Joe? Were you hoping Evan Royster could run over right guard for four yards instead of two? Were you hoping tight end Mickey Shuler was going to turn that five yard pass into a seventy yard touchdown? Please don't tell me you were hoping the special teams were going to bail you out sooner or later. You can't return fair catches for touchdowns, you know. It's not hard to figure out what went wrong on Saturday. Ohio State kept pinning the Penn State offense deep. The special teams couldn't buy them any room. Joe didn't want to take chances, so he played it safe by running right into the teeth of the Buckeye defensive line. Then they kept giving Ohio State the ball at midfield which allowed them to take some chances on offense. Once the Buckeyes got the lead, they shoved the dagger home. Or arm-punted it home. Whatever. Joe Paterno got suckered into playing Tressel Ball, and he lost again.
Northwestern 17, Iowa 10: I have always liked Iowa, and I root against Northwestern because if IU can be better than anyone in the Big Ten, it's Northwestern. But after last week, it felt really good to see the luck run out on those frauds. Sippin' on Purple puts it in perspective, or refuses to:
I'm still letting this one sink in. It's not every year you even get to play a top five ranked team, let alone beat one. I mean, at NU, it's not every half-century you beat a top five ranked team. So, just enjoy this. Take all your nonsense about "this season is still kind of disappointing" and "oh, but the refs jobbed Iowa!" (yes, they did) "but Stanzi got hurt!" (first off. kid threw a pick too. and four in a quarter last week. maybe he hits djk on that long ball, but, the dude's not johnny friggin unitas. and second off, every team deals with injuries. we're dealing with them too!) and just take a few seconds, minutes, or hours to think about how great that win was for NU.
Black Heart Gold Pants thinks it was fate:
This loss was as ironic as it was inevitable. You may or may not remember Northwestern's 1995 season, in which they (however briefly) metamorphosized from perennial Big Ten doormat to Rose Bowl participant on the back of, among other people, Nagurski and Bednarik Award-winning linebacker Pat Fitzgerald. You might also remember that Northwestern team, undefeated in conference play after surrendering no more than 20 points to any Big Ten opponent, folded like a house of cards against Southern Cal on New Years' Day, losing 41-32. There was one key element missing from the Northwestern defense on that fateful day: Fitzgerald, who broke his leg against Iowa on November 11 and missed the rest of the season. Northwestern would again take a share of the Big Ten crown in 1996, Fitzgerald's senior campaign, but was relegated to the Citrus Bowl. Fourteen years ago, Fitzgerald's Rose Bowl dream was effectively dashed with a leg injury. In the second week of November. Against Iowa.
Purdue 38, Michigan 36: The Boilermakers won in Ann Arbor for the first time since 1966. Oddly enough, Danny Hope decided to use the momentous occasion to settle scores during the postgame handshake. For those who missed it, a Michigan player acted like a dick in the Notre Dame game and was suspended for it. A Purdue player acted like a dick against Northern Illinois, taking a cheap shot after the final gun. A few days later, Rick Rodriguez acted like a dick, begging for a suspension for the Purdue dick. The Big Ten imposed a (deserved) suspension. Weeks later, after a historic win, Purdue coach Danny Hope decided to act like a dick, introducing Purdue's dick player to Michigan's dick coach. In summary: Michigan's players are dicks. Michigan's coaches are dicks. Purdue's players are dicks. Purdue's coaches are dicks. In other words, nothing new. About that historic win, here's Hammer and Rails:
Indiana continued its fall from an almost certain bowl, losing 31-28 to Wisconsin to drop to 4-6. My wife's Hurricanes rolled at home against Virginia 52-17. Navy gets its second win in two years, both at Notre Dame Stadium, beating the Irish 23-21. That makes Jimmy Montana 1-2 against the vaunted Midshipmen after his predecessors were 43-0. So how is that Heisman campaign, Jimmy? The six BCS conferences (and maybe TCU and Boise State) now have $14 million reasons to thank Navy.
Yep. Obsessing about IU and Notre Dame in a post ostensibly about Purdue's first win at Michigan in 43 years. He does mention Purdue later in the post, but priorities are priorities.
How did Maize-n-Brew handle the loss?
Despite a 14 point halftime lead, Michigan allowed 21 unanswered points to Purdue en route to a heartbreaking 38-36 loss. Well, "heartbreaking" probably isn't the proper word. "Maddening" is. Despite throttling the Boilermakers in the first half, the Wolverines allowed poor play and decision making to cost them a game they should've won. There's little more to it than that. We can go into great detail about the colossal pooch screwing that occurred when Michigan fumbled at its own 19 yard line. Or about the 91 yard drive immediately following Michigan's follow up score. Or the blown onsides kick. Or the inexcusable screw up that allowed a 54 yard touchdown on a play action pass. GaaaaaaaaaaaH!
Illinois 35, Minnesota 32: The Illini, who seemed to hit rock bottom with blowout losses to IU and Purdue, have bounced back, somehow, and won at Minnesota. Hail to the Orange:
As I have said before, this team, win or lose, is always exciting to watch. Saturday's game against Minnesota was, of course, no exception. It had everything from INTs for TDs, blocked punts for TDs, missed field goals, injured quarterbacks, freshman heroics and an onside kick for good measure. Illini season tickets should come with a free case of TUMS. The first half could not have gone better for the Illini (scoring-wise at least) The Illini take an early lead with an 80 yard TD drive and a pick 6 from everyone's new favorite player Terry Hawthorne. Then there is the injury to Juice, making way for the other freshman savior du jour to come in and lead the Illini to a half time lead of 28 to 7.
Illini QB, Juice Williams went down with an ankle injury in the first quarter. At the time Illinois held a 7-0 lead, which soon grew to 14-0 before redshirt freshman Jacob Charest took over and led the Illini offense to a 35-25 win over the Gophers. Charest was poised and elusive making a handful of clutch plays when Illinois most needed them. On the other side of the ball, Adam Weber returned to his 2009 form going 5/17 in the first half for 74 yards and a pick-6. In typical Weber fashion he managed to play well at times going 9/14 in the second half for 147 yards and a TD. Along with improved accuracy he converted a 3rd & 19 and a 3rd & 24. But playing well (not great, but well) for 2 quarters isn't going to get it done.
Michigan State 49, Western Michigan 14: The Only Colors was happy to have a relaxing Saturday:
This football season has been a season to remember for all the wrong reasons. There was the onside kick recovery against CMU and the game-killing interception against Notre Dame when a field goal would've sent the game to overtime. There was the curb-stomping Wisconsin gave and the slant Iowa ran with two seconds left. Most recently, there was the kick return to start the Minnesota game and one of the most improbable incomplete passes/laterals/touchdowns I've ever seen. The only key play that's gone MSU's way this season was the Caper run in OT to win the Michigan game. For all of these reasons, that's why few things felt more refreshing in the past few months than an old-fashioned butt kicking. Which is exactly what Michigan State did yesterday, eliminating all modicums of suspense and causing me to name an article after a Mary J. Blige album.
One of IU's non-con opponents, Western Michigan, played MSU (see above).
Akron 28, Kent State 20: The Zips finally got a I-A win, and it was a pretty good one. Kent was 4-1 in the MAC before losing to Akron.
Miami 52, Virginia 17: The Cavs are 3-6, and Al Groh is toast.
Kentucky 37, Eastern Kentucky 12: The Colonels lost another to a BCS conference opponent.