The Big Ten divisional race is beginning to fall into place. In the Leaders Division, Wisconsin looks invincible, but Penn State is 3-0 in conference and plays its toughest games (Nebraska and Illinois) at home until finishing the season with road games at OSU and Wisconsin. In the Legends, Michigan State is undefeated, but Michigan, Nebraska, and Iowa are hanging around.
Michigan State 28, Michigan 14: In the biggest rivalry game of the week, Michigan State beat the Wolverines for the fourth consecutive time, the first time that has happened since the early 1960s. The Spartans did so despite wearing some ridiculously ugly uniforms that made them look nothing like Michigan State, and Michigan's weren't much better. I may sound like a fogey, but I absolutely despise this trend in which the shoe companies ugly up some of the best rivalries in the game. Maize n Brew laments the missed opportunities:
With six minutes and change left in a football game that the Michigan Wolverines had equally given away and forcibly taken from them, Denard Robinson and Company sat inches away from a 1st and goal and mere yards away from a tying score... Momentum was draped in Maize and Blue; a simple Denard dive was all that separated Michigan from storming back to tie a game that had largely been dictated by Michigan State to that juncture. The march towards the tying score was already casting a pall over the crowd in Spartan Stadium that had watched their team stake itself to a two touchdown lead with equal parts toughness and idiocy. It was the defining moment of the football game...
On the other side, The Only Colors seems to be used to this stuff:
Let's take this victory for what it was -- a great win over a very good opponent slightly marred by several dumb penalties and a couple horrific ones. Wisconsin comes to town on Saturday under a national spotlight, and a win there (it's going to be clean, because I don't see how MSU commits many penalties andwins) will make MSU the favorite in the Legends division, if not the Big Ten.
Penn State 23, Purdue 18: The Nittany Lions might be the least impressive team in the top 25, but except against Alabama, they have been just good enough when it counted. It was good enough for Black Shoe Diaries:
The Penn State defense didn't play a fantastic game, but teamed up with Silas Redd and the special teams to make just enough big plays, shoving Penn State over the hump for a sloppy victory over the Purdue Boilermakers, 23-18, in front of a less-than-capacity homecoming crowd in Beaver Stadium. However, after so many misfires, it might be time for Penn State (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten) to holster its passing attack. The Nittany Lions' quarterbacks once again combined to complete less than 50 percent of their attempts, with no touchdowns and an end zone interception into very tight coverage.
As for the Purdue perspective, here's a link to the Hammer and Rails road trip recap. I assume there is some football stuff in there. I couldn't go any further after the pathetic hilarity of three IU digs...in the opening paragraphs of a post about a Purdue-Penn State football game. Did you know that IU hasn't won the NCAA Tournament since 1987? Hell, it's been a whole nine years since IU went to the title game. There are a whopping twelve programs (Kansas, Syracuse, UConn, Georgia Tech, UNC, Illinois, Florida, UCLA, Ohio State, Memphis, Michigan State, and Butler) that have played for the championship more recently than IU. I guess we just have to hang our heads in shame and take our lumps on this issue from the fanboys of elite postseason powers such as Purdue. Since you couldn't find any Steve Alford Youtubes, here you go. Matt Painter was at that game as an IU fan, by the way. I hope he enjoyed it. It's the last time he's had a rooting interest at the Final Four.
I expect that Travis will retort with a daguerrotype of the Helms Foundation trophy presentation.
Ohio State 17, Illinois 7: Illinois had led a charmed existence in close games this season, but their luck ran out at home against the desperate Buckeyes. Ohio State completed only one pass in the game. Here's Hail to the Orange:
You had to know that as good as the undefeated run was, the first loss was going to be very tough to take. Frankly I had allowed myself to think that the first loss would come against Michigan or Penn State, not an OSU team coached by Luke Fickell and an offense without a quarterback. Illinois lost to two thirds of a team, a team with a strong defense, a strong running back and a platoon of quarterbacks who can't pass. That said, this OSU team was more than enough to simply win by accepting Illini mistakes and not making any themselves.
For the OSU perspective, here's Along The Olentangy:
Midway through the second quarter, offensive coordinator Jim Bollman called Ohio State's first pass play. It was an incompletion. Two quarters later, Bollman returned to the air and Braxton Miller completed his first and only pass in the game, a 17-yard touchdown to tight end Jake Stoneburner. Stoneburner's touchdown, which Illini receiver A.J. Jenkins set up by fumbling near his own 28-yard line three plays earlier, gave Ohio State a 17-0 lead over Illinois with thirteen minutes left. Despite some late game hijinks and a return to Bollman ball, the Silver Bullet defense held the lead and secured a 17-7 Buckeye victory.
Iowa 41, Northwestern 31: The Hawkeyes have long been snakebitten against Northwestern, but beat the Wildcats for the first time in four years. The Wildcats are now 2-4 and will be fairly desperate for a win when they come to Bloomington a week from Saturday. It was a white-knuckler until the end, says Black Heart Gold Pants:
I won't lie: I was nervous until this game until the clock struck 0:00 (or at least until Iowa was finally able to run out the clock). Visions of past Northwestern comebacks danced in my head (particularly their improbable come-from-behind win in 2005, which involved an onside kick recovery); their hold over Iowa has been so strong over the last half-decade that I refused to believe this particular incarnation of jNW was dead until the clock made it official. But the monster is dead, the monkey is off our back, the spell is broken -- pick your metaphor, at least for this year, they're all true. For the first time in four tries, Iowa's victorious over Northwestern. And God it feels so good.
Statistics can be misleading, says Sippin' On Purple:
The box score for this game illustrates why yards per play is a far better metric than total yards. Northwestern out-gained Iowa 495 to 379, making it appear as though the NU offense was the more effective unit. Unfortunately, that stat doesn't include that Northwestern ran an astounding 92 plays on offense, compared to only 50 for Iowa. The Hawkeyes gained 7.58 yards per play, while the Wildcats averaged just 5.38 yards per play, statistics that paint a more accurate picture of how the game unfolded.
Wisconsin 59, Indiana 7: I haven't had much to say about this game. I was out of town for a few days, and AJ and Devin did a nice job keeping things lively in my absence. Because I haven't watched the game, I don't have any in-person observations. Obviously, there is very little that can been said in a positive vein after a 52 point beatdown. Nevertheless, at least on paper, I am reasonably happy with the rushing offense, and the general offensive production in the first half. Stephen Houston ran for 135 yards, and 105 of those yards game in the first half. While IU managed only 287 yards of total offense, 220 of those came in the first half. I don't want to overstate things, but it is moderately encouraging that IU was able to run the ball with some effectiveness during the half in which Wisconsin had an incentive to play hard. As for the passing offense? Ouch. At this point, there doesn't appear to be any meaningful distinction between Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker. It seems to me that IU should be playing whichever of those guys is healthy with Tre Roberson's playing time increasing from week to week. Here's what the opposition had to say about it: Bucky's 5th Quarter:
Just when you think you have seen it all from Russell Wilson, he does something more. This time it was a touchdown catch by the quarterback that left 80,732 fans stunned as the Badgers went on to beat Indiana 59-7 Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. Leading 14-0 early in the second quarter, Wilson pitched the ball out running back Montee Ball on the right side and slipped out to the left. Ball slowly ran to the outside as if the play was stretch run toward to the right sideline. But instead of making his usual cut up-field, Ball cocked the ball and floated it 25-yards to the left-side of the end zone where Wilson was waiting wide open for the touchdown.
In the non-conference, most of IU's opponents continue to play well, North Texas excepted. Virginia is 4-2 after an upset of previously unbeaten Georgia Tech, and Ball State and South Carolina State are in the postseason mix as well.
Run game lifts Virginia past No. 12 Georgia Tech - College Football - Rivals.com
Virginia coach Mike London paused for a minute, as if he was trying to measure his words, and then smiled like he was throwing caution to the wind. Virginia had just finished off a 24-21 victory against No. 12 Georgia Tech, a triumph that caused several thousand fans to stream onto the field, and he was enjoying the feeling. - College Football news
Georgia St. 13, SC State 23 - College Football - Rivals.com
Richard Cue's 1-yard TD run capped a 13-point comeback by South Carolina State in a 23-13 win over Georgia State on Saturday. The Bulldogs (4-3) trailed 13-10 in the third quarter before Blake Erickson put them on top with field goals of 34 and 32 yards. South Carolina State then went on a 16-play, 80-yard drive finished off by Cue's touchdown run with 5:23 remaining to hand the Panthers... - College Football news
Louisiana-Lafayette defeats North Texas 30-10 - College Football - Rivals.com
Blaine Gautier threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes as Louisiana-Lafayette held North Texas scoreless in the second half in a 30-10 win on Saturday. With his team leading 13-10, Gautier threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Darryl Surgent and a 24-yarder to Javone Lawson to stretch the lead to 27-10. - College Football news
Schott's kick lifts Ball State over Ohio 23-20 - College Football - Rivals.com
Steven Schott kicked a 27-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and Ball State held off Ohio for a 23-20 win on Saturday. Following Schott's game-winner, Ohio's Tyler Tettleton threw his second interception of the day, to Joshua Howard, preventing a Bobcats drive. Ohio, however, managed a drive late in the game to set up a 41-yard field goal chance by Matt Weller. - College Football news