Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE
How did the Big Ten fare in week 9?
Nebraska 23, Michigan 9: The Wolverines probably would have lost anyway, but an injury to Denard Robinson sealed their fate. As Maize n Brew mentions, this is always a risk with a quarterback who risks his health in every game:
It's been in the back of our minds for some time now: what will happen when Denard goes down and can't come back to save the day? The answer came in the form of a harsh reality check, with Michigan fans across the country watching as the defense did it's best to make up for a complete lack of offensive production. Robinson produced 101 yards of offense in just under one half of play, and Michigan finished with 188 total yards of offense. Until he comes back everyone on the schedule is a threat, and Ohio State is a guaranteed loss.
Meanwhile, Corn Nation doesn't want anyone to asterisk this win because of the injury:
Two weeks, two mobile quarterbacks essentially neutralized. Glass half-empty people will point out that Denard Robinson missed over half the game with an injury. Of course, they fail to denote that Robinson only accounted for 101 yards to that point, and that Nebraska had the edge in total offense at that point. You really have to stretch things to "time of possession" to find anything to hang your hat on that Michigan had any sort of control on this game.
Northwestern 28, Iowa 17: The Wildcats made easy work of Iowa, IU's next opponent, in a game that wasn't as close as the score suggests. The theme of the win will sound sadly familiar to IU fans:
Team Kain. Team Kain Team Kain Team Kain. Northwestern's offense was uninventive, but Iowa couldn't stop it, so it didn't really matter. Kain Colter absolutely murdered everything on the ground and although he had one pretty ugly overthrow that got picked, he showed that he could throw the ball downfield without the world ending, although the TD he tossed was kind of a duck. So that was nice. Only one pass for Trevor Siemian, and we could've done without it too. More of this, please.
Meanwhile, BHGP and other Hawkeye fans are way down on their offense, their coach, and everything else.
Of course, despite possessing the ball for nine minutes less than Iowa and running 19 fewer plays, Northwestern amassed almost 100 more yards and (most importantly) 11 more points. How? With an explosive, big play running attack, that's how. Northwestern ran the ball 49 times for 349 yards (and 3 TDs), a staggering 7.1 yards per carry average. Kain Colter, restored to the primary quarterback/playmaker position after the jNW offense floundered with Trevor Siemian at the helm, had five runs of 10+ yards and jitterbug running back Venric Mark scooted for five runs of 10+ yards as well (including a back-breaking 72-yard run in the second quarter after Iowa had pinned Northwestern at their own 1-yard line (punting is... not winning?). Hell, even Mike Trumpy had two runs of 10+ yards. Colter finished with 166 yards and 3 TDs on 26 carries; Mark finished with 162 yards on 16 carries.
Michigan State 16, Wisconsin 13: The Spartans saved their season with an overtime win over the Badgers in Madison. MSU is a longshot to return to Indy, but if Denard Robinson is out for the long term and if Nebraska stumbles, it could happen. As for the Badgers, only IU stands in their way for a return trip to Lucas Oil Stadium. If IU wins against Iowa on Saturday, then IU-UW will be the biggest game IU has played since 1993. The Only Colors is happy for a break, although IU fans might think that "one of these" already went MSU's way.
The Spartans stole a game, but it's about time one of these went their way. Six of MSU's nine game have been decided by four points or less, and they were two missed field goals from being 6-2 heading into Saturday's game. A Legends division crown isn't impossible, but the No. 1 goal now is just to make a bowl game, and the win over Wisconsin was a huge step to that. One win against Nebraska, Northwestern or Minnesota will do that. I'd say it's very likely, but you never know with this team.
Bucky's Fifth Quarter isn't worried about the division, but is worried about the team:
Michigan State Downs Wisconsin on Homecoming, 16-13, in Overtime - Bucky's 5th Quarter
This one hurts. There's no hiding that. It'll hurt more if Stave has to miss any time going forward, though I'm hopeful that he can play next week because the injury was to his non-throwing shoulder. Wisconsin still controls their own destiny in the Big Ten and can book a trip to Indianapolis easily, but this team has a lot of work to do if they're going to beat the eventual Legends Division champion and compete in the Rose Bowl.
Ohio State 35, Penn State 23: The Nittany Lions finally came back to earth after a five-game winning streak. Land Grant Holy Land is happy about how Braxton Miller played after being knocked out (literally and figuratively) of the Purdue game:
The fire rises: Braxton Miller, Ohio State roll to 35-23 victory over Penn State - Land-Grant Holy Land
Many (especially in and around Central Ohio) had plenty of valid reason for trepidation with respect to Braxton Miller's overall health going into one of the biggest games of the season for Ohio State. After suffering all intents and purposes whip lash a week prior after a brutal tackle by Purdue corner Josh Johnson, Braxton Miller entered Saturday night's clash with a number of questions surrounding how effective he would be. It took a while for Miller to get into a comfort zone and display his usual brilliance, but once he did, there was no stopping the Buckeyes prolific sophomore as Ohio State rolled to a 35-23 win.
Meanwhile, the self-pity is a little thick at BSD:
The Letdown: Ohio State 35, Penn State 23 - Black Shoe Diaries
Penn State deserved better. The coaching staff, the team, the fanbase. Given everything that's happened in the past 12 months, tonight was supposed to be a celebration, and a statement that despite the sanctions and the penalties and all the crap we've taken, that Penn State Is Back. Failing that, a reminder that at least we're still going to be able to hold our own, and hang with the big boys, that our coaching staff would push all the right buttons and our players' energy and guts would at the very least keep Penn State in games through sheer power of will.
Minnesota 44, Purdue 28: If you've only seen the final score, which is ugly enough, it really doesn't capture how thoroughly the Boilers were dominated in Minneapolis. Minnesota led 34-7 at halftime and 44-7 halfway through the third quarter. The Gophers ran up 44 unanswered points before some garbage time TDs by Purdue. TDG was thrilled, of course:
Nelson and Carter Lead Gophers To Dominating Win Over Boilermakers - The Daily Gopher
It was a fun game and much needed for the Gophers. I mentioned Nelson and Carter but many others also had very good games. Troy Stoudermire had a couple nice breakups and a pick that was called back because of an offsides, the defensive line got good pressure, Kirkwood ran for over 130 yards, the OL played great, AJ Barker played well, Gray made two great catches and I could go on. One win from earning a bowl game with four left to play.
Hammer and Rails can't even care much anymore:
TCF Bank Stadium is a gem of a stadium and Minneapolis is an incredibly underrated city. Perhaps that is why I am in a better mood than a should be. I witnessed a fanbase absolutely elated to beat anyone, let alone Purdue today, and some of it may have rubbed off on me. I have finally reached the breaking point with Purdue football that I don't care nearly as much as I did. They are way too inconsistent to ever count on them for anything, and maybe that is the program as a whole.
Indiana 31, Illinois 17: You know what I think about this one. Here's what The Champaign Room had to say about as tough loss.
Honestly, there are a lot of problems with this Illinois team this season, but yesterday's game brought the biggest one to the forefront. This offensive line is terrible. I haven't gone over a replay of the game yet, but I'm terrified of what I'm going to see from this offensive line. There is simply no stunt a defense can run that we can block. Nathan Scheelhaase was just a tackling dummy on Saturday, and after taking shot after shot from Indiana defenders all day, he broke. Not physically, but mentally. It felt like every time he dropped back to pass in the fourth quarter he wasn't looking for a receiver as much as he was looking for a blitzer and just waiting to be hit.
As for the nonconference results:
Navy is firing on all cylinders. And we let them off the (tail)hook!
UMass still is winless on the season, but the Minutemen have some opportunities with Akron and Buffalo still on the schedule.
The Sycamores are 7-2 and in the hunt for the MVC title and a playoff bid.
Ball State is now 6-3 overall.