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Around the Big Ten, week 4 (and a look at how IU's non-conference opponents fared).

This was the weakest week of Big Ten football scheduling that I can remember.  Still, two MAC schools managed to pull the upset, and a couple of others played their opponents close.

Wisconsin 70, Austin Peay 3

The most thorough beatdown of the weekend came from the Badgers, who demolished an FCS program. Despite the level of competition, Bucky's Fifth Quarter was thrilled with the outcome:

The Badgers ran off a nearly flawless 60-minute performance Saturday and set a new school record for points scored in a game with 70. The running backs were fast, the quarterbacks were accurate, the wide receivers were sure-handed and the defense was solid all-game long. Sure, it was Austin Peay, but the Badgers did everything they were supposed to do against the opponent they were playing Saturday and they did it well. James White had a ridiculous breakout performance as he ran for 145 yards and four touchdowns on just 11 carries. That's an average of 13.2 yards per carry for those scoring at home. His 66-yard touchdown run in the second quarter certainly aided those numbers.

Toledo 31, Purdue 20

On the other end of the emotional spectrum was Purdue.  The Boilermakers, already playing without their best running back (Ralph Bolden) and receiver (Keith Smith) because of season-ending knee injuries, lost quarterback Robert Marve to what looked like a season-ending knee injury.  Add in the injury to Robbie Hummel last spring, and the Boilers are the NCAA champions of bad luck.  (Wait, it's Purdue.  More like the Helms Foundation champions of bad luck).  Hammer and Rails is pessimistic:

This team and this season is now at a major crossroads, and the Northwestern game is the swing game of the season. We have two seasons to heal and adjust to Rob Henry as a starter. Let's face it, Marve is likely done because you don't just drop to the ground without contact unless it is serious. This team is better than what it has shown on the field, but it needs to man up and act like it. If we can come out and win the Northwestern game (and they struggled with Central Michigan today) we must then beat Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana to get to a bowl. Naything beyond those four games is a pipe dream right now.

Northwestern 30, Central Michigan 25

The Wildcats are 4-0, but flirted with disaster against SMU.  Sippin on Purple is happy with the record but concerned about the defense:

You know what's not good? Our pass coverage. It doesn't get beat deep often, but it gets beat all the time on 10-15 yarders, and those turn into 20 yarders after a quick move. Teams don't have 347 yards passing against you by chance. Our secondary is depleted, and the day Justan Vaughn and Jordan Mabin look good enough to stop two Big Ten receivers will be the first. The NU offense is good enough that they'll keep the team in games, but this'll cost the Cats games. Especially appalling is the 150 yards they gave up in the air in the fourth quarter when they needed stops and probably could've expected the pass anyway.

Michigan State 45, Northern Colorado 7

Michigan State, like Wisconsin, whipped a FCS opponent.  The Only Colors is concerned about penalties:

Going forward, penalties are going to be a major concern: the Spartans had 11 penalties for 121 yards, an atrocious total that surely would spell doom against a solid conference foe. Additionally, the pass rush will be a concern on both sides of the ball: Northern Colorado had two sacks, narrowly missed getting several others, and MSU failed to sack either of the Bears' quarterbacks.

Michigan 65, Bowling Green 21

The Michigan offense, under both Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier, continued to put up huge numbers.  Maize n Brew waxes poetic about the backup QB:

A year removed from his own 4-0 start as Michigan's primary signal caller, Tate Forcier finally stepped out onto the field as Michigan's quarterback. It wasn't as the starter, it was as a back up in a game Michigan had to win. Midway through the second quarter on Saturday, Rich Rodriguez called Forcier's number, and Tate joined his teammates as he trotted out to the field. When he did, he returned to a standing ovation from the 109,903 Michigan fans that packed Michigan Stadium on a sun splashed Saturday. After months of speculation about his future, his commitment, and his character, Forcier's mere presence on the field this weekend answered any remaining question about the kind of young man he is. He's a Michigan man.

Iowa 45, Ball State 0

The Hawkeye defense continued its dominant start with a shutout of Ball State.  Of course, the competition diminishes the accomplishment to some extent, according to Black Heart Gold Pants:

Iowa's win on Saturday was probably their most complete defensive performance of the season; not only did Ball State not score, they never even got into field goal range. The Hawkeye defense allowed two Ball State drive to so much as enter Iowa territory; one of those drives was immediately rewarded with a Mike Daniels sack that forced BSU to punt (from their own territory, of course), and the other petered out with a punt from the Iowa 39*. That's it. Of course, any discussion of that defensive dominance can't be taken seriously without noting that it came against Ball State, and even that's an insufficiently mitigating factor; it was a Ball State team missing two offensive linemen and starting a freshman quarterback. There's probably a few teams in the Big Ten who would have shut these guys out (Minnesota, we're guessing, would have dropped a tough 19-14 decision).

Penn State 22, Temple 13

The Nittany Lions flirted with disaster for much of their game against the suddenly respectable Owls, but Black Shoe Diaries says it isn't as bad as it looked:

Looking at those stats it's hard to figure out how Penn State could possibly be losing late in the third quarter and only win the game by nine points. Now look at these statistics.

*  Penn State converted just 6-of-17 third downs into first downs.

* Penn State had five chances in the redzone.

They came away with three field goals and one touchdown. And that is how you dominate and struggle at the same time. I'll have to go back and watch the game again so I can give an explaination for the redzone stuggles. (I actually missed the first half entirely so I could take my son to a birthday party. I love this stage of life where I have to go to Chuck-e-Cheese or Bounce U every weekend. Actually, not really.)

Ohio State 73, Eastern Michigan 20

The Buckeyes, along with Wisconsin and Michigan, were one of three Big Ten teams to break the 60 point barrier last weekend.  Along the Oletangy is reasonably pleased:

Offensively, it would be difficult to imagine a more efficient and effective day than what took place. Outgaining EMU by 397 yards (645 to 248), the offense put constant pressure on the Eagle defense, scoring at least 14 points in each quarter. It was a well-rounded effort, with 30 first downs, 342 yards rushing, and 303 yards passing. Utilizing a no-huddle offense for most of the game, the coaching staff clearly used this game as an opportunity to work on improvement, and to force the rest of the schedule to prepare for a myriad of different personnel groupings, formations, and plays. The Jordan Hall-to-Terrelle Pryor trick play, in particular, was put in place for the benefit of future games, and not this one.

Northern Illinois 34, Minnesota 23

I hate to take pleasure in another program's pain, but it's fun watching Glen Mason try to keep that smile off his face in the Big Ten studio these days.  The Gophers' four year experiment with Tim Brewster seems to be coming to an end, thanks to Minnesota's second embarrassing loss (and third loss overall) of the season. The Daily Gopher is as despondent as expected:

Adam Weber racked up a nice statistical game but much of that was in the 4th quarter when passing was the only option. His completion % was a nice 67% but the yards, second TD and even the INT were due to a lot of attempts when the game was over except for the score. MarQueis Gray had another very nice game tonight as he settles in as one of the most productive receivers in the conference. But during the game, the rest of this coming week and the rest of the season the story is about Tim Brewster. In year four a 1-3 start to the season is unacceptable. An 0-3 start at home is unacceptable. We gave up 41 points to an FCS school and we lost to a solid but NIU team that ran us over for just under 300 yards on the ground. This is embarassing and there will be more and more empty seats at TCF Bank stadium as the year goes on.

Troy 35, Arkansas State 28

The Red Wolves were a bowl team last year, but ASU, IU's homecoming opponent on October 16, will have a tough time getting back.

Corey Robinson threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Shawn Southward with 22 seconds left as Troy rallied for a 35-28 win over Arkansas State in a game delayed almost two hours by lightning Saturday. Arkansas State (1-3, 1-2 Sun Belt) went up 28-27 after a 30-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Aplin to Allen Muse.

Columbia 24, Towson 10

Even for another FCS team, a loss to an Ivy League school is not good news.

Sean Brackett rushed for 89 yards and passed for 117 yards and a touchdown as Columbia defeated Towson 24-10 on Saturday. Leon Ivery and Nick Gerst had rushing touchdowns for the Lions (1-1), who outgained the Tigers on the ground 224-87. Columbia led 14-3 when Towson (1-3) got the ball on its own 38.

South Florida 24, Western Kentucky 12

If you are keeping score, IU's non-conference opponents, not including games against IU, are a combined 2-11, and Akron and WKU remain winless.  Still, I think WKU is going to be okay in the Sun Belt.  They were reasonably competitive in Tampa against South Florida.

Moise Plancher rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown Saturday night, helping South Florida shrug off a slow start to beat Western Kentucky 24-12 and extend the nation's longest Football Bowl Subdivision losing streak to 24 games. Plancher scored on a 13-yard burst in the opening quarter.