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Around the Big Ten week 4 (plus an update on IU's non-conference opponents).

This week didn't provide many interesting matchups, although both IU and Minnesota had bad losses.

Michigan State 45, Central Michigan 7:  The Spartans made quick work of their last non-conference opponent.  The Only Colors:

Well, we got what we paid for. A team that we easily and thoroughly MACrificed to the God of Bowl Eligibility. A great cruise control win, that doesn't tell me nearly as much as I'd like it to about our big match-up next week. This was more or less what MSU should do to CMU year in and year out. Still, as someone who was around for the Crappening in 2009 (my second game as a student, in fact) it feels pretty good to clean that team's clock, and remind them who the boss is heading into next year's game in Mt. Pleasant.

Michigan 28, San Diego State 7:  Brady Hoke's Wolverines comfortably defeated Hoke's previous employer, SDSU.  Still, Michigan fans are understandably wary of how the team has looked.   Maize n Brew:

Of all the things I was confident in going into the 2011 season, Denard improving as a passer was somewhere in the middle of that list. I figured we'd see a number of interceptions based on new scheme or bad reads. But I also figured with the accuracy he displayed early in the 2010 campaign that he would eventually "click" in Al Borges new offense and turn into something special in the pocket, and not just sprinting out of it. It's early, but the returns on that confidence are dipping like the Euro. This isn't to say there won't be a rebound, but investor confidence is a little shaky right now. In the passing game any way

Penn State 34, Eastern Michigan 6:  IU's opponent in the conference opener, Penn State, played well in its final tune-up. Still, the Nittany Lions haven't settled on a quarterback.  Black Shoe Diaries:

In the ever popular quarterback debate, Matt McGloin had a clear statistical advantage over Bolden, passing for 220 yards and 3 touchdowns. While there has been some discussion to the playcalling when each quarterback is under center, there is very little doubt which of them played better yesterday afternoon. McGloin looked sharp in the pocket, and made good decisions on his way to the best performance by either quarterback this season. While Boldentechnically throw for over 100 yards, a vast majority of them came after a short pass to Devon Smith that turned into a 71 yard touchdown who was one of 12 different Nittany Lions to catch a pass Saturday afternoon.

Iowa 45, Louisiana Monroe 17:  After a tough loss to Iowa State and a frantic comeback against Pitt, the Hawkeyes enjoyed a relaxing win.   Black Heart Gold Pants:

I'll be honest: I wasn't sure what to expect out of this game. I don't typically get too nervous about games with $1 million victims, but (a) Louisiana-Monroe wasn't your average bodybag opponent -- they'd kept things from getting out of hand against Florida State in Week One and traded punches with TCU for a while last week -- and (b) through three weeks, Iowa remained an enigma. If you worked at it, you might be able to scrap together four quarters' worth of good play from the first three games -- the second quarter against Tennessee Tech here, the fourth quarter against Pitt there, etc. -- but the fact that you'd struggle to do so indicates the roller coaster ride this season has been so far. Sometimes brilliant, sometimes putrid, never predictable: that's Iowa football 2k11 in a nutshell.

Ohio State 37, Colorado 17:  The Buckeyes began the Braxton Miller era with a comfortable win over a formerly great program.  Along The Olentangy:

Braxton Miller's era as starting quarterback began much as Terrelle Pryor's did three seasons ago. Messy, awkward, and victorious. Ohio State defeated Colorado Saturday, jumping out to a 17-0 lead before the Buffaloes scraped into the endzone on their final drive of the first half. Colorado could only add a field goal in the third quarter, falling behind 34-10 as the fourth quarter opened. A late Ohio State field goal and Colorado touchdown left the final tally at 37-17, giving beleaguered first-year head coach Luke Fickell his first victory following a loss.

Wisconsin 59, South Dakota 10:  The Badgers' offensive juggernaut continues to roll.  It's too bad that next week's Nebraska-Wisconsin matchup isn't in Lincoln.  In Madison, it may not live up to the schedule makers' dreams. Bucky's 5th Quarter:

The Badgers showed early on that they wouldn't let South Dakota hang around in their final game before the start of Big Ten play. After their first offensive series stalled, the Badger defense held the Coyotes to a three and out, and it was almost all Badgers after that. The Badgers scored a touchdown on eight of their next 11 possessions, often enough where the freshly painted end zones might need a fresh coat.

Illinois 23, Western Michigan 20:  The Illinois nearly couldn't stand prosperity, but came back to defeat Westn Michigan.  Most recent Illinois teams would have folded, says Hail to the Orange:

Five penalties for 55 yards at home, including an ejection from the team's best offensive lineman. Three trips to the redzone that ended in field goals, three failures on fourth down, a fumble. With so many self inflicted wounds, it is hard to see how the Illini actually edged out the Mustangs. The fact is though, they did edge them out. Something the Illini have failed to do in close games of recent vintage, including the losses to Minnesota, Fresno State and Michigan last year. Where the Illini fell short to get that one last stop in those games, they managed to get it on Saturday. It can be said that it doesn't matter how you win, but that you win, and when it comes to bowl eligibility and conference standings that certainly is the case.

North Dakota State 37, Minnesota 24: I can't keep these Dakota schools straight, but Minnesota seems to lose to one every year.  To make matters worse, Jerry Kill continues to struggle with seizures.  Sounding like an IU fan, here's  The Daily Gopher:

Yes the Gophers, at least on paper, should be bigger and more talented than an FCS team, but the fact remains that we aren't good. We get beat on very basic plays, and we give up big plays. We can't stop anyone on 3rd down (the Bison were 6 of 9), and we have no identity on either side of the ball. And to top it all off, we might have a QB controversy. This isn't self-deprecation on behalf of the Gophers. It's a fact. We are a BAD football team. And except for an 8 game run at the beginning of 2008 when Tim Brewster had everyone completely snowed, we have been a bad football team since before NDSU came to the Metrodome in 2007.

Nebraska 38, Wyoming 14: The Cornhuskers won on the road in their final game before their Big Ten debut in Madison.  Corn Nation:

In some respects, I think this team is very much a work in progress, and should be viewed as such. The Nebraska team that played in Laramie won't be the same one that takes the field in Madison. We saw defensive tweaks this week, and we'll see more this week. That's good, because the performance of the Huskers on Saturday wasn't anywhere near the type of performance that will be necessary in Madison. And while I'm not as optimistic about Nebraska's initial Big Ten game as I was in the summer, I'm not fatalistic about it either.

And now, the non-conference opponents.  Ball State continues to play well under new coach Pete Lembo, and South Carolina State followed a reasonably competitive game in Bloomington with a conference blowout.  Virginia?  Well, the Cavaliers would be in serious trouble if they had not won at IU.

Davis leads Southern Miss over Virginia 30-24 - College Football -
Austin Davis threw three touchdown passes and Southern Mississippi held on for a 30-24 victory against Virginia on Saturday. Davis' biggest completion came with less than 3 minutes to play -- a swing pass that Tracy Lampley took 41 yards down the left sideline to convert a third-and-23 from the Golden Eagles' 41 yard-line. - College Football news

Army 21, Ball St. 48 - College Football -
Trying to establish and maintain a running game is always part of Army's game plan. Still, coach Rich Ellerson likes to incorporate some form of a passing attack. The Black Knights accomplished the first part, rushing for 402 yards on 59 attempts in a 48-21 loss at Ball State on Saturday. Quarterback Trent Steelman, however, went 0 for 3 passing with an interception, and backup Max Jenkins had... - College Football news

South Carolina State routs Delaware State 69-0 - College Football -
Derrick Riley threw four touchdown passes as South Carolina State had a breakout game offensively in a 69-0 win over Delaware State on Saturday. The Bulldogs (2-2, 2-0 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) had scored a total of only 53 points in its first three games this season. Wiley had a hand in South Carolina State's first five touchdowns, throwing for three and rushing for two. - College Football news