It was a pretty interesting week for the rest of the conference, as Purdue picked up their first win over a tail-spinning Iowa squad, Northwestern notched yet another close loss - this one in OT, and Nebraska put itself in the driver's seat for the championship game alongside (of course) Wisconsin. And Hoosier fans are counting themselves lucky that basketball season began this week, so that they don't have to dwell on Wisconsin's overwhelming win. It's a little funny to see fans from Iowa and Illinois also turning their attention to hoops, too, though. And kudos to Minnesota for snagging a somewhat-surprising bowl bid.
Wisconsin 62, Indiana 14
Bucky's Fifth Quarter is particularly happy about in the feel-good story of #3 QB Curt Phillips' role in the Big Ten Championship-clinching win over the Hoosiers:
The win capped off a feel-good week for Phillips. Once a top-rated prospect entering UW, Phillips career had been largely derailed by multiple ACL injuries. Starting the year at No. 3 on the depth chart and having not played a single snap since 2009, Phillips took the starting job after beating Danny O’Brien for the starting job during the Badgers’ bye week in wake of starterJoel Stave's season-ending injury.
And in front of his family members and his high school coaches, Phillips delivered a memorable first start.
"I kind of felt like a little kid on Christmas," Phillips said. "This morning getting up, not nervous just excited to get out here."
Michigan 38, Northwestern 31
Sippin on Purple opines that NU fandom is the worst:
Lost in the overwhelming suckstorm of emotion surrounding Northwestern's 38-31 overtime loss is that the No. 24 Wildcats went out and played a damn good game on Saturday. NU took it to one of the best teams in the Big Ten offensively and lost by in large because a second-string cornerback playing due to injury deflected a pass in such a manner that the guy he was trying to deflect it from somehow managed to catch it. They needed a miracle. Of course, they got one.
Maize and Brew is beyond happy about this win, but still worries about their defense:
For all of the talk about how "Michigan defense is back," Saturday called to mind one unwelcome aspect of "old school" Michigan football: struggles with mobile quarterbacks. Time and time again, Michigan seemingly had Colter boxed in only to see him make a cut or two before magically teleporting 10 yards downfield. Even on moderately successful running plays, Colter was able to gain 3 or 4 by virtue of keeping it in the belly of the tailback as long as possible before pulling. If Michigan wasn't attempting to defend him on Saturday, I'd probably be telling you that watching him play is very fun....
Nebraska 32, Penn State 23
Corn Nation loves the running game and the comeback spirit of the Huskers, but worries about first half inconsistencies:
If Nebraska do the former before the latter sets in, it'll be a great season for Nebraska football. But the distinction between 8-2 and 5-5 at this point is razor thin for Nebraska. Frankly, 8-2 is probably closer to being more accurate for this team than 5-5, but there's no denying that Nebraska keeps tempting fate with these poor first half performances.
Black Shoe Diaries is ticked about some of the calls, and loves their team, but is also realistic about the level of their performance:
But the rest of the story is that Penn State didn't play well enough, particularly in the second half, to beat a ranked team on the road. Penn State had four turnovers (counting the grounding call) and eight penalties for 60 yards. Our second half possessions went as follows: INT, FG, 3-and-out, Fumble, Safety, 4-and-out. This team can't play sloppy football and expect to win against decent competition. It's not that good - very few teams ever are.
Purdue 27, Iowa 24
Hammer and Rails is relieved that a chance to go bowling is still alive:
Once again, the season was back alive. It is still not great, but Purdue had a victory and a path to a bowl game. While not the bowl we wanted, I was not going to cheer for Purdue to lose and we might as well try for a bowl (that will be better than last season regardless) while the chance is there. Now we only have to beat a 2-8 Illinois team and an Indiana team that does not have a run defense to still go to the postseason.
Black Heart Gold Pants is getting pretty discouraged about their football team:
At least Ferentz admitted to being outcoached by a guy who has a 20-27 overall record in four seasons at Purdue and is a near-certainty to get the axe at the end of the year. That's a first.
Iowa was outgained 490-264 on the afternoon. Marve finished with 266 yards on 25/33 passing; only Eastern Kentucky allowed the eighth-year senior more yards or a higher completion percentage, and nobody has allowed him more rushing yards.
Minnesota 17, Illinois 3
Daily Gopher celebrates as the Gophers clinch an unexpected bowl berth:
This team was not expected to do this well but they did it anyhow. This is a team that has gotten bowl eligible despite playing with an injury depleted roster, moving to a true frosh QB halfway through the year, and on and on with the obstacles. This is a big step for the program's momentum. We all know that this isn't a great football team yet. But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy this.
And it doesn't have to end here.
While I have no expectation of a victory over either Nebraska or MSU (especially Nebraska) the fact remains that the Gophers have 2 more games to add a nice exclamation point to their season
Meanwhile, the Champaign Room literally endorses drowning your woes at the bottom of a glass for Illini fans:
So, yeah. The Illini just got held to 3 points at home by Minnesota. The Illini managed a whole 276 yards of offense today. A week after managing 170 yards against Ohio State. That's 446 yards of offense in two games.
Wisconsin rushed for 564 yards today in a single game. Against an Indiana team that beat us 31-17 two weeks ago.
That's Illinois football right now. And that's alcohol in your home.
Get it. Drink it.
Try to forget.
Indiana State (7-3) had a bye week.
Massachusetts WON their first game, on the road, over Akron, 22-14. They had been humiliated in their last two games, so even despite Akron's low standing, this win was a bit of a surprise. The Zips can point to 5 turnovers as the reasons for the loss, and in particular the Minutemen's secondary coming up with four interceptions was pretty key as those led directly to 19 points for UMass, who are now 1-9.
Ball State came up with a very impressive upset on the road over #25 Toledo, winning 34-27. The Cardinals (7-3) were outgained by Toledo, but the Rockets offset this by racking up 111 yards in penalties. After Ball State tied it up with a field goal with 9:41 to play, Toledo eventually went for it on a fourth-and-2 at the BSU 15, and the Cardinals marched back down the field and punched through the winning touchdown on a 15-yard run by Jahwan Edwards with 1:43 remaining.
Navy lost at Troy State in a shootout 31-41. Navy (6-4) put up 487 yards in the loss, but Troy State posted an incredible 597 yards. Navy came back from a 21-0 hole to make the game a toss-up, but Troy State scored when they needed to and put the game away. Each team coughed up the ball a couple of times, but Navy converted only 5 of 12 third-down opportunities.
P.S. For those of you looking for the earliest of early Big Ten basketball rankings, I'll have those out tomorrow.