IU along with a plethora of Big Ten teams had the weekend off this week. Because there isn't much to say before this morning's press conferences about Indiana, we'll take a look at what happened around the conference on Saturday to start off the week. Only six Big Ten teams were in action as two finished non-conference slates and the other four kicked off their conference season.
Wisconsin 24 @ Ohio State 31: This game had the appearances going into the night to be a very good game and potentially the last time anyone had a chance of beating Ohio State this year. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, Braxton Miller came back from his injury and looked good. Throwing 25 times for 8 yards per attempt and rushing for 83 yards to go on top of that, Miller looks to be just fine after the knee injury.
Wisconsin did themselves no favors in the game by falling behind 14-31 going into the fourth quarter. It looked like we were well on our way to seeing a blowout in the making during the fourth quarter. Wisconsin did come back and answer with a touchdown and field goal to get the deficit within a touchdown, but there just wasn't enough clock left. Ohio State held Melvin Gordon to "only" 74 yards on 15 carries forcing Wisconsin to throw a little more than I think anyone is comfortable with. Joel Stave did have a pretty decent game though, throwing for an 8.7 average on 34 attempts.
Iowa 23 @ Minnesota 7: Minnesota and Iowa have both been two teams this year that no one is really certain on what we're looking at yet. Neither have played very high quality competition outside of Iowa taking on Northern Illinois. So Saturday was our first look at two relatively mystery teams square off. The verdict? Minnesota is still Minnesota and Iowa is probably a little better than currently given credit for.
The Hawkeyes dominated Minnesota in the trenches with consistent pressure on defense and a good push on offense. Iowa put regular pressure on Minnesota QB Philip Nelson. So much so that the majority of his numbers on the day came from check downs to his receivers and reliant upon yards after catch. The longest completion of the day went for 20 yards for Minnesota. Composing 17% of their final yardage total through the air. Overall, Minnesota had 165 yards of total offense. Yeesh.
Iowa on the other hand did most of their damage with the run. The Hawkeyes controlled the clock with 45 rushing plays to their 25 passing. Mark Weisman did the majority of the damage for Iowa by rushing for 147 yards on 24 carries. He didn't find himself in the end zone on the day, but he was definitely the biggest skill position factor in the game. All of this being said, Iowa still has plenty of issues to work out on their own. Neither team appeared overly impressive. Kirk Ferentz still makes calls that have you scratching your head.
Miami (OH) 14 @ Illnois 50: This game was over from the coin flip. Illinois and Purdue had essentially polar opposite days in facing their MAC opponents. Of course, Illinois got the easy draw by facing a Miami team that is 0-4 and just looking to finish outside of the bottom 3 in the MAC this year. I guess we should give Miami some credit. They only lost the first quarter 7-0. So there is some positives there.
Then, Ilinois went off in the second quarter. 4 TDs from Nate Scheelhaase late(after only throwing 5 all last season) and this game was waaaayyy out of reach. Illinois called off the dogs midway through that second quarter and the second/third stringers played to a tie the rest of the way with Miami.
Due to the opponent there isn't a ton to take away from this game. Illinois is much better than expected, but we only know that because everyone was expecting a dumpster fire. They should give the Hoosiers a pretty good game when they come to town in a month. Hopefully neither team will be at the point where they've already given up on the season.
Northern Illinois 55 @ Purdue 24: Really what can you say about this game without just piling on to what everyone is saying/thinking? The dumpster fire we expected from Illinois turns out to be burning in West Lafayette. NIU set the record for the most points scored by a MAC team on a Big Ten squad and tied the record for largest margin of victory in that same category. Purdue moved the ball well on a very bad NIU defense but turnovers in their own territory cost Rob Henry his starting job.
One minute before the close of the half the Danny Etling era came to fruition in WL. It's quite obvious that Etling is the better passer than Rob Henry but that was never really in doubt. Henry just isn't very good at throwing the ball. Etling though, wasn't out of this world. He certainly looked the better passer and stayed in the pocket longer, but his decision making was questionable. With Etling in Purdue threw the ball 39 times. 2 interceptions and 2 TDs were a result. Luckily for Etling about 3 other interceptions were dropped. What the change in QB did prove is that Purdue's problems go much deeper than just the QB position. If they win another game this year color me surprised. Of course with our luck, they'll still take the bucket.