I don’t think any of us really thought that Indiana had much of a chance to win at the Horseshoe on Saturday. Regardless, I’m proud of how this team competed, and while I’m not a big believer in moral victories, it’s exciting to see Indiana hang with what could easily be a Playoff team for three and a half quarters.
Other Big Ten teams did not fare quite as well. Let’s discuss.
Tier 6: Unranked
I’m not even ranking these guys this week. They don’t even deserve to be 14th place. Indiana’s had its fair share of bad losses over the years - I remember Bert once put 83 up on us in Camp Randall at the end of the Lynch era - but never by a 78-point margin. To make things even worse, the Scarlet Knights only had 39 TOTAL yards in this one, and didn’t get a first down until the fourth quarter.
Rutger was the Scott Tenorman in this game to Jim Harbaugh’s Cartman. So much for that “recruiting rivalry” - Michigan is now officially New Jersey’s Big Ten Team.
Tier 5: The Battle for the Cannon
Last week, I said I would start to doubt Lovie if the Illini couldn’t beat Purdue at home.
The long rebuild continues in Champaign. They head to Rutger this weekend, where they probably will not win by 78.
How apoplectic would Boilers fans be if Darrell Hazell won enough games to keep his job, while still not winning the Bucket? Probably about as mad as they would be if they lost to Michigan at home by 78 points.
Tier 4: This is fine
Didn’t play, so they didn’t have the opportunity to lose by 78.
10. Michigan State
Well, I did not expect Sparty to freefall this much. BYU, who had trouble scoring more than 20 points earlier in the season, won 31-14 the Spartans, who were dominated at home. Is there a chance these guys might not even make a bowl game? Seems hard to believe that’s the case only a year after their CFP appearance in which they got shut out lost by 38, not 78.
Lost another close game to fall to 0-2 in the conference. You know what game was not close? Rutger-Michigan, in which the final score was 78-0.
Tier 3: Could go either way
The Terps came down to earth after a 38-14 loss in Happy Valley. This wasn’t a 78-point loss, but it may have felt like one to Maryland fans, after their 4-0 start.
Iowa won 14-7 over Minnesota to claim Floyd of Rosedale, which is a trophy of a pig because Big Ten rivalry trophies are fantastic in all of their unironic glory.
This is the second time Iowa has won 14-7 this season. The first time? Against Rutger, of course. Did you know it would take over five and a half of these results for Iowa to score 78 points?
There were two plays that really changed the course of Saturday’s game. The first was Lagow’s fumble that set OSU up for its first TD of the game. Then, the kickoff return after IU made it 17-10 set the Buckeyes up for an easy score at the end of the first half. Had it not been for those two plays, the game could have been tied heading into the fourth quarter. But that’s the danger with playing the Buckeyes at home - you need to play nearly perfect (like MSU did last year and Virginia Tech the year before) to win in the Horseshoe, and the Hoosiers made too many mistakes despite yet another great defensive effort. Unlike previous IU teams, I’d be shocked if this one gave up 78 points in one game.
5. Penn State
Running back Saquon Barkley is for real, and any team that wants to beat the Nittany Lions will have to find a way to contain him. At times, he seems capable of putting 78 points up all by himself.
After a rough first month, James Franklin seems to be settling into the season just fine. He shouldn’t get too comfortable, because after a bye week, Ohio State comes to town on the 22nd.
Tier 2: Bye week buddies
Both had byes this week, which was a good strategy because as a result, they both moved into the top-10. Both still scored as many points as Rutger, but unlike the Scarlet Knights, they didn’t lose by 78.
Tier 1: Still on top
2. Ohio State
Indiana was definitely the best defense the Buckeyes have seen all season, which still feels really weird to say. But that changes on Saturday, when Ohio State heads to Madison for the College Gameday treatment. I doubt OSU loses against a Wisconsin offense that was moribund against Michigan, but I doubt they’re able to put up 78 points on them either.
Regains the top spot with a 78-0 victory over Rutger. I’m convinced part of the reason Harbaugh wanted to score 78 was because OSU scored 77 against Bowling Green earlier this year and he just had to one-up Meyer.
Three non-B1G teams I liked:
Alabama - Nick Saban is making it look easy yet again, this time with true freshman Jalen Hurts at quarterback. The Crimson Tide look very complete, but the annual Tennessee game looms in Knoxville this weekend, and Tennessee has become the SEC’s #CHAOSTEAM this season.
Washington State - Earlier this year, I had them in the “didn’t like” category. After they destroyed Oregon and Stanford in consecutive weeks, I have reconsidered. The most impressive part - especially for a Mike Leach team - if that they’re finding success both through the air AND on the ground.
Virginia Tech - Completely dominant in their 34-3 win at UNC, and during a hurricane no less. The Justin Fuente/Bud Foster pairing has already been paying dividends in Blacksburg, and it looks to be between them and Miami for the ACC Coastal title.
Three non-B1G teams I didn’t like:
Houston - For the second straight season, Houston played a game in the Northeast and lost. As a Hoosier fan who suffered through two straight tough losses to Navy in 2012-13, I’m fully aware that the triple-option is tough to defend. But for Houston, this 46-40 loss to the Midshipmen eliminates any possibility of a dark horse playoff berth, and makes a New Year’s Six bowl even tougher. Tom Herman’s phone is already ringing off the hook for open positions, and it’s looking less likely that the Big 12 will expand, so the magical run for the Cougars might soon be coming to an end.
UCLA - Now sits at 3-3 after a late-night loss to Arizona State. Every year this team gets hyped beyond belief in the preseason, and never seems to deliver when it counts. Plus, Josh Rosen is supposed to be one of the best QB prospects in the country, but hit’s impossible to tell how good he actually is, due to his porous offensive line.
TCU - Sure they won, but they needed a missed field goal to hold on against Kansas last Saturday, winning only by the score of 24-23, and Kansas is really bad.