Maybe it was because Iowa didn’t play, but this was one of the more entertaining weekends of Big Ten football in a while. Ohio State survived a scare, Michigan reclaimed state supremacy, Penn State didn’t suffer a letdown, and Indiana stopped the bleeding. In addition, Wisconsin won in the most Wisconsin-like way possible.
Also, Minnesota reportedly played Illinois!
Let’s see where all the B1G teams stack up after Week 9.
Tier 3: Not great, Bob
14. Michigan State
They didn’t completely embarrass themselves in their loss to Michigan yesterday, but they’re now 0-5 in the conference. They have to win out to get to a bowl game, and with Penn State and Ohio State still on the docket, Sparty is staring down the barrel of 4-8. Considering Michigan and OSU are in a recruiting arms race, this down season for MSU may have long-reaching consequences for Mark Dantonio and company.
I was at this game yesterday with two good friends, one of whom is a Penn State alum and the other a Purdue alum, and I enjoyed the Ross-Ade experience. The tailgate atmosphere was very relaxed and the fields weren’t too long of a walk, the weather was fantastic considering it was late October in West Lafayette, and Purdue lost by 38. Not a bad way to spend a fall afternoon.
I also got a Purdue football shirt that said “Losing Is Not An Option.”
It was on sale.
Didn’t play, but now have Indiana coming to Piscataway next weekend. Can we just not play this game and say we did?
The Illini have now lost five games by double-digit points this season. I’m curious if Lovie knew how deep of a hole Tim Beckman left this program in when he took the job back in March.
Tier 2: The race for the Music City Bowl
The Terps are banged up, and couldn’t defend the run against IU at all on Saturday. They still have Michigan, OSU, and Nebraska to play against until they end the season against “rival” Rutger.
Through Zander Diamont and Tyler Natee, the Hoosiers rekindled their run game in a 42-36 victory over Maryland on Saturday. Devine Redding had over 100 on the ground as well. After a month of inconsistency, it was great to see the Hoosier offense back on track. IU only needs to beat Rutger and Purdue to get to a second straight year of bowl eligibility.
With victories over Oregon State, Indiana State, Colorado State, Maryland, Rutger, and Illinois, the Gophers are now bowl eligible. And they haven’t even played Purdue yet!
Had the week off. I assume the coaching staff spent the week teaching Kirk Ferentz what the two-point conversion was, along with other modern innovations such as smart phones and Netflix.
Down 24-17 to Ohio State with 3:30 left in the game, Pat Fitzgerald had Northwestern kick a short field goal. The kick was good, but the Wildcats never got the ball back and lost by four.
Look, you’re playing Ohio State on the road, and hanging right with them late. What is a field goal going to do for you at that point? You’re still down by 4, you still have to score a touchdown next drive. So why not just go for it? I don’t understand what Pat Fitzgerald was thinking there. More importantly it would have been funny if OSU had lost twice in a row, and Fitz denied us of this opportunity.
Tier 1: Title contenders
5. Ohio State
You’re probably thinking, yeah yeah Ohio State is so low because I want to troll Buckeye fans and get page views.
Well, you’re right.
But for having such a vaunted offense, the Buckeyes have not put up more than 24 points in any of their past three games. And while OSU still controls its own CFP destiny, it’s hard to feel as confident in their offense as we did after they destroyed Oklahoma in mid-September. The Buckeyes get another tough matchup at the Shoe in Nebraska this weekend.
I wasn’t expecting Nebraska to hang around as much as they did at Wisconsin on Saturday night, but the Huskers gave the Badgers a scare. After this loss, Nebraska needs to beat Ohio State next weekend to stay in control of the Big Ten West.
3. Penn State
The Nittany Lions were tied with Purdue at the half, but overwhelmed the Boilers at the end of the game. Saquon Barkley continues to impress on the ground with over 200 yards, and Trace McSorley looks good in the pocket, mainly because his name isn’t Christian Hackenberg.
The Badgers continue to impress on the defensive side of the ball and score enough to pull out close victories.
That being said, Wisconsin fans need to get their act in order. This costume isn’t funny or clever - it’s straight-up racism and hate speech. The fans complied with security and the costumes were removed, but the university’s response of “protecting the free speech” of these costumed fans was not satisfying.
Won 32-23 over a Sparty team that keeps looking hapless every week. The Wolverines are still very much in the driver’s seat for the CFP.
However, here’s my advice for UM fans trying to promote Jabrill Peppers has a Heisman candidate: Stop. There’s no doubt Peppers is a good player, but there’s not a chance he’s a more impactful player for his team than Lamar Jackson is at Louisville, who continues to put up video game numbers week after week (and engineered a 4th quarter comeback against UVA this weekend).
Three non-B1G teams I liked
Clemson - The Tigers keep winning in dramatic fashion, and their win at FSU was one of the best college football games I’ve seen all season. Clemson isn’t as dominant as last season, but they keep winning games, and have now defeated their two biggest ACC divisional rivals.
USC - The Trojans were 1-3 to start the season. Now after a 45-24 win over Cal, they hold the keys to the Pac-12 South.
Wyoming - Defeated previously unbeaten Boise State with a go-ahead safety, prompting this fantastic dance.
Three non-B1G teams I didn’t like (special all-SEC edition)
Georgia - Mark Richt may be struggling at Miami right now, but UGA fans might be pining for him after an unimpressive first season from Kirby Smart. The Bulldogs just lost the annual Cocktail Party game against Florida, dropping them to 4-4 on the season. I’ll be in Athens in two weeks for their game against Auburn - that one could get ugly.
Ole Miss - At 3-5 after a loss to Auburn, the Rebels are now in danger of not making a bowl, despite Chad Kelly putting up impressive stats week after week. With potential NCAA sanctions looming, could Hugh Freeze’s seat be getting warmer?
Tennessee - Lost to a terrible South Carolina team in Columbia. Here’s the thing about Tennessee: No matter how good their team is, you can pretty much pinpoint when the Bad Tennessee Loss will happen under Butch Jones each year, and I called this back in the summer: