I'm told there were other games going on during and after just Northwestern successfully executed their gameplan of "knock out Iowa's best offensive player" for the second consecutive season. So Wha Happened?
Nice tune, but it needs more Caruso.
Ohio State 24, Penn State 7
Sigh. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. All Penn State needed to do to ensure that Ohio State's reign of terror atop the Big Ten over the last five years (and their accompanying pratfalls in BCS games: 1-3, including two humiliating beatdowns in National Championship Games) was truly done, to drive a stake through their cold, unfeeling, blackened hearts, to send them to a Florida bowl game... was just win this one fucking game. Alas, the Penn State offense coughed up a hairball of a performance (Daryll Clark went 12/28, 125 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 20 yards rushing, 1 TD on the ground, though he didn't get much help from his offensive line or any receivers not named Graham Zug) and the Nittany Lions just never appeared to be in sync. Maybe Clark needs Creepy Sex Offender Lion to console him.
His counterpart, the boy wonder Terrelle Pryor, contributed the sort of confounding stat line that's becoming typical of his play: 8/17, 125 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, five carries, 50 yards, 1 TD on the ground. Looking at it purely in terms of black and white numbers, it's not exactly impressive stuff. And yet... he did guide them to a decisive victory and he did make some big plays when OSU needed them -- the 62-yard bomb he threw to DeVier Posey (fast becoming one of the best big-play receiver in the Big Ten) was a key play in opening up the game. It gave Ohio State some much needed breathing room and the two-score margin seemed to make Clark press even more, with predictably disastrous results against the Buckeye defense. Still, the Ohio State win did have the effect of dramatically simplifying the Big Ten title race: whoever wins next week's Iowa-Ohio State tilt will be smelling the roses in Pasadena. So no pressure or anything in that one.
Not even Mike Barweis' brutal fitness regimens can save Michigan from the knife that is Big Ten conference play.
Purdue 38, Michigan 36
Life among the peasants sucks, doesn't it, Big Blue? It was a lot easier when you were a member of the aristocracy and teams like this just rolled over for you. Shame the peasants don't do that when you're down rolling around in the filth with them. The numbers for Michigan are grisly: losses to middling Purdue teams in back-to-back years, five consecutive Big Ten losses (which is actually worse than any losing streak they had in-conference during last year's horrorshow of a season), and eleven conference losses (and counting) over the past two years -- with games against Wisconsin (in Madison) and Ohio State (in Ann Arbor) still to come. Losses in both of those games would lead to perhaps the grisliest stat of all: a second consecutive season without a bowl game. The culprit, as it has been pretty much the entire season, was largely the GERG-led defense. The LOLverine defense conceded nearly 500 yards of offense (494, to be exact) for the second straight week, with most of the damage coming through the air: Joey Elliot went 28/39 for 367 yards and a pair of touchdowns (and a pair of interceptions). RichRod may or may not be burning up on the hot seat this year, but it would be stupefying if Greg Robinson was back as defensive coordinator next year.
Meanwhile, Danny Hope's maiden voyage on the SS Boilermaker continues to be a long, strange trip. Three weeks ago, they had a season-defining upset of Ohio State in West Lafayette. A week ago, they got blanked by Wisconsin, 37-0, in a game in which virtually nothing went right. And now they go into Ann Arbor and pick up their first win there since 1966. And all this is after the crazy first part of the season, in which they lost a series of nail-biters and bizarre, turnover-filled games. Yet in spite of all the ups and downs they've endured this season, Purdue finds themselves still alive for a possible bowl game (they just need wins over Michigan State and Indiana), which would be a helluva way to cap off Danny Hope's crazy first season.
Illinois 35, Minnesota 32
Remember what we wrote about Adam Weber's offensive explosion last week?
But what to make of the TRY FIGHT WIN HEAVILY PENALIZED Gophers a week after losing their top offensive weapon (Decker) and nearly getting shut out in back-to-back games by Penn State and Ohio State (only a garbage-time touchdown against OSU's reserves prevented that ignominious fate)? Was this an aberration? A sign that the Gopher offense may not be quite as woeful as we thought? Considering that Weber hadn't thrown for a TD pass since the Wisconsin game 28 days ago and that he nearly doubled his season total for TD passes in one game, we lean towards the former explanation.
Yeah, we're gonna go with "last week was a mirage" for $1000, thanks. Weber's first half this week:
5/17, 74 yards, 0 TD, 1 fumble, 1 pick-six ("That's an interception returned for a touchdown." (c) Pat Harty).
Now that's more like the Weber we've come to know and love this season. All told, the Golden Gopher offense managed only 288 yards (just 66 on the ground) against an Illinois defense not previously known for its stopping power. Meanwhile, the Save the Zooker's Job Tour continued with... yet another win? Huh. That still doesn't sound right. Juice Williams' ankle got tweaked, but Jacob Charest proved to be an able fill-in (10/19, 195 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT) and Jason Ford tacked on 82 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. With the win, the Illini retain their unlikely bid for a bowl appearance and a desire for revenge by proxy demands that this corner of BHGP will be cheering them on when they take on that other Big Ten team from Illinois next week. And, fuck, if you can't root for a mustache like this you have no soul.
Don't pretend you care about this game.
Wisconsin 31, Indiana 28
John Clay ran wild in the first half (15 carries, 134 yards, 1 TD), but got concussed; freshman Montee Ball came in and picked up right were Clay left off (27 carries, 115 yards, 2 TD), including the game-icing touchdown with eight minutes to go in the game. It was classic Wisconsin football: 294 punishing yards on the ground and just enough passing (194 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT) to keep the opposing defense honest. The only difference between this week and last is that the defense was a bit looser and let Indiana get enough points to keep it interesting. Indiana is now in "win or stay home during bowl season" mode for the final two games; sadly next week involves a trip to Happy Valley to play a pissed-off Penn State team. Ouch.
Michigan State 49, Western Michigan 14
Sparty jumped out to an early 21-0 lead and never looked back, ensuring that Western Michigan wouldn't add a Big Ten scalp to their collection for a third straight year. WMU had no answers for the Spartan offense -- Kirk Cousins dissected their pass defense (22/25, 353 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT), while Ashton Leggett gashed them on the ground (14 carries, 110 yards, 4 TD); all told, Sparty rolled up 602 yards of offense. With the win, MSU moves to 5-5, needing just one more win to get to bowl eligibility. A difficult game with Penn State awaits at the end of the season, so next week's game at Purdue could be a virtual elimination game for bowl contention.