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Wha Happened? Week Four

There actually were a few other games involving Big Ten teams that took place before The Greatness That Was 21-10, so Wha Happened?

Welcome to the dark side, baby.

Ohio State 30, Illinois 0
There are three things to take away from this game.  First, Illinois fucking sucks.  Take whatever "dark horse" or "look at all that talent they have" blather you heard before the season began and flush it down the toilet.  Their defense was miserable as it's been in both games against legit teams this season (Mizzou and Ohio State) and yesterday the offense decided to join in the misery party.  Granted, they had their excuses for both failures - Martez Wilson is out for the year with a neck injury and the weather was miserable - but those excuses ring hollow: Ohio State had to play in the same miserable weather and the Illini had two weeks to gameplan for this game.  Second, Ohio State's defense is legit - I don't care if it's against Juice "Mr. Interception" Williams or the mighty Toledo Rockets, pitching back-to-back shutouts is damn impressive. 

Third, and perhaps most intriguing, is the ongoing heel turn of Jim Tressel.  Two weeks after calling out some Ohio State fans for "being miserable," ol' Sweatervest embraced his inner Belichick and had Pryor throw a three-yard touchdown pass with barely over a minute to go and the Buckeyes sitting on a 23-0 lead against an Illinois offense that had been unable to do much of anything all game.  Now that's a Fuck You touchdown.  Not that we disapprove or anything -- sticking it to the Zooker and Illinois is always enjoyable and embracing his inner dickhead is certainly making Tressel a bit more interesting.  But when he pulls a foreign object out of his pants (um....) and nails Rich Rodriguez with it during the post-game handshake... well, remember who told you to expect that.

Bill Lynch loses his fucking mind

Michigan 36, Indiana 33
The enduring images from this game will be Bill Lynch throwing a shitfit (and his gum) after a seemingly badly blown call went against the Hoosiers (apparently simultaneous possession no longer defaults to the receiver -- who knew?!) and the mega-hyped wunderkind Tate Forcier rifling in the game-winning touchdown pass while his other arm hung limply at his side.  Still, as much as Indiana fans can gripe about that call, the bigger problem was their inability to turn red zone opportunities into touchdowns: they made it inside Michigan's 20 five times, but had to settle for a field goal on four of those trips.  Their funky pistol offense had little trouble slicing Michigan's defense to shreds outside of the 20 (they amassed 476 total yards of offense), but that doesn't mean much if you can't turn all those yards and red zone trips into touchdowns (particularly when your own defense can't stop a fly).  As for Michigan, the GERG-revamped defense again got shredded (the tremendously-named Boubacar Cissoko spent much of the day getting torched, which has become a recurring theme for Michigan this season) and while Forcier again pulled off some late-game heroics, his pinball playing style again exposed him to some big hits and left him battered.  The Iowa defensive line is already licking its chops.


"Motherfucker hit my penis": truly poetry for our time

Minnesota 35, Northwestern 24
Maybe the LOLcats should have spent more time following the lead of that bold, Gopher-hating yard marker and cracked the Gophers in the junk a few times; lord knows it couldn't have been any less effective than their defense's shoddy attempts at concepts like "tackling" or "covering receivers" or "not being fucking douchebags."  A week after allowing Greg Paulus to go buck wild, the LOLcats made Minnesota look like they had an actual competent, balanced offense: 186 yards passing, 166 yards rushing (including 89 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries by Duane Bennett).  Also not helping the LOLcats: a -2 turnover margin, with Mike Kafka contributing a pair of crippling fumbles late in the fourth quarter, and a non-existent running game (64 yards on 29 carries).  Meanwhile, Eric Decker continued to stake his claim for Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year with eight catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns.


Three years later, Bucky's boys get their revenge.

Wisconsin 38, Michigan State 30
And now for this week's entry in Overly Deceptive Scorelines... Wisco jumped out to a 21-7 lead at halftime, then expanded it to a 38-17 early in the fourth quarter; Michigan State then tacked on two late touchdowns to make the scoreline look respectable.  Turnovers (three interceptions and one lost fumble) were one aspect of Michigan State's demise, but the bigger culprit was a defense that was supposed to be the strength of the team but has instead bled points and yards at an alarming rate.  Scott Tolzien didn't become the third straight quarterback to throw for over 300 yards against the Spartan secondary, but he did continue his solid start (19/31, 243 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions), while John Clay rebounded from his three fumble effort against Wofford with 142 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries.  But the real story is Michigan State: from preseason favorite to finish third in the Big Ten to a team now struggling to salvage its season.  They still haven't beaten a non-FCS team this season, their defense has been a massive disappointment, they still appear to have a quarterback controversy (both Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol played quite a few minutes yesterday), and now they have to entertain a resurgent Michigan team.



Notre Dame: just as douchey as you thought they were.

Notre Dame 24, Purdue 21
This week's lesson in Baffling End-of-Game Decision-Making comes courtesy of Purdue's Danny Hope who bailed out Notre Dame by calling a timeout after Charlie Weis had called a (failed) run play on second and goal (with no timeouts of their own remaining).  Instead of letting time tick away while a disorganized Notre Dame offense attempted to get set and spike the ball (leaving them with just one potential shot at a game-winning play), Hope called timeout, allowing Notre Dame to regain their focus and call two plays to win the game (an important move since the game-winning touchdown pass came on 4th down).  While there's certainly merit in making sure that the defense is set and ready, the Notre Dame offense was in a bind at that point and Hope gave them a "get out of jail free" card.  The rest of the game was fairly evenly matched, but that ending represented a new and painful way for the Boilermakers to lose a game this year.




More interesting than anything to actually do with Arkansas State.

Troy 30, Arkansas State 27
Arkansas State jumped out to a 10-0 lead, then gave up 23 unanswered points; for the game they gave up 507 total yards of offense, including 373 passing yards.  A visit by Arkansas State could be just what the Iowa passing game needs to get on track.  Offensively, the Red Wolves mustered only 305 yards of total offense, including 70 rushing yards.  Arkansas State's only win this season came over an offensively inept Mississippi Valley State team.  Let's be clear: Arkansas State is not a good football team.