Wha Happened? is the weekly round-up of the rest of the games that were in the Big Ten -- you know, the ones that were going on while you were shotgunning that beer, or watching Iowa, or sleeping off that early-morning tailgating. Who won? Who lost? Who made us quiver with fear? Who made us laugh hysterically? In short... Wha Happened?
Nebraska 34, Ohio State 27
About halfway through this game, I decided that any possible outcome would lead to a pleasing amount of schadenfreude. If Ohio State held onto their 27-6 lead and got a shocking win in Lincoln, Nebraska would drop to 0-2 in the league and their tears of bitterness, anger, and disbelief would have been as sweet as candy. On the other hand, if Nebraska mounted a comeback and Ohio State wound up choking away a game they seemed to have all but wrapped up, well, there's plenty of joy to be found in seeing the bully continue to get kicked while he's down. Sure enough, the latter option carried the day and we're left with bitter, befuddled Buckeyes.
Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead exploded for 28 points in the final quarter and a half, while the OSU offense (previously tearing still more holes in the porous Blackshirts defense) got BAUSERMAN'D after starting QB Braxton Miller went down with a leg injury. Joe Bauserman's "holy shit is that real" stat line from Saturday? 1/10, 13 yards, 1 INT. It's not quite as sublimely awful as Matt McGloin's 1/10 for 0 yards effort against Alabama, but it's still breathtaking in its wretchedness. That it came against a defense that hasn't exactly been the stoutest unit all fall is even more embarrassing. So Ohio State's shame spiral continues for another week, while Nebraska avoids a potentially crushing 0-2 start in league play. Mind you, if not for The Bauserman Factor, Ohio State may have held on for a win, so Nebraska fans should remain wary: Bauserman won't be on the schedule every week, after all.
Michigan 42, just Northwestern 24
Though the first thirty minutes of play, it looked like our Armani-clad friends (who looked pretty sharp in their all-black get-ups) were going to pull their annual upset against a Michigan team making their first trip away from Ann Arbor all season. Denard Robinson was in full arm punt mode (he threw three of the most hellaciously bad interceptions you will likely see all year; they were truly the arm puntiest arm punts that ever arm punted) and jNW had a good thing going on offense with Dan Persa doing the heavy lifting and moving the ball down the field before QB2 Kain Colter (aka, "the guy who runs the ball almost exclusively) and running backs Adonis Smith and Treyvon Green punched the ball into the end zone. Unfortunately, jNW's mojo ran out in the second half: The Denard stopped throwing so many unconscionably bad passes (or his receivers started bailing him out a bit more) and the suddenly-kinda potent Michigan defense put the Wildcat offense on lockdown. Northwestern's offense went PUNT, INTERCEPTION, FUMBLE on their first three drives of the second half. Meanwhile, Michigan went TOUCHDOWN, TOUCHDOWN, TOUCHDOWN. And that was that. At some point, Robinson's poor passing will come back to bite the Wolverines, but so long as they can rack up 500+ yards of offense and their defense can continue to be surprisingly competent, it may be a while before that happens.
Illinois 41, Indiana 20
Illinois got off to precisely the same sort of stumbling start that has often portended an epic Zooking -- they allowed Indiana to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown and quickly found themselves in a 10-0 hole -- but then they went about proving that this isn't the same old bumbling Fightin' Zookers. Under Paul Petrino and Vic Koenning's tutelage -- and with super-sophomore Nathan Scheelahaase guiding the offense -- this Illini team can get their shit together when things go awry. After digging themselves that early 10-0 hole, they outscored the Hoosiers 34-3 over the next two and a half quarters, effectively putting the game out of reach. Hero of the day honors again go to WR A.J. Jenkins, who followed up his bombastic efforts against Northwestern a week ago by... shredding the Indiana secondary this week (6 catches, 182 yards, 2 TD). He's just been living in BEAST MODE these past few weeks. Meanwhile, Indiana tried their third different quarterback this year (for injury-related reasons, not performance-related reasons... although the latter hasn't been too impressive, either) in true freshman Tre Roberson. He looked OK for a true frosh making his first appearance on the road against a Top-20 opponent: 11/17, 148 yards passing, 0/1 TD/INT, 14 carries, 36 yards rushing, 1 TD.
And finally, our weekly stop at How Low Can Minnesota Go?
Purdue 45, Minnesota 17
Minnesota trailed 24-0 after one quarter and 31-3 at halftime. Their lone touchdowns came on a 92-yard kickoff return and a late garbage TD run from Marqueis Gray. Their first six drives went: PUNT, PUNT, FUMBLE, INTERCEPTION, FUMBLE, PUNT. In all, they gained negative yardage on four separate drives and punted six times. Purdue turned Minnesota's generosity into multiple easy scores, gobbled up 217 yards and 3 TDs on the ground, and cruised to an almost effortless win. Frankly, a Black-and-Gold scrimmage might have posed a stiffer challenge to the Boilermakers than the Gophers did on Saturday.
Frankly, the most entertaining thing involving Minnesota football last week was the pissing contest in the press between Jerry Kill and Tim Brewster. It's not often you get to hear a sitting Big Ten coach admit that his current (Big Ten) team has less talent than his former (MAC) team, but that's essentially what Kill said. Brewster, naturally, disagreed. TRY FIGHT DEFENSIVE.
NEXT WEEK: Michigan and Michigan State wage war for the right to claim the Paul Bunyan Trophy (not to mention bragging rights and front-runner status in the Floyd division); Penn State tries to take down OMHR; Ohio State's Carnival of Misery heads to Champaign for a contest against the Fightin' Zookers; and Wisconsin does unspeakable things to Indiana.