Michigan State was the big winner in the Big Ten this week. Michigan State is now 6-0 after beating their “big brother” Michigan in Ann Arbor 34-17. The last time that the Spartans were undefeated six games into the season was 1999.
The big loser in the Big Ten this week was Penn State which played one of the worst homecoming games in school history. The 33-13 defeat to Illinois caused coaching legend Joe Paterno to wonder what has happened to his team.
How far does Sparty rise in the poll? How far do the Nittany Lions fall?
Coach Tim Brewster was hot after his Gophers lost Paul Bunyan’s Axe to bitter border rival Wisconsin and Coach Bret Bielema whom he felt attempted to run up the score with a two point conversion in the fourth quarter. Minnesota simply could not stop the Badgers from running as they ran the ball 46 times for 250 yards. The bright spot for the Gophers had to be Da’Jon McKnight’s two great acrobatic catches which resulted in touchdowns.
Next game: Gophers travel to Purdue. Minnesota needs Quarterback Adam Weber to have a big game to secure the Gophers second win on the season.
The Hoosiers came into their game against Ohio State with gaudy numbers, 348 passing yards and 40 points a game but left Columbus with only 141 passing yards and 10 points. The problem for Indiana is that their offensive line wasn’t good enough to keep Ohio State’s defensive line off of Ben Chappell. According to Indiana Coach Bill Lynch, “The pressure they put on us with their front four gave us no time to throw. The problem is they don’t even have to blitz to get heavy pressure.”
Next game: Home against Arkansas State. Indiana should be able to get their passing attack back on track next week against the Red Wolves.
9. Penn State
The Nittany Lions looked...uh, awful against Illinois. The Nittany Lions had one play that went 80 yards; without that one play Penn State managed only 155 yards of total offense. Linebacker U couldn’t stop the run as the Illini ran the ball 54 times in the game on their way to 282 rushing yards.
Coach Joe Paterno in evaluating his team said, “We just can’t keep going the way we’re going. We haven’t made any progress, and I thought by this point, we’d be a pretty good football team. Not a great team, but a good team. And that’s the discouraging part. We’re not getting any better.”
Next game: Idle. Coach Paterno has to be happy to get back to the practice field.
The Wildcats don’t appear to enjoy success as Northwestern is now 1-5 in the Pat Fitzgerald era when ranked in the USA Today’s coaches poll. Northwestern may be the worst 5-1 running team in the country. If you take away Quarterback Dan Persa’s five sacks and eight scrambles, Northwestern finished with just 80 yards on 29 attempts.
Next game: Idle.
The Boilermakers have become a one dimensional running team since they lost their starting quarterback Robert Marve for the season in Week 3. Against Northwestern, Purdue was only able to pass for 47 yards, but somehow it was enough to upset the Wildcats in Evanston 20-17. Redshirt freshman quarterback Rob Henry is going to have to learn to stretch the defense as he has completed only one pass on the season beyond 20 yards.
Next game: Host Minnesota.
There were loud rumblings in Champaign about Coach Ron Zook’s job security after his squad struggled to put away Northern Illinois earlier in the year. Since then the Illini put together a solid game against Ohio State and dismantled Penn State 33-13 in Happy Valley by dominating the time of possession 38 minutes to 22 minutes. Illinois may be the team in the Big Ten that is the surprise team of the year.
Next game: On the road against Michigan State. Can redshirt freshman Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase put together solid back to back road performances?
Denard Robinson had another solid game as he generated more than 300 yards of total offense and accounted for two touchdowns. Unfortunately, Robinson threw three interceptions. Two of the three interceptions were especially costly as one occurred in the Michigan State end zone and the other occurred at the goal line.
Next game: Home against Iowa. Michigan’s defense will need to generate some takeaways if Michigan is to win as Iowa’s defense will likely be stingy.
The Badgers dismantled the Gophers 41-23 by slowly running the ball down the throat of the Gophers. How methodical was Wisconsin’s running game? The Badgers rushed for 250 yards yet had no running play that was longer than 24 yards. Scott Tolzien was very good with his intermediate passing game connecting on 17 of his 23 passes for 223 yards.
Next game: The Badgers host Ohio State. Look for Badgers to use the same formula of a patient ground game in their upset bid of the Buckeyes.
Iowa was idle this past week. The October schedule for the Hawkeyes is arduous as they play Michigan, Wisconsin, and Michigan State on consecutive weekends. If Iowa can run the table this month, they could find themselves back among the Top 10 teams in the nation.
Next game: The Hawkeyes travel to Ann Arbor to play Michigan. Fortunately for Iowa, Michigan State gave the Hawkeyes a blueprint for slowing down Denard Robinson.
2. Michigan State
The Spartans generated 535 yards of total offense and dominated the time of possession holding the ball for nearly 36 minutes on their way to beating Michigan 34-17 in Ann Arbor. Michigan State with its victory over Michigan has now beaten the Wolverines in their last three games; the last time that the Spartans reeled off three straight victories over Michigan was 1965-1967.
Next game: The Spartans host Illinois. Don’t look now but the Spartans could go undefeated as they only ranked team they have left on their schedule is Iowa.
1. Ohio State
The Buckeyes came ready to play against the Hoosiers as they easily coasted to a 38-10 victory that was more lopsided than the score would indicate. Terrelle Pryor had a great day throwing the ball as he passed for 334 yards and three touchdowns. If Ohio State's defense plays with as much intensity the rest of the Big Ten season as they did against Indiana, the Buckeyes will go undefeated.
Next game: The Buckeyes travel to Wisconsin. The matchup between Ohio State and Wisconsin will be the premier game in the Big Ten this week.