Well the non-conference schedule for the Big Ten has been almost wrapped up, and the Big Ten will begin conference play next week, and will host College Gameday in Madison, Wisconsin for the Nebraska-Wisconsin showdown.
After four weeks of play, the Big Ten has only four undefeated teams and they can be broken down into the two heavyweights, Nebraska and Wisconsin, and the two contenders, Illinois and Michigan. The others are struggling or waiting to break out.
Which Big Ten teams struggled this week, and who beat their opponents?
Only one team can be on top and we are one third of the way there, which Big Ten team takes the top spot?
Last Week: 9-1
National Ranking: N/A
Why 12th?: Lost to a Dakota school again
Minnesota's slide against Dakota schools continued with a 37-24 loss to North Dakota State.
Minnesota could get nothing going on offense, only accumulating 292 total yards of offense, and was switching between two quarterbacks. Shortell was 4 of 8 for 71 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Gray went 5 of 12 for 53 yards with a pick, but he added 23 yards rushing. Bennett was the leading rusher with 74 yards, Kirkwood had 70 yards and two touchdowns.
The defense held the Bison to 336 yards of total offense, not that it matters when the opposing team scores 37 points. The Gophers did not force any turnovers, and the Bison scored on all of their possessions but one. I really thought that Minnesota had turned the corner with the game against USC, but it appears this could be a one win season in Minneapolis.
Minnesota Player of the Week: Donnell Kirkwood 70 yards rushing with two scores
Week 5: @ Michigan
I highly doubt that Minnesota's defense can contain Denard Robinson.
National Ranking: N/A
Why 11th?: Lost to North Texas, but at least it was on the road
I doubt many Hoosier fans saw this as the start of the Kevin Wilson era, losing to North Texas 24-21.
Indiana racked up 404 yards of total offense, but got over half in the fourth quarter. They used Wright-Baker as the starter who went 23 of 40 for 209 yards and a pick, he was benched for Dusty Kiel who went 7 of 12 for 145 yards and two scores. The leading rusher was Roberts with just 37 yards. Not sure if the Hoosiers are considering a quarterback change remains to be seen, but this is not a good start for the Hoosiers.
The defense gave up 427 yards of total offense giving up almost equal yardage passing and rushing. This was a really bad showing against a team that had yet to win a game before this one. The biggest play that the Hoosier defense manged was a 31 yard interception return for a touchdown. Indiana needed these wins to be bowl eligible, now it does not look they will get many wins heading into Big Ten play.
Indiana Player of the Week: Dusty Kiel 7 of 12 for 145 yards and two scores
Week 5: Penn State
Penn State has QB and offensive issues, but their defense is good
National Ranking: N/A
Why 10th?: Bye week
Purdue had a bye week, so there is not much to talk about. Purdue has a pretty good offense, but they have struggled against mediocre competition, no offense to Rice and Middle Tennessee State.
The Boilermakers will take on Notre Dame this week.
Week 5: Notre Dame
Purdue has struggled this season, so has Notre Dame, but the Irish seem to be more stacked
National Ranking: 33rd
Why 9th?: I think they finally figured out the QB, but who knows
Penn State beat up on one of the first teams in the county, winning against Eastern Michigan 34-6.
The Nittany Lions racked up 468 yards of total offense. McGloin started and went 14 of 17 for 220 yards with three scores. Bolden also played went 7 of 13 for 115 yards with a score and an interception. McGloin played better this week and last week, and should be named the starter. The run game was not the greatest this week, with Redd only getting 48 yards rushing. The offense had three turnovers, Bolden's interception and two fumbles.
The defense held the Eagles to 270 yards of total offense, with 202 coming through the air. They forced three turnovers, two fumbles and a pick. Very good defensive showing, which appears to the strength of this team. If they could figure out the offense they could be a title contender.
Penn State Player of the Week: Matt McGloin went 14 of 17 220 yards with three scores
Week 5: @ Indiana
Indiana has really been struggling, and Penn State has the edge in this one
National Ranking: N/A
Why 8th?: Bye week, but that loss to Army is looking worse
Northwestern had a bye. Supposedly, Dan Persa will be back for the next game, which they desperately need.
Week 5: @ Illinois
Illinois' offense will be too much for the Northwestern defense
National Ranking: 30th
Why 7th?: Good defense, offense is not exactly clicking
The Buckeyes remain perfect at home, led by the freshman QB, beating Colorado 37-17.
Ohio State racked up 336 yards of total offense, and true freshman Braxton Miller led the Buckeyes, going 5 of 13 for 83 yards and two touchdowns, he also added 83 yards rushing. Bauserman also played, going 2 of 2 for 23 yards. Hall led all rushers with 84 yards and a score, while Hyde had 40 yards and a score. Not a great offensive showing, but the offense seems to work better with a dual threat quarterback like Miller.
The defense played well, only allowing the Buffaloes to gain 314 total yards. They stuffed the run, only allowing 76 yards. The secondary gave up 238 yards passing. The defense also forced two turnovers, both of them fumbles. The defense is defiantly the best thing going for Ohio State, and they will need it with two tough tests in the next two weeks.
Ohio State Player of the Week: Braxton Miller 5 of 13 yards with two touchdowns, he also had 83 rushing yards
Week 5: Michigan State
Ohio State's defense is good, and Michigan State struggled badly against the only other good defense they played, Notre Dame.
National Ranking: 26th
Why 6th?: Showed they can beat up bad teams, remains to be seen if they can beat good teams
Michigan State beat up Central Michigan, 45-7.
Michigan State racked up 481 yards of total offense, led by Kirk Cousins. Cousins went 13 of 22 for 213 yards with a score and a pick, backup Maxwell also played going 7 of 8 for 71 yards and one score. The running game came back this week, Bell led all rushers with 81 yards and had three scores. The Spartans run game is extremely important to their offense, and seen against Notre Dame, if they don;t have it they will be suffer.
The defense only gave up 112 yards of total offense. The Spartans forced four interceptions, returning one all the way for a touchdown. The Spartans are playing good defense, but they have not played great defense against good teams. Considering the Spartans play Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan, they will need their defense to make plays.
Michigan State Player of the Week: Isaiah Lewis had an interception taken 37 yards for a score
Week 5: @ Ohio State
Michigan State is very reliant on the run game, and Ohio State has a really good run defense
National Ranking: N/A
Why 5th?: Didn't do anything to rise or fall in blowout of Sunbelt team
Iowa crushed Louisiana-Monroe 45-17.
Iowa racked up 453 yards of total offense. Vandenberg went 21 of 32 for 270 yards with three scores, he also had nine yards rushing. Coker led all rushers with 113 yards and two scores. Iowa had one fumble, but this time it wasn't Marcus Coker. Basically, the Hawkeyes ran all over the the Warhawks, not much else to say.
The Iowa defense has not been playing well, they gave up 352 yards of total offense to a Sunbelt team, with all but 59 yards coming through the air, for those bad at math, that's 293 yards passing. The defense failed to produce any turnovers. Not a great defensive showing for Iowa.
Iowa Player of the Week: James Vandenberg 21 of 32 for 270 yards with three scores and nine rushing yards
Week 5: BYE
Random: This was Kirk Fernetz's 92nd win at Iowa
National Ranking: 24th
Why 4th?: Looks to be the best contender to Wisconsin, really weak game against Western Michigan
Illinois looked bad last week, almost losing to Western Michigan, but prevailing 23-20.
Illinois racked up 463 yards of total offense, but that was not enough for them to blow out the Broncos. Nathan Scheelhaase went 14 of 20 for 133 yards with a score and an interception and 40 yards rushing. The running backs saved the day for the Illini. Pollard led all rushers with 133 yards rushing, while true freshman Young had 100 yards rushing with a score. The Illini clearly seemed to be looking past the Broncos, and almost blew it.
The defense gave up 341 yards of total offense, with 306 yards coming through the air. While the secondary was shredded, they did manage to pick off a pass, and stuff the run, only allowing 35 rushing yards. The Illini played bad against Western Michigan, but they still seem like a contender in the Leaders division.
Illinois Player of the Week: Donovonn Young 100 yards rushing with a score
Week 5: Northwestern
Illinois' offense will overwhelm Northwestern's poor defense, the key will be whether Dan Persa comes back
National Ranking: 19th
Why 3rd?: One man show with Robinson, not sold on defense
Michigan literally ran over San Diego State, 28-7.
Well, I was wrong in thinking that San Diego State could manage the upset. Michigan racked up 413 yards of total offense, with just 93 yards passing, and 320 yards rushing. Denard Robinson went 8 of 17 for 93 yards with two interceptions, he also added 200 yards rushing and three scores. Toussaint had 67 yards rushing, while Smith had 47 yards and a score. In addition to Denrad's two interceptions, the Wolverines had two fumbles. Michigan showed they don't need a passing game to win, but they do need Denard, without him they would be struggling.
The Wolverines' defense gave up 376 yards of total offense. Giving up 253 yards passing, and 123 yards rushing. Michigan forced three fumbles to keep San Diego State out of the endzone. The defense was more playing a bend and don't break defense. They gave up yards, but only one touchdown and forced the turnovers to keep the Aztecs from scoring.
Michigan Player of the Week: Denard Robinson 8 of 17 for 93 yards with two picks and 200 rushing yards with three scores
Week 5: Minnesota
Michigan's offense, aka Denard Robinson, will be too much for the Gophers
National Ranking: 8th
Why 2nd?: Offense clicks with run game, defense has not shown its preseason hype
Nebraska visited their Western neighbors for the first time, and won 38-14.
Nebraska defeated the Cowboys through their strong offensive play. Nebraska racked up 490 yards of total offense. Martinez went 12 of 21 for 157 yards and a score, he also added 37 yards rushing with a score. Rex Burkhead led all rushers with a career high 170 yards with two scores. True freshman Braylon Heard added 33 yards and a score. The offense is really clicking, and the running backs are doing really well. If Nebraska could be consistent in the pass, they would be unstoppable.
The defense played their best game since Chattanooga. Only giving up 305 yards of total offense, with 168 yards passing and 137 yards rushing. They seemed to be the defense that they were pegged to be, though their were several miscues in playing new players, and star tackle Jared Crick sat out, but the plus side was that Alfonzo Dennard came back and defiantly helped lock down the secondary. The down side was that the Huskers only manged one interception, and both scores came on blown coverage.
Nebraska Player of the Week: Rex Burkhead 170 rushing yards with two scores
Week 5: @ Wisconsin
If Nebraska's defense plays like they were pegged to be, then they can win, if not they can stay close but probably not win
National Ranking: 7th
Why 1st?: They look like the Big Ten's most complete team
Wisconsin ran over another bad team, crushing South Dakota 59-10.
Wisconsin's offense racked up an amazing 612 yards of total offense. Wilson went 19 of 25 for 345 yards and three scores. The Badgers had four players score on the ground. James White had 95 yards and a score, Ball had 88 yards and two scores, Lewis had 49 yards rushing with a score, and Gordon had 32 yards rushing and a score. Really good balanced attack from Wisconsin, they only had one turnover by backup quarterback Brennan who threw a pick.
The defense held the Coyotes to 173 yards of total offense. With just 49 yards passing and 124 yards rushing. The Badgers also forced two interceptions. Another great showing for the Badgers. The Badgers have looked very dominant, but they have played against some really bad teams. Nebraska will be there first real test, if they pass, they have a shot at the National Title.
Wisconsin Player of the Week: Russell Wilson 19 of 25 for 345 yards and three scores
Week 5: Nebraska
This is Wisconsin's biggest challenge, they have looked dominant, but have played really bad teams. This could go either way, but I am going to go with the Badgers