Week 4 was 'gimme' week in the Empire, or at least it was supposed to be. It was a pitiful slate of opponents, and 10-0 wasn't only predicted by most of us, it was expected (Purdue and Northwestern were on a bye).
Yeah, about that.
There were some dominating performances, some struggles, and a couple of what the hell moments that make me question my fandom.
Michigan State 45, Central Michigan 7. Nice bounce back game for Sparty here. They opened up a 31-0 can of whoop ass by halftime, put it on cruise control in the second half with the second team, and after a disappointing loss to Notre Dame they look like they're ready for conference play next week.. They have a tough opening draw against OSU on the road, but I think they match up well with the Fightin' Fickells.
Michigan 28, San Diego State 7. This was more of a slog for Michigan than I thought it was going to be, considering their start. UM jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but struggled a good part of the way after that. Greg Mattison has turned around the defense, and I'm starting to come to the conclusion that it really doesn't matter how many yards they give up (which is a lot), they're keeping people out of the end zone. On offense, I still think that if a team can shut down Denard Robinson they shut down UM's offense, and they'll be in trouble, but they're getting it done. But that's what we were saying this time last year, too, wasn't it?
Penn State 34, Eastern Michigan 6. Just pick a QB, please. It seems simple, but neither Matt McMoxie or Robert (I play like Michael sometimes) Bolden seem to want to let the other guy win the job...only said other guy doesn't want the job. You look at McGloin's 13-17 for 220 and 3 scores and come away impressed, but then you have last season to look back on and you think there's no way he can keep that up, can he? But when will Bolden tap into his potential? Can he, knowing that he'll always be looking over his shoulder?
Iowa 45, LA-Monroe 17. James Vandenberg is growing up right before our eyes, and I like the way he plays the game. He had another good performance yesterday, and Iowa's offense seems to be very blanced right now, with Marcus Coker emerging as a legitimate #1 RB. I'm still not sold on the Hawkeye defense, though. Giving up 280 passing yards to LA Monroe was troubling, but Iowa jumped out to a big lead, forcing them to become one dimensional. I can see 31-27 type games the norm for Iowa from here on out, but we'll see.
Nebraska 38, Wyoming 14. You struggled, Bugeater, but so what? You won. Maybe you were looking ahead to your first conference game in the B1G next week, but an unimpressive first half lead to a dominating second half. Taylor Martinez still needs to prove himself as a passer, but you have a legitimate running back in Rex Burkhead. I am excited to see what happens from here on out with you guys.
OSU 37, Colorado 17. I think we can breathe again, Buckeye fans. Braxton Miller looked much better yesterday, and so did OSU as a whole. Miller's passing stats weren't particularly impressive, but he passed the eye test in that he made some great throws that only his receivers could get to, and didn't make any major mistakes. The defense was better, but I'm still not sold on them. The zone pass defense looks average at best, but all in all, I was happy with what transpired in Columbus yesterday.
Wisconsin 59, South Dakota 10. Still the prohibitive favorite in the conference, Wisconsin did nothing to disprove that on Saturday. Russell Wilson leads a potent offense, and they have a defense that looks like it can be downright dominating.I wish I had a ticket for Camp Randall next week, I think it's going to be epic.
Illinois 23, Western Michigan 20. The difference between a good team and a great team is that great teams find a way to win when by all rights they probably shouldn't. Illinois did that on Saturday, and although it doesn't automatically make Illinois a great team, they won a game that in recent years they would have lost. They showed a lot of poise, and this experience is something they might be able to draw on later on in the season. Some people might call Illinois the surprise team in the conference so far, but some might say we're seeing the emergence of a great team.
Minnesota 24, North Dakota State 37. Good God. If George W. Bush can be blamed for the state of the country over two years after he left office, I can blame Tim Brewster for the state of the 2011 Minnesota Gophers. The dearth of talent he left is just stunning, and even though Kill himself said there was a long way to go before Minnesota was going to be better, no one really believed him. We do now. We were told Brewster's problems weren't in recruiting, it was coaching. It was recruiting, too. Hunker down, Dinkytown, it's going to be another long year. At least there's the Vikings. Oh fuck me, who am I kidding?
Indiana 21, North Texas 24. Gooder Godder. No one thought Indiana was going to be good, either, but really? North Texas? You can't beat North Texas? What day is Midnight Madness again?