If last week was a Paradigm Shift in perceptions within the conference, Saturday saw some seismic movement. The pre-season conference favorite no longer has the inside track to the conference crown, and the new favorite was considered a mid-level team--at best--back in August. Iowa and Wisconsin are still right there, the bloom is off the Michigan rose, and if you're a person that likes to dabble in the gambling, always take the over with Indiana. Always, even if the over/under is 322, take...the...over.
Speaking of over, what was your favorite Tim Brewster moment?
#1 Ohio State 18, #18 Wisconsin 31: Let's make no mistake about what we saw in Madison Saturday night--Wisconsin kicked Ohio State's ass, and the score wasn't that close. Wisconsin's offensive line imposed their will on Ohio State's defensive line all night, and John Clay became the first back to rush for over 100 yards against the Buckeyes since the George W. Bush administration. On the other side of the ball, Ohio State had their chances, but Wisconsin's defense came up big when it absolutely had to--something the usually stingy Ohio State defense could not. Ohio State is now on the outside looking in, and does not control their own destiny in terms of winning the Big Ten, or even in getting to a BCS bowl. For Wisconsin, this has to be considered the signature win of the Bret Bielema era, and it looks like Wisconsin might be ready to make the leap from a good team to a great one. But they must beat Iowa to do that, or they will have virtually no chance of winning the Big Ten.
#13 Michigan State 26, Illinois 6: This was an impressive win for Michigan State on a couple of levels. For one, it was going to be interesting to see how Michigan State handles success. Recent history says not well. And secondly, how would they be emotionally after a big win against their biggest rival? They struggled against a scrappy Illinois team for two and a half quarters, but Kirk Cousins and company got a lead and then put Illinois away in the fourth quarter. Outside of a road game in Iowa, Michigan State has the easiest schedule of any team, and I think they have to be considered the favorite to win the Big Ten, along with Iowa. If Michigan State isn't a top ten team when the next polls come out, I will be stunned. Even in a loss, the Illinois defense continues to impress. The offense is still very inconsistent, but with a freshman quarterback, that's to be somewhat expected. They're still on track to go to a bowl game, and with that defense, they will be in every game.
#15 Iowa 38, Michigan 28: Michigan State had the blueprint for stopping Michigan, and Iowa implemented the same plan--take away the perimeter, force Denard Robinson inside, and make Michigan pass the ball to win. Michigan played better offensively than they did last week, but Denard Robinson hurt his arm and Tate Forcier finished the game for the Wolverines. Right now, the Big Ten title goes through Iowa City, as Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State will all visit Kinnick. It's a tough slate of games, but it's better to play them at home than on the road. Adam Robinson had another big day on the ground for the Hawkeyes, and their offense is as good as anyone's in the Big Ten right now. It's also the most patriotic. As for Michigan, most of the feel good vibes over the 5-0 start is gone. The defense can't stop anyone, and the offense can be stopped. DR also got hurt again, which further brings into question his durability issues. Michigan should win 2 of their next 3 games and secure a bowl bid, but after the spectacular start it's somewhat of a letdown to not be in the thick of the conference championship race.
Minnesota 17, Purdue 28: There are three undefeated teams left in conference play right now--and Purdue is one of them. Rob Henry has stepped up since Robert Marve had a season ending knee injury, and the Boilermakers have rallied and have indeed Boiler'd Up, and are now 4-2. They still have a shot at a bowl game, and their best bets for wins are Illinois and Indiana--still very doable. With the way the team has fought back after several crippling injuries, a bowl game would be a well deserved reward. As for Minnesota, they lost but still won, at least in the eyes of many Gopher fans. Tim Brewster has been told he will not return as coach next year, but he will finish out the season in a lame duck status. It will be interesting to see how the Gophers respond, but I'm not holding my breath. I feel for the seniors that have never won a trophy game, and probably won't, but Gopher fans can now look to the future and see who might be the next Gopher coach, and hope for a turnaround from whoever that may be.
Arkansas State 34, Indiana 36: Say what you want about the Hoosiers, but it's never boring. Their offense can score at will against lesser defenses, but their defense can't get a stop when it needs to. It's definitely walking a high wire act without a net, but that's what makes it so exciting--they'll either make it over ot the other platform, or do a Carl Wallenda on to the pavement. Either way, it will be spectacular.