I'd like to apologize for getting this column up late today....
You see, there were only 4 games involving B1G teams on Saturday. My team (Northwestern) had a bye week. And since NU had a bye week, and my wife is very understanding during most of the fall that I will be either at a tailgate or in a bar every Saturday watching Northwestern, this was my weekend to cross off a lot of items on her project list for me. Which meant this morning I was running errands and visiting open houses in the burbs....Anyways, a big shoutout to lonewolf371 for getting a fanpost up in my stead.
But I digress. Where were we? Oh yes...the Leaders division may have been won on Saturday night, Nathan Scheelhaase is finally getting to display his talents thanks to Bill Cubit, Floyd stays in Iowa City for another year thanks to a smashmouth Hawkeye performance, and pity Purdue (but Danny Etling is at least around to provide hope for the future).
But the biggest news? That would be ESPN's College Gameday announcing that they are heading to Evanston on Saturday, October 5th - a day that already includes Northwestern's homecoming, a primetime ABC national broadcast, and a match-up of two undefeated, top 20 teams in Ohio State (17 game winning streak) and Northwestern (7 game winning streak). With Chris, Lee, Desmond, and Kirk out on the Lakefill with Chicago in the background, it should be an awesome experience.
Alright, time for the bullets:
- And with that, Ohio State took control of the Leaders division. Braxton Miller came out focused, intent on silencing forever all those who hinted that Kenny Guiton should be the starter, and had a brilliant game: 4 TD passes, 198 yards passing, and 83 yards rushing. Miller was particularly effective out of play-action, with 3 TD passes and nine completions off of play action. Ohio State's young defensive front seven did a good job slowing down Wisconsin's running game (just 104 yards rushing), although losing Melvin Gordon early in the 4th quarter didn't help (he's day-to-day, but he luckily gets a bye week now to rest up and get healthy). That's not to say Ohio State is invincible: the secondary gave up 207 yards receiving to Jared Abbrederis, and 295 yards passing and 2 TDs (and 1 INT) to Joel Stave. And the loss of Christian Bryant to a broken ankle is both a loss of experience and talent on a young defense, but also a hit to the team leadership. A great win for Ohio State.
- Let's not ignore Wisconsin, however, who also played a great game on the road and gave the Buckeyes all they could handle. Joel Stave showed that he has the arm to beat teams if they focus too much on stopping the run (although very few teams are good enough to stop the Badger running game), Abbrederis continued his All-American campaign, and the schedule should be easier from here on out, meaning the Badgers might sneak into BCS at-large discussions if they can run the table. The Badgers still have problems at the end of games however - giving up a TD to OSU right before the half, and being largely ineffective running the 2-minute drill at the end of the game down just a TD.
- FLOYD STAYS IN IOWA CITY! FLOYD STAYS IN IOWA CITY!
- Seriously, Iowa put on a classic B1G performance against Minnesota - it was all linebackers flying to the ball (Iowa's LBs Christian Kirksey, James Morris, and Anthony Hitchens finished 1-2-3 in tackles, with Kirksey and Morris picking off Phillip Nelson), stifling defense (Iowa gave up only 165 total yards) and a punishing running game dominating time of possession (Mark Weissman ran for 147 yards and the Hawkeyes held the ball for 36 minutes). Is it time to reassess the Hawkeyes? Their only loss was a narrow one to still-undefeated (and 2012 BCS at-large) Northern Illinois, and they've started to play EXACTLY the type of football the Kirk Ferentz has succeeded with in the past. Throw in Jake Rudock extending plays and avoiding mistakes (218 yards passing, 1 TD, 1 INT, 35 yards rushing, 1 rushing TD), and the fact that Michigan State, Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Michigan all have to visit Kinnick, and the Hawkeyes maybe deserve to be in discussion for the Legends Division championship. As for Minnesota, there are a lot of questions on offense to be answered; the defense was just out on the field too long and couldn't be expected to win the game itself.
- Someone (I think it was Ted) noted that Nathan Scheelhaase has had Adam Weber-disease: he's a talented QB who has had too much instability at offensive coordinator to succeed. Illini fans, the cure apparently was Bill Cubit. Illinois rolled over Miami of Ohio (admittedly a terrible team, but still) by 50-14, with Scheelhaase throwing for 5 TDs and 278 yards. Even better for the Illini? The running game started to work, to the tune of 289 yards rushing, including solid performances by Donovonn Young and Josh Ferguson. This was a solid third win for an improved Illini squad....but they were playing one of FBS's worst teams. Illinois still has a path to 6 wins and bowl eligibility (they should get 2 more wins against Indiana and Purdue), but they'll need to upset someone along the way....maybe next week on the road in Lincoln against a Nebraska squad that has troubles stopping even middling offenses?
- Ugh, Purdue. No B1G team should get curbstomped by a MAC team (even a good MAC team like Northern Illinois), but you managed that ignoble achievement on Saturday. Your one silver lining is the play of true freshman Danny Etling, who was 19/39 and managed to pass for 241 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs. It's not Christian Hackenberg numbers, but it's a positive start in a game against a pretty good Northern Illinois squad. Purdue is not going to win a B1G game this year though, unless Hazell somehow gets this team fired up for the Old Oaken Bucket at the end of the season. At this point, I think Purdue fans would be pleased just to see some competitive fire and a relatively close loss....
- Elsewhere, BYE BYE LANE KIFFIN!!!!! Oh, and Notre Dame lost (always fun), and Rutgers and Maryland enjoyed bye weeks as well.