Was it just me, or was this weekend a bit of a snoozer? It certainly wasn't terrible by any stretch, but in light of last weekend and the week upcoming, there wasn't a ton to be excited about on the B1G slate. But, football is football, am I right? Better a few lackluster showdowns than nothing at all. As always, there were still a few lessons to be learned.
1. Shake hands, man. Shake. Hands.
2. At this rate, Hackenberg may not live to see next season.
3. The loss of Abdullah to an MCL issue could end up being the true Purdue Harbor moment of the year.
4. Indiana's offense is slightly DOA without Sudfeld.
5. Huh...maybe Dave Brandon was the problem?
6. It's called "Minnesota nice" for a reason, because Wisconsin will clearly embarrass you in your own home and steal your Hummel figurines.
7. Sorry, Rutgers. It's probably going to be like this for awhile.
8. Iowa's costume this year was "Potent Offense."
9. The Last Stand of Reilly O'Toole would make an excellent title for a young adult novel.
10. Ohio State's secondary is just good enough to get thoroughly exposed.
Bonus: Notre Dame going to the wire against Navy, huh? They seem like contenders.
Maryland at Penn State // Maryland wins 20-19. Don't have a rivalry? By god, we'll make one! The pre-game antics were pretty shameful, right down to the refusal to shake hands. Off-season comments notwithstanding, these two teams hadn't met in 21 years--before most of both squads had even been born. Shooting for stratospheric levels of contempt right off the bat seems a bit much. Such shenanigans are the trademark of Florida teams, not the B1G. Thank goodness no one had a tent stake or it would've been The Wanderers at midfield. The story of the game, to my eyes, was Hackenberg running for his life. Neither QB was electric, and protection was bad on both sides of the ball, but Hackenberg seemed to be rushed into bad throws and throwaways at key moments. Combine that with four turnovers, and Penn State was lucky to be in it until the end. Without the benefit of a boneheaded hit by Maryland, the Terps would've had a pick-six to boot. PSU looked to have it sealed up on a long shot by Ficken, but Auto-Craddock's leg is just as good. Penn State has now lost four straight for the first time in over two decades, and the win marked the Terps' first in 53 years, and the first ever in Happy Valley. Perhaps this is the beginning of a long and storied B1G rivalry? If so, they'd better learn to at least shake hands. Maryland next up: bye. PSU next up: at Indiana.
Northwestern at Iowa // Iowa wins 48-7. Into the mouth of hell, rode the 600. I speak figuratively, of course, but only to a point. Much like the Light Brigade of Lord Tennyson's eponymous poem, Pat Fitzgerald's Northwestern squad blundered into some unexpected big guns in Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes suddenly awoke from a season of malaise to run herd on the Wildcats. Rudock went 12-of-19 at 12.6 per, while Akrum Wadley racked up 106 yards. Together, Wadley and Mark Weisman combined for 200 yards on the ground for their portion of a near 500-yard offensive campaign. The Hawkeyes jumped out to a 24-0 lead by the end of the first thanks to a TD off a blocked punt, and never looked back. Siemian and company couldn't get anything going, and were held to a season-low 180 total yards on offense. NU has now dropped three in a row. NU next up: Michigan. Iowa next up: at Minnesota.
Purdue at Nebraska // Nebraska wins 35-14. Possibly a case of winning the battle to lose the war? Let's hope not. As of this writing, the word is still out on Abdullah's MCL injury, which he sustained while scooping up a goal-line fumble by his QB. Fortunately for Nebraska, the loss of Abdullah meant that they merely had to turn to their other significant talent to make good things happen. That said, Nebraska managed only 3.5 yards per carry without their stud back. But, bolstered by two blocked punts and two interceptions, the Husker offense sailed away from Purdue Harbor in fine fashion. Purdue racked up plenty of yardage, besting Nebraska by 43 yards. That was mostly due to the Huskers playing on a short field nearly all day. Appleby completed 18 passes, but attempted 46. He has potential, but it likely won't be realized this season. Purdue next up: Wisconsin. Nebraska next up: bye.
Wisconsin at Rutgers // Wisconsin wins 37-0. Not much to say about this one, is there? A bit of a slow start (which we've come to expect from the Badgers) with the first points coming late in the 1st quarter. As the day wore on, it was clear that Rutgers had no answer for Melvin Gordon, Corey Clement (who bested MG by 3 yards), or Wisconsin's smothering defense. Rutgers managed only 139 yards of offense all afternoon. The Badgers registered their first blocked punt since 2012, and the Scarlet Knights were in for a long, drizzly affair. Gary Nova went an anemic 5-for-15 throwing, and the backup Laviano turned bad into worse with a 2-of-12 effort. New Jersey is likely developing a real distaste for the Midwest. Except Michigan. Wisconsin next up: at Purdue. Rutgers next up: bye.
Indiana at Michigan // Michigan wins 34-10. As Michigan draws up a contract to hire John Schnatter as the next AD, the Wolverines were finally freed of the Dave Brandon yoke. Fueled by timely clapping on the sidelines, the boys in the winged helmets gave Indiana the ol' what-for from whistle to whistle. Devin Gardner went 22-of-29 for 2 TDs (and yes, an INT), making Darboh his favorite target instead of Funchess. Drake Johnson crested the century mark, carrying for 122 yards to lead a Michigan rushing attack that found its legs against the Hoosier defense. Tevin Coleman did his level best to keep the Hoosiers in it, despite curiously sitting for several series in the first half. Zander Diamont was lost in the sauce for most of the game. A total of 24 yards passing puts everything on the running backs, and while Coleman is great he clearly isn't enough to get it done alone against the Michigan defense. The loss of Sudfeld seems to have truly submarined what could've been a pretty darn good season in Bloomington. Indiana next up: Penn State. Michigan next up: at Northwestern.
Illinois at Ohio State // Ohio State wins 55-14. It sure was nice to see the Buckeyes dominate while wearing the alternate uniforms for once. Typically, night games in alternate threads mean my dogs end up scared of me and Ikea gets to sell me some new knick-knacks (or Objets d'Art for you Restoration Hardware types). I won't belabor the stats, because they're obviously pretty one-sided. Reilly O'Toole gave a valiant effort, relying on 2-second releases to evade pressure as much as possible. The lone big play from scrimmage was a muddle-huddle screen to Mike Dudek, though the drive ultimately petered out. Based on reports, Wes Lunt should be back after the bye week, so we may have seen the last of Mr. O'Toole. Viewers were also treated to Referee Extraordinaire Dave Witvoet's general buffoonery, which included a 15-yard penalty on Tim Beckman. Beckman was flagged for voicing concerns about why his punter was lying on the ground. It appeared to be a solid acting job on replay, but you can't blame the guy for asking. The big takeaway for me was the vulnerability of the Buckeye secondary. Sure, they rang up 2 key INTs. But each of those was the result of a ball caroming off the chest, shoulder, or hands of a receiver. That means the ball was getting to the receiver. If you're playing the Illini, that's all well and good. if you're playing Michigan State, it's how Connor Cook marches down the field. While I'm loath to bring up MSU in a week when the schedule doesn't demand it, that point will be quite germane in about six days. Illinois next up: bye. Ohio State next up: Michigan State.
And now, finally, the B1G East will be decided.