A day of middling match-ups, bookended by barn-burners. You all saw it, so let's get right to it...
1. Jerry Kill can't dance. He does not care, because he has a bronze pig and a jug and you don't.
2. Kirk Ferentz is the highest-paid public employee in the state of Iowa. You can't buy defense, though.
3. Bill Belton's demise has been greatly exaggerated. Hackenberg's demise has not.
4. Indiana. Nothing more needs to be said.
5. Purdue has elected to become a province of France. Vive Le Purdue!
6. At this point, my computer automatically inserts "touchdown" after I type "Melvin Gordon."
7. No, Dave Brandon wasn't the problem. It's definitely Brady Hoke.
8. Trevor Simian falling down on the 2-point conversion was the perfect ending to that charade.
9. Galaxy defense? Galaxy offense.
10. Glenn Mason said "Ohio State passes my eye test," which I think may still be some form of cataract diagnosis.
Iowa at Minnesota // Minnesota wins 51-14. Minnesota, hats off to thee! Floyd of Rosedale will enjoy a winter of hot dishes and the occasional platter of lutefisk. The Hawkeyes opened this one up with a TD run out of Mark Wiseman for the first score of the game. Iowa also registered the last score of the game. Unfortunately for the folks in Iowa City, Minnesota launched a 51-point campaign in between. The Gopher defense was a maroon blanket, holding Iowa to a season-low 84 yards rushing. At the same time, the Gopher offense seemed like it just couldn't miss. Tight end Maxx Willams was the breakout star of a startling 10-of-13/138-yard performance by Mitch Leidner. He registered only 5 catches on the day, but three of those were for TDs, and a fourth was an insane toe-dragging Superman snag on the sidelines to set up a TD pass--which he also caught. Iowa couldn't get anything going on offense all afternoon, amassing only 205 yards on the day. Jerry Kill's team looked as balanced as they ever have, relying on five different ball carriers to rack up 289 yards on the ground against 138 through the air. David Cobb was electric when he needed to be, but Mitch Leidner bested him by one yard on the ground. Jerry Kill's team now owns Floyd of Rosedale and the Little Brown Jug for the first time since 1978. Iowa next up: at Illinois. Minnesota next up: Ohio State.
Penn State at Indiana // Penn State wins 13-7. Indiana's season continues to unravel since the loss of Nate Sudfeld, and Penn State barely managed to stave off their first 5-loss season in 10 years. Neither offense got much done, as the score indicates, though PSU was clearly the more effective unit. Indiana's lone TD came on a fantastic upfield pick-six move by senior safety Mark Murphy. Penn State answered on the next series with a 92-yard TD scamper by Bill Belton, who finished with 137 yards. Predictably, Hackenberg once again bore the brunt of the his O-line's ineptitude, suffering five sacks on the afternoon. In the end, two PSU field goals sealed Indiana's fate. The IU defense deserves a lot of credit for keeping Indiana in this game by harassing Hackenberg and keeping the big QB under pressure. Hack ended the day 12-of-29 with 2 INTs. Combine that with last week's 18-of-42 performance, and more than a few voices in the Penn State crowd are rightfully wondering whether he should be the starter going forward. This is the first week in which Tevin Coleman's performance, a paltry 71 yards, doesn't merit mentioning. PSU should feel good about that from a defensive standpoint, but defense has not been their issue. The offense is still beset by miscues, overthrows, dropped balls, and a general oddity in play calling that signifies a team in dire straits. Penn State next up: Temple. Indiana next up: at Rutgers.
Wisconsin at Purdue // Wisconsin wins 34-16. Wisconsin scores again! But so does Purdue! For awhile, anyhow. The Boilermakers threatened to scuttle the good ship Wisconsin in Purdue Harborm but Captain Gordon steamed right through the Purdue defense with a 205-yard performance. I've lost track of how many times that young man has gone over 200 yards this season, but it probably takes two hands to count by now. Landon Feichter had a great game for the Purdue defense, including a strip of MG3 on an inside run. That being said, Purdue didn't have nearly enough firepower to blast through a Wisconsin defense that's been shutting down opponents for weeks on end. The high point for Wiscy fans has to be the emergence of a competent passing game out of Joel Stave, who completed 19 of 29 passes for 219 yards and 2 TDs and a pick. The high point for Purdue fans probably was not the Boilermakers' choice of Veterans Day uniforms, which sported a tricolore pattern that looked to be inspired by the French Revolution. Fortunately for Darrell Hazell, his team's improvement has likely staved off any chance of his head rolling. Wisconsin next up: Nebraska. Purdue next up: bye.
Michigan at Northwestern // Michigan wins 10-9. Usually when a game is still knotted at zeroes in the second half, it's characterized as a gritty defensive battle. Usually. This game was more of a display of general football malaise and incompetence. Michigan finally nabbed a touchdown midway through the third on a De'Veon Smith run, part of his 121 total yards rushing. Northwestern threatened to knot it up again shortly thereafter thanks to Ibraheim Campbell's 76-yard return of the predictable Devin Gardner interception toss. On the ensuing series, the Wildcats got dropped for two successive losses. Siemian hucked a third-down pass to no one that drew an intentional grounding flag, driving NU out of field goal range. After trading field goals in the fourth, Northwestern drove to the endzone with the aid of PI flag and made it a 10-9 game with three ticks left on the clock. Electing to break as many hearts as humanly possible, Pat Fitzgerald went for two instead of playing for overtime. Siemian took the snap, rolled right, and fell down. The B1Ggest play of the day. This tilt was a fitting tribute to Veterans Day. Like the War of 1812, each side fired a volley and both retreated, slightly embarrassed at the whole affair. Michigan next up: bye. Northwestern next up: at Notre Dame.
Ohio State at Michigan State // Ohio State wins 49-37. I will be the first to admit I didn't see this coming. I figured Sparty would run herd on an OSU team that struggled against decent defenses this year. In the early going, OSU's catastrophically bad special teams play had me convinced that the Buckeyes would be buried beneath a tombstone reading "Here lies stupid." Dontre Wilson appears to be allergic to holding onto the football. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, the defense played tough when it counted. That being said, they did still surrender 37 points. The real story of the night was the OSU offense, which racked up almost 570 yards against the vaunted Galaxy Defense. Connor Cook at the Spartans weren't far behind, with 536 yards. Only a few series and a handful of key plays separated the two offenses, and that was all it took. Sparty's biggest hiccup was the loss of a Langford TD thanks to a holding penalty late in the 2nd quarter. MSU missed the ensuing FG kick, and OSU capitalized on the next play with a 79-yard pass-and-scamper for a TD. That 14-point swing took a game that could've been 28-14 and knotted it at 21. J.T. Barrett then hit Devin Smith for a TD pass to take the game into the half 28-21. Cook and company had to settle for a field goal on the first possession in the second half, and the Spartan defense's inability to keep the Buckeyes out of the endzone buried MSU. Overall, this game was everything it was hyped up to be, though your happiness with the outcome depends upon where your heart lies. OSU next up: at Minnesota. MSU next up: at Maryland.
For MSU, this game likely marked a return to reality in terms of expectations. Last year's team was very special, and their success is the stuff of B1G legend. But this year's Spartan team has showed signs that this reckoning was coming all season. These Spartans are good, but they're not another Team of Destiny.
With the picture in the east settled, the B1G west is now where the intrigue lies. Ohio State seems like a lock to make the B1G CG, though it's hard to know who they'll face just yet. A Minnesota team that looked like a paper tiger two weeks ago suddenly looks like a snarling beast, but Nebraska and Wisconsin are still very much in the hunt. Will the West be won next week? And which B1G loss stands out as the most jarring? Did Ohio State just kill the B1G's playoff hopes? This is why we love November.
Lastly, a very happy and peaceful Veterans Day to all of you across the Empire who have worn the uniform of these United States in peace and war. Please tell us who you are in the comments section!