1. The Ohio State Buckeyes (10-0; 6-0) remained perfect on the season with a dominating 28-3 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini (5-5; 2-4). The Buckeye offense sputtered at times, but running back Ezekiel Elliott kept his Heisman hopes alive with his 15th straight game of 100+ yards rushing (27 carries, 181 yards, 6.9 ypc, 2 TDs) and wide receiver Michael Thomas hauled in 6 receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback J.T. Barrett, fresh off a one-game suspension, had 224 yards of total offense and 2 total touchdowns, but also committed 2 costly turnovers. But the offense's inconsistency didn't really matter, because the Buckeye defense held the Illini to 261 total yards, 20 yards rushing on 25 carries, 3.6 yards per play, and 5/20 (25.0%) on third and fourth down conversion attempts. Defensive end Joey Bosa led the way with 7 tackles and 3 TFLs, while middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan had 14 tackles, 2 TFLs, and a fumble recovery. The only bright spot for Illinois was wide receiver Desmond Cain, who had 10 receptions for 102 yards. While the Buckeyes won a national title last year with an overwhelming offense (44.8 ppg), this year they are relying on a top-10 defense (9th total defense, 2nd scoring defense) to get the job done. If the Buckeye defense can stay stout against a pair of mediocre offenses - Michigan State (61st total offense, 44th scoring offense); and Michigan (71st total offense, 49th scoring offense) - then a return to the Big Ten Title Game is a virtual certainty. Illinois, on the other hand, must beat either Minnesota (a hard luck 4-6) or Northwestern (a surprising 8-2) just to gain bowl eligibility.
2. For the third time in four games, the Michigan Wolverines (8-2; 5-1) played a contest that came down to literally the final play. After losing to Michigan State on a botched punt and beating Minnesota thanks to botched clock management, the Wolverines beat the Indiana Hoosiers (4-6; 0-6) by tying the game at 34-34 on the final play of regulation and then outscoring the Hoosiers 14-7 in double overtime. Indiana had a chance to send the game into a third overtime period but their 4th-and-goal pass from the 2-yard line fell incomplete. The formerly vaunted Michigan defense allowed Indiana to rack up 527 total yards (479 in regulation), 307 rushing yards (259 in regulation), and 41 points (34 in regulation). Leading the way for the Hoosiers was running back Jordan Howard who had a career-best 238 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, the abysmal Indiana defense (119th total defense, 116th scoring defense) surrendered 581 total yards (531 in regulation) and made Jake Ruddock look like a Heisman contender: 33/46 (71.7%) passing, 440 yards, and a school record 6 TDs, together with 64 yards rushing (9.1 ypc). Ruddock's favorite target was Jehu Chesson (10 receptions, 207 yards, 4 TDs). If Michigan wins out over Penn State (7-3; 4-2) and Ohio State (10-0; 6-0), then they will secure the Big Ten East title. Indiana needs to win out over two teams that are even worse than they are - Maryland (2-8; 0-6) and Purdue (2-8; 1-5) - to become bowl eligible.
3. The Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-6; 1-5) have played five top-15 teams so far this season. The Gophers are 0-5 in those games, but they have played tough against four of their highly-rated opponents including the Iowa Hawkeyes (10-0; 6-0) yesterday. The game was close on the scoreboard, 40 to 35, and in total yardage, 506 to 434. What hurt Minnesota's upset bid was allowing 10/15 on third down conversions (66.7%) and committing 12 penalties for 87 yards. The Hawkeyes were led by running back LeShun Daniels, Jr. who had 26 carries for 195 yards (7.5 ypc) and 3 touchdowns. Iowa can continue their magical season with wins against a fading Purdue (2-8; 1-5) and a surging Nebraska (5-6; 3-4), while Minnesota ends their season with Illinois (5-5; 2-4) and yet another ranked team with Wisconsin (8-2; 5-1).
4. When the Northwestern Wildcats (8-2; 4-2) and the Purdue Boilermakers (2-8; 1-5) get together for their annual showdown it usually results in a riveting game. Um, not really, and this year's contest was no exception. Thanks to a late touchdown run from Justin Jackson (24 carries, 116 yards, TD) the Wildcats prevailed, 21-14. Purdue quarterback David Blough had a nice game (26/45, 287 yards, TD, INT), but the Boilermakers had a tough time running the football (30 rushes, 73 yards, 2.4 average, TD). Northwestern owns a great win against a ranked Stanford (16-6) squad, but blow out losses to ranked Iowa (40-10) and Michigan (38-0); the Cats finish their season against a ranked Wisconsin (8-2; 5-1) and their primary rival Illinois (5-5; 2-4), and based on past performance those games could go either way. Purdue limps to the finish line with Iowa (10-0; 6-0) and Indiana (4-6; 0-6) for the Old Oaken Bucket.
5. The Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-6; 3-4) won their second game in a row, defeating the hapless Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-7; 1-6) by the score of 31 to 14. Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong had a confusing performance: 14/21 (66.7%), 188 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs. Husker tight end Cethan Carter had an 11-yard TD reception and a 32-yard TD run. Fun stat: Nebraska won the time of possession battle by two seconds, 30:01 to 29:59. Rutgers's offensive numbers continue to slide as their competition continues to improve. Rutgers entered the Ohio State game ranked 33rd in FBS in total offense (448.3 ypg) and 41st in scoring offense (34.3 ppg). After four games against the likes of Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Nebraska, the Scarlet Knights are now 97th in total offense (363.5 ypg) and 92nd in scoring offense (25.2 ppg), which represents a slide of 84.8 yards per game and 9.0 points per game. Nebraska has a bye week before getting the opportunity not only to ruin Iowa's perfect season, but also to obtain bowl eligibility. Rutgers is playing for pride, or something.
6. And now we bring you the Big Ten Suckfest of the Week: The Maryland Terrapins (2-8; 0-6), who are a weekly contender for this dubious distinction, lost to the Michigan State Spartans (9-1; 5-1) by the score of 24-7. The 31 combined points is less than what 51 FBS teams average per game. The teams also combined for 551 total yards (289 for Maryland, 262 for Michigan State), which is almost respectable. Where the suckness really becomes evident is in the passing game, where the four quarterbacks (two for each team) combined for 29/68 passing (42.6%) for 303 yards (4.46 yards per pass), one touchdown, and five interceptions. Because the teams couldn't throw the ball, their success rate on third and fourth downs suffered: 11/36, or 30.6%. Maryland, of course, was the suckier team as the scoreboard reflects, but their greater claim to suckdom is the five turnovers that they committed (3 interceptions, 2 fumbles). For the season, Maryland now has an FBS-worst 35 total turnovers (4 more than 2nd worst), an FBS-worst 28 interceptions (8 more than 2nd worst), and a -19 turnover margin (2nd worst in FBS). Going forward, Michigan State can keep their slim playoff hopes alive with wins over Ohio State (10-0; 6-0) and Penn State (7-3; 4-2), but that task became much more difficult when starting quarterback Connor Cook suffered an injured shoulder against Maryland. Meanwhile the Terrapins can avoid ending up in the conference cellar if they can scratch out wins over Indiana (4-6; 0-6) and Rutgers (3-7; 1-6).
7. The Penn State Nittany Lions (7-3; 4-2) and the Wisconsin Badgers (8-2; 5-1) were idle this week.
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