There wasn't a whole lot of Big Ten action this week, as Penn State and Northwestern took their bye weeks and Indiana finished off its non-conference schedule against Arkansas State. Michigan State and Iowa solidified their positions as the Big Ten's 1A and 1B by beating Illinois and Michigan respectively, while the wheels finally fell completely off the Tim Brewster wagon in West Lafayette. You know what happened in Madison, as much as you and I would like to forget all about it.
Michigan State 26, Illinois 6
It was frequently ugly, but the Spartans persevered against a feisty Illini team that held their potent ground attack to 84 yards. Turnovers proved to be the Zooker's undoing, as Michigan State pressured Nathan Scheelhaase into three interceptions, two of which led directly to ten Michigan State points. Kirk Cousins picked up the slack for the non-existent Michigan State rushing game, throwing for 214 yards and a touchdown (on massively busted coverage, FWIW) with no picks. Both teams had drives marred by penalties, and together they racked up 13 penalties for 139 yards. Still, the Spartans are 7-0 for the first time since the LBJ Administration, and that's impressive. State travels to Northwestern next week for their first game outside the state of Michigan, and Ron Zook's team gets struggling Indiana at home.
Purdue 28, Minnesota 17
In a surprising (?) turn of events, Danny Hope's Purdue Boilermakers will be undefeated in conference play when they head into Ohio Stadium next week. Despite convincing losses to mediocre (at best) Notre Dame and Toledo outfits, and injuries to their top wide receiver, running back, and quarterback, they rebounded to shock Northwestern last week, and took care of business against easily the Big Ten's worst team on Saturday. The Boilers rushed for 209 yards and 3 TDs, all by QB Rob Henry, while Ryan Kerrigan and the defense suffocated the impotent Gopher O for three quarters, before allowing two late touchdowns with the game well in hand. Tim Brewster? Fired. The hopeless Gophers get slightly-less-hopeless Penn State at home next week, while the Boilers travel to what will surely be a hostile, if disheartened, Horseshoe next week.
Indiana 36, Arkansas State 34
Last Saturday's game may have been fun in so many ways yesterday was not, but it's time to face facts: Indiana remains Indiana, a team without any semblance of a defense, and with an offense that will clam up at the first sign of defensive athleticism. Arkansas State has precisely none of that athleticism, and it showed: Hoosier QB Ben Chappell threw for 381 yards and 4 touchdowns, three of which came in the second half, to boost Indiana over the 2-5 Red Wolves of Arkansas State. The Hoosiers also found a running game after going without one for the first five games of the season, as Trea Burgess totaled 101 yards on 19 carries. However, it was Burgess' late fumble that gave the Red Wolves a short field for their last touchdown of the game, which resulted in a much clearer picture of the back-and-forth nature of the game. Indiana is bad. Indiana is, barring multiple miracles, not a bowl team. They'll square off against one of the conference's better defenses in Champaign next week, and it probably won't be pretty.
Iowa 38, Michigan 28
It looked like Iowa was going to coast out of Ann Arbor with another easy win for a visiting team in the Big House... and then Denard Robinson went down. The Hawkeyes had pushed their lead to 21-7 when Robinson came up gimpy after a 12-yard run early in the third quarter. Tate Forcier came into the game and earned himself some measure of redemption over the course of the second half, passing the Wolverines back into the game, getting his team within 7 points late in the fourth to make it 35-28. Michigan had the chance to force a punt on the ensuing drive, but Iowa converted a 3rd-and-8 with a 26-yard pass to Adam Robinson - the star of the game with 61 yards receiving on top of 144 yards rushing - to essentially ice the game. After draining the clock some more, the Hawkeyes kicked a field goal to make it 38-28. Forcier was intercepted for the second time on the next drive and the Hawkeyes escaped with a win. The ego of the Hawkeye D has to be a bit battered, though: they surrendered two rushing touchdowns when they hadn't given up one all year, allowed well over 500 yards of offense, and at one point, watched the Wolverines score touchdowns on three straight possessions in the second half. They'll take the win for now, I'm sure. The Hawks are at home against rejuvenated Wisconsin next week, while Michigan has a bye before traveling to Happy Valley.