As is typical for Week 4, the Big Ten schools in action played almost exclusively cupcakes to rest up for the the start of conference play next week. 7 of the 10 teams who had games won easily, with Ohio State notching the league's most impressive win, at least based on conference affiliation of opponent, cruising past Colorado by a score of 37-17.Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Penn State and Nebraska all rolled to wins over non-AQ teams.
Illinois was the only winner who struggled, escaping with a 23-20 home win over Western Michigan. The Illini continue to show off a strong ground game, rushing for 296 yards on 52 carries, with Donovan Young and Troy Pollard both going over 100 yards. Given how bad Northwestern's run defense looked last week against Army (and against Illinois last year for that matter), this does not bode well for Saturday.
The good news for Northwestern is that Western Michigan quarterback Alex Carder threw for 306 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Illini defense. WMU runs the same type of hurry-up spread offense used by NU, so Dan Persa should have some open receivers to throw to.
Meanwhile, the two Big Ten teams who lost, Minnesota and Indiana, managed to thoroughly embarrass the conference. The Gophers lost 37-24 at home to FCS North Dakota State, and The Daily Gopher says the honeymoon is over for Jerry Kill. Minnesota is now 1-3 going into Big Ten play in Kill's first year; in 2007, Tim Brewster's first year, Minnesota was 1-3 going into Big Ten play with a loss to North Dakota State. Just saying.
As for Indiana, they lost 24-21 to North Texas. That's the same North Texas that came in 0-3 and was projected to finish at the bottom of the Sun Belt conference. And the scary thing was, the score wasn't at all indicative of how the game went; the Mean Green took a 24-0 lead into the fourth quarter before trying their best to give the game away:
Of course, after dominating the first 48 minutes of the game, North Texas remembered that it is a team that is expected to finish at the bottom of the Sun Belt Conference, and did nearly everything in its power to give the game to IU.... [Hoosier QB] Dusty Kiel, who replaced a struggling Edward Wright-Baker, threw two long touchdown passes, one to Cody Latimer for 44 yards and another to Kofi Hughes for 67 yards. Both were on busted coverages, one when a UNT player tried to put a shoe back on in the middle of a play instead of making the best of it.
Is there video of the guy trying to put his shoe on instead of covering the receiver? Please?
For anyone hoping Army would build on the win over Northwestern and have a respectable season: not so much. For the second time in four weeks, the Black Knights were embarrassed by a MAC team, falling 48-21 to Ball State, and it wasn't even that close; Ball State led 31-0 at halftime and 45-7 after three quarters. On the bright side, Boston College finally showed signs of righting the ship, cruising to a 45-17 win over UMass, but Eastern Illinois lost to Jacksonville State to fall to 1-3 on the season. Northwestern's opponents so far this season are a combined 3-9: one win was Army beating NU and the other two came over FCS teams. This is not going to help the Wildcats' RPI.