Every Sunday, after a whirlwind autumn Saturday of college football, we'll be taking you around the Big Ten to keep tabs on the rest of the conference. As it fights as one for respectability in the non-conference, or as its power dynamics shift on a week-to-week basis in October and November, we'll follow the narrative to give you a better idea of where Northwestern fits into the 14-team puzzle.
Here are the top three storylines from Week 4:
Top Three Storylines:
1. Michigan rolls
After losing to Utah (who just demolished Oregon this week) in Week 1, Michigan has won three in a row, and this week's 31-0 victory over No. 22 BYU was the most impressive. Quarterback Jake Rudock committed no turnovers while running for two touchdowns and throwing for another, De'Veon Smith ran for 125 yards and this magical touchdown. The defense was outstanding. Perhaps Michigan isn't "there" yet, but they are undoubtedly on the right path, and Saturday's win was a huge step in the right direction. Michigan faces Northwestern in two weeks at Ann Arbor.
2. Nebraska, Minnesota escape embarrassments
The Cornhuskers entered the fourth quarter with a 22-point lead against Southern Mississippi. They ended the fourth quarter with an eight-point win. Nick Mullens threw for nearly 450 yards for the Golden Eagles, but it was Tommy Armstrong who got the win. Armstrong continued his impressive year, throwing for 368 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan Westerkamp hauled in 11 passes for 118 yards. Meanwhile, the Golden Gophers got an impressive performance from much-maligned quarterback Mitch Leidner (career-high 264 yards) and freshman running back Shannon Brooks had the game-winning touchdown from three yards out as Minnesota beat Ohio 27-24. It was an odd twist from how Minnesota plays -- the defense and special teams struggled, but Leidner and Brooks gave them just enough for the victory. The Golden Gophers head to Evanston next week.
3. LOLinois won, but should have lost and is still bad
The Illini needed a missed 43-yard field goal from Middle Tennessee State as time expired to get a home win, 27-25. Blue Raiders quarterback Brent Stockstill went 29-for-42 for 330 yards and three touchdowns, but it was Taylor Zalewski's 51-yarder that put the Illini ahead with 2:09 to play. The Illini then got the missed field to move to 3-1. Overall takeaway: LOL. LOLinois, have fun in the Big Ten.
Northwestern 24, Ball State 19
Northwestern 24, Ball State 19
- Ohio State started Cardale Jones after two subpar performance and he answered with 288 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He got off to a good start, but struggled in the second half, but JT Barrett came in and threw an interception on his first drive. The Buckeyes rolled, 38-12, over Western Michigan. Ezekiel Elliot had 124 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
- Injuries continued to mount for Michigan State, but the Spartans beat Central Michigan, 30-10. Shilique Calhoun had 2 1/2 sacks and a blocked kick and Gerald Holmes had two fourth-quarter touchdowns to put the game out of reach, but starting left tackle Jack Conklin, an All-American contender, missed the second half with a knee injury.
- Stop sleeping on Iowa. The Hawkeyes won 62-16 over North Texas. C.J. Beathard is looking solid and Jordan Canzeri ran for four (!!!) touchdowns, and their team is 4-0.
- Christian Hackenberg threw for nearly 300 yards and three scores and Penn State pulled away in Happy Valley to beat San Diego State, 37-21. The Aztecs dared Hackenberg to beat them, often stacking the box, and the talented but oft-sacked quarterback did just that.
- Indiana is 4-0 heading into Ohio State week. The Hoosiers are off to their best start since 1990. Jordan Howard continues to be outstanding, running for 168 yards against the Demon Deacons, who fell to the Hoosiers, 31-24 this week.
- Wisconsin got a touchdown in every quarter to beat Hawaii, 28-0.
- West Virginia blasted Maryland, 45-6, in Morgantown. The Terrapins gave up over 600 yards of total offense, including 147 to Wendell Smallwood on the ground, a career high for him.
- Purdue gonna Purdue. This week, it was a 35-28 loss to Bowling Green, which got a 12-yard touchdown from Travis Green with nine seconds left to send the Boilermakers to 1-3 on this young season.
- Despite having its head coach suspended, Rutgers got a 27-14 win over Kansas in a game between the Big 12's worst program and one of the Big 10's worst. If you watched this game, we are sorry. On the bright side, you won't have to suffer through them next week, as the Scarlet Knights have a bye.
Elsewhere in the country:
So Duke finished off No. 20 Georgia Tech 34-20. Another strong transitive-property win for the Wildcats.
— Inside NU (@insidenu) September 26, 2015
Northwestern, king of the transitive property.