Every Sunday, after an entire Saturday’s worth of college football, we’ll take a look around the Big Ten. As the conference as a whole fights as respectability in the non-conference, or as its power dynamics shift on a week-to-week basis this fall, we’ll follow every team and try to piece togather the puzzle that is the 13-week-long season all the way up until Indianapolis.
Here are the top storylines from Week 4:
How the West was won
If you hadn’t heard yet, the Big Ten West does not look very good in 2018. There’s plenty of infighting to come, but for now, the two best teams look to be Wisconsin and Iowa. The No. 18 Badgers visited Kinnick Stadium on Saturday night for a primetime showdown with 3-0 Iowa.
The Hawkeyes led the game late, but Alex Hornibrook delivered the game-winning pass with under a minute left, punctuated by an excellent Gus Johnson call.
Even if this isn’t the best Badgers team, the win over Iowa means that the Big Ten West title will again run through Madison. Tough road matchups against Michigan and Penn State remain, but the rest of the Big Ten West has some ground to make up.
Something good happens to Purdue
Boston College had a bit of buzz heading into Saturday’s game in West Lafayette (Side note: how did Purdue get four consecutive home games to start the season? And lose three of them?), but they ran into the David Blough buzzsaw. A week after hanging 572 yards on Missouri, Purdue’s QB threw for 296 yards and three scores with a 75 percent completion rate. Oh, and the Boilermakers picked off BC four times. It goes in the book as a win over a ranked opponent for Purdue, and the Big Ten West. Hooray!
[Insert Scott Frost pun]
Anyways, Nebraska is 0-3, and things are getting a lot worse before they get better.
Michigan destroyed Nebraska in the trenches, riding Karan Higdon to a 39-0 halftime lead. The stats at the break were not pretty.
On the other side of the ball, the Wolverines made life miserable for Husker freshman QB Adrian Martinez, who ended the day 7-of-15 for 22 yards and an interception. Michigan piled up 14 tackles for loss on the day.
Donovan Peoples-Jones had a positively silly punt return for a touchdown where he mashed every button on the controller to give Michigan a 45-0 lead.
So, yeah, Michigan looks pretty good.
And for Nebraska? Well, at least their game with Akron was cancelled.
Maryland 42, Minnesota 13
Minnesota looked pretty good in its first three games. They got absolutely blasted in College Park, giving up 315 yards on the ground to the Terrapins. Maryland bounced back from an ugly loss to Temple to move to 3-1.
Penn State 63, Illinois 24
Illinois looked positively frisky for the game’s first three quarters, taking a 24-21 lead in the third on a Ricky Smalling TD catch. The rest of the game was all Penn State, though, as the Nittany Lions scored 42 (!) unanswered to beat Illinois and miraculously cover a -27.5 spread. The Nittany Lions racked up 387 yards on the ground, including 200 from Miles Sanders.
Ohio State 42, Tulane 6
Dwayne Haskins tossed five touchdowns to bring his four-game total to 16 (he’s doing wonders for my fantasy team) as Ohio State pasted Tulane. Snooze. The Buckeyes actually struggled to run the ball, but they averaged 11 yards per pass attempt, so it didn’t matter. Tate Martell looked good in garbage time and it’s not fair that Ohio State gets all the good QBs.
Buffalo 42, Rutgers 13
Rutgers getting steamrolled at home by a half-decent Buffalo team is kinda sad. What isn’t sad is 6-foot-7, 245 pound Buffalo QB Tyree Jackson, and this throw.
Michigan State 35, Indiana 21
The Spartans let Indiana hang around thanks to a couple costly turnovers, but pulled out a much-needed win. MSU will get Central Michigan next weekend before hosting Northwestern Oct. 6.