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 together the puzzle that is the 14-week-long season all the way up until Indianapolis.
Here are the top storylines from Week 8:
Illinois upsets Wisconsin 24-23
No. 6 Wisconsin suffered its first loss of the season to Illinois, giving the Fighting Illini their first win over a ranked opponent since 2011. Illinois’ James McCourt scored a 39-yard field goal as time ran out to secure the win over the Badgers after cornerback Tony Adams made an interception to gain possession.
Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan threw one interception and was sacked twice. On the other hand, the Illini offense put on the best performance the Badgers have seen this season: their 24 points were the most the Badgers had allowed this season, and they broke the Wisconsin defense’s 148:17 game time shutout streak.
Minnesota leads the West?
The Gophers secured another blowout win this Saturday against Rutgers, improving to 7-0. The current nine-game winning streak is the longest for the program since 1941. Rodney Smith led the Minnesota offense, running for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
The game also came with a heartwarming moment as four-time cancer survivor Casey O’Brian held the ball for the Gophers’ extra point in the fourth quarter.
"When you think courage, you think Casey O'Brien."— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) October 19, 2019
"Nobody can ever take away that he played college football in the Big Ten." pic.twitter.com/qZrVlJZ4s4
This win, combined with Illinois’ upset over Wisconsin, gives Minnesota a one-game lead over Wisconsin in the West. Nonetheless, this could quickly change as the Gophers have a tough schedule ahead of them. They are set to face Penn State, Iowa and Wisconsin in the back portion of the season.
Penn State overcomes Michigan 28-21
The Nittany Lions do not seem to be having any trouble in conference play as they secured their second back-to-back win over a ranked team this Saturday for the first time since 2005. The Nittany Lions never lost their lead over the Wolverines after going up 21-0 by the middle of the second quarter. Michigan came back throughout the rest of the game and even came close to tying the game at the end, but the Penn State defense (mainly safety Lamont Wade) stepped up to stop the drive.
Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford threw for three touchdowns and ran for one, connecting with wide receiver KJ Hamler on two of those. At this rate, Penn State is looking like the strongest contender in the East division, behind Ohio State of course.
Indiana 34, Maryland 28
Junior quarterback Peyton Ramsey came in and performed for the Hoosiers to help secure the win after losing his starting role to a freshman. Maryland may have given the Hoosiers a run for their money, but the Terps were ultimately unable to capitalize at the end of the game.
Iowa 26, Purdue 20
Iowa bounced back after a two-game losing streak to defeat Purdue behind four field goals from Keith Duncan and a 260 yards performance from Nate Stanley.