Week Four in the Big Ten had teams all over the map. While there were blowouts in store for some against conference foes, others had games coming down to the final moments against non-conference opponents, and one team even made a historic comeback within their division. This past week had a little bit of everything, so it’s about that time again where we get to take a step back and break it all down. Let’s get started with this week’s edition of Around the Big Ten.
It’s been awhile since I’ve witnessed a turnaround within a game happen as quickly as it did Saturday night in Evanston. Minnesota had all the momentum. It started off fast, taking a 21-0 lead late in the second quarter and a 24-7 lead into halftime. The Golden Gophers extended it further to make it 31-10 heading into the fourth quarter… and then just lost it. Northwestern scored touchdowns on three of four drives in the fourth quarter, concluding with an 11-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Ben Bryant to wide receiver A.J. Henning with just two seconds remaining. Its defense did its job too, as it forced three Golden Gopher punts in the final quarter to allow the offense to force overtime. After Minnesota was forced to kick a field goal in overtime, Bryant found tight end Charlie Mangieri on Northwestern’s first offensive play of the overtime period to walk it off for the Wildcats and complete the stunning comeback, winning 37-34 over the Golden Gophers.
Ohio State at Notre Dame
While the previously discussed game may have been the most wild, this matchup right here was easily the game of the week in all of college football. Ohio State controlled this for much of the game, despite it not showing on the scoreboard and it being a low-scoring affair throughout. OSU led the Fighting Irish 3-0 at halftime before extending its lead out to 10-0 in the third quarter with a TreVeyon Henderson rushing touchdown. Notre Dame managed to fight back with a couple of touchdowns to take a 14-10 lead in the fourth quarter, but unfortunately for the Fighting Irish, they held that lead for 8:21 of game action, and not 8:22. The Buckeyes scored the go-ahead touchdown with just one second remaining on a Chip Trayanum one-yard run to steal a 17-14 win in South Bend and get a staple win for the Big Ten.
Big Ten blowouts
Wisconsin beat Purdue 38-17. Michigan ran through Rutgers 31-7. Penn State blanked Iowa 31-0. And finally, Maryland cruised to a 31-9 win over Michigan State. A quartet of Big Ten squads raced past their conference adversaries with ease this past weekend. Wisconsin got things started on Friday night, showing that it might just be the Big Ten West favorite after all, especially after the embarrassing showings by both Iowa and Minnesota on Saturday.
Michigan once again started slow, but quickly put away any thoughts of Rutgers being a real threat. Penn State reminded us once again that it will contend in the Big Ten East with the Wolverines and Buckeyes, while Iowa showed us that the improved offense was just fool’s gold. Maryland finally looked like the team it was expected to be at the start of the season, as they got off to a quick start this week against a Michigan State team in turmoil and never looked back. Wisconsin is off this upcoming weekend, but Michigan, Penn State and Maryland all have very winnable games that should allow them to move to 5-0, so this should only build on their momentum moving forward.
Indiana v. MAC (2023)
The streak is over! For the first time in 16 years, the MAC failed to have a team from its conference beat a Big Ten school. It wasn’t for a lack of effort, though. Akron came oh-so-close to upsetting Indiana in Bloomington Saturday night to extend the streak to 17 years. Luckily for the Hoosiers, they pulled it out in the end, winning 29-27 in 4OT in a game that went back and forth throughout. On the MAC side of things, it’s a sad day as they grieve the loss of this streak but at least they’ll have the memories they made along the way, right? As for Indiana, it was a much needed win for the Hoosiers if they have any hopes of making it to a bowl game, with games at Maryland, Michigan and Penn State yet to come in a very tough Big Ten East once again.
The Big Ten (East) unbeatens
Speaking of the Big Ten East, four teams remain in the fight to become the last Big Ten team standing unblemished. To the surprise of no one, among those teams are Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. However, also with an unblemished record is Maryland, who sits at 4-0 after its win in its Big Ten opener against Michigan State.
Now obviously, at least three of these four teams are going to end up with a loss at some point, so it’s quite interesting to look ahead and try to predict the order in which they’ll fall. Ohio State is on a bye this upcoming weekend, while the other three teams have very winnable games. Looking ahead, Ohio State and Maryland play Week Six in Columbus. Mark that as a loss for the Terrapins. Fast forward to Week Eight, and there you have the Wolverines playing their in-state rivals in East Lansing while the Nittany Lions travel to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes. Penn State will take the loss in Columbus while Michigan will survive in that rivalry game. In Week 11, Michigan travels to State College, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see it lose that one given each team’s current form, clearing the path for the Ohio State Buckeyes to be the last Big Ten unbeaten. That may all be for naught when they travel to Ann Arbor in the final week of the season for “The Game,” but it will be a nice consolation prize along the way if it stacks up this way for one of the Big Ten’s top teams.
Illinois 23, FAU 17
Nebraska 28, Louisiana Tech 14