With Big Ten frontrunners, Michigan State and Ohio State having byes, one might think that the Big Ten would be able to go for a week without any drama. However, with J.T. Barrett’s arrest, Minnesota’s flop and Iowa’s undefeated stride, that allegation could not be further from the truth.
How did the Big Ten fare through Week 9? Here it is.
The Buckeyes had a bye, but that did not stop them from taking the game day spotlight. Starting quarterback, JT Barrett, was arrested for driving a vehicle while intoxicated and will be suspended for the following week. This apparently means very little to Urban Meyer because a one-game suspension against a struggling Minnesota team, even with the loss of a scholarship for one semester is a weak punishment.
Iowa’s leading rusher, Jordan Canzeri, is out indefinitely with an ankle injury, but this caused no problems for the Hawkeye offense. The return of the power running back, LeShun Daniels, combined with the speedy Akrum Wadley, cooked up a combined 127 yards. The ungenerous Hawkeye defense continues to roll, allowing less than 20 points for the sixth time this season. Many people do not count Iowa as serious contenders for the playoffs, but the Hawkeyes have as good of a chance as anyone else. With their schedule, they will probably run the table for the remainder of the regular season, putting them in the Big Ten Championship Game. Once in Indianapolis, most people do not believe that they will be able to compete with Ohio State or Michigan State, but that could not be more false.
They can run, and they can stop the run. Never count out the Hawkeyes.
The Wolverines survived a scare against Minnesota, slipping away with a 29-26 victory. Michigan’s rush game struggled, but this was expected with star running back DeVeon Smith out. For the second consecutive week, Michigan was involved in a wild finish, but the Wolverines were on the winning side of it this time.
Give Michigan credit. Although Minnesota made mistakes in the final seconds of the game, U-M made a solid goal line stand, preventing the Gophers from finishing the upset. Still, by giving up 26 points, Michigan’s defense finally came down to Earth, and hopefully the college football analysts will as well. There is no reason why Michigan, a two-loss team, is still in contention for the playoffs.
The Badgers have been wounded all season long, and the return of running back Corey Clement made a huge impact on Wisconsin’s offense. Clement, combined with Ogunbowale, calls for a dangerous backfield, which compliments Joel Stave and the already-strong Wiscy defense. It is unfortunate that Wisconsin probably has no chance at making it to Indianapolis, but the Badgers stand strong as their two losses on the year came against Iowa and Alabama, who have a combined one loss. The fact that Wisconsin is unranked in the AP Poll is very upsetting.
Penn State has been impressive thus far, but they took things to a new level on Saturday, defeating Illinois 39-0. Christian Hackenberg was a superstar, playing like a true NFL quarterback, throwing for 266 yards and two touchdowns. Hackenberg usually has to carry the Nittany Lions toward victory, but this was not the case against Illinois. Their offensive line has come a long way since Week 1, and by doing so, Hackenberg can show the world how good he really is. The Nittany Lions’ defensive line also stepped up, putting a vast amount of pressure on Wes Lunt and the Illinois offense, barely allowing Illinois to break even in rushing yards. The pieces are coming together for Penn State, and it could not come at a better time considering that Michigan State and Michigan are still on their schedule.
Following head coach Jerry Kill’s abrupt resignation, the Gophers fought Michigan with everything they had. Up until the final seconds of the game, Minnesota played hard and disciplined football. It was unfortunate to see Minnesota’s poor clock management cost them the game, but their strong performance moves them up a spot in these rankings.
Any success the Illini get comes from quarterback, Wes Lunt. Every week, he carries the firepower, not just for the offense, but for the entire team. After facing relentless pressure from Penn State’s defensive line, Lunt had no chance of doing anything, thus plummeting downward along with the rest of the Illini.
The Boilermakers made a huge jump in the rankings, advancing from 14 to 10 after their victory against Nebraska. Purdue achieved their first home win in Big Ten play under Darrel Haze, which was was more important than most people realize. Haze is in his third year as the Purdue head coach. He is fighting for his job, and it came into play against Nebraska with gutsy and creative play calls that confused the inexperienced Cornhusker defense. David Blough has struggled all year, but the talented redshirt freshman shone against Nebraska, bringing his team their first victory of Big Ten play.
The Cornhuskers limped into Purdue with many injuries, including quarterback Tommy Armstrong, and it was too much for the Blackshirts to handle. Still, the powerhouse that Nebraska football once was cannot be happy as they find themselves on the bottom of the Big Ten Wes–Yes, even below Purdue.
The Scarlet Knights were blown out for the second straight week, first against Ohio State and now against Wisconsin. The only offense generated by Rutgers was through the power running back, Jordan Hicks. With the off-field issues of head coach Kyle Flood, do not expect Rutgers to get on track any time soon.
The Terps have gone through three different quarterbacks with a combined 23 interceptions. Maryland fought hard but they seemed to give up by the end. They were down by two possessions against Iowa in the late minutes of the game, but they punted it twice on fourth down instead of trying to move the ball forward. If there is one thing the Big Ten does not have room for, it is teams who give up in the fourth quarter.
After publication, it was announced J.T. Barrett would lose his scholarship for one term after his arrest.