Boy, that was another fun week, wasn't it! On one hand, there's the losing and mediocrity around the conference and what not. On the other hand, the bar for being a competent Big Ten team is now "BEAT ANYONE", and while that's kind of sad, it makes it easier for State to avoid looking like the butt of the conference. Let's see how everyone did in Week 4, ranked from most impressive to least impressive.
BEAT SEMI-RESPECTABLE FOES BY SEMI-RESPECTABLE MARGINS
MINNESOTA 17, SYRACUSE 10
The Golden Gophers have made it to 4-0 winning one-possession games against FBS teams, which is a lot more than most of the conference can say right now. Max Shortell filled in admirably for an injured MarQueis Gray, completing 16-30 passes for 231 yards and no picks. Although the Orangemen had more yards (350-337) than Minnesota, they also turned it over four times to Minny's none. Vegas apparently didn't like the win, as the Golden Gophers are six-and-a-half point underdogs at Iowa, which I'll get to later on.
PENN STATE 24, TEMPLE 13
Here are ten words I thought I'd never write: "Matt McGloin, first 1,000 yard passer in the Big Ten." The Nittany Lion signal caller passed that mark by throwing for over 300 yards on the Owls. Penn State was great on offense and defense all day, but deterred itself with 100 yards on nine penalties.
ATE INFERIOR COMPETITION ALIVE
NEBRASKA 73, IDAHO STATE 7
The Cornhuskers racked up 35 points in the first quarter, and that was that. How bad was this beating? Nebraska had over 100 yards of penalties, three turnovers, and the score was still what you see above. At least one Big Ten team did what they were supposed to do this week.
ATE INFERIOR COMPETITION RESPECTFULLY
NORTHWESTERN 38, SOUTH DAKOTA 7
Kain Colter suffered a wrist injury in the first quarter, but after that it was nothing but standard operating procedure football for the 'Cats, who had 277 yards on the ground in their submission of the Coyotes. Once more, nothing to see here.
ATE INFERIOR COMPETITION AFTER A STRUGGLE
OHIO STATE 29, UAB 15
The Dragons actually led this game 9-0 in the second quarter as a result of a field goal and a blocked punt returned for a score. That lead was short lived, as the Buckeyes were up 21-12 going into the half. UAB actually had more offense than Ohio State in this game (403 yards to OSU's 347), but the home team made the most of two UAB turnovers to get the win.
WISCONSIN 37, UTEP 22
This was Wisconsin's best win of the year, which is depressing for the conference. Newly minted starter at quarterback Joel Stave had a very good debut, going 12-17 for 210 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Like their offense this season, Wisconsin football as a whole is making progress -- methodical, plodding, progress.
LET US NEVER SPEAK OF THIS AGAIN
MICHIGAN STATE 23, EASTERN MICHIGAN 7
TL;DR: HANDS PLZ.
YAKETY SAX, PART 2
NOTRE DAME 13, MICHIGAN 6
I've got to hand it to Denard -- most of his performances are exceptional, be them positive or negative. The one in South Bend was clearly in the latter category, as he had four interceptions and a fumble. That was a shame for Michigan, as their defense clearly played well enough for the win; the Fighting Irish could only muster 239 total yards. It's nice to know MSU's not the only offense that struggled against Notre Dame, and it's even nicer to know the Spartans can hold onto the ball...until it's passed to them.
THIS ENDING LOOKS FAMILIAR
CENTRAL MICHIGAN 32, IOWA 31
Stop me if you've heard this one before: Central Michigan scores a late touchdown to get within two of a Big Ten team. They fail to get the two-point conversion. The Chippewas need to convert an onside kick to stay alive, and they do so. CMU drives down the field quickly to set up a long field goal, and they make it to upset said Big Ten team.
Iowa got burned by Chippewas Part II: Terror and Sadness in Iowa City. If there's a silver lining for the Hawkeyes it's that their running back Mark Weisman ran for over 200 yards, which probably means one of his ACLs will be gone by tomorrow.
LOUISIANA TECH 52, ILLINOIS 24
If you're wondering how a Big Ten team loses by 28 to a non-BCS team at home, it starts with six. That was the number of turnovers (five fumbles, one interception) the Illini had on Saturday. QB Nathan Scheelhaase got the hook for Reilly O'Toole early in the game, and while O'Toole was 19-25 for 120 yards, the Illini pass defense was, in a word, WOOF. Another Big Ten team now appears to be in free fall, but it's not Michigan State...for this week anyway.