Last week's action:
- MSU 37, Wisconsin 31, summarized in verse:
And the Rocket's green glare
The ball tipped in the air
And a sound filled the night
A triumphant fanfare
- Iowa 45, Indiana 24: Marvin McNutt (he of the infamous 4th-and-goal, no time left TD in 2009) caught 3 TD passes to become Iowa's career record-holder. Indiana was undone by a complete inability to stop Iowa on 3rd down (6/8 converted) and quickly fell behind by 21 in the latter half of the 2nd quarter after matching Iowa score for score for the first 20 minutes; they are the first Big Ten team to reserve their seats on the couch for bowl season.
- Purdue 21, Illinois 14: For the second week running, the Zooker's crew could not score before the fourth quarter. Again it was too little, too late thanks to Purdue's recovery of a late onside kick attempt.
- Nebraska 41, Minnesota 14: Garbage time is the only thing keeping Minnesota from a dubious distinction of the worst Big Ten team ever, in terms of scoring ratio; Nebraska led this one 34-0 at the half before calling off the dogs.
- Penn State 34, Northwestern 24: Joe Paterno now shares the D-I wins record with Eddie Robinson, as Northwestern finds yet another way to play just badly enough to lose. This was a tale of two halves: the first half was apparently played in the Land that Defense Forgot as PSU took a 27-24 lead into the locker room; after a quick score set up by an interception early in the third, the scoreboard never moved again, and Penn State joins more-heralded Michigan, MSU, Wisconsin, and Nebraska in the one-loss brigade.
This week's games and standings tables after the jump. All are based on games through Sunday only (early-week games are not included until the next weekend update).
Game of the Week: Michigan State @ Nebraska
Third consecutive appearance in the GOTW for MSU. This is a critical game for the West Division crown; an MSU win would all but lock up the division (although Iowa would still control its own destiny, I don't see them running the table with all of their difficult division games ahead), while a Nebraska win throws everything into chaos (with potentially four teams at 3-1). MSU is the higher-ranked team but home field tilts the edge to Nebraska: 56% according to the no-margin system, 62% (3.5 pts) according to margin-aware (which sees the two teams as almost dead even - on a neutral field MSU would be a 50.2% favorite).
Pillow Fight of the Week: Northwestern @ Indiana
This is Indiana's best chance to escape the schneid, thanks to not playing Minnesota. If Northwestern wants to continue their bowl streak (a doubtful prospect now), this is a game they absolutely must have. The Wildcats are a 57% favorite on the road according to both systems (2 pts in margin-aware).
Wisconsin @ Ohio State and Illinois @ Penn State
Two big East Division matchups. Ohio State can climb back into the race with a win here (although they would still need a Penn State loss to someone other than themselves). Illinois's divisional ambitions would end with a third consecutive loss. Penn State and Wisconsin can stay on course for a season-ending division title game in Camp Randall with wins. Wisconsin is a 56% favorite according to the no-margin system but 69% (5.5 pts) based on margin-aware. Penn State is favored at 73% based on no-margin, 77% (8.5 pts) margin-aware.
Iowa @ Minnesota
Iowa is an 80% favorite to take home Floyd based on no-margin, 88% (13.5 pts) margin-aware.
Purdue @ Michigan
The suddenly competent Boilers (or beneficiaries of The Zookening, take your pick) need two more wins to become bowl-eligible. One is likely against Indiana in the finale; this probably won't be the second. Michigan is favored at 82% no-margin, 90% (15 pts) margin-aware.
Projected Standings: No-Margin System
|Minnesota||116||0.79||N/A||N/A||N/A||1 in 21,500||0.18%||2.44%||14.79%||40.90%||41.68%||*||*||*|
We have our first elimination from the outright division title race - Northwestern can still finish with four wins, but one of the top group must also reach four (if MSU were to lose out to stay at 3, Nebraska and Iowa would both pick up a win, and one of them would have to get another since they play each other). Michigan State makes a bit of a leap thanks to the thrilling win over Wisconsin; Michigan (idle), Nebraska (win over Minnesota), and Iowa (win over Indiana) all sit more or less where they were last week.
Indiana, like Northwestern, cannot win their division outright. Penn State, up two games in the win column over all challengers, has a strong claim to the top spot; Purdue (with a softer schedule ahead and one fewer loss on the books) moves up to third place ahead of Illinois. The Buckeyes and Boilers are fighting (along with Iowa, although theirs is nearly a foregone conclusion) to get the B1G to nine bowl-eligible teams.
Projected Standings: Margin-Aware System
|Michigan St||14||6.78||18.46%||46.41%||29.71%||5.21%||0.22%||1 in 40,600||N/A||N/A||N/A||100%||54.50%||85.35%|
|Minnesota||116||0.43||N/A||N/A||N/A||1 in 935k||0.01%||0.40%||5.41%||30.82%||63.36%||*||*||*|
Michigan and Nebraska narrow the gap somewhat, in part because their toughest remaining cross-division games (at Illinois and at Penn State, respectively) look more manageable when factoring in those teams' narrow escapes. Minnesota looks even more hapless as well.
|Wisconsin||9||6.13||N/A||37.00%||42.61%||17.30%||2.90%||0.18%||1 in 33,100||N/A||N/A||100%||38.75%||68.42%|
Wisconsin still maintains a lead in the projected standings here, despite being 2-1 compared to Penn State's 4-0. PSU's narrow escapes against Indiana and Purdue (and, to a lesser extent, Iowa) are dragging them down, while Wisconsin blew out everyone they faced prior to the Hail Mary. The fight for third remains close, with Ohio State even closer to Purdue and Illinois.