Apologies for the delay in posting this. Normally I work on these on Tuesday nights, but I was otherwise occupied this week.
Week 10 Results
Illinois 31, Michigan State 27
Despite a huge advantage in yardage, MSU couldn’t squeak this one out because the Spartans completely failed to finish drives. In the first half, MSU had one drive that didn’t go at least 25 yards and Illinois had only one that did go that long - and yet the Illini led 7-6, as MSU settled for two field goals and punted after reaching at least the Illinois 36 yard line three times. A Gerald Holmes touchdown run and a two-point conversion late in the third quarter tied the game at 17 (after settling for yet another field goal on the first drive of the half), but the Illini answered to go back up 7. MSU put up a fourth field goal and forced a quick three and out, then R.J. Shelton caught a fourth down touchdown pass to put MSU in front with just under three minutes left. Unfortunately, that was too much time; Illinois needed only 1:17 to march back down and answer, and MSU’s last-ditch drive failed on fourth down in the red zone. All told, MSU crossed the Illinois 40 yard line ten times and got only two touchdowns and four field goals out of it.
Indiana 33, Rutgers 27
The Hoosiers’ penchant for shooting themselves in the foot nearly cost them, thanks to four turnovers, two turnovers on downs, three missed field goals (two blocked) and two failed extra points. Rutgers took the lead on a 75-yard Darnell Davis fumble return in the second quarter and extended that lead to 24-13 after forcing a fumble on the kickoff to open the third. Indiana scored twice late in the quarter to get back in front, but a second failed point after left them up only 26-24. After trading punts for most of the fourth quarter, with five minutes left, the Hoosiers scored again to push the lead to nine. Rutgers turned the ball over on downs just short of field goal range, and by the time they got the ball back they had only 1:15 to score twice. A 42-yard catch by Jawuan Harris got the Scarlet Knights to the 3-yard line, but they had only 15 seconds left at that point and chose to kick a field goal on first down then try the onside kick. Indiana recovered, and that was that.
Wisconsin 21, Northwestern 7
Ryan Field is a house of horrors for the Badgers no more. Wisconsin opened the scoring with a field goal early in the second quarter and a touchdown on the next drive; the Wildcats answered just before halftime to cut the deficit down to 10-7. Another field goal pushed the lead out to 13-7, but after a missed field goal the Wildcats got into striking distance early in the fourth quarter before a strip-sack ended the threat. The Badgers’ offense took it the rest of the way after that, and a two-point conversion provided the final margin.
Michigan 59, Maryland 3
This was maybe not quite as ugly as the final score implies. Yes, the Wolverines put up 660 yards of offense and weren’t stopped short of the end zone until the second half (and only twice then). But Maryland’s offense wasn’t completely inept; they crossed into Michigan territory four times in the first half but didn’t score any points thanks to a punt after being pushed back across midfield, a missed field goal, a turnover on downs, and a player being tackled at the 1 yard line as time ran out on the half. Two more turnovers on downs in Michigan territory followed in the third quarter before the Terps finally got on the board with a field goal that ... cut their deficit down to 45-3.
Minnesota 44, Purdue 31
Thanks to an abundance of field goals early, Minnesota struggled to put the Boilers away. An 89-yard catch-and-run by Cameron Posey put Purdue in front 14-10 late in the first quarter, and an end-of-half drive attempt backfired for the Gophers when Mitch Leidner’s pass was intercepted and returned to the 2 yard line with five seconds left; Purdue decided to run a play rather than kick a field goal and was rewarded with a touchdown to lead 28-23 at the half. But turnovers were their undoing in the second half, as all three of the Gophers’ second-half touchdown drives began in Purdue territory after turnovers.
Penn State 41, Iowa 14
The Nittany Lions’ resurgence continues with a complete domination of the Hawkeyes, outgaining them 599-234. Only one Penn State drive went fewer than 30 yards, and three of their first five drives ended with touchdowns. Iowa did get on the board before halftime, but Penn State answered with a half-ending field goal to lead 24-7 at the break. Iowa’s final touchdown came with 6:30 to go in the game, after it was already well out of reach; the Nittany Lions ran out the clock from there.
Ohio State 62, Nebraska 3
The Big Ten’s other major blowout (Michigan-Maryland) wasn’t much of a surprise. This one was. The Huskers entered the game ranked in the top 10 and having lost only to Wisconsin in overtime, but this game was never remotely competitive. Nebraska’s first drive ended with a pick-six. A chip-shot field goal cut the deficit down to 7-3, but the Huskers simply couldn’t stop Ohio State, who scored on every single offensive possession and added another pick-six on defense in the second half. More alarmingly, Tommy Armstrong was knocked out of the game by a concussion shortly before halftime.
Week 11 Games
All times ET. Odds are per my margin-aware ratings.
Rutgers at Michigan State (Noon, BTN)
Someone has to win, right? Both have had a couple of close calls but haven’t been able to get over the hump in conference play.
Odds: Michigan State 68% (projected margin: +5)
Penn State at Indiana (Noon, ABC/ESPN2)
This one has the potential to make the Hoosiers bowl-eligible, but odds are they’ll have to wait a couple weeks before getting there. This is Penn State’s most difficult remaining game by a decent margin, and they still have an outside shot at the division title (although they need Michigan to lose twice in order to win the tiebreakers).
Odds: Penn State 78% (+8)
Northwestern at Purdue (Noon, BTN)
With a trip to Minnesota looming, this is a big game for Northwestern’s bowl hopes; they need two of the last three, and by far the easiest route to that is to win here and against Illinois in the finale. Purdue needs to win out to grab a bowl spot.
Odds: Northwestern 84% (+11)
Illinois at Wisconsin (3:30, ESPN2)
Wisconsin’s remaining schedule is fairly favorable; the only one of the West contenders they still have to deal with is Minnesota. It would be a major surprise if the Badgers (who control their own destiny for the division title) aren’t 6-2 going into the Axe game.
Odds: Wisconsin 98.1% (+25.5)
Ohio State at Maryland (3:30, ESPN)
Maryland, like Indiana, has a nasty closing stretch before a much more manageable finale (in their case, against Rutgers). Maybe Ohio State gets caught looking ahead after their rout of Nebraska. If not, they shouldn’t have any trouble at all.
Odds: Ohio State 91.4% (+15.5)
Minnesota at Nebraska (7:30, BTN)
The Battle for the Broken Chair kicks off a crucial three weeks for both teams’ division title hopes. The Huskers get a visit from Maryland before their Black Friday finale at Iowa, while Minnesota runs a division gauntlet (Nebraska-Northwestern-Wisconsin) to close the season.
Odds: Nebraska 76% (+7)
Michigan at Iowa (8:00, ABC)
Believe it or not, this is the first road game Michigan has played against someone who is not 0-for in conference to date. Their two road games so far this season were against Rutgers and MSU. Iowa needs one win to become bowl-eligible and has a good chance next week at Illinois, but if they want to remain in the hunt for the division title this is an absolute must-win.
Odds: Michigan 94.2% (+18)
Average wins and odds of a particular record are calculated based on individual game odds; probabilities of an outright division win or at least a share of the division title are based on 100,000 simulations of the remainder of the season. Next week I’ll switch over to individual game scenarios for that as well, since tiebreakers should be reasonably clear (at least in the East).
Penn State still has the edge in projected wins on Ohio State due to an easier closing schedule, but the Buckeyes (unlike the Nittany Lions) control their own destiny for at least a share of the division title since they can knock Michigan down themselves. (They do not control their own destiny for Indianapolis, though; a second Michigan loss would give Penn State the tiebreaker.) In the mid-tier, Maryland and Indiana both need just one more win to reach 6-6, but that’s all they’re likely to get. At the bottom, somebody gets off the schneid this week.
The West is a total mess. Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Minnesota are all 4-2, and Minnesota plays both of the other two. Iowa and Northwestern lurk a game back and each have a chance to knock off one of the three in front of them. A five-way tie at 6-3 is impossible because there are too many games left between the teams, but a four-way tie is still a real possibility (albeit an unlikely one).