It was a light load for the Big Ten in Week 5, with Michigan and Purdue on bye weeks and the entire conference playing in-conference games for the first time all season.
While the Spartans took care of their game, the road through the Big Ten East doesn’t look any easier. The top teams not only won, but did so in impressive fashion. As MSU enters Michigan Week, this is how the conference looks.
Michigan State Spartans 17 - Iowa Hawkeyes 10
The Spartans scored all of the points in the first half, and were kept out of the end zone after the first quarter. But an impressive game by the MSU defense kept Iowa at arms length through most of the game. The young Spartans won a game at home that was almost a must win if they plan on returning to a bowl game.
For Iowa, this was a tough loss. Now two in a row in conference. After this, the Hawkeyes return to the softer Big Ten West, where they should slide back up near the top of the division before their game against Wisconsin in November.
The Friday night assault in Lincoln isn’t a surprise, but it is important. Fresh off of an embarrassing loss to Northern Illinois, Nebraska needed this bounce back in the worst way. Nebraska controlled the game in every way, taking a 21-3 lead into halftime. The jury is still out as to how good Nebraska is, but this was an absolute must.
Really, the only description needed of this game is to say - SAQUON BARKLEY. The Penn State running back all but ended the game on the opening kick off, returning it for a touchdown. He followed that up with a passing touchdown. While the running load was relatively light for the expected Heisman finalist, Penn State had the game in control without need of putting him in danger.
The Badgers had a chance to put this game away midway through the second half, but just couldn’t close the door. Up 21 points, Wisconsin let up back-to-back touchdown drives in the fourth quarter and were only a on-side kick away from giving Northwestern a chance to tie or win in the final minute. Once again, Wisconsin appears to be a dominant team - whenever they remember to be one.
This is about as tough a conference loss as it gets for Minnesota. Maryland came into the game reeling, with an injury depleted offense and fresh off its first loss. Minnesota was at home and still sporting an undefeated record. But Maryland looked like a team that will do this more than once to Big Ten teams, winning games that their opponent was depending on. The Terps held control of the game throughout, even with the score close. Minnesota just never got any sort of rhythm.
The Buckeyes scored 56 points. That’s really all there was to see here.