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B1G Roundup and Preview: Good and Bad Football

You're either good or bad at football in the B1G these days. There aren't many teams in the middle anymore.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa 31 Maryland 15

Quick summary in three gifs:

Iowa continued to win in humdrum fashion on Saturday, going up 21-0 at halftime before allowing Maryland some late life. The Hawkeyes ground game paved the way to victory as backs Akrum Wadley, LeShun Daniels Jr., and Derrick Mitchell Jr. each scored a touchdown and combined for 129 yards on 33 carries. Iowa's other touchdown came via an 88-yard interception return by cornerback Desmond King, one of four turnovers forced by the Hawkeyes. As for C.J. Beathard, he turned in a mediocre performance with 183 yards on 12 of 23 passing. Oh, and tight end George Little made a pretty snazzy one-handed grab:

For Maryland, Perry Hills continues to be the best and worst part about their offense. Against the Hawkeyes, he passed for 74 yards and one touchdown on 11 of 22 passing and rushed for 104 yards on 19 carries. However, he tossed three interceptions, one being the aforementioned pick-six. And as for that "late life" Maryland received, it came on the heels of yet another return touchdown by Will Likely, this time a 100-yard kickoff return in the middle of the fourth quarter. After a successful two-point conversion and a three-and-out by Iowa, the Terps regained possession trailing 31-15 with 5:01 remaining. They proceeded to close out the game as if they were leading:

In all fairness, it was Halloween...

Penn State 39 Illinois 0

Penn State wiped the field with Illinois from the opening kickoff to the final buzzer, and this game proved once and for all that the Illini's early season success was a fluke, Bill Cubit is not the solution in Champaign, and Illinois football sucks right now. The Nittany Lions defense suffocated any and all attempts made by the Illini offense. On 15 drives, Illinois punted twelve times, turned the ball over on downs twice, and threw one interception. Their longest drive spanned 31 yards and only three traveled more than 18. They gained a grand total of 167 net yards on 71 offensive plays, including 37 rushing yards on 27 carries. Yikes.

For Penn State's offense, Christian Hackenberg led the way this week with less deep tossups and more short-to-medium throws. He showed "efficiency spreading the ball around the field" and "completed his first seven passes to three different receivers" (Black Shoe Diaries). He finished the day 21 of 29 for 266 yards and two touchdowns and failed to throw an interception. He also practiced catching the ball a bit this week, leading to a touchdown on his first career reception:

Whether Hack's efficient or not, he's not turning the ball over as he only has two interceptions on the year compared to 25 over the last two years. On the ground, the Nittany Lions didn't put up gaudy numbers, but they got the job done. Saquon Barkley continues to impress, gaining 84 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries as well as 58 receiving yards on three catches. His touchdown watched him levitate into the endzone:

And because why not sync it up with "Jumpman?"

Purdue 55 Nebraska 45

This week, football - not power washing - was Purdue's pastime.

The narrow final score fails to illustrate that the Boilermakers carried a 42-16 lead into the fourth quarter. Yeah, they almost blew it, and yes, it would have been "the most Purdue thing ever." But they didn't, and it marks their first B1G victory at home under Darrell Hazell, dating back to a 56-35 win over Indiana for the Old Oaken Bucket in 2012. It was also the first time they topped Nebraska since 1958:

For the first time in a long time, Purdue looked like a well-rounded, competent football team. Sure, they were aided by facing arguably the worst Cornhuskers team in history, but still, they did what solid teams do, something that isn't normal for the Boilermakers.

Freshman signal caller David Blough recorded easily the best performance of his short college career, throwing for 274 yards and four touchdowns on 28 of 43 passing as well as rushing for 82 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. The rest of Purdue's ground attack followed suit, combining for 101 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries. On defense, the Boilermakers forced five turnovers, which turned into 28 points. Save for the fourth quarter where Nebraska scored 29, Purdue stymied the Huskers offensive advances. With Tommy Armstrong Jr. injured, Ryker Fyfe struggled in his first career start, throwing for 407 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions, all but one turning into Purdue points. The Cornhuskers ground game never found life, stumbling to 77 net yards on 29 carries (granted, it looks a little better if you remove Fyfe's seven carries for negative 35 yards).

This final cannonball from Purdue seems to have officially sunk Nebraska's already floundering ship, while the Boilermakers are off eating custom-branded hot dogs in celebration:

Wisconsin 48 Rutgers 10

Corey Clement returned for the Badgers, Leonte Carroo did not for the Scarlet Knights, and that was the game. In his first action since the season opener against Alabama, Clement tallied 115 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries. He looked to be back at 100% following the sports hernia surgery that kept him sidelined. Joel Stave also returned for Wisconsin this week, albeit with less fanfare. He started out strong but limped to a final line of 13 of 25 for 217 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. The Badgers also received significant production from their version of Jabrill Peppers as redshirt senior Tanner McEvoy did a little bit of everything, registering a sack, an interception, and a 20-yard rushing touchdown against Rutgers.

"Rutgers was outclassed in every phase of the game, by a team decimated by injuries" (On The Banks). That quote summarizes the ugly display of football presented by the Scarlet Knights on Saturday. Chris Laviano finished with a pitiful 31 yards on 4 of 14 passing, including one interception and one fumble lost, and Rutgers gained 83 net yards on 38 carries. They went 2-for-15 on third down and seemed to have no interest in finding the endzone on offense. Their lone score came on a 50-yard interception return. For more on the miserable state of Rutgers football, read this.

Coming Soon

Penn State at #21 Northwestern

With a win, the Nittany Lions will be looking to climb into the rankings while sending Northwestern packing. This game will prove whether the Wildcats can stop their slide from B1G West hopeful to back-to-back losses and a narrow victory over lowly Nebraska. One team is rising; the other, falling. Will the trends continue?

Illinois at Purdue

Purdue's dreaming of back-to-back home B1G wins for the first time since 2011, while Illinois attempts to salvage their season by making a crappy bowl game. They'll need this win to qualify too, since I don't see two wins in their final three (OSU, at Minn, NW). I think it's more likely the Boilermakers notch win #3.

#9 Iowa at Indiana

Four weeks ago, this forecasted as a showdown between two teams at the top of the B1G. Now, Indiana has gone off the rails again, while Iowa trucks along seemingly destined for the B1G Championship game. The only hope for Indiana is that this turns into a shootout. But the Hoosiers can't score, the Hawkeyes will annihilate them.

Wisconsin at Maryland

This game gives the Badgers a chance to dominate a much lesser opponent and jump into the rankings. It's kind of funny they aren't ranked already, seeing as their two losses have come against #4 Alabama and #9 Iowa. Anyways, it doesn't matter how many Wisconsin players are injured, Maryland isn't getting their first conference win this week.

#7 Michigan State at Nebraska

A couple weeks ago, I started to pray for the Cornhuskers to upset Sparty in this one. After an ugly loss to Purdue, Nebraska doesn't seem intent on answering my prayers. Still, MSU has played down to its opponent multiple times this season, so this game could fall anywhere on the spectrum from "Huskers upset" to "Another close Spartans W" to "MSU blowout builds their playoff resume."

Minnesota at #3 Ohio State

As much as non-Buckeyes fans want an upset, that's probably not going to happen. The more likely scenario sees the Gophers falling back down to earth after a spirited and victory-deserving performance against the Wolverines last week. Even without J.T. Barrett, OSU likely cruises at home in this one. However, it will be interesting to see how Minnesota responds after the emotions of last week with both the loss of beloved head coach Jerry Kill and the gut-wrenching game ending.