As the weeks tick by, the Big Ten shakes itself out more and more. A couple weeks ago, it looked like Penn State and Ohio State would be playing one another to determine not only the conference title, but potentially the Big Ten’s spot in the College Football Playoff. Then, last week Michigan State and Iowa completely shifted things with big wins over Penn State and Ohio State, respectively.
Now, in Week 11, this conference that has seemed uncommonly competitive at times did not look like itself.
Apparently getting blown out by 31 points at Iowa was a motivator for Ohio State, because they came back to Columbus and put the same kind of pounding on Michigan State Saturday. Some fans — mostly in East Lansing — scoffed at the 17-point spread in favor of the Buckeyes, but it turns out that wasn’t nearly enough points.
This one got out of hand for the Spartans in a hurry. But what’s left for fans to decide: Did this game say more about OSU or MSU?
Coming off back-to-back losses, Penn State didn’t look to have improved much at the beginning of this matchup with Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights jumped out to a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter and Nittany Lions fans weren’t just scratching their heads — they were justifiably frustrated.
But then things changed and Penn State got back to its typical self and absolutely rolled for the rest of this one. Oh, and Barkley did more Barkley things:
After losing 5-of-6 to start conference play, the Gophers absolutely dominated Nebraska on Saturday. From the opening kickoff, which Minnesota returned for a 99-yard touchdown, this game was all Gophers — a big statement by a team that was struggling mightily in P.J. Fleck’s first season. Here’s a highlight to show how close Nebraska was to being competitive in this one:
Indiana is one of those teams that always seems to play to the level of its opponent. The Hoosiers played Ohio State and Wisconsin tough for much of those contests, and they nearly pulled out wins against Michigan and Michigan State.
However, a couple weeks ago they let Maryland get the better of them and Saturday the Fighting Illini were in it until late, when IU finally put the game away. That gets the Hoosiers in the win column in conference play!
The matchup between the Hawkeyes and Badgers was intriguing. On one hand, Iowa was coming off a huge win and fans wanted to see if it could continue the momentum. On the other hand, Wisconsin felt disrespected (at least a little) by the College Football Playoff committee with its No. 8 ranking as an undefeated Power 5 team.
So what happened? Wisconsin continued rolling, as it’s done all season. And don’t let the final score fool you — if it weren’t for two pick-sixes, the Badgers shut out the Hawkeyes.