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Conference Corner: Combo-breaker Colorado

The race for the Big Ten is shaping up

Nebraska v Northwestern Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

The Big Ten conference would have gone undefeated this week, if not for Colorado pulling out a victory against Nebraska. Nonetheless, this week saw the race for the Big Ten divisions take shape, as teams who could have been contenders struggled while others excelled.

Rutgers vs No. 20 Iowa. This wasn’t a game where we learned that much, other than the fact that Rutgers is still Rutgers. Nate Stanley looked strong for the Hawkeyes, throwing for 236 yards and 3 TDs, while the Rutgers ground attack in Isaih Pacheo and Raheem Blackshear was the only thing the Knights could do reasonably well. When it was all said and done, Iowa walked away with a 30-0 victory.

Vanderbilt vs Purdue. The Purdue Boilermakers found some measure of redemption following their heartbreaking loss to Nevada last week. Elijah Sindelar went off for Jeff Brohm’s squad, racking up 509 yards passing and 5 TDs. Unfortunately for their future, Sindelar was the only thing working—as Purdue had a combined 18 carries for just 31 yards (1.7 ypc). Vanderbilt also had a good day in the air, but it wasn’t enough. Purdue got the win, 42-24.

Cincinnati vs No. 5 Ohio State. The Cincinnati Bearcats came in looking strong and ready to take on the No. 5 Buckeyes, and lol nope they got creamed. Justin Fields threw for 224 yards and 2 TDs, while the Ohio State rushing attack was lethal (46 carries for 270 yards). Ryan Day improved to 2-0 in his inaugural campaign with a 42-0 win over the in-state Bearcats.

No. 21 Syracuse vs Maryland. Last week, this column cautioned that Maryland’s massive win over Howard didn’t mean that much without additional context. Well, we now have that additional context. This appears to be the year that Maryland football finally takes a step forward. The Terrapins looked very strong on the ground and capable through the air en route to a massive 63-20 win over No. 21 Syracuse. The Terrapins could surprise some people this year.

No. 25 Nebraska vs Colorado. For four quarters, Nebraska and Colorado went back and forth in a game befitting the two teams’ historic rivalry. The football played wasn’t always good, but it was clear the two teams were evenly matched. Come overtime, Colorado made their FG attempt. Nebraska, well, didn’t. By a fairly large margin. The Huskers took the sole loss in the Big Ten this week, as Colorado prevailed 34-31.

Illinois vs Connecticut. The Fighting Illini have opened their season with two wins for the third straight season. Lovie Smith’s squad started slow, but relied on a second quarter offensive explosion to power itself to victory over UConn. Former Michigan Wolverine Brandon Peters threw for 227 yards, 4 TDs, and 1 INT en route to a 31-23 Illini victory.

Eastern Illinois vs Indiana. There isn’t really much to take away from this 52-0 win for the Indiana Hoosiers. Eastern Illinois is not very good, and Indiana looked competent on offense. If there’s one thing that Big Ten fans should keep an eye on, perhaps it’s the Hoosier’s rushing attack. Even against an inferior opponent like Eastern Illinois, Indiana was only able to muster 3.4 yards per carry.

Central Michigan vs No. 17 Wisconsin. For the second week in a row, Wisconsin came, Wisconsin saw, and Wisconsin beat the crap out of their non-conference opponent. The Badgers mercilessly got after Central Michigan to the tune of 61-0. Jack Coan threw for 363 yards and 3 TDs, and Jonathan Taylor ran for 102 yards and 3 TDs. After the performance against Army this past weekend, Wolverine fans should start to get nervous about going on the road to face this Badger squad in two weeks.

Buffalo vs No. 15 Penn State. The Nittany Lions actually trailed in this game at halftime by the score of 10-7. However, James Franklin effectively motivated his team at the half, and Penn State went on to outscore Buffalo 38-3 in the second half. Sean Clifford threw for 279 yards and 4 TDs for PSU, while the rushing attack looked rather mediocre. If that becomes a trend, Penn State could struggle to make much noise in the Big Ten this season.

Western Michigan vs No. 19 Michigan State. The Spartans broke out their industrial-accident-green alternate uniforms for... Western Michigan? Questionable sartorial choices aside, Michigan State’s offense looked much better than last week. Brian Lewerke threw for 314 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT, while Elijah Collins ran for 192 yards, resulting in a 51-17 win over the Broncos. We’ll see how for real Michigan State is after their Big Ten schedule gets underway.

Minnesota vs Fresno State. The Golden Gophers needed two overtimes to come away with a win in their game this past weekend, but it was a win nonetheless. Minnesota looked average through their air, with Tanner Morgan throwing for 234 yards and 2 TDs, and pretty bad on the ground (52 carries, 146 yards, 2.8 ypc). In the end, their defense carried the day—picking off Fresno State’s Jorge Reyna on the first play of the second overtime to seal a 38-35 victory.