Western Michigan (Sept. 4, 47-14 win)
The Broncos had a bye last week. They sit at 5-3 and in a six (6!) way tie in the MAC West with a 2-2 record going into Wednesday night’s showdown at home vs. Central Michigan.
Washington (Sept. 11, 31-10 win)
The Huskies’ 20-13 win at Stanford this past Saturday was as close to a typical 2021 Washington win as it comes. Washington’s defense was strong in holding the Cardinal to just 265 yards, but the Huskies didn’t score a touchdown until Dylan Morris’ game-winning toss to Jalen McMillan with 21 seconds to play.
It was ugly football, but nevertheless, Washington improved to 4-4 and 3-2 in Pac-12 play and will host Oregon this week.
Northern Illinois (Sept. 18, 63-10 win)
Like Western Michigan, NIU (6-2, 4-0) was one of 10 MAC teams with a Week 9 bye. The Huskies will head to Kent State on Wednesday.
Rutgers (Sept. 25, 20-13 win)
Beating Illinois was a must, as it pertained to the Scarlet Knights’ chances of going bowling this season. They took care of business in Champaign, winning 20-14 by scoring 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
Between Isaih Pacheco and Kyle Monangai, Rutgers (4-4, 1-4 Big Ten) moved the ball steadily on the ground (230 yards on 51 carries), while Noah Vedral played a gritty game after returning from a first-quarter injury. His 15-yard keeper in the fourth quarter turned out to be the game-winner.
Wisconsin (Oct. 2, 38-17 win)
The Badgers have looked like themselves over the last three weeks, but only against sketchy competition. That was decidedly not the case against Iowa. The Hawkeyes ran into a brick wall in the Wisconsin defense, gaining just 24 yards on the ground, while the Badgers made 10 tackles for loss and sacked Spencer Petras six times. Wisconsin forced and recovered three fumbles and did enough offensively to win going away, 27-7.
With as good a defense as any in the country, the Badgers (5-3, 3-2) are firmly in the race for the Big Ten West. They’ll host Rutgers this week.
Nebraska (Oct. 9, 32-29 win)
The end of the Scott Frost era may have been sealed last Saturday. Not with a bang, but with a whimper of a second half in which the Huskers gained just 37 yards prior to a last-gasp touchdown drive that couldn’t prevent a 28-23 loss at home to Purdue. Nebraska led this one 14-7 in the second quarter, but it began the second half as such: Punt. Interception. Punt. Punt. Punt. Interception. Interception.
The Huskers are 1-5 in the Big Ten and have Ohio State this week, followed by Wisconsin and Iowa to finish the season. 3-9 feels infinitely likelier than a bowl bid at this point.
Northwestern (Oct. 23, 33-7 win)
Minnesota ran all over the Wildcats, 41-14, this past week in a game never in doubt. The Golden Gophers gained at least 40 yards on all but one of their drives, running for 308 yards on 53 carries. From a Northwestern point of view, not much else to say about this one. The Wildcats are overmatched in the Big Ten this season and have mostly played like it.
Northwestern (3-5, 1-4) will host Iowa this Saturday.
Indiana (Nov. 6)
With Maryland on a three-game losing streak and Indiana down to its third-string, true freshman quarterback, what we got this past week was....a shootout? But despite the best efforts of Donaven McCulley (14-of-25, 242 yards, two touchdowns) and Stephen Carr (21 carries, 136 yards, two touchdowns), the Hoosiers came out on the wrong side of it, losing 38-35. They were in catch-up mode for much of the second half, but it was by far the best their offense has played against a Power 5 opponent.
Indiana is 2-6 and 0-5 in Big Ten play and will need a miracle to keep its bowl hopes alive.
Penn State (Nov. 13)
For the most part, Penn State was right there with Ohio State at the Horseshoe before the Buckeyes pulled away to win, 33-24. Sean Clifford’s great effort (35-of-52, 361 yards) was exactly what the Nittany Lions needed to compete, but it wasn’t enough at the end. Penn State’s rushing game once again couldn’t generate anything, as the Nittany Lions averaged 1.1 yards per carry on 29 attempts.
Penn State (5-3, 2-3) will have an opportunity to snap its three-game losing streak at Maryland this week.
Maryland (Nov. 20)
The Terrapins needed a get-right game as much as anyone in the country and that’s what their offense got, even though their defense struggled against a quarterback making his first start. Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 419 yards and two scores, carrying a unit that gained just 79 yards on 46 rushing attempts.
As steeply as Maryland’s season took a turn for the worse in October, the Terrapins are still 5-3 and on the brink of bowl eligibility for the first time since 2016. It won’t come easy, as their next three opponents are Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan.
Ohio State (Nov. 27)
The Buckeyes have looked like by far the Big Ten’s best team since Week 4, but had yet to see a defense like that of Penn State. Consider it a test passed commendably. C.J. Stroud threw for 305 yards and TreVeyon Henderson ran for 152 in the win. Ohio State’s offense showed it could move the chains at an elite level against an elite defense, even as it struggled to take full advantage of opportunities deep in Nittany Lion territory.
This Saturday, Ohio State (7-1, 5-0) will travel to Lincoln to take on Nebraska.