Bad news: October's over. Good news: November's coming.
Each week the Big Ten picture gets clearer -- at least, that's what you'd think.
Minnesota's loss Illinois' win shake's up the entirety of the Western Division. There are now four teams (Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin) with one loss, and the race is still anybody's to win.
Whoever planned the 2014 conference schedule created a backloaded gauntlet. Seriously, the next five weeks of the season are going to be mind-bottling great. All of the top Western candidates will battle while the best of the East will square off as well.
Just get ready.
There's not much to be said about the Spartans we don't already know. They're constructed of a good offense, a buzz-saw defense, and Dantonio's scowl. What we still have to learn, though, will come in two weeks, when the Spartansfinally play Ohio State. Can they keep their place as the top dog in the East? It's going to be a great game with all kinds of implications for the Big Ten Championship and the postseason. I'll honestly be upset if College Gameday doesn't start the day in East Lansing.
Did you see Joey Bosa?
That sack/bulldozer-impersonation was the game-clinching moment of Ohio State's overtime win over Penn State. Brought on by a suboptimal offense, Bosa and Co. kept Nittany Lions from walking away victorious. It keeps playoff hopes alive for the Buckeyes. But a more important point to notice: this is probably a BTN Classic that we'll be re-watching all summer.
I don't need to tell you this but Ameer Abdullah is a Heisman finalist, but I do need to tell the national media. Abdullah has more All Purpose yards than any other player in the nation. He averages 8.3 yards per play and 211.3 apy per game, and he added 341 more against Rutgers on Saturday. He's powerful, consistent, brutal, and smart, yet he gets little to no attention. I know we're Illini fans but I think that we need to join with Huskers and get this kid some attention. Start tweeting the media about Abdullah. Don't this season be under appreciated.
It was another big day for Melvin Gordon, rushing for three touchdowns and 122 yards, while Joel Stave had a mildly great day at quarterback, at least for a Wisconsin quarterback. See, Wisconsin, in all their 4th-ranked greatness, have a really disturbing gap under center. If you ask me who'll win the West, I'm not going to say the Badgers mostly because of that one weakness.
As The Daily Gopher manager, GoAUpher, said, "Reilly O'Toole looked like a great running QB. Reilly O'Toole is not a great running QB." Minnesota generally made the Illini look good. But in all our euphoria, let's not forget that Minnesota was a few plays away from winning this game. They still have a very good chance to compete for the West.
6. (tied) Iowa Hawkeyes - DNP - LW: 7
Welcomes Northwestern on this coming weekend.
With Maryland beating Iowa a week ago, it was hard to put them all the way to 7th especially when the loss came against a top-tier team like Wisconsin. The Terps just couldn't keep up with Wisconsin's rushing attack (allowing 311 rushing yards) or their defense (gaining only 175 yards in total). It was a tough loss after showing some real spunk over the last few weeks.
Two straight losses have the Knights felling low, but honestly, they should keep their heads up. They surprised many people and lost to high quality opponents. A losing streak now could dishearten the team, making the last few games more daunting then they should. Rutgers takes on Wisconsin and Indiana, then travels to Michigan State and Maryland to end the season. There's two winnable games there. Don't give up just yet.
9. Northwestern Wildcats - DNP - LW: 9
Next week at Iowa.
10. Purdue Boilermakers - DNP - LW: 10
Next week at 'Braska.
Penn State fought hard. Multiple times, they came back from devastating mishaps, turnovers, and referee decisions. In their honor, I'm coining a new word: phoenix, v. - to come back from pretty much nothing. As in, Penn State phoenixed several times last night, pushing Ohio State into overtime. As in, if Michigan would have to phoenix to make a bowl game. As in, Tim Beckman phoenixed to keep his job.
A big, tremendous, exciting, sometimes-dominant, sometimes-terrible, come-from-behind, basketball-delaying, fantastic, job-reviving, hope-raising, adequate, grey-clad, important win raises the Illini from the dredges of the Big Ten. It wasn't always perfect, nor was it flashy, but it was exactly what was needed.
Over the past 10 games, Michigan has scored less and less in the battle for Paul Bunyon. They scored 45 points in 2004, in 2005 it was 34, followed by a streak of games that went from 31 to 28 to 21 to 20 to 17 to 14 to 12 to 6. And after this most recent game, 11 points. But as omgdonerkebob pointed out on Reddit, "God screwed up - he approved of 11 because he thought it was in binary." (In binary, 11 actually equals 3.)
14. Indiana Hoosiers - DNP - LW: 12
Plays in Ann Arbor next weekend. A riveting matchup indeed.