This was a great week of Big Ten football. Fans of the Fighting Illini might not want to agree so easily, but as a fan of the conference, this may have been the best week this season.
There were great moments everywhere. A single game record was broken, a backup cemented himself as the greatest freshmen in the history of one of the most illustrious schools, there were games played in the snow, there were non-con victories including one very surprising result, a trophy was handed off for the first time, and one team uses the power of a bowl game to move out of its own shadow.
And it all leads up to an exciting final two weeks of the season. There are more bowl games to secure and neither division is completely wrapped up. This is college football after all, and you can never be too sure about anything. Of course, there are rivalries around every corner. These last two weeks should be amazing.
9-1, 6-0 - 1st in the East - vs. Indiana, vs. Michigan
J.T. Barrett, the redshirt freshmen quarterback who came into the season as a backup, now holds the record for most touchdowns in a season in Ohio State history (38), rushing yards by a quarterback in a game (189), and longest run by a quarterback (86). Let's just say things worked out for the Buckeyes.
8-2, 5-1 - 1st in the West - @ Iowa, vs. Minnesota
Melvin Gordon rushed for more yards than some running backs gain in five games -- 408 to be exact. He's now part of the Badger Monster, a three-headed black-and-white beast with thunderous thighs:
Melvin holds the ncaa yards in a game record. Ron Dayne holds the ncaa rushing record and I hold the ncaa touchdown record lol #badgers— Montee Ball (@ballrb28) November 15, 2014
And to top it all off, the victory likely locks up the Western Division for Wisconsin. It was a very good day in Madison.
8-2, 5-1 - 2nd in the East - vs. Rutgers, @ Penn State
The Spartan defense made its return from the destruction by Ohio State by allowing only six yards via the ground. They're now playing for rights to one of the secondary BCS bowl games, and they still have a very good chance. It's all helped by a fairly easy remaining schedule.
8-2, 4-2 - 2nd in the West - vs. Minnesota, @ Iowa
That's not the way you want to start out a new rivalry trophy. The Huskers gave the new Freedom Trophy. There was little to no defense, they gave up a whopping 627 total yards with 92.7 percent of that being on the ground and 70 percent of that coming from one guy. Nebraska had a chance to control the West, but at least they should have more than 8 wins.
7-3, 4-2 - 3rd in the West - @ Nebraska, @ Wisconsin
The Gophers put up an extremely good fight in their yellow-gold helmets and jerseys. Had their defense not allowed several big breakaways, this game could very well ended with Minnesota on top. They've got the hardest remain schedule of any B1G team, but this is one of the best Minnesota teams ever, so who knows what's gonna happen?
7-3, 4-2 - 4th in the West - vs. Wisconsin, vs. Nebraska
Iowa played a very complete game on Saturday. They weren't great, they weren't bad. Typical Iowa football. They now sit in a semi-awkward position in the West -- they're just outside of contention, but not far enough back to give up hope.
6-4, 3-3 - 3rd in the East - @ Michigan, vs. Rutgers
I have a hypothesis about my own rankings system, and therefore my own mental processes. If a team loses to one of the best teams, it doesn't mean much; it's only an inevitability. And so, my rankings rarely or only slightly lower the losing team in the proceeding rankings. This happened when Minnesota lost to OSU, and now with Maryland losing to Michigan State. As long as a fight was put up, no power was lost.
Next weeks matchup with Michigan will be the definitive answer to who is the 3rd best team in the East.
Also, congrats to the Maryland Men's soccer team for beating Indiana in the B1G Championship Game!
6-4, 2-4 - 5th in the East - @ Illinois, vs. Michigan State
Congratulations to the Nittany Lions on becoming bowl eligible! As much as we don't like you during a normal week, it's beyond wonderful to see the dark cloud of bad decisions start to move away. Personally, I'll be rooting for you. For that one game. Then, it's back to the old ways of despising yinz guts.
4-6, 2-4 - 5th in the West - @ Purdue, vs. Illinois
6-4, 2-4 - 6th in the East - @ Michigan State, @ Maryland
There are now nine B1G teams with bowl eligibility. Rutgers is among them. Their season has amounted to far more than any speculated in August. They're aren't a great team, having neither a phenomenal offense (although, they do have spurts of quality) or defensive secondary. They make plays when needed and don't make too many stupid penalties (/rolls eyes in the direction of Champaign).
11. Michigan Wolverines - DNP - LW: 9
5-5, 3-3 - 4th in the East - vs. Maryland, @ Ohio State
One win away from the postseason; after such a obnoxious and distracting season, it'd would help wash away a lot of the smell. The Wolverines have a bye week to prepare for Maryland. They better get their 6th win from them because OSU sure isn't going to let it happen.
12. Purdue Boilermakers - DNP - LW: 10
3-7, 1-5 - 7th in the West - vs. Northwestern, @ Indiana
The Boilermakers move down this week because everyone below them won some surprising games. They also have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the B1G.
4-6, 1-5 - 6th in the West - vs. Penn State, @ Northwestern
Other than Mike Dudek, very little went right for the Illini. The defense may have stopped several Iowa drives in 4th down situations, but allowing 587 yards makes the sickly offense only look worse. The Fighting Beckman's are down to two straight games where one loss will keep them from the postseason.
3-7, 0-6 - 7th in the East - @ Ohio State, vs. Purdue
The lone cushion for the Illini, the Hoosiers have now amassed 6 B1G losses and are looking at a fairly obvious seventh next week. Stud running back Tevin Coleman needs to be noticed though, he's now rushed for more than 1600 yards, which is second in the nation, but it all gets overlooked due to the Hoosier's record. He also rushed for 307 yards (9.6 ypc) against Rutgers, but it'll all mostly get washed out Gordon's big day.