The B1G is on the comeback trail. There were strong performances, classic rush-heavy football, defensive stops, rain delays, overcoming 4th-quarter deficits, and a glorious victory over a ranked opponent. It was almost a perfect weekend too, if it weren't for those meddling kids at Michigan.
So now that most of the non-conference schedule has been endured (kinda), we can begin to enjoy the best freakin' part of the entire year. The calendar now says its fall and B1G football will begin in earnest on Saturday morning. I long for these days during the spring and summer. These are the weekends that we talk about later -- the ones that the Big Ten Network potentially replays when they have no other content.
Soak it in. Let it's warmth and autumn-ness envelope you in an all-encompassing swirl of fall colors, school songs, pumpkin-flavored things, cooler weather, and B1G glory. Remember, there's a meager 8 games for
your team Illinois to show what it can really do. Whatever you do, don't miss it.
1. Michigan State Spartans - vs. Eastern Michigan, Win 73-14 - Last Week: 1
Good lord! 73 points? Is that necessary? I thought I heard Dantonio say he wasn't going to run up the score. Whatever. Interesting Note of the Game: EMU's quarterback Rob Bolden (yes, the former Penn State quarterback) had more passing yards than MSU's Connor Cook.
2. Wisconsin Badgers - vs. Bowling Green, Win 68-17 - LW: 2
Melvin Gordon ran for 253 yards and 5 touchdowns which helped the Badgers gain 644 total rushing yards, the most in a B1G game since a 1927 Minnesota ran for 663. The field was obviously tilted.
3. Nebraska Cornhuskers - vs. Miami, Win 41-31 - LW: 3
Saturday was a good day to be a Husker. They hosted Miami, a hated rival from the days of old, packed the stadium with 91,585, a Memorial Stadium record, and watched as their best player, Ameer Abdullah, racked up 229 yards and 2 touchdowns in a victory that puts them 4-0 going into B1G play.
4. Ohio State Buckeyes - DNP - LW: 4
Next week, the Buckeyes welcome Cincinnati to the Horseshoe before playing both of the B1G newcomers, Maryland and then Rutgers.
5. Penn State Nittany Lions - vs. UMass, Win 48-7 - LW: 5
The Nittany Franklins are undefeated, one of only two B1G teams, yet they seem planted just outside the top tier of these rankings. A close victory to a Borltes-less UCF, a boring win against Akron, a win where Rutgers nearly shut you down (not discounting Rutgers), and now a win over one of the worst teams in college football -- these are the mark of a team that isn't dominant, just good. I need to see something truly special before I move them any higher up.
6. Rutgers Scarlet Knights - @ Navy, Win 31-24 - LW: 7
I'll admit I had no idea Rutgers was going to be this competitive. The defensive line is surprising quite a few and the running game even more. But there is some bad news rolling down the turnpike -- stud running back is out for the year with a torn ACL. This is a huge blow and one that will strongly affect the rest of their season.
7. Indiana Hoosiers - @ Mizzou, Win 31-27 - LW: 12
I don't know much about Indiana's past, but beating Mizzou may be the biggest win in Hoosier football history. They're the only B1G team to defeat a ranked opponent, making the spotlight shine all the brighter. However, it's kinda weird have the Hoosiers be the hero of the B1G -- like if the Avengers were saved by Hawkeye.
8. Maryland Terrapins - @ Syracuse, Win 34-20 - LW: 8
The Terps had a very good game against the Orange, proving that turtles are better than fruit. Now, they get their first true welcome into the B1G when they travel to the new prom queen, Indiana. It's a matchup I've personally been waiting for all season. Something about Indiana's offense, Maryland's potential for offense with it's two big receivers, Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, and Indiana's lack of defense. There's a high chance we could see a combined 100 points.
9. Iowa Hawkeyes - @ Pittsburgh, Win 24-20 - LW: 10
The game against a good Pittsburgh team started with big gains by Pitt RB James Conner, but as the game went on Iowa seemed to get stronger and wiser. They made some great plays to catch up and take the lead behind RB Mark Wiesman (88 yards, 2 TDs) and new quarterback C.J. Beathard. They're now looking at a midseason QB competition in Iowa City. Luckily, they have time to figure it out -- they play Purdue next week.
10. Minnesota Golden Gophers - vs. San Jose State, Win 24-7 - LW: 9
The Gophers have reverted. They're now under the impression that it is 1920. The only football is running football. The pass is considered a trick. No, for real: Minnesota completed one pass on Saturday and rushed 58 times for 380 yards (6.6 per carry). Not bad, just not Wisconsin good.
11. Illinois Fighting Illini - vs. Texas State, Win 42-35 - LW: 11
It was a win, yes, but one that felt slimy. Wes Lunt was, again, awful one moment and redeeming-ly great to finish the game. In a dominant performance that we've been waiting for all season, Josh Ferguson made three huge runs that might've been the main reason we won the game. We're now 3-1 -- exactly where we're supposed to be according to August predictions. The question remains: are we truly happy with the current outcome?
12. Michigan Wolverines - vs. Utah, Loss 10-26 - LW: 6
The struggle of Brady Hoke's Michigan will be well documented. A big, blue-blood school like this hasn't hit such non-sanctioned lows in a long time. You don't think they can get much lower, but you might be wrong -- they play Minnesota next week in the Battle for the Little Brown Jug. The Wolverines have won it the last 6 times and lost it only 3 times in the last 42 contests between the schools. Imagine the depression.
13. Purdue Boilermakers - vs. Southern Illinois, Win 35-13 - LW: 13
Purdue's win was... nice. Unfortunately, it may be their last win in 2014. B1G competition isn't the same as the FCS opponents they've succeeded against so far.
14. Northwestern Wildcats - vs. Western Illinois, Win 24-7 - LW: 14
They beat Western Illinois, which is good and all; it's just not enough to move them out of the basement. A win against the Nittany Lions (Cat Fight!!) might persuade me to change their standing.
You can follow Aaron Rench on Twitter at @ARench89. Follow The Champaign Room on Twitter at @Champaign_ Room and Like us on Facebook.