1. Ohio State: 6-0 (2-0 Big Ten), No. 8 AP Poll/Ineligible for Coaches Poll. Last Week: W 63-38 over Nebraska. Next: at Indiana, 7 p.m. Believe it or not, the Buckeyes surrendered 121 yards rushing, and were held to no first downs and had only 17 total yards in the first quarter. Then the sleeping giant awoke as running back Carlos Hyde rushed for career highs of 140 yards and four touchdowns, and quarterback Braxton Miller took over the game. Ohio State better not overlook an Indiana team looking for a breakout game.
2. Michigan: 3-2 (1-0), No. 25/Unranked. Last Week: W 44-13 over Purdue. Next: vs. Illinois, 2:30 p.m. The Wolverines jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first half and never looked back. Quarterback Denard Robinson ran 24 times for 235 yards against the vaunted Purdue defense. Michigan, barring an outbreak of turnovers, should have no trouble with struggling Illinois.
3. Penn State: 4-2 (2-0). Last Week: W 39-28 over Northwestern. Next: Bye. The Nittany Lions shocked the Wildcats with 22 unanswered in the fourth quarter. Senior QB Matt McGloin completed 35-of-51 passing for 282 yards and two scores, and RB Zach Zwinak added 121 yards and a score. Penn State gets a week off before traveling to Iowa.
4. Michigan State: 4-2 (1-1). Last Week: W 31-27 over Indiana. Next: vs. Iowa, 11 a.m. Sparty needed a 17-point rally to defeat Indiana. Michigan State gave up nearly 200 yards and 17 points in the first quarter, then held the Hoosiers to 37 yards and two first downs in the second half. MSU’s offense came clawing back as QB Andrew Maxwell finished with 290 yards passing with two scores, RB Le’Veon Bell ran 37 times for 121 yards and two scores and freshman WR Aaron Burbridge added 8 catches for 134 yards in just his second game played this season. The Spartans are going to have to keep up the aerial attack and control the line on defense to make Iowa’s downhill running game a non-factor.
5. Nebraska: 4-2 (1-1). Last Week: L 63-38 to Ohio State. Next: Bye. Husker fans watched this one go from T-Magic to T-ragic. QB Taylor Martinez’s completion percentage drifted farther away from that 70 percent goal as he threw for 3 INTs, including a pick-six. RB Rex Burkhead averaged 8.5 yards per carry as he ran 14 times for 119 yards before aggravating his knee injury. Burkhead frantically tried to get back on the field, but he never returned. Nebraska’s defense suffocated OSU in the first quarter and then promptly vanished the rest of the game, allowing RB Carlos Hyde to have his first 100-yard performance of the year and Braxton Miller to run freely about the field. Personnel changes for both assistant coaches and players may be in the not-to-distant future for the Big Red. Nebraska gets a week off to drive back hordes of fans with pitchforks and torches before traveling to Northwestern.
6. Wisconsin: 4-2 (1-1). Last Week: W 31-14 over Illinois. Next: at Purdue, 11 a.m. Wisconsin scored 24 unanswered points and rushed for 96 yards in the fourth quarter to seal the deal. RB Montee Ball had two touchdowns as he rushed for over 100 yards for the third time this season, and receiver Jared Abberderis added 7 receptions for 117 yards and a score. Wisconsin needs this win over Purdue to keep a huge advantage in the Leaders standings with Ohio State and Penn State on probation.
7. Purdue: 3-2 (0-1). Last Week: L 44-13 to Michigan. Next: vs. Wisconsin, 11 a.m. The Boilermakers have given up a combined 85 points in the last two games. Quarterback Robert Marve made an ineffective appearance for the first time since tearing his ACL on Sept. 8. This Purdue team needs any spark it can get when hosting a hungry Badgers squad this week.
8. Northwestern: 5-1 (1-1). Last Week: L 39-28 to Penn State. Next: at Minnesota, 11 a.m. Everything man, Kain Colter, became nothing man as the Penn State defense held him to 41 total yards. Coach Pat Fitzgerald seems set on starting Trevor Siemian at quarterback while using Colter as a weapon elsewhere. Siemian has been an effective game manager, completing 65.8 percent of his passes with only one interception. Of course, he’s also only thrown for two scores. Colter may have to return to playing some QB against the Big Ten’s more potent defenses. Minnesota doesn’t count as one of those defenses.
9. Iowa: 3-2 (1-0). Last Week: Bye. Next: at Michigan State, 11 a.m. Starting corner and punt returner Micah Hyde and two backup players were arrested in separate incidents over the weekend; no word on any suspensions. This game is by far the toughest test to date for the Hawkeyes. Iowa needs to make this a low-scoring, ground-and-pound kind of game where Mark Weisman can be featured without having to press for quick scores. This one could be worth tuning in for… or it might be over by halftime.
10. Indiana: 2-3 (0-2). Last Week: L 31-27 to Michigan State. Next: vs. Ohio State, 7 p.m. Quarterback Cameron Coffman aired it out, completing 33-of-48 for 282 yards and three scores for the Hoosiers. Coffman has completed 67.2 percent of his passes for 801 yards, 8 TDs and only 1 INT this year. Indiana is poised for a breakout game if the Hoosiers can put together a complete-game effort. Indiana may be in this one in the first half.
11. Minnesota: 4-1 (0-1). Last Week: Bye. Next: vs. Northwestern, 11 a.m. The schedule doesn’t get much easier from here. The Golden Gophers need to get quarterback MarQuies Gray back from injury to stand a puncher’s chance in the Legends Division. Minnesota needs find a way to keep Kain Colter quiet for another week.
12. Illinois: 2-4 (0-2). Last Week: L 31-14 to Wisconsin. Next: at Michigan, 2:30 p.m. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase accounted for nearly all of the Illini offense. Unfortunately for Illinois, he didn’t exactly light the world on fire with his 178 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT and getting sacked four times. He did rush 22 times for 84 yards and a score, but he couldn’t stop the Badgers from taking this one by the throat in the fourth quarter. This Michigan team is looking to beat up on anyone it can to make people forget about its ugly losses.
By Steve Siedlik