Wisconsin and Penn State got their wins and set up a showdown this coming Saturday that will likely give the winner an inside track to the Capital One Bowl. The Badgers rallied past Illinois, while Penn State shut out Purdue. Early in the week, the big news is the health status of P.J. Hill. For the time being, Bret Bielama is satisfied with the progress of his star freshman.
The Badgers and Lions have spent the last two weeks trading games with Illinois and Purdue, and the results came back very similiar. Each team got a tougher then expected game from the Illini at home. And each team put on a defensive show in West Lafayette. The Illini's season is past salvageable at this point, but the strong effort they've given in State College and Madison the past two weeks is a heartening sign of progress for Ron Zook. They have a beating in Columbus awaiting them this week, but they now have a good chance to build off these recent games, beat Purdue and Northwestern in the final two, and go into the offseason on a high note.
The Boilermakers are no longer a realistic contender for a New Year's Day bid simply based on their record, and their performance the last two weeks--particularly on offense--has been startlingly poor. Who would have thought that in home games against UW and Penn State, Purdue would not score a single touchdown? Combined with their thirty-point thrashing at Iowa earlier in the conference schedule, this team is looking more Motor City-caliber, then Outback-caliber with each passing week.
And Purdue is suddenly looking like it might be an underdog in the battle for the Old Oaken Bucket. How about Indiana? With their thrashing of Michigan State, the Hoosiers are 5-4 and need only one more win to become bowl-eligible. If Terry Hoeppner had not been in the hospital during non-conference losses to Southern Illinois and Connecticut, this team would surely be 7-2 and contending for a Florida vacation. As it is, they are in good shape to go somewhere for the holidays for the first time since 1993.