Michigan 27 Wisconsin 25
In the span of one quarter, Rich Rodriguez went from having the hottest seat in the nation to his first big win in Ann Arbor. In that same span, Wisconsin went from being a darkhorse national title contender to staring a disaster in the face, as they now have to play Ohio State & Penn State right on the heels of a devastating loss. Both teams were sloppy, combining for nine turnovers. Wisconsin just did not get their usual production from the ground game, as P.J. Hill was held to 70 yards. Michigan doesn't look any closer to making the spread offense click, but they found a way to rally from 19-0 down and win. Mark Snyder of The Detroit Press writes that this historic comeback could be a program-defining moment.
Penn State 38 Illinois 24
The Nittany Lions got a number of strong offensive performances, including Derrick Williams who delivered a historic trifecta, becoming the first player in the Joe Paterno Era to score a touchdown rushing, receiving and returning. But Lion fans need to be concerned about the way the defense let Illinois move the ball up and down the field. The Illini got 372 total yards, including 189 on the ground. As the PSU offense began to click in non-conference, the common sentiment held by many (including me) was "as long as the offense is strong, you know Penn State will always play defense." But is that sentiment true? The Lion defense did fade at the end of last season, notably in a shootout loss at Michigan State that cost them a New Year's Day bid. They haven't been dominating yet this year and it's not going to get easier when they play at Ohio State. Right now, I don't think it's a problem big enough to keep them from having a big year and even making a BCS game. But it could cost them a championship, Big Ten or national.
Notre Dame 38 Purdue 21
Nice win for the Irish. The game was tied 14-14 at half and Notre Dame took over in the third quarter. Jimmy Clausen posted a solid 21/35, 275 yards/3TD line. Curtis Painter more then matched him, ringing up 359 yards in the air. But ND was stronger on the ground, as Armando Allen rushed for 134 yards, while counterpart Kory Sheets went for "only" 87. Al Lesar of The South Bend Tribune analyzes that the key was Charlie Weis exploiting Purdue's weakness at linebacker.
Ohio State 34 Minnesota 21
This one wasn't as close as the score makes it sound. It was 34-6 in the fourth quarter, before a pair of garbage-time Gopher touchdowns made it close. Nothing earth-shattering happened with Terrelle Pryor, good or bad, but the return of Chris Wells was an unqualified success. Wells delivered 106 yards on just 14 carries. It looks safe to attribute Ohio State's struggles against weak non-conference competition to be just fallout from before and after Southern Cal. As for Minnesota, next week's game with Indiana will be a decisive test as to whether the optimism that started to flourish in their run through non-conference was justified.
Michigan State 42 Indiana 29
Javon Ringer continued to dominate, racking up 198 yards on 44 carries. Even better for the MSU offense, he got help from the passing game. Brian Hoyer had a strong 261-yard outing in support, as the Spartans survived a shootout. But the defense was clearly a problem in Bloomington. The Hoosiers might have won, if not for a strange play in the third quarter. A 97-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Ben Chappell to Terrance Turner was not only called back, but turned into a safety, because of holding in the end zone. Instead of taking the lead, IU fell behind 36-29.
Northwestern 22 Iowa 17
A huge uplifting win for Pat Fitzgerald and the Wildcats and an equally devastating loss for Kirk Ferentz's Hawkeyes. Iowa led this one 17-3 in the second quarter, but did nothing afterward. The decisive factor was five Iowa turnovers. It served to negate good games from quarterback Ricky Stanzi (21/30, 238 yards), running back Shonn Greene (159 yards) and receiver Andy Brodell (8 catches, 126 yards). It all means that Iowa's back is to the wall, while NU is rolling along at 5-0.