Penn State 13 Ohio State 6
It was a dead-even game in almost every respect. Total yards was roughly even, with Ohio State doing its damage thorugh the air, while Penn State moved it on the ground. Terrel Pryor played his best game as a Buck, throwing for 225 yards in spite of no support from Chris Wells, who was shut down. And the entire game had a "dead-even feel" to it, if there is such a thing. But the one area that wasn't even was penalties and turnovers. The Buckeyes weren't bad, but the Lions were flawless. Not a single miscue for Joe Paterno's team. It was a big fumble by Pryor that set up the game-winning drive and a big interception down by the goal line that finally sealed it. It was the kind of game, Bob Hunter of The Columbus Dispatch points out, that Jim Tressel always wins. But on Saturday night, PSU out-Tresseled the Buckeyes and escaped with an enormous win that puts them firmly in command of the Big Ten race and in very enviable position in the race for the national title. Ohio State is still in good shape to get an at-large bid to a major bowl so long as they win out.
Michigan State 35 Michigan 21
As was expected, Michigan came to play on their homefield against their archrival. The Wolverines led 21-14 in the second half, and it was knotted at 21 after three quarters. But as was also expected, the Spartans asserted themselves in the fourth quarter and showed that the balance of power has--at least for a snapshot in time--shifted in this rivalry. Javon Ringer rolled up 194 yards, and Brian Hoyer was brilliant, in throwing for 282 yards & three touchdowns with nary a pick to be found. MSU kept in the lead for a Capital One Bowl berth, and are still in the mix for the conference title, by virtue of the fact they play Penn State in the season finale. Michigan opened the season with modest goals, but even those are now slipping away.
Minnesota 17 Purdue 6
With 13 penalties, it was far from Minnesota's best performance. But with a good game from Adam Weber, and a strong outing from the defense, which picked up four Boilermaker turnovers, the Gophers kept on track to reach a New Year's Day game. The win was their third straight, and while it was not impressive in of itself, the fact Rick Brewster's young team maintains a consistent focus each week in taking care of lower-echelon teams is impressive. Like Michigan State, Minny is also just a game back in the standings, but does not play Penn State (or the Spartans for that matter). The schedule pretty much blocks them out of a shot at a conference title (unless we get some crazy four-way tie scenario before its over), but it does enhance their bowl prospects dramatically.
Indiana 21 Northwestern 19
Anyone who thinks its easy to keep taking care of business against lower-echelon teams need only call Pat Fitzgerald to have their illusions dispelled. Northwestern turned it over five times, and Ben Chappell played a nice game at quarterback for Indiana. The Wildcats did major damage to their own cause of playing on January and still have to win one more game to make sure they don't get frozen out of a bowl at 6-6. The one sure place to get that win was right here, but Indiana and Bill Lynch got a long-overdue W of their own.
Wisconsin 27 Illinois 17
Illinois has to be the most unpredictable team in the Big Ten. They either explode in your face or they shoot themselves in the foot. It was the latter in Camp Randall on Saturday. Juice Williams threw three interceptions, while freshman QB Dustin Sherer was the cool game-manager for the Badgers. Wisconsin shut down the Illinois running game and scored the game's final 17 points after falling behind in the third quarter. Jeff Potrykus of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says the defense got back to basics.
Notre Dame 33 Washington 7
The Fighting Irish completely dominated the Huskies from the outset, with the defense turning in an outstanding performance that included holding Washington to 26 passing yards. While the opponent wasn't good, the Irish effort continues a good run of momentum as they head into a more challenging home game with Pitt next week.