Iowa 22 Purdue 17
The Hawkeyes didn’t play their best game, although coming off the Penn State win that was to be expected. As usual, Shonn Greene carried the day. The Iowa back rushed for 211 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 75-yard jaunt that helped give the Hawks control. Greene has a solid grip on the MVP vote of Big Ten Country (a prize that is no doubt keeping him awake at night). But before crowning him too quickly, I want to see what Javon Ringer can do in a championship showdown next week when Michigan State plays Penn State.
Northwestern 21 Michigan 14
The Wolverine offense continued to hit new lows. They got the advantage of scoring on a blocked punt, yet still lost at home. The Wildcats won their eighth game of the year and remain improbably in contention for an Outback Bowl bid. Two third-quarter touchdowns gave NU the margin of victory. One of the storylines in this conference at the start of the year was whether Pat Fitzgerald could bring the program all the way back after the death of Randy Walker. Sitting on 8-3, with wins in Iowa City and Ann Arbor and possibly playing for a January 1 bowl against Illinois next week, it suffices to say that Fitzgerald has answered all the questions. Congratulations to him and his entire staff.
Wisconsin 35 Minnesota 32
It was a tale of two halves in Madison. Wisconsin made the mistakes in the first half and Minnesota spurted out to a 21-7 lead. The teams flipped roles in the second half and the Badgers rallied for the win, keyed by back-to-back safeties that broke a 24-24 tie. Dustin Sherer played very well for UW, going 18/31 for 242 yards. A thumbs-up has to be given to the Gophers though. They were on the road without their best receiver and still nearly pulled if off.
Penn State 34 Indiana 7
The Lions were sluggish out of the gate in this one, and held only a 10-7 lead at halftime. But they juiced it up in the second half, scoring seventeen unanswered third quarter points to get themselves back on track after last week’s loss. Penn State’s defense was strong in all facets, and Darryl Clark played a solid game in throwing for 240 yards and two touchdowns, while spreading the ball around to his receiving trio of Derrick Williams, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood. Of concern for Joe Paterno’s offense is that they didn’t run the ball well. With the Rose Bowl on the line next week against Michigan State, that’s something that has to be fixed.
Ohio State 30 Illinois 20
OSU kept pace at the top of the conference with a powerful running attack. Chris Wells rushed for 143 yards and Terrelle Prior rolled up 110 of his own. The Buckeye win was more decisive then the score sounds, as Illinois scored a garbage touchdown with less then a minute left. The Illini ran the ball well and Juice Williams played a good game, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with the Buckeyes, who control their destiny for a share of the conference title and a probable at-large BCS bid, regardless of what happens with Penn State next week.
Notre Dame 27 Navy 21
The Fighting Irish finally found a ground game, amassing 230 yards overland against the Midshipmen. Notre Dame did everything they could to give this one away. They turned it over five times and held off a furious Navy rally from 27-7 down in the fourth quarter. The win was badly needed, as the Irish now do not need to beat USC in order to have a winning season.