Hello gnome loving TDG readers. The gnomes and I are proud to introduce you to The Champaign Room, the new University of Illinois SB Nation blog that was launched just this week.
This was big news for the Gopher gnomes, as they were excited that their sad, lonely, Illini gnome brethren now had a SB Nation blog to call home (which will hopefully keep them from wasting away in their underground gnome meth labs). Most importantly, it means that the gnomes can make "What's The B1G Deal?" into an all SB Nation affair (that's not a dig at the fine work done by A Lion Eye...the gnomes just like uniformity).
A little background for you all. This new member of the Mothership is lead by Tom Fornelli, formerly of AOL Fanhouse and most recently found at CBSSports.com. It also features former contributors from Hail to the Orange, the previous SB Nation offering for Illini fans. They've opened the site strongly and I look forward to what they'll offer us moving forward.
Illinois: 2-5 (0-3)
Illinois managed to win their bye week, which counts as positive news given their season thus far. The Champaign Room didn't have a recap to post because of the bye, so here's their look at the difficulties facing Tim Beckman in his first season:
Is this what we've become as a fan base?
Don't get me wrong, this 2012 football season has been painful to watch, and I certainly understand the skepticism about Beckman. I haven't seen all that much to make me optimistic about the future, either.
All that being said, you cannot make a final judgement after only seven games, no matter how badly you want to. Particularly when your athletic department is already paying over $7 million in buyouts to Ron Zook, Bruce Weber and Jolette Law. Or when you just signed Beckman to a 5-year $9 million deal.
Up next? Indiana come to Champbana for the "Bottom of the B1G Slap Fight of the Year of the Week." 11am on BTN.
Indiana: 2-5 (0-3)
A winnable game versus Navy turned into a "let's blow a lead in the 4th quarter loss" for the Hoosiers. The Crimson Quarry laments another missed opportunity for a rare victory.
As I said, the major frustration is that IU was, on multiple occasions, in a position where the game could have been put away, particularly in the first half, when IU had the ball with a 17-7 lead but let Navy back into the game with a deflected pick six. During Navy's long drive that trimmed IU's lead from 30-21 to 30-24, the Hoosiers failed to fall on a Navy fumble that would have put IU in an excellent position. On a couple of occasions, Navy scoring drives were aided by senseless scoring drives. I usually talk about statistics in these post game posts. I don't really have the energy to do so today. Here's the box score. The numbers reflect what it was like to watch the game: IU could have won, but the mistakes were too much.
Another "WIN! FIGHT! TRY!" award for Indiana? The gnomes say yes.
Up next? Indiana travels to Illinois to "battle" the Illini. 11am on BTN.
Iowa: 4-3 (2-1)
Ouch. I'm going to assume that left a mark. Iowa decided to rain on the parade of its fans by getting shellacked 38-14 (and it wasn't that close) by Penn State. At home. In a primetime game. Oddly enough, Black Heart Gold Pants was displeased by the performance.
So... that sucked? Yes, I think we can all agree that sucked.Everyone sucked. Want to point fingers? I hope you have a full complement of fingers, because there's plenty of blame to go around after last night's debacle. The offense? Yeah, they were pretty inept. The defense? Yeah, they couldn't stop much of anything. The special teams? Yeah, aside from one bright spot, they were pretty heinous. The coaching? Yeah, they did a pretty terrible job of both getting the team ready for that game and making in-game adjustments to try and salvage things. This was a total team loss, and the worst loss by an Iowa team in several years. It was the worst home loss since a 31-7 beatdown to Penn State in 1999 (although the 2006 primetime loss to Ohio State was also pretty miserable).
The gnomes would like to bestow the innagural "Tim Brewster Missing Media Guide Entry For Blowout Excellence Award" upon Iowa in recognition of this performance.
Up next? Iowa faces off against their nemesis, justNorthwestern, in Evanston. 11am on ESPN2.
Michigan: 5-2 (3-0)
It wasn't pretty, but Michigan finally got the Michigan State monkey off their back with a 12-10 victory. As Maize n Brew admits, while it wasn't a comfortable game to watch it had the ending that they wanted.
The unease lasted most of the game.
The feelings of comfort and optimism were fleeting. This was, after all, the way that it played out in my head when I thought about "ways Michigan State could win this thing". Shut down Michigan's run game? Check. Break a couple big plays thanks to gimmicks or luck? Check. Mark Dantonio's patented special teams fake that you totally should have seen coming (but didn't)? Check.
Still, every step of the way Michigan was there in lockstep with the Spartans. Every defensive stop that MSU forced was matched by an equally impressive shutdown by the UM defense. Every big play that went the Spartans' way had a counterpart that helped Michigan get close enough to kick a field goal and keep on living. L-I-V-I-N-G.
Up next? On the road against Nebraska in the game that will determine the
Legends West Division favorite. 7pm on EPSN2.
Michigan State: 4-4 (1-3)
Well, the streak had to come to end eventually. But this has to be a tough one to live with, knowing that any number of things (most specifically, on offense that sucked just a little less) would have been enough to extend the streak to 5 wins in a row over Big Brother. Bowl eligibility concerns are being raised by The Only Colors.
A bowl game is seriously in question at this point.
Wisconsin seems a likely loss, if their recent resurgence is more than just a function of playing the bottom of the Big Ten (Purdue, Illinois, and Minnesota), though the defense will certainly keep us in the game. That means we need two out of three from Nebraska, Northwestern, and at Minnesota. Thanks to home field (and Minnesota being the weakest of the bunch), we're probably going to be slight favorites in all three - but we haven't handled close games well for much of the year, and our offense doesn't seem to be capable of making it not a close game. Getting two out of four is probably not better than a 60% chance right now. (If every game was an exact toss-up, it would be just under 70%.)
Up next? The Spartans travel to Camp Randall. 2:30pm on ABC/ESPN2, depending on area.
Nebraska: 5-2 (2-1)
Crisis averted. If the Huskers had managed to lose to Northwestern twice in a row the anguished cries of the faithful would heard on the North Pole. As it stands, Nebraska got it done and rallied with 2 TD drives to close out the game with a win.
But a win absolves many sins by the look of the Corn Nation recap:
Frustrating game? Exhilarating comeback? That's the dichotomy of Nebraska's comeback win over Northwestern. When you look at the statistics, it looks like Nebraska dominated Northwestern. The Huskers outgained the Wildcats 543 yards to 301. Nebraska had 26 first downs; Northwestern just 14. Nebraska probably won between 80% and 90% of the plays in the game...but those plays that Nebraska lost, Nebraska lost big. The stat line that explains why the game was so close: Nebraska's three turnovers and Northwestern's zero.
Up next? Michigan comes to Lincoln. 7pm on ESPN2.
Northwestern: 6-2 (2-2)
BOWL ELIGIBLE! Wait, that already happened? Prior to another collapse? Oh.
Sippin On Purple is forced to point out the obvious:
Simply put, you gotta win that game. Nebraska put the ball on the ground three times - twice on punt returns! - and Northwestern recovered three times. The end result? Seven points. If it's ten or 13, Northwestern wins. That's true about a lot of things - the almost-safety in the first half, Jeff Budzien's oh-so-close last-second field goal that just went wide right, an almost-interception - but Nebraska gave Northwestern the opportunities to win this game and they didn't take it.
For displaying unparralled success and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, the gnomes present Northwestern with the Glen Mason "WTF Is Going On Here?" award.
Up next? A chance to drive the Iowa fanbase insane. 11am on ESPN2.
Ohio State: 8-0 (4-0)
Bullet dodged. Thus far I'd have to say that if OSU were eligible for a bowl game, they'd be on track to getting their butt kicked in a BCS bowl. But a win is a win, even if it takes a last ditch drive to force OT and even if you're playing a team that you should handle pretty easily.
Land Grant Holy Land is happy to remain undefeated thank you very much.
While the exciting nature of the victory likely largely masked a number of issues including a wealth of injuries and less than optimal stretches on both sides of the ball, the Buckeyes are still unbeaten and 8-0. Miller's health status may ultimately determine how far this Ohio State team can go the rest of the way, but Kenny Guiton's calm demeanor under center will mean if nothing else the Buckeyes should have a steady hand to guide the ship.
Up next? On the road at Happy Valley for a face off of what might be the B1G's two best teams. Ineligi-bowl! 4:30pm on ESPN.
Penn State: 5-2 (3-0)
PSU's victory over Iowa in image form:
Nuff said I think. Black Shoe Diaries offers something more substantial:
You know what's simultaneously the best and worst thing about Penn State's blowout win over Iowa, at night, in Kinnick?
They really didn't play their best football.
I'm a guy who sometimes struggles to see the forest through the trees, and who singles out and obsesses over the worst of things. So while you guys--completely rightfully--celebrate a dominant road win that few of us saw coming, at least not this easily, I'm going to go to bed tonight irked by Penn State's poor execution.
While you all dream of Matt McGloin's pinpoint precision and Bill Belton's quickness, I'll be haunted by the countless dropped passes. While replays of Michael Mauti's interception dance through your mind, I'll be seeing Zach Zwinak's fumbles.
While you revel in a 38-14 win, I'll be annoyed it wasn't 52-7.
I too am annoyed it wasn't 52-7. WTF Penn State?
Up next? Battle of the "can't play in the postseasons." 4:30pm on ESPN.
Purdue: 3-4 (0-3)
Almost...That was probably last chance for Hope to save his own skin with the fanbase (assuming such a thing was possible). Feel for Hammer & Rails because we've been there:
Of all the Purdue losses, and there have been way too many over the years, this is the most painful. Purdue played far from a perfect game, but for 59 minutes and 10 seconds it was still enough. It was more than enough. Yes, there were mistakes, and those mistakes, like the blocked extra point, would be the difference in the end, but even with uber-conservative offense with an eight point lead and the threat of a powerful OSU offense that can score from anywhere, for 59 minutes and 10 seconds Purdue was the better team than an undefeated Buckeye squad on its home field.
Purdue just choked. It choked on every level, and I am not alone as a Purdue fan when I am sitting here, with a gorgeous fall Saturday before me, now ruined and questioning why I continue to follow this team with all my heart. This was an absolute stomach punch of a loss. It was more than a stomach punch. It was a stomach punch, groin kick, headbutt, then a few punches while we're already writhing on the ground. As bad as I feel, I know the players feel infinitely worse because they played their hearts out today. It stings because they played better than a top 10 team on its home field and, with a win, the smallest of chances at a Big Ten championship was still alive.
That said, I do hope the team is shell-shocked too. Can't hurt to play the team after they gave everything and still came up short.
Up next? Purdue comes to The Bank. This would seem to be a must win for both Minnesota and Purdue when it comes to making a bowl.
Wisconsin: 6-2 (3-1)
I seem to recall a game being played, people running, one team scored points, the other team scored fewer. Sorry if that's a little hazy, we were too busy winning the tailgate.
I'll leave it up to Bucky's 5th Quarter to fill in the details.
For the ninth straight year, the Wisconsin Badgers have won Paul Bunyan's Axe. The running back tandem of Montee Ball and James White put together another spectacular combination performance, racking up over 300 yards on the ground and five rushing touchdowns as a pair in the Badgers' 38-13 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
I think that's enough detail.
Up next? Michigan State comes to Madison. 2:30pm on ABC/ESPN2 depending on area.