The gnomes have been banging at the door to my work bunker all week. They were feeling especially snark and did not care that Job A wanted my time and energy. The gnomes are diligent to their craft.
Illinois: 3-5 (0-4)
An 18 game (HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS, EVEN BREWSTER NEVER DID SOMETHING LIKE THIS) conference losing streak was about to come to an end. Sunshine was ready to brighten the empty fields around Champbana. And then...well...I'll let The Champaign Room summarize the pain:
When you're watching a team that's in the midst of an 18-game conference losing streak come so close to ending that streak, only to extend that losing streak to 19 games, it hurts.
When all they need to do is get a first down to end the game and they can't do it, it hurts.
When you see a defense that's been playing its best defense in months during the second half finally crack because, for once, it was the offense that couldn't bail it out, it hurts.
When Mason Monheim gets lost in coverage giving Christian Hackenberg an easy lane to complete a touchdown pass to Kyle Carter in overtime, it hurts.
When Nathan Scheelhaase, who is playing one of the best games of his career, makes that one mistake of forcing a throw into double-coverage in overtime, it hurts.
But you know what? With everything that took place in that game that could cause me to be upset about how things finished, I wasn't angry in the slightest afterward. To be honest, the first thing I did after Nate's pass was picked off and the game ended was smile.
I wasn't happy with the loss, but I was happy with most of what I saw.
I'm not sure I could write that last sentence. I'd want to, but I'm not sure I could. The gnomes have their own simple message to share:
Seriously. You're not Purdue. That's...something?
Up next? Bloomington to face IU at 2:30. Wait...2:30? Da fuck? Go home BTN, you're drunk. 2:30 pm on BTN.
Indiana: 3-5 (1-3)
Whoooooooooo boy. Over to The Crimson Quarry:
Who needs an opposing force when Indiana football is so good at beating themselves. The Hoosiers put together a mastery performance of how to beat yourself at the game of football last night and I'm not sure why we expected anything different.
Indiana's defense actually came out of the gates looking really good. A pretty awful scoring drive to open up was followed up by four straight stops by the Indiana defense. Yes, you heard that right, the Indiana defense generated 80% stops in the first quarter. What did the offense do to repay that favor? 13 points. That cannot happen with this Indiana defense. When they give you that kind of opportunity to begin the game, you have to jump on it. Indiana's offense did not do that and it ultimately cost them the football game.
What's scary is that I'm pretty sure most Minnesota fans had the same thought about the first quarter. I know I did. In any case, congrats to Indiana on another fine Hoosier-ing:
You may be wondering about the image representing "Hoosier" in the above pic. Well, that is the first image Google gave me for Hoosier. It was followed by many more old time-y wooden kitchen things. And this is why your non-mascot sucks Indiana.
Up next? The "At Least We're Both Not Purdue" Game of the Week. 2:30 pm on BTN.
Iowa: 5-4 (2-3)
Thanks to that shifty, worthless, good for nothing meteor Iowa played a full game against Wisconsin. They lost! Black Heart Gold Pants had this to say:
I don't want to step too much on Patrick's toes here, since this is his territory and all, but it's utterly mystifying why Kirk Ferentz calls a game the way he does.
Let's move past the mere aesthetics of punting from inside the 40 or other conservative play-calling. Sure, it's more exciting when teams go for it, but it's also just sound strategy. It's great that Kirk Ferentz had faith in his defense and his special teams, and that faith was mostly rewarded on Saturday-Wisconsin was held to about two-thirds of its normal offensive output, and that's with a full sixty minutes of effort from the Badgers, who have often dialed down their offense in blowout wins. Sure, Wisconsin ended up with 28 points on the day, but you'd like to think the Iowa defense did its job, all things considered. If Wisconsin scores 28 on you, fantastic, because that means a victory's at least plausible.
But Kirk Ferentz didn't coach like it was going to take 29 points to win the game. He coached like something in the high teens would do just fine.
So whatever game Kirk Ferentz was watching and calling plays for, we hope he had fun. But that was the wrong game, and as a result the Hawkeyes were taken out of position to win by their coach's recklessly conservative decision-making.
The gnomes would like to inform Mr. Jacobi that there are horse coaches who right now, today, would coach like it would take 30 points to win a game.
In any case, the gnomes had a thought. If Kirk is going to make punting such a big part of his gameplan he should get a big time punter. The gnomes would like to humbly suggest the following guy as a winner for that job:
Up next? Purdue welcomes Iowa to Ross Aide with the gift of bowl eligibility. 11am on BTN.
Michigan: 6-2 (2-2)
-48 yards rushing. Ignore the stupid NCAA rule that counts sacks as rushing yards and you get 1 yard on 22 carries. I mean, good lord! Maize n Brew tries to encapsulate the feeling of this kind of a butt whooping:
The story of this game was the Wolverine offensive line's complete inability to hold up against the MSU rush. Michigan never really had a chance on a day when the game was still a 10 point affair in the fourth quarter.
The gnomes would have preferred a GIF summary. Maybe this one?
Also, Taylor Lewan? This is why opposing fanbases dislike ESPN slobbering over you.
So to recap, thoroughly defeated by instate rival and notable player proceeds to play extremely dirty in said loss. YAY!
Up next? Nebraska comes to town. 2:30pm on ABC.
Michigan State: 8-1 (5-0)
All the gnomes can say is FLAWLESS VICTORY.
I mean, obviously not completely perfect. But seriously, that's a happy way to beat your rival. Tell us how you feel The Only Colors:
These guys are pretty good. Another statement made in the face of questioning its opponents (see: headline). Every aspect of the defense was simply great. Michigan hasn't scored a touchdown against MSU since 2011. MSU hasn't allowed a touchdown in 2013 since Indiana, and the Hoosiers are the only Big Ten team to score in the second half against MSU this season.
Enjoy this as much as you can.
Up next? BYE
Nebraska: 6-2 (3-1)
Congrats Bo, a hail mary saved your job for another week. The gnomes present you the "Skin O' My Teeth" award:
Corn Nation breathes a sigh of relief and celebrates a little:
Not sure how this one will go down in the legacy of Nebraska football. Hail Westerkamp, the Westerkatch, or my personal favorite, RK3-To-1. What is clear that all the talk about this program lacking the mental strength to battle through adversity can be ruled out as psycho-babble-malarkey. This was Nebraska's third string quarterback driving the field, completing passes to Nebraska's backup receivers.
And that's the story of the game. Nebraska's offense is wobbly. ANY offense would have issues when they lose an all-American offensive lineman, an all-Big Ten quarterback, and all-Big Ten wide receiver, plus another receiver, tight end, and lineman. That's six out of eleven starters gone. Heck, Michigan State lost less from their 2011 offense, and it's taken them almost two seasons just to become average offensively.
This is too calm. The gnomes politely ask that someone call into a radio program in Lincoln and remind them they lost to Minnesota.
Up next? To the Big House! 2:30pm on ABC.
Northwestern: 4-5 (0-5)
A moment of silence please.
Sippin' On Purple:
Another year, another loss on a Hail Mary. and being a Northwestern fan is the absolute worst.
Two straight years, Northwestern has deflected a Hail Mary late in a game where their best cornerback got injured. Both times, Northwestern somehow deflected it to a player on the other team. This is a curse.
And now we're 0-5.
Seriously everyone, these are things being written by NOT US!
Up next? BYE, as if they needed more time to contemplate the trainwreck the season has become.
Ohio State: 9-0 (5-0)
Beat Purdue by many points.
If you missed just the opening minute of the game, you would have missed the entirety of Purdue's puncher's chance against Ohio State. On the game's second play from scrimmage, Ohio State cornerback Doran Grant intercepted Purdue quarterback Danny Etling and returned the pick 33 yards for a touchdown. With that, Ohio State was off and running on their way to their largest shutout Big Ten win since defeating Northwestern 63-0 in 1980.
Purdue, you are terrible. I know this is Ohio State's section but seriously...
Up next? BYE
Penn State: 5-3 (2-2)
So you beat Illinois. Is this a good thing for the Gophers or a bad thing for the Gophers?
Ultimately does it really matter, given that it's Illinois and they've now lost 19 B1G games in a row?
Ok then. Let's check in with Black Shoe Diaries:
Surprise, Tim Beckman lost. Again. The way he lost, though, was sublime. Beckman, the huckster with a turd's intellect who flew to State College with his entire staff 16 months ago to steal as many Penn State players as he could, and then lied about it at Big Ten media days one week later, watched his team overcome a 14-3 halftime deficit to take its first ever 4th quarter Big Ten lead, 17-14, with just over 5 minutes remaining. Beckman had hope. His team, in spite of himself, was fighting for victory.
As Penn State drove 70 yards in 7 plays on the cusp of recovering the lead, only to fumble at the Ilini 1-yard line with 3 minutes remaining, Beckman's dream of his first Big Ten win grew wings. But Penn State's maligned defense forced a critical 3-and-out from an Illini offense that had moved the ball well most of the day. And Penn State's offense marched into scoring range, dropped the game winning touchdown, and instead kicked the game-tying field goal. Regulation ended tied at 17, and Beckman still had hope. He'd never been so close to a Big Ten win.
Best of all, the Illini won the overtime coin flip, and would get to go on offense last. The regulation win had slipped away from Beckman, but maybe redemption would be found in the extra time. And as Bill Belton's touchdown run was called back for a holding penalty, leaving the Lions with a difficult 3rd and 11, Beckman had to like his chances. Perhaps the football gods were finally smiling on him, and giving him that first conference win in two years.Nope.
The gnomes just made a mental note never to cross Penn State. They don't forget.
Up next? Illinois comes to State College. 11am on ESPN.
Purdue: 1-7 (0-4)
Bad Purdue! Bad!
Hammer and Rails, your time to vent:
If Ohio State wanted to run, it ran. If it wanted to pass, it passed. If they had wanted to matriculate the ball downfield by Rube Goldberg machine, a specialty at Purdue, they probably could have done that as well. Purdue often looked grossly out of position on defense and no matter who was in there, there were open receivers and running lanes on almost every play.
More importantly, your team WORE HELMETS WITH A TRAIN TRACK DOWN THE CENTER. Just stop it.
Up next? Iowa doesn't want bowl eligibility Purdue. Don't make them sad. 11am on BTN.
Wisconsin: 6-2 (4-1)
Beat Iowa 28-9. Seriously meteor, where were you on that one?
IF THERE WAS AN IMAGE OF A METEOR DOING A FACEPALM IT WOULD GO HERE
Any thoughts Bucky's 5th Quarter?
For the first time since 2010, Wisconsin and Iowa met Saturday to battle for the Heartland Trophy.
And it was an ugly one.
With their vaunted running game—led by former Iowa-commit Melvin Gordon—largely bottled up, the Badgers battled the Hawkeyes in a game of field position, using several key plays including a third quarter touchdown pass to Jared Abbrederis to escape with a 28-9 win.
"Escape with a 28-9 win" is not something you read often. Hooray? I guess?
Up Next? BYU comes to town. 2:30 on ESPN