Welcome to another edition of the only Gopher gnome moderated recap on the entire interwebs! The Gopher gnomes have given up on trying to understand the B1G, particularly the
Leaders East Division. Indiana has a legitimate shot at the Rose Bowl. This does not compute, even by their normally nonsensical planning standards. The Hoosier gnomes must be doing all sorts of meth in order to cope with the insanity. Anyway, lets review what happened last week and make fun of some people.
Illinois: 2-7 (0-5)
How bad is Illinois? Well, they aren't worst B1G team ever bad. But MGoBlog has already started ranking them against the all time greats in that category. So they clearly aren't good. Oh, and it's showing on the field too. Like when Ohio State kicks your butt 52-22. Champaign Room, your thoughts?
The Illini lost by 30 yesterday, but make no mistake, they didn't actually play that well. The only reason they got within 30 points of Ohio State is because Ohio State let it happen.
Well then. Illinois did manage to do this (either click the link or skip to the 2:12:07 mark in the embedded video below):
Up next? A team from Minnesota that you might know. 2:30pm on BTN.
Indiana: 4-5 (2-3)
Wilson, you magnificent bastard, YOU DID IT! I heart you so much right now Indiana. Nicely done. Let us see what the fine folks at The Crimson Quarry think of the 24-21 victory over the Hawkeyes:
As I said above, it's encouraging that IU was able to win a Big Ten game without playing a perfect game. Still, as with the Illinois game, there are obvious areas for improvement, and a better showing will be necessary to beat Wisconsin.
This game made the gnomes' hearts glow.
Up next? The chance to create epic levels of Gopher gnome schadenfreude, as Wisconsin comes to Bloomington. 11am on ESPN2.
Iowa: 4-5 (2-3)
And the fun just won't stop. That's 3 losses in a row for the Hawks, who have gone from dark horse threat to reach Indy to probably won't make a bowl game. Oh, and they still don't care for Kirk very much. Black Heart Gold Pants? Drop a little angst for us:
At least we can stop deluding ourselves into pretending that we are -- or were -- actual Legends Division contenders, even with the state of the Big Ten this year. That delusion was given new life after the inexplicable win over Michigan State in East Lansing, but three straight losses since then should have killed it dead. This is not a good team. It's not going to magically become a good team this year. Iowa sits at 4-5, under .500 for the first time since 2007. Iowa's also riding a three-game losing streak, also for the first time since 2007. And, barring an upset against either Michigan or Nebraska, Iowa won't be heading to a bowl game this year -- also for the first time since 2007. The parallels to 2007 have been manifold already this year -- we might as well make them complete.
Up next? Iowa's MOST HATED RIVAL, the Purdue Boilermakers, come to Iowa City. This is probably Iowa's best chance for another win. 11am on BTN.
Michigan: 6-3 (4-1)
So, that wasn't what the gnomes expected from a Denard-less Wolverines squad. A passing attack? Where the *&^$ did that come from? Maize n' Brew enjoyed it, but also noted the issues with the run game:
Fitzgerald Toussaint hasn't lived up to the hype this season, and nothing changed against Minnesota. He averaged 5.4 YPC, but take away his 41-yard scamper and he quickly dips under 3 YPC. His lack of production lead to Thomas Rawls seeing more carries, and he didn't do much either, averaging just 2.7 YPC. Some of this falls on the offensive line, but not all of it.
Up next? Northwestern comes to the Big House. 11am on ESPN.
Michigan State: 5-5 (2-4)
Well, I don't think there is a more disappointing team in the B1G this season. And I think Dantonio is going to have to fire his OC. Ending up in (slight) danger of missing a bowl game with this defense is criminal. Some of the calls against MSU by the refs at the Nebby game were also criminal. The Only Colors doesn't blame the refs and instead considers the season as a whole:
This season has been a few good things (wins against Boise, at Wisconsin) and almost everything else has been in the bad things pile. It's been a disappointment, and I think there's very few who would disagree with me.
That said, there's still a purpose to keep playing. After next week's bye, a win over Northwestern at home in two weeks or at Minnesota the week after will put the Spartans in their sixth straight bowl game; a crappy bowl game yes, but nevertheless it's postseason football.
TOC might have shown some restraint, but the Spartan's players? Not so much. Here is a sampling of their post game tweets:
Up next? The always fearsome BYE WEEK.
Nebraska: 7-2 (4-1)
Still in the drivers seat to go to Indy, though I'm sure they would have appreciated it if the Gophers had won the Jug to get them a little more breathing room from Michigan. TMart worked some magic and turned a 2 TD deficit into a Nebraska win over the Spartans. Corn Nation breaks it down:
At this point of the season, while Nebraska can work on resolving specific issues, the imprint of this team is clear. A talented team that can't get out if it's own way at times. If you want to look at it from the "half-empty" perspective, this team lacks discipline at critical times: turnovers and penalties continue to haunt this team. Some will say that comes from the top and is a reflection of Bo Pelini. You could say that.
On the other hand, this team has fight and scraps it's way back. It's done it over and over again. That definitely comes from the top, and is also a reflection of Bo Pelini. So the question is, how do you fix the discipline issues? That's a problem to resolve in the offseason; it's not something that'll get fixed this week or next. If Nebraska hasn't fixed it by week 9, it's not going to get fixed by week 10. So sit back, buckle your seat belts, and enjoy the ride. You have to admit these fourth quarters have been a lot of fun!
Up next? Things get tougher, as Penn State comes to Lincoln. A win here would keep the pressure on Michigan. 2:30pm on ABC.
Northwestern: 7-2 (3-2)
Northwestern had an uneventful bye week. With no recap to share, lets take a look at Sippin on Purple's Coach Fitz "Intense-o-Meter" for this week's game:
Pat Fitzgerald INTENSE-O-METER reading:7.7
Symptoms include: can microwave pop-tarts just by putting them in his mouth, which is really inconvenient when you actually think about the logistics of how you want your pop-tarts microwaved
Up next? A big, bowl berth determining game against Michigan. 11am on ESPN.
Ohio State: 10-0 (6-0)
Another week passes and Ohio State fans still hate Gene Smith for prioritizing last year's Gator Bowl over a potential MNC game berth. Oh, and they had thoughts about the Illinois laugher over at Land Grant Holy Land.
While Ohio State has made a living this season playing down (and up) to opposition as the situation dictated it, the 2012 Buckeyes had their first (almost) wire-to-wire complete game against the unquestionably down Illinois Fighting Illinois en route to a 52-22 win. Carlos Hyde had his best game of the year for the Buckeyes running the ball 18 times for 138 yards and 3 TDs. Braxton Miller was his usual brilliant self as well, completing 12/20 for 226 yards and 2 TDs while also adding 13 carries for 73 yards and a TD there as well.
Up next? BYE WEEK
Penn State: 6-3 (4-1)
Beat Purdue and made it even more likely that Danny Hope gets fired. What say you Black Shoe Diaries?
All the ingredients for a letdown were present in spades. Penn State was coming off an uber-hyped, emotional home loss. They were facing a very talented, yet completely sleep walking Purdue squad, at quiet-as-a-church-mouse Ross-Ade stadium. Bor-ring. Their plane had a flat tire and they got into West Lafayette late. Purdue was changing quarterbacks, to go with the guy that had actually been performing. Purdue's two best defensive players, questionable most of the week, were in fact suiting up and looked fine. Meanwhile, Penn State had to leave Kyle Carter, its second leading receiver, back in State College.
As Purdue took the opening kickoff into Penn State territory, with a Sam Ficken tackle preventing the touchdown, it looked certain the recipe was gonna get made, too. Purdue RB Akeem Shavers next broke a long run down to the Penn State 5 yard line. The hangover in full effect, this looked to be a long day. Instead, the defense held, conceding just a field goal. And then the offense rolled off 34 straight unanswered points, including a stretch of three straight touchdown drives.Boom, roasted.
Up next? A chance to ruin Nebraska's Rose Bowl dreams. 2:30pm on ABC.
Purdue: 3-6 (0-5)
5 straight B1G losses, several of them blowouts. Um...yea, that's not going to make Hammer & Rails very happy.
As for the rest of the season it is hard to get excited when we face three of the worst teams in the conference and I am not confident we can beat one of them. They are a combined 4-11 in league play, with two of those wins against each other (Indiana over Iowa and Illinois). They are all three winnable games, but not without a drastic turnaround that I don't think this coaching staff is capable of making.
I do believe in the players. They are in an awful situation where it is clear to everyone who has seen this team play (except the coaches) that they have talent and can win, but they are not being put in the position to win.
I still believe in them because I am a loyal Boilermaker and I will always go for Purdue, but the season is long lost and really needs to be put out of its misery at this point. I want the players to win the next three games and reach a bowl for them (which will be better than the Pizza bowl because the Big Ten won't have 8 eligible teams), but the coaches need to go.
Yup to the last sentence (emphasis is mine).
Up next? Iowa, their MOST HATED RIVAL, in Iowa City. 11am on BTN.
Wisconsin: 6-3 (3-2)
The Badgers tried very hard to win the bye week, but that's hard to do when you no longer have a serviceable QB and you lose one of your best hockey players as well. The B1G title game (and perhaps a Rose Bowl) is still in reach, but now there is a chance that Indiana (yes, that Indiana) could get their instead of them. This has Bucky's 5th Quarter treating the season like a bad movie:
But it's definitely got a cinematic start, to wit...
You have a good college football team that gets a hotshot recruited transfer to play for them, and for the most part, the first game was a success. I mean, the Badgers played very well for three quarters. Then all of the sudden, everything was knocked off of it's axis, and Oregon State swagger jacked us. Mike Markuson was fired, and by the second half of the Utah State game, Joel Stave was in. Things were unsteady for a while, and really unsteady for a bit.
Looking at you, guys who said Bielema should be fired after the Nebraska game.
Then suddenly, it clicked, Kyle Costigan got the offensive line working and Montee Ball was back and healthy. Badger football was fun! Joel Stave was an American Hero, and Jared Abbrederis was hotter than a ghost chili pepper. Illinois, Purdue, and Minnesota? Those are the first parts of Act 2.
But Ricky Wagner got hurt. And like any good villain, Michigan State closed in. No need to go into the result of the game. But with Stave gone, there's now a pervasive sense of all being lost for this season. We are at the end of act two.
Obviously, this isn't a movie, Nathan Fillion isn't our brotastic head coach, and one of those CW Actors isn't Joel Stave. But like Abed from Community, one can divine the future of televised sporting events from looking through the past.
He comes up with a happy ending. I'm hoping for more of a Greek tragedy thing myself.
Up next? The Badgers head to Bloomington to face Indiana. 11am on ESPN2.