This is so much easier now that the teams are all playing each other!
Illinois vs Nebraska
Two teams with new coaches. Two teams struggling. Two teams headed in opposite directions? There were a dozen narrative threads running through this apparent race to the bottom of the Big Ten standings. But the one that ultimately overwhelmed all others was this one:
WHAT THE HECK, HUSKERS?!
For the third time this season, Nebraska lost a game in the final seconds. This time, Wes Lunt connected with the aptly named Geronimo Allison to win the game 14-13 after trailing Nebraska nearly all game long.
How did this happen? Well, that doesn't matter as much as how the Husker fans felt about it afterwards. Mike Riley admitted Nebraska should have run the ball more. Fans are looking for answers, and because schadenfreude tastes almost like victory, Husker fans are also piling on to Texas, a program Nebraska couldn't beat on the field or in the board room. Your grapes, they are very sour, Big Red.
But one team's defeat is another team's glory, and fans are absolutely ecstatic. The Illini won a Big Ten opener! They're 3-1!! They get Purdue next!!! These are heady times in Champaign. Maybe all this winning will help them with their card stunts:
Illinois has some student section pic.twitter.com/RpImRsCMM8— Miles Joseph (@Miles_BG) November 16, 2013
Indiana vs Ohio State
So #iufb4gameday did not come to fruition. That turned out to be ESPN's loss, because the Hoosiers put on quite the show, and everyone was wildly entertained by Indiana's strange and unexpected show of competence, coaching and football.
Everyone except Ohio State, of course. With the game on the line, Ezekiel Elliott put on a Heisman-worth show, scoring on runs of 55, 65 and 75 yards to ultimately end the Hoosiers' extraordinary upset bid 34-27. The win saved the Buckeyes' season and allowed Ohio State to stay on top of the AP poll. For now.
Despite the loss, Indiana fans are upbeat. They're also wondering if Zander Diamont might be the answer at quarterback.
Iowa vs Wisconsin
Regrettably, that sound you heard from the east on Saturday was not a meteor falling on Camp Randall, but rather a slight shift in the balance of power in the Big Ten West. Both teams struggled to put points on the board, but Iowa ultimately beat Wisconsin 10-6 in possibly the most B1G game ever. The Hawkeyes now have the inside track to the West, a spot they share with Northwestern after the Wildcats blanked...oh, never mind. Let's not talk about that.
Iowa fans think the win is the result of Kirk Ferentz's newly discovered assertiveness. Meet the new Kirk, same as the old Kirk.
What do Wisconsin fans have to say? Well, they love Joe Schobert, but everything else is just one big ball of ugly. Beating Nebraska should restore some confidence though.
Maryland vs Michigan
Oh, Maryland. Ouch. You are bad and you should feel bad. There's no shame in losing to Michigan, of course, but there's probably some in scoring only six points in eight quarters of football while being outscored 67-6.
But hey, at least you still have
hope delusion, if this piece on how Maryland could beat Oho State is anything to go by.
Five weeks into the season, it might be time to grudgingly admit that Michigan is kind of good. The offense is struggling, but the defense is rock solid. The Wolverines have posted two straight shutouts, and their lone loss to Utah now looks better than ever.
They'll take on Northwestern next, in what should be an old-fashioned defensive slug fest. Before you get too excited, here's a reminder of what that looks like:
Penn State vs Army
Penn State hates America. A 20-14 win over much-beloved Army will do that.
The Nittany Lions didn't learn very much about their own team from the close win, but it's clear that depth is a real problem and injuries on the offensive line do nothing to help keep Christian Hackenberg upright.
Normally, playing Indiana would be the perfect cure for whatever ails a Big Ten team. But even that's not true anymore, and besides, Penn State-Indiana is a real rivalry, right? PUNTS FOR EVERYONE.
Purdue vs Michigan State
We all know there are no moral victories in football. Still, when you line up against a Top 5 team, rally from a 21-0 deficit, and fall just short of victory, the silver lining shines pretty bright. There's only a fine line between 4-1 and 1-4 and let's hope Purdue doesn't discover how to cross that line this weekend.
Meanwhile, Michigan State has been all sorts of underwhelming so far this season, and nobody really knows why. The special teams play has been awful, and apparently #AMSUOLHG is now a thing. Still, playing Rutgers should give Michigan State a chance to figure out the puzzle.
Speaking of Rutgers, wide receiver Leonte Carroo has been reinstated.
And that's another week in the Big Ten! Next week, beers and tears for two teams in red. Hopefully at the same time.