It was an up and down weekend in the Big Ten, but some performances stood out.
Small mercies: It took a late Taylor Zalewski field goal to hold on for the win, but the Illini won a tight contest against Middle Tennessee State and improved to 3-1. In the process, Illinois discovered some playmakers, including defensive end Dawuane Smoot and running back Ke'Shawn Vaughan, who played in relief of the injured Josh Ferguson.
In the trenches: The Hoosiers are 4-0! No, really. This is a thing that happened, and they even managed to win a game on the road against an FBS team. Granted, it was Wake Forest, but Indiana showed some grit on defense and Nate Sudfeld passed for over 200 yards.
This is Indiana's first 4-0 start in 25 years and only the sixth such instance in program history. The Hoosiers were hoping to mark the occasion with at trip from College Gameday, but it was not to be.
POINTSPLOSION! Iowa scored 62 points, quarterback C.J. Beathard was a perfect 15/15 in the first half, and Jordan Canzeri ran for approximately six gazillion yards as the Hawkeyes beat the pulp out of North Texas.
This is the first time since 2009 that the Hawkeyes have been perfect in the non-conference season and they rode that wave to a 10-2 record that year. Whether Iowa can reach those heights again hangs heavily on the upcoming game with Wisconsin, i.e. the game where the only good outcome (from a Gopher fan's standpoint) is a meteor falling on Camp Randall.
OH. EM. GEE. The Terps laid a giant egg against West Virginia, losing 45-6, and making their opponents look like playoff contenders in the bargain. Nothing went right for Maryland. Starting quarterback Caleb Rowe had only 67 yards through the air to go with his four interceptions, and backup Daxx Garman managed the Terps' lone score late in the game to go with a game-ending interception. The offensive line gave up three sacks. Maryland punted A LOT, including twice from inside West Virginia territory.
Oh, and the Terps can't really fire Randy Edsall either.
We're back! It didn't take long at all for for Jim Harbaugh to finally get Michigan back in the Top 25. This time, it was on the back of a huge win over a decent-but-injured BYU team at home, according to Anthony Broome writing a special feature for the Detroit Free Press.
The defense held high-scoring BYU to just 105 yards, and left fans wondering if the days of elite defenses in Ann Arbor are back.
Meanwhile, in East Lansing: The Spartans beat Central Michigan 30-10, though it was not quite the romp that scoreline would suggest. The secondary is looking a bit porous without the services of Vayante Copeland and injuries are really starting to take a toll on this team.
On the other hand, the Spartans are holding steady at #2 in the polls, and they're 4-0 heading into Big Ten play, a feat not accomplished since 2010.
This is not good: Nebraska beat Southern Miss 36-28, but what should have been a rout ended up being an uncomfortably close contest, and that is worrying for a Huskers team already reeling from two last second losses and a 2-2 record.
So what's going on in Lincoln? Well, the pass defense is a thing of Big Red nightmares. It's currently the worst unit in all of FBS (127th out of 127). With Wes Lunt, Joel Stave, C.J. Beathard, and Mitch Leidner (STOP LAUGHING) still ahead on the schedule, things aren't going to get better for Nebraska unless they shore up the secondary.
A win is a win: Northwestern is 4-0, tied with Iowa for the lead in the Big Ten West and currently #17 in the polls. The Wildcats are winning with defense, and they're winning ugly. The Wildcats had to overcome a slow start against Ball State but ultimately prevailed 24-19.
The offensive woes might not be the main concern going forward though. The injuries are starting to pile up in Evanston just as the Big Ten schedule begins.
Phew! For the first time in three weeks, the Buckeyes did not struggle. Indeed, the defending national champions cruised to a 38-12 victory over Western Michigan as the offense showed some return to last season's form.
The Buckeyes are still #1 in both the AP and Coaches' polls, and in fact, this is Ohio State's 100th appearance at #1 in the AP poll.
Remember that Braxton Miller guy? Ohio State is still trying to find a way to involve him in the offense. Be afraid, Big Ten. Be very afraid.
Not this again: Purdue lost to Bowling Green 35-28 on a last second play. This keeps happening to the Boilermakers for some reason.
There was at least one very bright spot for Purdue though. David Blough took over for Austin Appleby and had a field day (28/38; 335 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT). His debut was spoiled by the defense which gave up over 400 yards through the air and could not handle Bowling Green's blistering pace.
What do Purdue fans think of all this? BURN IT ALL DOWN.
We're 1-0! Rutgers is basically starting over given everything that has gone down on the banks of the Raritan in the past few weeks. They won a game because they were playing Kansas and the current rules require that someone has to win. But a game that should have been a handy victory ended up being a close-fought 27-14 win instead.
Rutgers fans are an optimistic lot though, so they're still talking bowl hopes.
Hawaii is a wonderful place. With a terrible football team. The Badgers ran roughshod over the poor Rainbow Warriors and the defense posted a shutout, marking three consecutive games without an opponent touchdown. The running back tandem of Taiwan Deal and Dare Ogunbawale combined for the lion's share of rushing yards and Wisconsin had over 500 yards of offense on the day.
Next up for Wisconsin is undefeated Iowa. Paul Chryst took the opportunity to talk about this "rivalry game."