When you are expected to write about the division’s games from week-to-week, it’s easy to overreact to a single week’s slate of games or assume that we know all there is to know about a team after a single especially abysmal performance. But over the course of a 12-game season, there are many stories and narratives because the college football ecosystem is multi-faceted in its variables and interactions.
Teams that appeared dead in the water are all of a sudden looking to make a push for a bowl game (hello Illinois!). Teams that were once on top of the world are now driving their respective fanbases crazy with inconsistent play and a seemingly uncertain future (Wisconsin, anyone?). The season can contain so many ups and downs that trying to predict or track anything mid-season seems like a fool’s errand.
Well, luckily enough for you, I am that fool. Despite several teams already being out of the race for the division whether mathematically or just by using common sense (I’m looking at you Northwestern), there are still many chapters of the story of the 2019 Big Ten West to be written.
With this in mind, let’s review what the teams in the Big Ten West did during Week 9.
(Overall record, conference record)
Illinois Fighting Illini (4-4, 2-3)
Coach Lovie Smith and the Illini are going streaking after their second consecutive win, a 24-6 victory over Purdue in a very rainy West Lafayette this past Saturday. Despite only attempting six passes and accumulating 26 passing yards as a team, Illinois was able to shut down the hapless Boilermaker offense and did just enough on the ground to return to a .500 overall record for the season. Running back Dre Brown had 18 carries for 131 yards and Reggie Corbin and quarterback Brandon Peters tacked on rushing touchdowns to account for the Illini’s offense. The defense contributed a touchdown to the tally, an interception by Tony Adams he returned to the house. Illinois is now looking to push for a surprise bowl birth after a sluggish start to the season.
Next Up: The Illini host Rutgers with a very good chance to piece together a third consecutive win
Iowa Hawkeyes (6-2, 3-2)
The Hawkeyes defeated Northwestern 20-0, the likes of which surely made Coach Kirk Ferentz smile in pleasure. This was a vintage ugly Iowa win with no turnovers, 40 rushing attempts and an approximate seven-minute advantage in time of possession. Quarterback Nate Stanley had a pedestrian 179 yards on 12-26 passing with a single touchdown pass. Despite only converting 6 of 17 third downs, the Hawkeyes were able to successfully suffocate a painfully inept Wildcat offense, holding them to 202 total offensive yards. Despite only averaging 3.1 yards per carry, Iowa controlled the game from the get go and was never threatened.
Next Up: Iowa has a bye week
Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-0, 5-0)
The Golden Gophers continued to eviscerate inferior opponents by defeating the Maryland Terrapins 52-10 in Minneapolis. Minnesota was sharp on both sides of the ball compiling 30 first downs, almost 500 total yards, and averaging 5.9 yards per carry on offense while creating two turnovers, scoring one touchdown, and allowing only 210 total yards on defense. Rodney Smith rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown, they were 7 of 11 on third down, and only committed two penalties all game. Coney Durr’s 72-yard interception return for a touchdown made the score 28-0 before halftime and the Gophers never looked back.
Next Up: Minnesota has a bye week
Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-4, 2-3)
Scott Frost’s band of lazy underachievers lost a shoot-out in Lincoln to the Indiana Hoosiers 38-31. Despite holding a 21-16 halftime lead and compiling 514 total yards on offense, Nebraska was unable to channel the Blackshirts of years gone by as Indiana racked up 455 total yards of their own offense, including going 7-14 on third downs. Backup quarterback Peyton Ramsey compiled 351 passing yards and two passing touchdowns. While the combined quarterbacking of Noah Vedral and Luke McCaffrey was efficient, going 19-22, it wasn’t enough to surpass the more explosive Hoosier attack.
Next Up: The Cornhuskers travel to West Lafayette desperate for a win to buoy their fading bowl hopes
Northwestern Wildcats (1-6, 0-5)
The Wildcats scored 0 points and lost at home to the Iowa Hawkeyes 20-0. I feel as if I’m doing Northwestern fans a favor by being as brief as possible with their game recaps. The offense is a bigger atrocity than the Ford Edsel at this point.
Next Up: Northwestern travels to Bloomington to face a hot Indiana Hoosier team
Purdue Boilermakers (2-6, 1-4)
Purdue fell to the Fighting Illini at home this past Saturday 24-6 in the heavy rain. The Boilermakers were unable to get any sort of rhythm on the offensive side of the ball and the injuries were too much to overcome from a play-making perspective. On the defensive side of the ball, they couldn’t contain the Illinois running game enough to avoid propping up their inept offensive output.
Next Up: The Boilermakers host a desperate Nebraska squad with bowl eligibility all but gone for the Purdue
Wisconsin Badgers (6-2, 3-2)
The Badgers looked like any other Big Ten team as they got thumped by the overlord Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus 38-7. Heisman hopeful Johnathan Taylor was held to 52 yards on 20 carries, Jack Coan will see Chase Young in his nightmares for years to come, and Wisconsin is now
Next Up: Wisconsin travels to the Horseshoe to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes