Due to the shorten work week, I am under some unfamiliar time constraints to compsoe the rundown of the Big Ten West happenings this past weekend. Fortunately, it’s the end of the season and the chase for the division title and the chance to meetup with the Ohio State Buckeyes in Indianapolis on December 7th in the Big Ten Championship Game is between two teams... And those two teams just happen to be playing each other in Minneapolis on Saturday.
As I’m sure you all know, it’ll be the Wisconsin Badgers versus the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. Winner gets the hardware and trip to Indy. Loser goes home.
Things are going to be pretty simplified this week. So let’s examine what the teams in the Big Ten West did during Week 13.
(Overall record, conference record)
Illinois Fighting Illini (6-5, 4-4)
Illinois fought valiantly in a tough rough environment at Kinnick Stadium, losing to the Hawkeyes 19-10 in a bit of a defensive battle. Good on the Illini for showing they could hang with a decent team on the road. They have certainly improved since losing to Eastern Michigan at home at the beginning of the season.
Next Up: Illinois hosts their in-state rival Northwestern for a very sought after hat. Don’t ruin your fun second-half by losing this game Lovie!
Iowa Hawkeyes (8-3, 5-3)
The Hawkeyes once again defended their home turf with another ugly victory, this time against the aforementioned Fighting Illini to the tune of 19-10. They did what Minnesota could not and avoided the let down game.
Next Up: Iowa travels to Lincoln, Nebraska on Black Friday to play for this generic POS trophy
Minnesota Golden Gophers (10-1, 7-1)
The Gophers generally dominated the hapless Northwestern Wildcats 38-22. This including jumping out to a very early 21-0 lead and seemingly moving away from sound fundamentals on defense and specials after that point. All is well though. The offense was still great, no major injuries occurred, and all is on the line this upcoming weekend.
Next Up: You know what awaits...
Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-6, 3-5)
The Cornhuskers maintained the dream of a bowl game this season by man-handling the nose-diving Maryland Terrapins 54-7 in College Park. Adrian Martinez returned to play quarterback and the Huskers were able to gain momentum going into their Black Friday contest with rival Iowa.
Next Up: Huskers host Hawkeyes for in the Heroes Game. A hero would be any non-Iowa or Nebraska fan willing to watch this game.
Northwestern Wildcats (2-9, 0-8)
The Wildcats lost again with very little explosiveness on the offensive side of the ball. It’s been the theme for just about every Northwestern game this season. Not much more to be said.
Next Up: The Wildcats travel south to Urbana-Champaign attempting to salvage their tirefire of a season by beating their in-state rival the Fighting Illini
Purdue Boilermakers (4-7, 3-5)
Purdue fell to the Badgers in Madison 45-24 despite hanging tough through a majority of the first three quarters including taking a 17-14 lead halfway through the second. However, the injury-decimated Boilermakers just didn’t have the horses or the stamina to maintain competence all the way through. Still impressive considering the circumstances and playing away from home.
Next Up: The Boilermakers host their hated in-state rivals, the Indiana Hoosiers as they battle for the Old Oaken Bucket
Wisconsin Badgers (9-2, 6-2)
The Badgers dominated an injury-riddled Purdue squad at home 45-24. Johnathan Taylor was great. The rest of the offense was fine. The defense appeared vulnerable at times. Strange game overall I thought for Wisconsin. But they now have bigger fish to attempt to fry...
Next Up: Wisconsin travels to Minneapolis to take on the Gophers in the most played rivalry in FBS football