Last week: won at Northwestern 35-27
Football games don't last 12 minutes. They don't last 26 or 35 or 58 minutes. It's a full hour off the clock, and Michigan State has shown us that with huge second halves in the past two weeks. Props to the Spartans for leaving the state for the first time and dealing with the sleepiness that is Ryan Field. Warning, though: Kinnick is, uh, a little louder.
Next: at No. 18 Iowa, 2:30 p.m. ABC
2) No. 9 Wisconsin (7-1, 3-1); LW, 2c
Last week: won at No. 13 Iowa 31-30
The two people who have to be enjoying these past two weeks more than anybody else are Bret Bielema and Barry Alvarez. Bielema, for obvious reasons (his two finest games, in an eight-day span), but how about the athletic director who has stuck with his guy through all the FireBretBielema.com garbage? Not to mention, you know the Badger brass had to feel besmirched when the new Big Ten divisions completely screwed Wisconsin. Nothing like tearing through the Big Ten to show the conference they dishonored one of the region's best programs.
3) No. 10 Ohio State (7-1, 3-1); LW, 2a
Last week: won vs. Purdue 49-0
After Ohio State used Purdue as its punching bag, quarterback Terrelle Pryor still was thinking about being the punching bag against the Badgers:
"Not to take anything away from Wisconsin at all - I really don't want it to come off like this - but they weren't better than us. Everybody knows that if we play nine out of 10 times, we'd beat Wisconsin."
Too bad that 10th game was played, eh Terrelle? Scoreboard.
Next: at Minnesota, 7 p.m. ABC
4) No. 18 Iowa (5-2, 2-1); LW, 2b
Last week: lost vs. No. 10 Wisconsin 31-30
Coming back for senior year of college, putting off the NFL for another year (and risking injury or falling draft stock in the process) is always tough. Hopefully, Adrian Clayborn isn't regretting his decision. He was the first Hawkeye to enter the Q&A room after Iowa's loss, and had to tearfully step away for a few minutes to console himself before resuming the interview. A bitter, bitter loss for Iowa.
Next: vs. No. 5 Michigan State, 2:30 p.m. ABC
5) Illinois (4-3, 2-2); LW, 5
Last week: won vs. Indiana 43-13
When the defense forces five turnovers like that against a high-octane offense, that's signs of improvement. The Fighting Illini are clearly the class of the conference's second tier.
Next: vs. Purdue, 11 a.m. ESPN2
6) RV Michigan (5-2, 1-2); LW, 6
Last week: Idle
Interesting suggestion for coach Rich Rodriguez: you've got two talented quarterbacks worthy of playing time on the roster. Why not take these two weeks, and integrate a whole section of the playbook with both Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier on the field? It's one thing for defenses not to know who will be lining up opposite at quarterback entering the game, or even from series to series. What if they didn't even know who was going to play quarterback from play to play? Defensive coordinators, meet Xanax.
Next: at Penn State, 7 p.m. ESPN
7) Penn State (4-3, 1-2); LW, 7
Last week: won at Minnesota 33-21
Is Matt McGloin the answer? Any win's a win for Penn State, but sheesh. Giving up 26 first downs to Minnesota isn't exactly a resounding statement for the defense.
Next: vs. Michigan, 7 p.m. ESPN
8) RV Northwestern (5-2, 1-2); LW, 9
Last week: lost vs. No. 8 Michigan State 35-27
Just a general pondering I had watching the end of that game. It must be depressing to be a diehard Northwestern fan (if those exist), since your stadium will always, always be decorated with the visiting team's colors more than purple.
Next: at Indiana, 11 a.m.
9) Purdue (4-3, 2-1); LW, 8
Last week: lost at No. 11 Ohio State 49-0
So much for Big Ten title aspirations. The schedule ahead is a brutal one for the Boilermakers. They might not be looking at a win again until hosting Indiana after Thanksgiving.
Next: at Illinois, 11 a.m. ESPN2
10) Indiana (4-3, 0-3); LW, 10
Last week: lost at Illinois 43-13
Nothing went right for the Hoosiers Saturday. Makes you wonder if perhaps Indiana should look into playing tougher non-conference competition in order to actually be prepared for conference football.
Next: vs. Northwestern, 11 a.m.
11) Minnesota (1-7, 0-4); LW, 11
Last week: lost vs. Penn State 33-21
I'm not sure if this upcoming night game against Ohio State is the world's biggest trap game, or a stage for a complete beatdown that embarrasses Minnesota alums nationwide. ABC must be thrilled to put this masterpiece on the airwaves.
Next: vs. No. 10 Ohio State, 7 p.m. ABC