The Big Ten suffered another rough week, making it three weeks in a row that the conference has suffered tough losses.
Here is what we learned from Big Ten teams in week four.
Northwestern and Ohio State are at the top
As weird as it may seem, a team that hasn’t won the Big Ten since 2000 and a team that currently has a postseason ban are the best teams in the conference. Nebraska might be challenging them for the best team in the conference, but they have one loss while the Wildcats and Buckeyes have none. Northwestern’s offense has been solid, although they are still searching for their starting quarterback, and running back Venric Mark has been a pleasant surprise. Ohio State has also been soild on offense thanks to Braxton Miller and find themselves as the conference’s highest ranked team and have a showdown this week in East Lansing against No. 20 Michigan State that will be featured as ESPN‘s College Gameday destination.
Michigan State’s offense is Le’Veon Bell
Bell accounted for more than 50 percent of Michigan State’s offense on Saturday against Eastern Michigan. He ran the ball 36 times for a whopping 253 yards and a touchdown. He was keeping the Spartan offense going while Andrew Maxwell and the receivers were struggling to get on the same page. Maxwell threw for just five first quarter yards and was 15 for 28 passing for under 200 yards. He wasn’t in sync with his wide outs and it showed while the receivers dropped five passes and tight end Dion Sims was Maxwell’s favorite target.
When receivers were dropping balls, it seemed as if Maxwell was gradually losing confidence, especially when going into halftime with a 7-6 defecit. They will need to fix this and maybe play the young receivers more to see if that will change the momentum. Right now, Maxwell and the Spartans should be frustrated that they have depended on just one guy to run the offense.
Iowa and Illinois are falling off the map
Iowa became the third Big Ten team to lose to a MAC team, falling to Central Michigan by a single point, 32-31. On the same note, Illinois lost in a blowout to Louisiana Tech, 52-24. The Illini had six turnovers, which seemed like a trend in week four with Michigan throwing five interceptions, and the Bulldogs took advantage of it. Iowa had many bright spots in their win, with James Vandenberg throwing for his first touchdown of the season and the fullback Mark Weisman running the ball 27 times for 217 yards and three touchdowns filling in for the injured Damon Bullock. However, their defense could not stop the Chippewas, giving up 400 yards of offense and losing on a late field goal. These are two teams that are slowly losing their luster and may need a quick turnaround to salvage a bowl game at the end of the season.
Denard Robinson is human
Robinson and the Wolverines had what most people would call “an off-week”. In my opinion, they didn’t even show up for the game against Notre Dame. This was the biggest game of the week in the Big Ten and it seemed like everyone knew that but the boys in blue. Robinson had some decent numbers, 138 yards passing and 90 yards rushing, but he also threw four interceptions. He admitted after the game that he let his team down and apologized to the fans and his teammates after the game. He looked off throughout the game and couldn’t seem to get on the same page as his receivers.
There were many chances for the Wolverines to score, getting to the redzone multiple times, but turnovers were costly, killing any chances the offense might have had. The defense did their part, but the offense failed to show up against the Irish, making it the second straight week that Notre Dame held a team without a touchdown.