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The Big Ten’s Top 5 lessons learned on Saturday

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Ohio State vs. Michigan State Headlines Big Ten Slate

Ohio State
Mike Carter-US PRESSWIRE

The Big Ten conference has taken its fair share of lumps this season and in recent memory for its lackluster play in non conference action, so how did the teams fare this weekend?

This past weekend saw five conference games and without question the biggest game of the weekend was the Ohio State and Michigan State game featuring the two highest ranked teams in the conference.

The second marquee matchup was Wisconsin and Nebraska in a primetime affair where the big question mark entering the game was whether the star running back for the Badgers, Montee Ball, would be healthy enough to play after sustaining his second concussion in seven weeks in the team’s week 3 win over UTEP.

Not to be overlooked was Northwestern looking to remain undefeated in a game vs. Indiana and attempt to move into the top 25 rankings for the first time this season. Also looking to remain undefeated was the surprising Minnesota Golden Gophers under head coach Jerry Kill.

The ugliest game on paper was the game pitting Penn State against Illinois. The Illini made headlines prior to the season when head coach Tim Beckman sent a number of assistant coaches to the Penn State campus to try and recruit members of the Nittany Lions after the sanctions were imposed on the football program.

So what did we learn from this week’s Big Ten action?

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and avid college football fan, and the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com Wednesday mornings from 8-10.

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Illinois vs. Penn State

Illinois
Bradley Leeb-US PRESSWIRE

The Nittany Lions made the Illini look like a high school team and I have never seen an Illinois team as unprepared to play a game in the last 20 years as they lost 35-7. This could be a long rebuilding effort under Beckman who has his work cut out for him in Champaign. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions picked up their third win of the season having won 3 of their past four games since dropping their season opener.

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Iowa vs. Minnesota

Iowa
Reese Strickland-US PRESSWIRE

Minnesota came into this game as one of the biggest surprises in the nation with their 4-0 start and Iowa was coming off a terrible loss at the hands of Central Michigan. Iowa did not waste any time in getting that awful taste out of their mouth and quickly jumped out to a 24-0 lead at halftime behind a stellar effort from running back Mark Weisman en route to the 31-13 win. Minnesota will receive a brutal wake-up call playing conference games from now on.

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Northwestern vs. Indiana

Northwestern
Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE

Fighting for respect all season the Northwestern Wildcats showed Saturday that they have an offense that may be the best in the conference. Kain Colter has reverted to his jack-of-all-trades role of a year ago and eclipsed the century mark rushing and receiving on the afternoon. Taking over the reins at quarterback is Trevor Siemian, who threw for greater than 300 yards. The 704 yards by Northwestern established a new school record in the 44-29 win.

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Nebraska vs. Wisconsin

Nebraska
Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE

Last year Nebraska got humiliated in their game vs. Wisconsin and had to be thinking about exacting a bit of revenge this year. Montee Ball did play for the Badgers and made his presence felt early with two touchdown runs in the games’ first eight minutes. Trailing by 17 in the second half, the Huskers looked like they may be staring their second loss of the season in the face.

However, that’s when Taylor Martinez and the Nebraska defense stepped up their game and stole momentum. The Huskers scored the last 20 points in the game and shut out the Badgers in the last 25 minutes of the game to improve to 4-1.

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Michigan State vs. Ohio State

Ohio State
MikeCarter-US PRESSWIRE

The marquee matchup in the conference this week featured two of the biggest stars in the nation. Ohio State’s dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller and Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell are the focal points of each team’s offense. In Urban Meyer’s first Big Ten game, I predicted the team whose defense was able to stifle the other’s star on offense would be victorious.

Bell came into the game as the nation’s second leading rusher, but was limited to 46 yards for an average of 2.6 yards per carry and held out of the end zone. Miller committed three turnovers while accounting for 315 total yards of offense, but his defense made just enough plays to eke out the 17-16 road win