It was, by no means, a pretty week of football in the Big Ten. Heavy favorites lost, underdogs came up short and the only non-conference game ended with a disappointing result for the conference.
The best team in the conference, Ohio State, looked like they would be upset on their own field, that turned out to be just false hope for the Purdue Boilermakers as the Buckeyes rallied to beat Purdue in overtime.
It’s true, we learn a little more about the conference each week. We learn who the contenders are and who the pretenders are, and who is just flat out awful.
Teams have underachieved, overachieved and everything in between, but here is what we learned after week eight play.
Ohio State is not so bad without Braxton Miller
The Ohio State offense was struggling all game and then, late in the third quarter, Braxton Miller broke off a long run, looking to get out of bounds to avoid injury. And then, it happened– Miller got injured on a rough looking tackle, being pulled down by his jersey and gingerly getting up before being carted into the locker room.
Miller would end up clearing concussion tests and would be OK, but for the remainder of the game, Buckeye fans had to witness what life would be like without him.
The result: not so bad. Junior quarterback Kenny Guiton got the chance he never thought he’d get. He got the chance to lead the Buckeyes to a comeback win in overtime, and he did. He looked solid, showing his poise and didn’t panic considering how monumental the circumstances were. He threw a touchdown pass with seconds left and then converted the two-point conversion to send it into overtime. Verdict: the Buckeyes are pretty good with or without Miller– but they’d rather not take that chance of playing without him.
Michigan can win the ugly games
Michigan has become the first college football program to reach the 900 win plateau. They beat their in-state rival Michigan State in yet another classic battle between the two teams going down to the final seconds.
The Spartans looked like they had the Wolverines beat as they forced a punt with just over three minutes left in the game, but they went three-and-out and gave the ball back to the Wolverines with just over a minute to go with decent field position. The end result was a Michigan victory, scoring nothing but field goals and winning 12-10.
Definitely one of the ugliest games of the season, but any win is a good win.
Penn State is better than advertised
Penn State has already exceeded expectations and we are just midway through the 2012 season. When the season began, everyone thought that they would be lucky to win even four games. Well, they are 5-2 right after winning their fifth straight on the season after beginning 0-2.
They are much better than advertised and Matt McGloin has a serious shot at winning Big Ten Player of the Year with his dazzling performance so far this season. Watch out for this team; although they are not bowl eligible, they seem to take pride in playing spoiler.
Wisconsin is back
Well, Wisconsin was never “gone” in the first place, but experts everywhere were writing this team off because of their slow start and lack of offense that seemed serious. It was serious enough for the Badgers to take action and fire their offensive line coach after two games.
Now, they are on fire and currently 6-2 after a slow start to the season and the only serious contender in the Leaders Division– most likely the only eligible team that could represent the conference in the title game from that division.
The Badgers wanted Montee Ball to get back to his old ways and he has recently. His latest performance: 24 carries for 166 yards and two touchdowns. Yes folks, he’s back and so are the Badgers.