Half the Big Ten had Saturday off. There was a time when teams just played 12 straight weeks and were done. But college football figured out that if it stretched the season out, that meant more television exposure.
It’s always about the television.
Anyway, here is the Hlog’s shortened Week 5 rankings. As always, this prologue: The following ranking is for Week 5 only, not what happened before it. It measures performance, quality of opposition, and my whims.
1. Ohio State, W 31-24 vs. Wisconsin. Some were calling this the Big Ten’s Game of the Year. If so, the Buckeyes rule.
OSU led 31-14 after three quarters. Brandon Miller returned to quarterbacking after missing the previous two games, and quickly reasserted himself as the league’s top QB. He had four touchdown passes, and rushed 22 times for 83 yards.
But bad news for the Buckeyes: Senior safety Christian Bryant broke his ankle in the game, ending the captain’s collegiate career. OSU Coach Urban Meyer was so distraught about Bryant’s injury that he pounded the podium in frustration during his postgame press conference.
“I just love that kid — he’s done so much for our program, come so far,” Meyer said. “Incredible leadership skills, and he’s going to be even more valuable outside of football. Hard part of the game, boy.”
2. Iowa, W 23-7 at Minnesota. The Gophers had 30 rushing yards. They haven’t had such a woeful game in that department since … well, since the last game of the 2012 regular-season. They were held to 4 rushing yards on 19 carries.
The opponent? Michigan State. That’s who Iowa plays Saturday.
3. Illinois, W 50-14 vs. Miami (Ohio). The Fighting Illini are 3-1. They were 2-10 last season.
Nathan Scheelhaase had five first-half touchdown passes, four of them within an 8-minute stretch of the second quarter. Illinois piled up 601 yards against a bad MAC foe that is 0-4 and has been outscored 157-35.
After Ilinois’ second TD for a 13-0 lead, the Illini faked the PAT kick. Holder Tim Russell passed to tight end Tim Davis for a 2-point conversion. That was immediately followed by an onside kick that Illinois recovered. The Illini scored another touchdown four plays later.
Illinois begins Big Ten play Saturday at Nebraska. Was it a good idea to show all that trickery the week before? Aw, what the heck. If you’re trying to have bigger home crowds than the 46, 890 Illinois had Saturday, you better be entertaining whenever the chance arises.
4. Wisconsin, L 24-31 at Ohio State. The Badgers didn’t go down quietly in Columbus.
Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis caught 10 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown. The senior from Wautoma, Wis., has career totals of 2,631 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns for a program built on the ground game. He is a former walk-on.
“He’s got my vote for all-Big Ten,” Meyer said. “He did a heck of a job.”
On the not-so-great side, Wisconsin committed five false-start penalties. And the Badgers’ secondary was, well, secondary to OSU’s receivers. The Buckeyes’ Corey Brown scored on a 40-yard pass with one second left in the first half. Ouch.
5. through 10 (tie) Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern and Penn State. They were idle.
11. Minnesota, L 23-7 vs. Iowa. I waffled between Minnesota and Purdue for 12th. I’m putting the Gophers 11th because I really like the press box at TCF Bank Stadium, even if sportswriters’ seats are on the minus-20 yard line.
“As a whole team, we got outplayed today and that’s as simple as I can put it,” said Minnesota Coach Jerry Kill.
12. Purdue, L 55-24 vs. Northern Illinois. The Huskies scored on six of their first eight possessions. They beat Purdue soundly despite being outgained, 524 yards to 402. Because the Boilermakers made five turnovers to NIU’s one.
Purdue’s coach is Darrell Hazell. Half his staff came with him from Kent State after last season. Kent State lost in double-overtime to Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference’s title game. So Hazell & Co. know how to compete against the Huskies. Now they need players who were as good as they had at Kent State.
“We need to take a look at A to Z, everything we’re doing, all the personnel we’re using right now,” Hazell said. “We need to make some improvements. We need to get healthy, and the big thing for our football team right now — above all else — is to stay close.”
Northern Illinois became the first MAC team to ever defeat two Big Ten clubs in the same season.
Now the Huskies start MAC play. Their first five league opponents all have losing records, and have a combined record of 6-18.
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