The one good thing about having just two teams ranked in the Top 25 is you can’t have three of your ranked teams get beat by unranked clubs in one day, a la the SEC with LSU, Georgia and South Carolina.
So it was a good weekend for the Big Ten, which saw its two ranked teams (Ohio State and Wisconsin) go 2-0, and saw its number of ranked teams double by Sunday morning when Michigan and Nebraska were added to the Associated Press rankings.
On with the rankings for Week 8, and only Week 8.
1. Minnesota, W 20-17 at Northwestern. Hey, who saw this coming? The Gophers become the first team other than Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin to hold the No. 1 spot.
Jerry Kill, the Gophers’ head coach in self-imposed exile because of health reasons, showed up and gave a halftime speech to his team. Kill’s wife drove him from Minneapolis to the Chicago suburbs to attend the game, which he watched from a Ryan Field suite.
“He’s kind of like Linus’ blanket,” Minnesota acting head coach Tracy Claeys said. “To have him around just makes everybody feel comfortable because he means a hell of a lot to all of us. That’s what I told them at halftime: ‘If Coach can make the effort to get here and drive, then we can dig a little bit deeper and play just a little bit harder. It’ll be special to be able to finish it off.’ I’m so proud of them.
“The other thing that makes this so special is that we needed to win a game for the people in Minesota. They’ve been patient with us. We got started out good. We understand that everybody wants to win right now.”
Those quotes came from this Twincities.com story.
4. Michigan, W 63-47 vs. Indiana. Jeremy Gallon set a Big Ten mark with 369 receiving yards. Devin Gardner set school marks with 503 passing yards and 584 total yards. The Wolverines had a team-record 751 yards.
But … the Wolverines allowed 572 yards. To Indiana. Does that make it seem like Michigan football is Michigan football? No, it does not.
“We won the football game,” said Michigan Coach Brady Hoke. “That’s the only thing I care about.”
Hoke probably has other concerns.
5. Iowa, L 34-24 at Ohio State. That’s right, this loss is being ranked ahead of Michigan State’s 14-0 win over Purdue. For a half, the Hawkeyes looked like the proverbial well-oiled machine. They had the ball for over 18 minutes, their offensive line dominated, their many formations with three tight ends had the Buckeyes off-balance, and they got a lot of mention on “Upset Alerts” in America.
Then came the second half. “They don’t give door prizes for a good first-half,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz noted afterward.
As they did against Michigan State in their previous game, the Hawkeyes were stymied after halftime. Ohio State had the ball for 23:05 in the second half in scoring 24 points. The second-half rushing yardage was OSU 194, Iowa 29.
But a lot of people — a lot of people surprisingly didn’t think this would be much of a contest. The Hawkeyes competed on the road against the league’s best team. There’s no door prize for that. But a similar effort would have beaten most of the other teams in the Big Ten.
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