This weekend's Big Ten Takeaways didn't necessarily present anything earth-shattering. The teams held serve in their quest for a date in Indianapolis: Ohio State, Michigan and Northwestern took home victories to keep control of their post-season destiny.
Our takeaways this weekend will be centered predominantly on the contenders for the Big Ten Championship, starting first with a narrow escape in East Lansing.
Scrappy Sparty Gives OSU A Dogfight
The winners: The Ohio State Buckeyes. The losers? Both Michigan State and QB Dwayne Haskins' shifting perception as a draft prospect. As the Buckeyes' schedule has pushed into November, Haskins' torrid pace through the schedule has slowed. Nebraska and now Michigan State have held Haskins to his lowest passing figures this season in consecutive weeks, excluding a Week 2 blowout win over Rutgers in which Haskins was pulled early.
Here is the good news: Michigan State is one of the best defensive units in the entire country. The team entered this week giving up less than 75 yards rushing per game. Ohio State scrapped out 140 of them, but did so in 45 attempts to keep the offense balanced.
There's no shame in putting up modest numbers against the Spartans. But if Haskins continues to look like a more modest passer through the end of the season, his decision regarding the NFL is suddenly no longer a slam dunk. His ability to handle pressure will be highly scrutinized in the next few games after missing throws down the field against the Spartans.
The Best Worst Team In The Country
How in the world is Northwestern really going to play in the Big Ten Championship Game? Wisconsin. Iowa. YOU HAD ONE JOB!
Listen, I will credit the Wildcats (6-1 in Big Ten play, 6-4 overall) for playing tough, disciplined football this season. They aren't an easy out. Their latest conquest, a 14-10 conquest in Iowa, is one hell a victory. But Iowa did this team favors because it refused to utilize the best player on the team, TE Noah Fant.
No, instead, Fant played only a handful of snaps in the second half and finished with 1 catch for zero yards. That ain't it.
So if you want to credit Northwestern for getting Iowa to be so responsive to another team's playbook, you can do that. But don't let this win put ideas of grandiose conquest into your heads, Northwestern. How come?
Because the offense is still run by QB Clayton Thorson, who was bad again this past weekend in throwing two more interceptions (that's five in his last three games) and completing just half of his attempts. Thorson hasn't thrown for 200 yards passing in his last four games, either.
Why else won't the Wildcats bring home the hardware? Because their date in the Big Ten Championship Game is either against Ohio State or these guys...
Big Blue Holds Serve, Rolls Over Rutgers
Oh, look. Another Big Ten adversary who failed to log 100 passing yards against Michigan. If it feels like it happens just about every week, it's because it actually does.
Rutgers QB Artur Sitkowski - 40 yards
Penn State QB Trace McSorley - 83 yards
Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke - 66 yards
Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibook - 100 yards
Maryland QB Kasim Hill - 62 yards
Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson - 174 yards
Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez - 22 yards
That's the Big Ten's success against this Wolverine defense this season. Maybe Thorson's 174 yards are the source of his draft hype this year? Who knows. What is for certain is the Wolverines have a home date with Indiana between them and a date with Dwayne Haskins.
Hot take time: This Michigan squad will end the losing streak to Ohio State and it will be thanks to this dominant unit on defense.
Odds And Ends
Maryland will in all likelihood miss a bowl game this season after letting this weekend's game vs. Indiana get away from them, 34-32. The Terps finish with Ohio State and Penn State in the next two weeks and currently sit at 5-5.
Illinois RB Reggie Corbin, a favorite of our very own Trevor Sikkema, went down with a leg injury vs. Nebraska this weekend. Corbin torched the Gophers last weekend but got hurt after just ten touches against Nebraska.
Bi-polar Purdue was at it again, getting whitewashed against Minnesota just a week after stealing a win in the final moments from Iowa. The week before that? An ugly 10-point loss to Michigan State. The week before that? A 29-point win over Ohio State. Ultimately, the Boilermakers are what their record says they are: a .500 ball club. We just don't know who we are going to get each week.