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Big Ten weekend review: Week Four

Penn State and Michigan fall again, while the top-ranked teams in the Big Ten are gaining steam.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

With Maryland football’s game against the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the team, just twelve Big Ten squads were in action in the fourth week of Big Ten football.

The major upsets within the conference have dwindled down compared to the first few weeks of the season, but nonetheless there were a few games that provided some intriguing storylines. Here’s what stood out the most from this weekend.

*Rankings are from the time that the games were played, not this week’s AP Top 25.

Big Ten East

Team Conf. Record Overall Record Weekend Outcome
Team Conf. Record Overall Record Weekend Outcome
Indiana 4-0 4-0 W, 24-0, Michigan State
Ohio State 3-0 3-0 N/A
Maryland 2-1 2-1 N/A
Rutgers 1-3 1-3 L, 23-20, Illinois
Michigan State 1-3 1-3 L, 24-0, Indiana
Michigan 1-3 1-3 L, 49-11, Wisconsin
Penn State 0-4 0-4 L, 30-23, Nebraska

Big Ten West

Team Conf. Record Overall Record Weekend Outcome
Team Conf. Record Overall Record Weekend Outcome
Northwestern 4-0 4-0 W, 27-20, Purdue
Wisconsin 2-0 2-0 W, 49-11, Michigan
Purdue 2-1 2-1 L, 27-20, Northwestern
Iowa 2-2 2-2 W, 35-7, Minnesota
Nebraska 1-2 1-2 W, 30-23, Penn State
Illinois 1-3 1-3 W, 23-20, Rutgers
Minnesota 1-3 1-3 L, 35-7, Iowa

Biggest Surprise: No. 13 Wisconsin vs Michigan

The football program at Michigan is seemingly headed in the glaringly wrong direction as of late.

After starting off the season with a win against Minnesota, the Wolverines have dropped three straight contests, with the latest coming against the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday evening. It’s safe to say it wasn't a pretty game for Jim Harbaugh’s squad, despite odds-makers predicting a much closer game than what occurred.

The Badgers started out red-hot offensively in the first half, scoring the game’s first 28 points, which included three rushing touchdowns. The 28-0 halftime deficit that the Wolverines faced was the team’s worst deficit at home since Michigan Stadium opened in 1927. Wisconsin was able to control the clock the rest of the way and capture a 49-11 victory.

What was most telling from this matchup was the time of possession from both sides, as Wisconsin held the ball for over 40 minutes while Michigan managed just under 20 minutes of possession.

In just their second game, the Badgers came out looking like they deserved to be a top team in the Big Ten, and in the nation. They'll go on to face a talented Northwestern squad next weekend, while Michigan will search for answers as it takes on Rutgers, another 1-3 team.

Statement game: No. 23 Northwestern vs Purdue

Don’t look now, but Northwestern surprisingly continues to compile wins in the Big Ten.

After coming in at No. 23 in the AP Top 25 poll, the Wildcats successfully fought for yet another victory, this time against the Purdue Boilermakers on the road. This is the first time Northwestern has started 4-0 in a season since 1996.

The game was back-and-forth for the majority of the contest, but a 24-13 Wildcat lead was too much to overcome at the end of the third quarter for the Boilermakers, who suffered their first loss of the 2020 season. Northwestern was able to hold on in the fourth quarter and remain undefeated, coming out with a 27-20 win.

Northwestern quarterback Peyton Ramsey threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns, with wide receiver Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman was the recipient for each.

The Wildcats stunted the running game of the Boilermakers en route to the seven point victory. Purdue managed just two total rushing yards all game compared to 80 yards on the ground for Northwestern.

After this statement victory over Purdue, Northwestern will look to challenge the likes of Ohio State, Indiana and Wisconsin as the season moves along. Look out for the Wildcats as a surprise team that keeps chugging along in the Big Ten.

Upset game: Penn State vs Nebraska

There has been perhaps no larger let down than James Franklin’s Penn State football team this season in college football.

The Nittany Lions were projected as a top-10 team in preseason rankings, but they haven’t come close to living up to that prediction after dropping their first four games of the season, with the latest loss coming against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Nebraska, a three-point underdog headed into the game, jumped out to a 27-6 lead at halftime. The Nittany Lions appeared to make a comeback attempt, bringing the game within seven in the fourth quarter, but Nebraska was able to hold onto the 30-23 upset victory after Penn State failed to score on its few possessions towards the end of the game.

Despite controlling the possession and yardage totals, Penn State was unable to come out with their first win of the season. Penn State’s fourth straight loss has pushed the Nittany Lions to their worst start since 2001.

For Nebraska, the Cornhuskers secured their first win of the 2020 season after falling to Ohio State and Northwestern. Nebraska will face Illinois next week, while Penn State searches for its first win of the season against Iowa.