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Big Ten weekend review: Week Five

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Four ranked teams were in action and only two of them made it out with a win in what was an eventful weekend of football.

Wisconsin v Northwestern Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Maryland football’s game against Michigan State was canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak, making it the second straight weekend with a cancellation for the Terps. With that being said, just twelve teams were in action in the fifth week of Big Ten football.

The Big Ten conference has not shied away from its fair share of upsets in the first half of the season. That truth remained the same this weekend and there were a few games that brought out some notable storylines. Outside of an absolutely wild game between Michigan and Rutgers, 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
Ohio State 4-0 4-0 W, 42-35, Indiana
Indiana 4-1 4-1 L, 42-35, Ohio State
Maryland 2-1 2-1 N/A
Michigan 2-3 2-3 W, 48-42 (3OT), Rutgers
Michigan State 1-3 1-3 N/A
Rutgers 1-4 1-4 L, 48-32 (3OT), Michigan
Penn State 0-5 0-5 L, 41-21, Iowa

Big Ten West

Team Conf. Record Overall Record Weekend Outcome
Team Conf. Record Overall Record Weekend Outcome
Northwestern 5-0 5-0 W, 17-7, Wisconsin
Wisconsin 2-1 2-1 L, 17-7, Northwestern
Iowa 3-2 3-2 W, 41-21, Penn State
Purdue 2-2 2-2 L, 34-31, Minnesota
Minnesota 2-3 2-3 W, 34-31, Purdue
Illinois 2-3 2-3 W, 41-23, Nebraska
Nebraska 1-3 1-3 L, 41-23, Illinois

Biggest Surprise: No. 10 Wisconsin vs No. 19 Northwestern

Northwestern has been the most surprising team in the Big Ten through five weekends of play. Needless to say, the Wildcats were able to pull yet another rabbit out of the hat against Wisconsin on Saturday.

Opening up as 7.5 point underdogs, not many people expected the Wildcats to thoroughly stifle the offense of a top-10 team. However, Northwestern gutted out its fifth victory of the season for its first win over a top-10 squad since 2011.

Both teams managed a touchdown in the first quarter of the game, but the contest turned into a defensive showdown after Northwestern captured a 14-7 lead at halftime. Wisconsin was shut out from the second quarter on, and Northwestern managed a 17-7 win at home in what was a game of turnovers for the Badgers.

Despite having about 14 more minutes of possession and over 100 more offensive yards than the Wildcats, the Badgers turnover-filled outing cost them. Quarterback Graham Mertz was sacked three times and threw three interceptions. As a team, Wisconsin had two fumbles. On the other hand, Northwestern committed just one turnover in total, with that being a lost fumble.

This win makes it the first time Northwestern is 5-0 since the 2015 season. The Wildcats will carry this win into next week when they face a 1-3 Michigan State team. The Badgers will be searching for answers when they move on to play Minnesota at home.

Statement game: No. 9 Indiana vs No. 3 Ohio State

The best team in the Big Ten might be wearing red and white, but it is not the Indiana Hoosiers just yet.

The Ohio State Buckeyes, the third-highest ranked team in the nation, were just able to handle a talented Indiana Hoosiers team at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday.

The Buckeyes brought the firepower early on in the first half and scored 21 points in the second quarter to take a 28-7 halftime lead. Despite being down by three possessions, Indiana made quite the comeback attempt in the second half. The Hoosiers fought back to within a one touchdown, but couldn’t manage a score on the final drive of the game. Ohio State would go on to capture the 42-35 nail-biter at home.

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields tossed for 300 yards and two touchdowns in the air, while running back Master Teague handled the majority of the groundwork with 26 carries for 169 yards and two touchdowns.

It was an offensive showdown for both sides, but the Buckeyes proved to be the more lethal team in the end. Ohio State compiled over 600 total offensive yards, with over 300 yards coming from both the passing and rushing games. The production and effectiveness in both the passing game and rushing game on offense is tough to beat, especially considering that the Buckeyes faced a normally stingy Indiana defense.

Ohio State will move on from this statement win and face Illinois next Saturday, while Indiana will look to bounce back from its first loss of the season when it takes on Maryland.

Upset game: Illinois vs Nebraska

Upsets can certainly happen in matchups where you least expect them to occur. That was exactly the case when Illinois Fighting Illini took the field against Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on Saturday in Lincoln, Nebraska.

After taking down Penn State in a 7-point victory last weekend, the Cornhuskers opened up their game against the Fighting Illini as a 16.5 point favorite. The actual game reflected anything but that spread.

A previously one-win Illinois squad took it to Nebraska in the first half, putting up 14 in each of the first two quarters to start off the game. The Fighting Illini marched into halftime with a 28-10 lead, all but erasing the spread that counted them out before the game. Illinois was then able to close out any comeback attempt from Nebraska, coming out with a 41-23 victory on the road.

Both defenses let up over 390 yards, but the real difference maker in this one was the turnover ratio. The Fighting Illini’s defense forced Cornhuskers quarterback Luke McCaffery to throw three interceptions, and Nebraska lost two fumbles over the course of the contest. Illinois failed to commit a turnover en route to its second win of the season.

The Fighting Illini will look to use the momentum from this upset into next weekend when they face a daunting Ohio State squad. Nebraska will search for its third win of the season next Friday against Iowa.