Sunday, October 23, 2016

Bilo's College Football PASS/FAIL Reports Week 8: Big 10

PASS: Penn State, Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern, Maryland
Nobody should be surprised by Penn State's big win over Ohio State at home last night. James Franklin's club was looking due for a big win, and Ohio State was looking more and more vulnerable to this sort of thing in recent weeks, especially on the road. Penn State is now tied with Ohio State for 2nd in the East, has the edge with the win, and is a game behind Michigan. The bad news is that the Nittany Lions already had a resounding loss to Michigan, so they need some major help to steal the division.
Michigan, in the meantime, is just running up on everyone in the Big 10. Jim Harbaugh has built what looks to be an unstoppable machine in Ann Arbor, and they rolled up another cellar dweller in Illinois, 41-8. The Wolverines still do play Ohio State in the finale, but they look unstoppable heading to the last half of the season.
Nebraska almost got caught playing safe against Purdue, and trailed for a time against the Boilers before finally waking up and taking the win. The Huskers are struggling, and showing some vulnerabilities, but still lead the West by a game over Northwestern, and are also still among the unbeaten teams in college football at 7-0.
Wisconsin would be unstoppable if they could only find a decent offense to get them by. As is, their defense is one of the most crushing units in the nation, and they stymied Iowa 17-9 in Iowa City this week. It is a shame that they are just 2-2 in conference play, but they are still in a spoiler role, and they still have Nebraska coming up.
Minnesota is having a nice season for new coach Tracy Claeys. The Gophers hung on to beat Rutgers, but that was not so much a story as their 5-2 overall start. Like Wisconsin, their 2-2 mark in conference play, but they trail Nebraska by 2 games in the West.
Northwester was just a disaster to start the year, with losses to Illinois State and Western Michigan, but they have rebounded big time in conference play, and they now trail the Huskers by just one game in the West. That division seems to now be down to the Wildcats and the Huskers for a shot at the Big 10 title game. Who would have thought this possible a month ago?
Maryland is representative as to what happens when you hire the right guy. DJ Durkin could be coach of the year in this conference if he keeps the needle pointed up, as the Terps, who were just lost under Randy Edsell, are now 5-2 after beating Michigan State 28-17 this week. Maryland will not steal the East title, and is 2-2 in East play, but Durkin has turned fortunes around.

FAIL: Ohio State, Illinois, Purdue, Iowa, Rutgers, Indiana, Michigan State
Ohio State's loss to Penn State was, as I have said, not surprising, but it was a bad loss at a bad time, and the Buckeyes now seem to be on the outs in the East after the loss to the Lions on the road. Ohio State has looked on the brink of something bad happening for two weeks, and it happened. The Buckeyes now will need some serious help in taking back the division.
Illinois is a mess, and they were rolled up on by Michigan (who hasn't been there this year?). The Illini, and Purdue, who blew a lead in a loss to Nebraska, are now tied for last in the West. It's a race to the bottom in both cases.
Iowa, who many believed to be a candidate to win the West outright this fall, has been a train wreck on offense despite the return of CJ Beathard, and scored just 9 points in a home loss to Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes are now just 3-2 in conference play, well behind where they should be.
Rutgers is as much a mess as Purdue and Illinois, but nearly stole a win over Minnesota this week in a 34-32 loss. It's probably the best the Scarlet Knights have looked in conference play, but a loss is a loss.
Indiana is doing what they always do. They started out red hot, and are now reeling in conference play after a 24-14 loss to Northwestern The Hoosiers are now just 1-3 in conference play, and if they fall short of a bowl bid, look for Kevin Wilson to be out by the end of the season. No improvements are afoot in Bloomington, and development looks stalled out.
This has been the stuff of nightmares in 2016 for Mark Dantonio and Michigan State. The Spartans looked to be in a spot to step back in the East this season with personnel changes, but nobody saw them stepping back behind not only Ohio State and Michigan, but Maryland as well. The Spartans lost to the Terps 28-17, and this season is lost.

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