Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, October 3, 2015
The first full weekend of Big Ten action continued to affirm the legitimacy of Iowa and Northwestern, which each moved to 5-0. And, sorry, Ohio State and Michigan State, but Michigan has been the most impressive team in the Big Ten East.
[ MORE: Week 5 scoreboard | Big Ten standings | Big Ten stats | Latest polls | Power Rankings | Bowl Projections | Best of Week 5 | Week 5 picks revisited | Week 5 uniforms | What Tom Dienhart learned | Week 5 top performers | Gerry DiNardo's tweets | Dienhart: Wildcats can dream big | John Harbaugh visits Michigan sideline ]
Biggest surprise: Illinois. Don't look now, but the Fighting Illini are 4-1. Things looked iffy after Illinois followed a 2-0 start by getting shellacked 48-14 at North Carolina. A narrow win vs. Middle Tennessee followed. But now, the Illini have a signature win with a 14-13 triumph vs. Nebraska, rallying from a 13-0 hole with 14 fourth-quarter points for the program's first win vs. the Huskers since 1924.
Biggest disappointment: Minnesota. The bottom finally fell out of the Golden Gophers in a humiliating 27-0 loss at Northwestern. The floundering offense hit rock bottom with 173 yards-99 passing and 74 rushing. The staff finally pulled QB Mitch Leidner after his fumble was scooped and scored in the second half and inserted true freshman Demry Croft. Leidner hit just 10-of-21 passes for 72 yards with a pick and aforementioned fumble.
Play this again: Ohio State at Indiana. This game was filled with delicious twists and turns that resulted in a 34-27 Buckeye win. IU led, 10-6, at halftime. Then, things heated up. There were three lead changes in the third quarter. OSU got the lead early in the fourth and never relinquished it. But IU was throwing into the end zone from the 10-yard as the game ended. It was too bad the Hoosiers saw QB Nate Sudfeld and RB Jordan Howard leave the game with injuries.
Never play this again: Michigan at Maryland. Not only was this game one-sided, with Michigan claiming a 28-0 win, its second consecutive shutout, it featured six turnovers. Both teams committed three turnovers, with the Terrapins throwing three more interceptions to bring their season total to 12.
Best play: Penn State WR Chris Godwin's fingertip grab vs. Army was fantastic. On this day, though, the honor has to go to Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott and any of his three long touchdown runs at Indiana. He started it with a 55-yarder (watch it!), added a 65-yarder (watch it!) and finished it up with a 75-yarder (watch it!). My favorite? Let's go with the last one, the longest one and the one that saw the star back run over a defender and past pretty much the entire Indiana defense.
Did you see this moment? Jim Harbaugh's brother John, the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, was on the sideline for Michigan's easy win at Maryland. John's Ravens played the Thursday night NFL game this week, so the schedule really set up perfectly for the Harbaugh family.
The Harbros. pic.twitter.com/ErFLcgiUWl— Brent Yarina (@BTNBrentYarina) October 3, 2015
Fun factoid: Following a 24-21 loss at Michigan State, three of Purdue's last five losses to the Spartans, arguably the Big Ten's top team during the span, are by four points or fewer.
WEEK 5 GRADES
Michigan State: C-
Ohio State: C
Penn State: C
Iowa. How about those Hawkeyes? Iowa moved to 5-0 with a 10-6 mugging of Wisconsin in Madison. This was the Hawkeyes' first win over a ranked foe since 2011. Their last victory on the road vs. a ranked team was in 2010. The Hawkeyes have been impressive in every phase, showing balance on offense while playing rugged defense. The last time Iowa started 5-0 was in 2009 when it jetted to a 9-0 start in an 11-2 season that was capped by an Orange Bowl win and finished No. 7 in the polls. I'm just sayin'.https://twitter.com/IowaCoachWhite/status/650413132192555009
Northwestern. Don't look now, but the Wildcats are 5-0 and thinking big. The 27-0 stuffing of Minnesota was as complete an effort as you'll see. It was NU's first Big Ten shutout since 1995, the school's Rose Bowl season. And it was another big step in the maturation of redshirt freshman QB Clayton Thorson, who hit 14-of-19 passes for 128 yards. He also ran for 24 yards and two TDs.
Illinois. The 14-13 win vs. Nebraska makes the Illini 4-1 and keeps them in the thick of the Big Ten West race. The defense rose to the occasion, limiting the Huskers to 292 yards. And the offense had balance with 251 yards passing and 131 yards rushing.
Minnesota. It may be time to scratch the Gophers from the list of contenders in the Big Ten West. Minnesota looks lost after getting stifled 27-0 at Northwestern. The Gophers can't even run, getting 74 yards on 33 totes with a long of 11 yards. Ugh. Even a usually stout defense was off its game vs. a Wildcat attack that was missing stud left tackle Geoff Mogus and was starting a redshirt freshman QB.
Wisconsin. The Badgers have some concerns on offense after running 34 times for 86 yards (2.5 ypg) with a long run of 11 yards to go along with four turnovers in a 10-6 loss at home to Iowa. Corey Clement can't come back soon enough. Wisconsin had its 10-game winning streak at Camp Randall Stadium snapped, and lost for only the eighth time in its last 79 home games dating to 2004.
Michigan State. Yes, the Spartans won. But, they didn't impress in taking down 1-3 Purdue, 24-21. In fact, the Boilermakers had the ball at midfield and were driving for the tying or winning points before going out on downs. The No. 2 team in the nation is supposed to play better than this vs. a Big Ten team that has one league win since 2013.
Nebraska. The excruciating losses continue with a 14-13 gut-punch at Illinois. Fans will analyze the last Huskers' possession for months when it looked like Nebraska could ice the game. Then, the pass defense buckled ? again. If Mike Riley had a honeymoon, it ended last month.
WEEK 5 TOP PERFORMANCES
Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott ran 23 times for a career-high 274 yards and three TDs. He had scoring runs of 75, 65 and 55 yards. And his yard total tied for second-most in a game in school annals.
Illinois QB Wes Lunt hit 23-of-45 passes for 251 yards with two TDs in a 14-13 win vs. Nebraska, engineering the game-winning TD drive in the final minutes that included a huge 50-yard chuck to Malik Turner to set up Geronimo Allison's game-winning score.
Northwestern RB Justin Jackson ran 20 times for 120 yards, his 10th 100-yard rushing effort in the last 12 games.
Iowa RB Jordan Canzeri continues his hot start, blistering Wisconsin for 125 yards rushing on 26 carries.
Iowa DB Desmond King tallied nine tackles and two interceptions to give him a Big Ten-leading five picks on the season.
Michigan State RB LJ Scott carried 18 times for 146 yards and two TDs in a lackluster 24-21 win vs. Purdue.
Wisconsin LB Joe Schobert had 8 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 3.0 sacks with two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and five QB hurries in a loss to Iowa. He also sold popcorn and giant foam cowboy hats at halftime.
Michigan LB Desmond Morgan has nine tackles and a pick in helping the Wolverines smother Maryland, 28-0. Michigan yielded just 105 yards in getting back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 2000.
Penn State LB Jason Cabinda broke out for a career-high 14 tackles and two sacks, while also adding a forced fumble.
Purdue RB Markell Jones ran 22 times for 157 yards and two TDs-including a 68-yard TD jaunt–in a loss at Michigan State.
WEEK 5 TOP NUMBERS
0, rushing TDs allowed by Iowa this season.
12, games Michigan State had scored at least 30 points. That ended Saturday vs. Purdue in a 24-21 win.
2, shutouts in a row for Michigan, which blanked BYU (31-0) last week and Maryland (28-0) this week. The Wolverines have allowed 14 points in their last four games since a 24-17 loss at Utah to open the season and have outscored foes, 119-7, the last 15 quarters.
120, career wins for Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, which ranks 8th all-time among Big Ten coaches and puts him ahead of former Wisconsin coach and current Badgers AD Barry Alvarez.
86, yards rushing for Wisconsin on 34 carries. The longest rush? 11 yards.
18, wins in a row for Ohio State, the longest streak in the nation.
2, interceptions by Iowa CB Desmond King, who has five on the year.
4, turnovers by Wisconsin.
12, interceptions for Maryland QB Caleb Rowe, who tossed three vs. Michigan in going 8-of-27 for 47 yards.
3, touchdowns allowed by Northwestern in five games.
5, interceptions for Iowa's Desmond King this season. In five games.
25, Big Ten regular-season wins in a row for Ohio State, a league record the school extended at IU.
274, yards rushing for Ezekiel Elliott, which tied Keith Byars (Illinois, 1984) for the second-most in a single game in Ohio State annals
28, career wins as Michigan State QB for Connor Cook, a school record. He is 28-3 as a starter.
1, passes thrown (and completed) by Army in a 20-14 loss at Penn State.
3, first-half turnovers for Purdue, which got it in a 21-0 halftime hole it never was able to crawl out of.
WEEK 5 QUOTES
"The bottom line is just win. You're the No. 2 team in the nation, you're going to get everybody's best shot." - Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio
"We made a statement to the whole Big Ten, but there's seven games left and right now, this is just one step." - Northwestern DE Dean Lowry
"Not where we need to be. There's no doubt about it." - Penn State coach James Franklin
"It was a big relief right there. I'm so happy that it happened. Things work in mysterious ways and we got our advantage out there and it happened." - Iowa DB Desmond King, on Wisconsin's late fumble at the Iowa 1-yard line
"There's a D that we want to be, and that D is kind of nasty and mean and known for stopping the run and making big plays." - Michigan LB Desmond Morgan, on a defense that has pitched consecutive shutouts
"We're turning the ball over at an alarming rate, and that's obviously the difference in the game and sometime that's going to come back and at some point that's going to bite you. "We've got to fix that" - Ohio State coach Urban Meyer
"I don't ever remember losing a game like this. This one will be interesting (to come back from) for sure." - Nebraska coach Mike Riley, on late loss at Illinois
"The extra (22) seconds, that was huge. If I was in that situation, I'd try to milk the clock." - Illinois QB Wes Lunt, on Nebraska throwing the ball in the final minute
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