Some of the Big Ten’s big guns took the week off, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t give us something to talk about. After another overwhelming and eventful Saturday, it’s easy to forget the weekend started with the No. 1 team in the country losing its starting quarterback to a bad bye week decision.
Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett will sit out next Saturday’s game after he was cited for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Barrett elevated the Buckeyes’ offense to a championship-level in his first start of the season a week ago. Given the way the quarterback position has played out during the last year, Cardale Jones will probably put on a clinic against Minnesota and give Urban Meyer another tough decision when Barrett returns.
The day ended with an equally eventful bang when No. 16 Michigan sneaked away from a Minnesotan version of Jerry World -- as heartwarming as the Texas version of Jerry World is big -- with a skin-of-the-teeth victory. The Gophers were within inches of an upset win in honor of recently retired coach Jerry Kill, but questionable play calling in the final seconds left them with only two shots to stuff in a game-winning score. Michigan stopped them both.
In between, No. 10 Iowa remained unbeaten and there was plenty of action elsewhere. Let’s dive into the week that was:
Team of the week: Penn State picked up its most dominant victory of the James Franklin era this week, a 39-0 beatdown of Illinois. Christian Hackenberg has thrown for 581 yards and five scores in his last two games. He hasn’t thrown an interception in his last 164 attempts and seems to be hitting his stride as the Nittany Lions approach a challenging final trio of games. An embarrassing opening week loss to Temple doesn’t look so bad anymore, and 7-2 Penn State’s only other defeat this season came against the top-ranked Buckeyes.
Big man on campus (offense): Welcome back, Corey Clement. The Wisconsin running back scored three touchdowns and ran for 115 yards in his first appearance since opening week. The New Jersey native breathed some life into the Badgers’ rushing attack while helping to bury his hometown team, Rutgers, in a 48-10 win.
Big man on campus (defense): Purdue’s defense picked off Nebraska four times, and cornerback Anthony Brown had three of them Saturday afternoon. The senior had never intercepted an FBS-level quarterback heading into the weekend. He set up touchdown drives of 22 and 19 yards by taking away Ryker Fyfe passes, and his third killed a potential scoring drive for the Cornhuskers just before halftime.
Big man on campus (special teams): We couldn’t review this week without mentioning Michigan rookie Jabrill Peppers. He made an impact in all three phases against the Gophers, but 84 of his 100 all-purpose yards came on special teams so we’ll use this category to tip our cap. His 43-yard kick return set up the Wolverines’ first score and his 41-yard punt return after the Gopher’s ensuing possession set up their second.
Top costume: Big Ten players were working this weekend, but that didn’t stop them from enjoying a bit of a Halloween celebration. Northwestern showed up to its Friday practice in full costume. Anthony Zettel donned a Jason mask after Penn State’s murderous win. But no one topped Wisconsin safety Tanner McEvoy, who put together a stellar Ricky Bobby impression after he ran for a touchdown and picked off a pass in the Badgers’ victory.
Biggest faceplant: The Nebraska nightmare continues with a 55-45 loss to Purdue. The Boilermakers, who had only one Big Ten win under Darrell Hazell coming into the weekend, put up 457 yards of offense on the once-vaunted Blackshirts. The five turnovers Nebraska committed without starter Tommy Armstrong were a bigger culprit. Mike Riley is now 3-6 in his first season in Lincoln. Can Huskers fans at least find solace in the fact that this loss wasn’t decided on the final play? Probably not.
Numbers to know: Iowa moved to 8-0 with its win over Maryland, making this season the first time in 112 years that the Big Ten had three different 8-0 teams (Michigan State, Ohio State are also 8-0). Eleven FBS teams remain unbeaten, which matches the number of perfect records entering November in the last two seasons combined (three in 2013, eight in 2014). Former Wisconsin running back Montee Ball lost sole possession of the career rushing touchdown record Saturday when Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds tied him with 77. Current Wisconsin running back Corey Clement is averaging a touchdown every 6.33 carries this season (3 scores on 19 touches).