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The Big Ten in Review, Week 11: Strengths, Weaknesses and Damn Near Everyone

"Watching too much Big Ten football can be hazardous to your health" is a joke that SEC fans might make. If it's actually true, then we are all dead after this past week.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

So, the bar I work at is not what you would call a "sports bar." We have one TV and it is rarely even turned on. Recently, we have started having it on Saturday afternoons for causal college football watching while drinking superior cocktails served by excellent bartenders. I got to work on Saturday during the second half of *REDACTED FOR PUBLIC SAFETY* playing against *REDACTED FOR PUBLIC SAFETY* and boy howdy was nobody paying attention. The failed two-point conversion as time expired elicited a slight groan from the crowd, which in our bar might as well be a cacophonous roar. The other bartender looked at me and said, "Why is everyone so excited? Is this a big game or something?" I tried to think of the words to describe to her how little this game meant to anyone anywhere, but failed.

I ended up just walking away, saying nothing and shaking my head. I didn't want to burden her with any more knowledge of Michigan football.

Big Ten East


S&P+ rank: 79th overall, 65th offense, 89th defense

Biggest strength: After watching this game, I was confident there wouldn't be a worse Big Ten game on Saturday. How naive and foolish I was before the mid-afternoon games started. So young and full of hope! Tevin Coleman is always a strength even though Penn State effectively bottled him up for most of this game (20 carries, 71 yards, zero touchdowns). Senior safety Mark Murphy had a pick-six, which was all of IU's points.

Biggest weakness: I'll just leave this here.

Zander Diamont threw for 68 yards -- in the entire game, mind you -- and two interceptions and had the HIGHER QBR of the two quarterbacks. Christian Hackenberg is the Ryan Leaf in the NFL of college football. Had 10 penalties.

Remaining schedule: At Rutgers in a game that might end in a 0-0 tie.


S&P+ rank: 55th overall, 62nd offense, 44th defense

Biggest strength: Somehow this awful week of football didn't include any contributions from Maryland or Rutgers.

Biggest weakness: Excellent wide receiver Stefon Diggs will miss the rest of the season with a lacerated kidney. Get well soon, Stefon. Having interior organs "lacerated" does not sound pleasant at all.

Remaining schedule: Home night game against an angry Michigan State team. I hope C.J. Brown is up-to-date on his medical insurance payments.


S&P+ rank: 48th overall, 76th offense, 31st defense

Biggest strength: Shut your whore mouth. There weren't any. OK, De'Veon Smith rushed for a career-high 121 yards, but that's it!

Biggest weakness: Remember this? Well, this is how the Wolverines won in Evanston this time. And yet, every damn time Wisconsin goes to Northwestern, none of this voodoo magic happens. WHO ARE YOU PRAYING TO, BRADY HOKE!?!? Went 1-of-12 on third down. Outgained by Northwestern. Devin Gardner had a worse QBR than Hackenberg. Also, I know QBR is a stupid stat, but it's a great way to make fun of quarterbacks and using it will hopefully land me my dream job of yelling at Skip Bayless' corpse on First Take in 15 years. Are we sure Michigan won this game? Someone check if the video feed of the game was hacked in the fourth quarter by ISIS or someone. Big Ten football is the No. 1 threat to America.

Remaining schedule: Their game against Northwestern was white-hot garbage. I don't think Michigan should be allowed to play anymore football this year. The Wolverines open the basketball season on Saturday against Hillsdale, which is most certainly a made-up school like the one in that movie Accepted.

Michigan State

S&P+ rank: 12th overall, 9th offense, 16th defense

Biggest strength: Michigan State's game against Ohio State was really quite good. A back-and-forth game featuring two ranked teams with excellent individual efforts? I know you lost, Sparty, but you acquitted yourself nicely on national TV, which is more than I can say for just about every other slapnut team in this conference. Jeremy Langford had three touchdowns and averaged 7.6 yards per carry. Connor "Too Many" Cook threw for 358 yards.

Biggest weakness: Couldn't contain J.T. Barrett. Or Ezekiel Elliott. Or Devin Smith. Or stop Ohio State on third down (OSU was 10-of-14). Or stop the run (OSU averaged 6.5 yards per carry on 41 carries). It's weird when MSU's defense is a weakness.

Remaining schedule: Off to College Park to battle Maryland. With its Playoff hopes now dead in a ditch somewhere near Okemos (East Lansing suburb knowledge for y'all), MSU is now battling for New Year's Day bowl position. YOU STAY AWAY FROM THE CITRUS BOWL, SPARTY! DR. BO IS OURS!

Ohio State

S&P+ rank: 2nd overall (!), 1st offense (!!!!!!!), 10the defense

Biggest strength: Plugging in a freshman quarterback at the start of the season when your Heisman contender quarterback gets hurt and having him become a Heisman contender himself. I mean, Barrett had five touchdowns and 386 yards of total offense. That would take Tanner McEvoy and Joel Stave three games to compile.

Biggest weakness: Losing to Virginia Tech earlier this year AT HOME. How the hell did that happen?

Remaining schedule: At Minnesota in its final "test" of the year. Last two games are at home against Indiana and Michigan. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!

Penn State

S&P+ rank: 33rd overall, 84th offense, 11th defense

Biggest strength: Bill Belton had a 92-yard touchdown run, which the internet tells me was the ninth-longest in Big Ten history. Sam Ficken made two field goals.

Biggest weakness: Did you see up in the Indiana section when I talked about Hackenberg? That guy had a rough game.

If I was Penn State's defense, I would not let the offense sit with me at lunch.

Remaining schedule: All of this awfulness aside, PSU still won this game! The Nittany Lions only need one more win to be bowl-eligible! They play Temple this week, and if you guys know anything about me, know this: I will be wearing my Lynn Greer Temple jersey on Saturday morning. Hoot, hoot!


S&P+ rank: 59th overall, 41st offense, 75th defense

Biggest strength: Avoided playing a game this week.

Biggest weakness: Played a game most other weeks of this season.

Remaining schedule: Hosts Indiana in a game that could make the Scarlet Knights bowl-eligible in their first Big Ten season.

Big Ten West


S&P+ rank: 76th overall, 70th offense, 83rd defense

Biggest strength: Had a three-star cornerback commit over a school in the SEC!

Biggest weakness: Somehow, a few touchdowns got scored on Illinois by Ohio State despite being on the bye.

Remaining schedule: Takes on Iowa at home. Hmmm, Illinois beat Minnesota and Minnesota just clobbered Iowa...


S&P+ rank: 70th overall, 88th offense, 57th defense

Biggest strength: Mark Weisman carried the ball 14 times for 21 yards and a touchdown.

Biggest weakness: Recap of game against Minnesota: 

Keeping pork-related trophies in Iowa. Three turnovers. 205 yards of total offense.

Remaining schedule: Iowa might be the weirdest team in the country. While that last sentence came courtesy of Peter King, I'm positive it's true. Maybe. Anything could happen in the Hawkeyes' game against Illinois this weekend and I wouldn't be surprised. /crosses fingers for a monkey riding a dog to run on the field


S&P+ rank: 39th overall, 48th offense, 41st defense

Biggest strength: Maxx Williams catching footballs. Running the dang ball, per usual. Stopping the dang run (and pass, too). The Gophers played a pretty complete game against Iowa and it will be amazing to see their doors get blown off by Ohio State on Saturday.

Biggest weakness: Having downsized their trophy case decades ago, this recent run of trophy game success has left Floyd of Rosedale in the athletic department's vending machine for safe keeping.

Remaining schedule: Brutal slate of Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin coming up for the Gophers. Lol, see you in the Alamo Bowl!


S&P+ rank: 22nd overall, 28th offense, 21st defense

Biggest strength: Had a bye to make sure Ameer Abdullah was healthy enough to play against Wisconsin.

Biggest weakness: Too scared to play the week before facing off with the Badgers.

Remaining schedule: Wisconsin. Camp Randall. Not an 11 a.m. kickoff. A NEW DADGUM TROPHY TO PLAY FOR!



S&P+ rank: 69th overall (nice), 89th offense, 50th defense

Biggest strength: ...

Biggest weakness: Had Trevor Siemian throwing the ball 49 times. Negative-9 rushing yards on the afternoon. Quarterback slipped on two-point conversion attempt. Bored my guests into leaving the bar. Had two different guys punting the ball. I might have to turn this into a strength since every Big Ten team is doing it now. It's just so warm in here, guys. Oh look, a light! I'm going to walk towards it. Please send help.

Remaining schedule: At Notre Dame? Huh, that's weird. Getting a head start on the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, I guess. GO NORTHWESTERN!


S&P+ rank: 68th overall, 67th offense, 63rd defense

Biggest strength: Got to within eight in the middle of the third quarter, causing my wife to text me "we are going to lose." Ballsy onside kick that was almost recovered in-bounds. If I coached Purdue, I'd onside kick at least three times a game. What do you care? You're the head coach at Purdue.

Biggest weakness: Ran the ball 26 times. Gained 26 yards. I love when things work out like that. Containing Joel Stave in the first half. Containing Melvin Gordon in any half. Getting speedy guys the ball in space. Why didn't they give it to Akeem Hunt on the outside more? That dude is quicker than me eating a piece of pumpkin pie yesterday. Trust me, I ate it like a duck. Pigs tend to chew.

Remaining schedule: Bye and then home against Northwest... nope, I don't care enough to type anym


S&P+ rank: 13th overall, 19th offense, 9th defense (a little low imo, stats are for nerds)

Biggest strength: Vince Biegel rushing the quarterback. Dude won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week and also won Causing Austin Appleby to Look Over His Shoulder The Rest of the Week of the Week. Kenzel Doe averaged 36 yards per kick return and 14.5 yards per punt return. Rafael Gaglianone made both of his field goal attempts. Drew Meyer didn't break his leg in some freak punting accident. The defense was so good after Purdue closed to within eight. I'm pretty sure the Badgers only gave up, like, -1,000 yards after Purdue's touchdown.

Biggest weakness: I felt my biggest weakness was always mentioning Gordon in the Biggest Strength category. I looked to correct that this week. But let it be known, Melvin Gordon was and always is the best player for the Badgers.

Remaining schedule: The dual-quarterback system looked pretty nice this week. McEvoy coming in during the middle of a drive? Not bad, Andy Ludwig. You're still an idiot, just less of one this week! I don't know if you saw, but Wisconsin and Nebraska now play for the FREEDOM TROPHY! I saw a lot of hate for this on Twitter, because that is what people do on Twitter, but I don't care. Trophies are awesome and I think every game should have one. I'll be back in Madison for this game, tailgating on the roof of the Engineering Parking Ramp. Stop by for homemade apple pie and possibly getting slapped in the face. My friends like to do slap bets now. Yes, half of us are married and older than 29.