Around the Big Ten: Week 5

Audio/Story posted September 28, 2017 in CommRadio by Sports Staff

Mitch Stewart, Tom Johnson, Matt Freiler and David Haddar break down all the Big Ten action to come in Week 5.

The elite level of competition in the Big Ten was showcased in front of a national audience in Week 4. Behind 358 all-purpose yards from Saquon Barkley, No. 4 Penn State survived a pesky Iowa team with a walk-off touchdown on the final play.

The instant classic in Iowa City delivered gigantic primetime TV ratings, and left college football fans across the country on the edge of their seats for most of the fourth quarter.

With the Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes battling to an unforgettable finish, how did the rest of the conference fare in the first week of league play?

No. 8 Michigan faced what many considered a trap game in Week 4, as they visited West Lafayette to take on Jeff Brohm’s resurgent Purdue team. Locked in a scoreless tie late in the first quarter, Wolverine QB Wilton Speight left the game after a Purdue defender landed hard on his neck.

Houston transfer John O’Korn stepped in and looked shaky at first, and Purdue led 10-7 at half. That would be all the Boilers would end up scoring, as Michigan scored 21 unanswered points in the second half on route to a 28-10 win. O’Korn rebounded, going 18-26 for 270 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Speight is considered questionable as Michigan enters the bye week.

Purdue QB David Blough re-injured his throwing shoulder in the fourth quarter, and his status is doubtful for the Oct. 7 showdown with Minnesota. The Boilermakers also have a bye this week.
Maryland lost their second QB in four weeks, as true freshman Kasim Hill came out of the game in the first quarter with a knee injury. The Terps could not adjust to life without the run-pass option, and suffered a 38-10 defeat at the hands of Central Florida. The next day, Hill was ruled out for the year with a torn ACL. Since 2012, Maryland has lost five quarterbacks to season ending injuries.

The rest of the conference slate went as-expected. Nebraska got a much-needed win, topping Rutgers 27-17. Ohio State trampled UNLV, Indiana blasted Georgia Southern, and Notre Dame took care of an undisciplined Michigan State team 38-18.

There is a full slate of conference action in Week 5, headlined by Northwestern’s visit to Camp Randall to take on No. 10 Wisconsin. In the preseason, this matchup was circled by many Big Ten fans due to the large West division implications it could have.

However, with the Wildcats’ 24-point loss to Duke in Week 2, is this game going to live up to expectations? Wisconsin gets starting RB Bradrick Shaw back from injury, but Northwestern RB Justin Jackson has rushed for over 100 yards in his last three meetings against the Badgers.

Another intriguing conference game takes place in East Lansing, as Iowa visits Michigan State. The Hawkeyes’ defense looked strong against Penn State, forcing two turnovers and snapping the Nittany Lions’ 10-game streak of 30+ point games.

Mark Dantonio’s Spartans must improve their minus-six turnover margin, currently fourth-worst in the nation. If the Spartans lose this game, they could be in for another dismal season.

The conference’s East division heavyweights face off against lower-tier opponents, but Penn State’s “Generations of Greatness” game against Indiana featuring throwback uniforms will likely be much tougher than Ohio State’s trip to Piscataway to face inferior Rutgers.

The 3-0 Golden Gophers have been a pleasant surprise for fans in Minneapolis. P.J. Fleck’s Minnesota team currently sports the No. 1 scoring defense in the country, allowing just eight points per game.

The Gophers open conference play at home in TCF Bank Stadium this week, as injury-decimated Maryland comes to town.

Rounding out the conference slate is Illinois hosting Nebraska, as the Fighting Illini look to light up Memorial Stadium in Champaign on Friday night.

It is the first game of the Dave Rimington era for the Huskers. The former NFL center and Nebraska alum was hired as interim athletic director after Shawn Eichorst was fired following the loss to Northern Illinois.


Matt Freiler is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email