Sports Specs with Sam

Big Ten football: Wisconsin suffers a loss, Ohio State narrowly escapes an upset

Sam Janssen

More stories from Sam Janssen



In the fifth week of play in the Big Ten football season, two critical matchups between undefeated teams have painted a clear picture of who will play in the Big Ten Football Championship Game at the end of the season.

The top two teams in the Big Ten East — Ohio State and Indiana — and the top two in the West — Wisconsin and Northwestern — faced off on Saturday afternoon.

Wisconsin loses to Northwestern in a disappointing performance

In an important game in the race for the Big Ten West division, the Northwestern Wildcats upset the No. 10 ranked Wisconsin Badgers, defeating them 17-7.

Northwestern’s defense dominated the entire game, not allowing Wisconsin to get into any rhythm on offense.

Graham Mertz, Wisconsin’s freshman quarterback and star of their first two games, struggled and threw only three interceptions.

Paul Chryst, Wisconsin’s head coach, said this game can serve as a learning experience and growth opportunity for Mertz.

“I don’t know many quarterbacks that play that don’t go through those highs and those lows,” Chryst said. “You gotta play through and be consistent.”

Wisconsin has struggled against Northwestern in recent years, especially on the road. The Badgers are 1-6 in their last seven games in Evanston, Illinois.

This win puts Northwestern in position to win the Big Ten West division for the second time in three years. 

They sit alone atop the division with a 5-0 record and with three games remaining in the regular season.

Northwestern’s remaining three games are against Michigan State, Minnesota and Illinois, all teams with losing records that have struggled this season.

Their defense, which has several experienced veterans leading the way, should be able to compete with almost anyone in the Big Ten.

It’s going to take a lot for them to keep up with Ohio State on offense, however, as they are their likely opponent in the Big Ten Championship game.

Ohio State, led by a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback, is as dangerous on offense as any team in the country.

Ohio State narrowly escapes an upset

In the most highly anticipated matchup of the season so far in the Big Ten, Ohio State took on Indiana in a clash between two top 10 teams.

Ohio State came into the season as the heavy favorites to repeat as Big Ten Champions. Ohio State has won the conference championship in each of the last three seasons.

Indiana, on the other hand, has not won the conference since 1967.

After running the table against four Big Ten East opponents to start the season 4-0 and reach the top ten in the national rankings, most still expected the Hoosiers to get blown out in this matchup against Ohio State.

The cumulative record for the four teams they defeated is 4-15, despite Penn State and Michigan both being ranked in the top 25 when Ohio State played them.

It looked like Indiana was on their way to getting blown out in this game, as they trailed Ohio State 35-7 early in the third quarter.

However, midway through the third quarter, the wheels came off for Ohio State and they let Indiana back in the game.

After falling behind 35-7, Indiana outscored Ohio State 28-7 for the rest of the game. The Hoosiers came up just short, losing 42-35.

Despite coming away with the win, this performance raised some concerns for Ohio State, who before that second half appeared to be head and shoulders above the rest of the conference.

The Buckeyes gave up a whopping 491 passing yards in this game and four completions of at least 50 yards.

The Ohio State defense is not accustomed to giving up big plays in this fashion and they will be hoping to solidify this unit in the weeks leading up to the Big Ten Championship.

If Ohio State wins the Big Ten Championship and stays undefeated in the coming weekswhich they are favored to dothey will likely earn a bid in the College Football Playoff.

If Indiana can pass for 491 yards against them, they will have their hands full in the College Football Playoff, attempting to slow down Clemson or Alabama.

Janssen can be reached at [email protected]