Photo courtesy of Indiana athletics

Guess who’s back? Back again? The Big Ten, that’s who! 

With finally a full slate of games to take in this past college football weekend, it’s time to go over our weekly top five performing teams.

5. Notre Dame

After a less than impressive 12-7 win against Louisville the week prior, it’s safe to say the now fourth-ranked Fighting Irish were hungry for a big game. They did just that, throttling Pittsburgh, 45-3 at Heinz Field. 

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book finally had his coming out game many were waiting for. The California native went 16-for-30 with 312 yards passing and three touchdowns. Pitt was in this one early, making the score 7-3 after an Alex Kessman field goal, but the Irish rattled off 38 straight points in route to a big ACC win.

Receiver Ben Skowronek contributed big to the Notre Dame victory, putting up 107 yards receiving and two touchdowns. That includes a 73-yard score on a dime from Book into the end zone to put the Irish up 14-3. 

There was no looking back for Notre Dame. Brian Kelly’s team came out with a chip on their shoulder, capitalizing on getting to a Kenny Pickett-less Pitt team. 

The Irish will now look to get through Georgia Tech this Saturday in Atlanta. Notre Dame then returns home to host a humongous match-up with the top-ranked Clemson Tigers. 

4. Michigan

The Michigan Wolverines rowed the boat right out of Minneapolis with a big 49-24 victory at then 21st-ranked Minnesota.

The Golden Gophers were simply outmatched in this one. Jim Harbaugh’s team played like it had something to prove in prime time on Saturday night. Minnesota was actually the ones to strike first, but 11 seconds later, Zach Charobnnet reeled off a 70-yard touchdown run to tie the game up at 7 apiece. The Wolverines never trailed again as the Michigan offense was just too much for the Golden Gopher defense. 

The run game was especially trouble for Minnesota, as Michigan ran for 256 yards and 8.3 yards per carry. The combination of Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins put up 142 yards. Quarterback Joe Milton got in on the fun, putting up 52 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Milton also threw for 225 yards and an additional touchdown — not too shabby of an outing for No. 5. 

This was a big win for Michigan to start its shortened season. This was a must-win game for the Wolverines to stay afloat in the race for the Big Ten East. With only seven games left on the schedule, and Ohio State and Penn State looming, the time was now for the fighting Harbaugh’s to get in the win column.

3. Wake Forest

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons are starting to make some noise in the ACC. They’ve now officially conquered the Commonwealth of Virginia as well. A week after an impressive win over the Virginia Cavaliers, the Deacs backed up that performance by taking out the then 19th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies, 23-16. 

Dave Clawson’s team came out ready to play. The Wake defense held an impressive Hokie offense out of the end zone for most of the afternoon, keeping Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker out of rhythm and holding the Hokies to 16 points.

Defensive End “Boogie” Basham had his 23rd straight game recording a tackle for loss, getting to Hooker in the final minutes of the contest. Walk-on Nick Andersen was the star however; the Virginia native had 11 tackles and picked off Hooker and the Virginia Tech offense three times in the win. 

Offensively, especially in the first half, the Demon Deacos were clicking. Christian Beal-Smith and Kenneth Walker III combined for 195 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Sam Hartman added a rushing touchdown. 

This is a solid win for Clawson and company at Wake Forest. Living in the cloud of North Carolina, Duke, and NC State is not always easy. But if the Deacs can keep on doing what they’re doing, they’ll be in good shape moving forward in 2020 and beyond.

2. Rutgers

Rutgers has won a football game. Yes, you read that correctly. The Greg Schiano-led Rutgers Scarlet Knights went into East Lansing and beat the Michigan State Spartans to open the Big Ten season. 

It was quite the restart for the Schiano era, as Rutgers turned “Sparty” over a whopping seven times. The Scarlet Knights picked up their first Big Ten win since 2017. That is quite an accomplishment for a team that’s been the laughingstock of the Power 5. 

Quarterback Noah Vedral was 18-for-29 with 169 yards and a touchdown in the win. Isaih Pacheco totaled two touchdowns on the ground to propel the Scarlet Knights to a 38-27 win and into a tie for, yes, first place in the Big Ten East. 

Meanwhile for Michigan State and first-year head coach Mel Tucker, it couldn’t have started any worse. Losing your debut against Rutgers at home isn’t ideal, and it doesn’t get any easier. Michigan State will make the trip to the “Big House” this Saturday to face rival Michigan.

1. Indiana

Well, lookie here. The Big Ten dominated our top five performing teams of the week — not just because they’re back, but they earned it for good reason. Our No. 1 performing team of Week 8 is the Indiana Hoosiers. 

Wow. That’s all we can say. What an instant classic of a football game — arguably the best game this year. It took place between Indiana and then No. 8 Penn State. After a back-and-forth contest, the Hoosiers pulled it out 36-35 in overtime.  

We’ll fast forward to 2:30 left in the fourth. Penn State quarterback Sean Cifford found Jahan Dotson from 60 yards out to put the Nittany Lions up 21-20. After a three-and-out from Indiana and a failed fourth down conversion, the game was in hand as Penn State basically just had to run the clock out. 

It ran a little too much though as Devyn Ford decided to take it into the end zone instead of taking a knee short of the goal line, giving the Hoosiers new life. Down 28-20 with the ball back, Indiana went down the field and scored. The Hoosiers were able to add the two-point conversion to tie the game up, 28-28. 

After a failed squib kick that nearly lost Indiana the game, and a missed field goal 57-yard field goal from Jordan Stout, it went to overtime at 28-28. Both sides traded touchdowns before Indiana head coach Tom Allen rolled the dice, going for two and the win. On the ensuing play, Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. lunged forward, barely reaching the pylon resulting in a photo finish and an historic Hoosier win. 

It’s safe to say that the picture of Penix Jr. reaching forward will be hung up in the practice facilities in Bloomington for quite some time. This was a huge win for the Hoosiers over Penn State. With the victory, Indiana is now set up beautifully for a successful 2020 campaign. 

Honorable Mentions

Boise State (42-13 vs. Utah State)
Cincinnati (42-13 vs. SMU)
Northwestern (43-3 vs. Maryland)