What We Learned: The Big Ten In Week 4

Michigan's Devin Gardner had a rough night against UConn, but the Wolverines managed to sneak out with a win. Photo: USA Today Sports

The Big Ten went 7-2 against non-conference opponents in week four, including a pair of shutout victories and another that avoided an upset bid on the road. Ohio State and Penn State pitched shutouts while Michigan avoided an upset bid for the second straight week. Meanwhile, in Madison, Wisconsin and Purdue officially opened Big Ten conference play for this season

Here is a look at the Big Ten in week four.

No. 4 Ohio State 76, Florida A&M 0 – Braxton Miller sat out another game, but the Buckeyes had plenty of offense in a rout of FCS Florida A&M. Kenny Guiton set a Buckeye record with six touchdown passes and Carlos Hyde made his season debut after serving a suspension. Given the level of competition received from FAMU it is difficult to take too much away from the performance, but Ohio State held FAMU to 80 yards of offense while putting up 603.

No. 15 Michigan 24, UConn 21 – For the second straight week Michigan managed to escape an upset to a very weak opponent. Playing on the road, Michigan was down 21-7 early in the third quarter before roaring back with 21 unanswered points. Michigan's defense came through with some big plays in the second half, including a key one-handed interception and return by Desmond Morgan. Fitzgerald Toussaint had 120 rushing yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Devin Gardner struggled with just 11 passing yards and two interceptions and a fumble that was returned for a UConn touchdown.

No. 18 Northwestern 35, Maine 21 – It was not pretty, but Northwestern and a win were never really in much doubt against FCS Maine. The Wildcats built a 21-0 lead in the third quarter and exchanged scores with Maine the rest of the night. Northwestern had two turnovers and just 373 yard of offense in the win. Northwestern has off this week and hosts Ohio State next week.

No. 24 Wisconsin 41, Purdue 10 – In the Big Ten opener Wisconsin bounced back after a controversial ending the previous week at Arizona State. In it we saw Wisconsin rack up 546 yards of offense while holding Purdue to just 180 yards. We saw just how strong this Wisconsin team can still be in Big Ten play and just how far Purdue is. Was this the same Boilermakers team that took Notre Dame to the limit last week? Perhaps we learned more about Notre Dame as a result. 

No. 22 Notre Dame 17, Michigan State 13  – One thing we know is Michigan State's defense continues to be the strength of the Spartans and will keep them hanging around a number of games this season. The quarterback situation is once again up in the air after three different players took snaps in South Bend. Look for the quarterback competition to re-open and maybe even Damion Terry will start getting a chance as Mark Dantonio looks to figure thing out. The main story here though was the questionable pass interference penalties against Michigan State that may have led to a Notre Dame victory.

Nebraska 59, South Dakota State 20 – With Taylor Martinez missing this game with turf toe, South Dakota State gave Nebraska an early scare with a 17-14 first quarter lead. But the Huskers took control with a 24-0 second quarter and allowing just a field goal in the second half for the win. Tommy Armstrong and Ron Kellogg each saw some playing time under center with positive results and Ameer Abdullah rushed for 139 yards.

Minnesota 43, San Jose Sate 24 – Minnesota's defense forced three turnovers and outscored San Jose State in the second half 23-7 to pull away for the win. This game saw San Jose State's punter get ejected for fighting but the real highlight for the Gophers was seeing quarterback Mitch Leidner and David Cobb each rush for at least 125 yards. Minnesota is 4-0 for the second straight year.

Penn State 34, Kent State 0 – After the defense was abused the previous week by Central Florida, and aided by the absence of Dri Archer, Penn State's defense pitched the first shutout at Penn State since 2010, when ironically enough they shutout Kent State. Christian Hackenberg is still making some freshman mistakes and had a rough game, but redshirt freshman running back Akeel Lynch picked up 123 rushing yards. Kicker Sam Ficken booted a career long 54-yard field goal and converted two field goals and four extra point attempts.

Iowa 59, Western Michigan 3 – Maybe, just maybe Iowa isn't all that bad. After dominating Western Michigan by holding the Broncos to 209 yards of offense and forcing four turnovers, Iowa improved to 3-1 wit the lone loss coming to last year's BCS buster Northern Illinois. Western Michigan looks awful, but Iowa picked up their third straight win heading in to Big Ten play this weekend against Minnesota.

Missouri 45, Indiana 28 – The Hoosiers went through a stretch of allowing 24 straight points between the middle of the second quarter and the fourth quarter, digging  a hole that was too much to overcome against the somewhat surprising Missouri Tigers. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld had a rough outing with three interceptions before Kevin Wilson switched to Tre Roberson. Indiana's offense is still a potent unit but serious holes on defense were exposed in this one after allowing 623 yards of offense.

Top Performer – Ohio State quarterback Kenny Guiton. Sure, it was just Florida A&M but any player who tosses six touchdowns is going to be hard to top when looking for the top conference performer. Does Ohio State have a quarterback controversy in Columbus? Probably not, but the play of Guiton has certainly not gone unnoticed.

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Kevin McGuire

About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to NBCSports.com's College Football Talk, Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Host of the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher Radio and iHeart Radio. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.