For the record, I don’t grade simply on how a team performs against the spread.

It’s not entirely fair. For a team like Indiana, that had its top two offensive weapons basically out for the second half, expectations shifted.


Zander Diamont led the nation’s worst passing offense in the country in 2014 after he took over the injured Nate Sudfeld. Had he led the Hoosiers back to the most improbable victory of the season, I would’ve had to make up a new letter for that.

And what about a team like Penn State, which had to play in awful conditions without its top two running backs? We all know how James Franklin feels about evaluation based on point spreads. I can agree with him to a certain extent. Evaluations should be based on in-game circumstances and a team’s ability to handle them.

So with that in mind, let’s hand out some grades.

Illinois: A-

Again, in-game circumstances have to be taken into account. Josh Ferguson — arguably Illinois’ most versatile player — was out for the majority of this one. Still, Wes Lunt rallied the troops for the final drive of his life and stunned Nebraska. And what about the Illini defense holding a top-10 passing offense to a 10-of-31 completion rate? Not too shabby.

Indiana: A-

You already know how I feel about the job the Hoosiers did to nearly pull off what would’ve been the upset of the year in college football. Had IU contained Ezekiel Elliott for two monster touchdowns instead of three, it could’ve been the biggest day in the history of the program. Seriously.

Iowa: A

I get it. The offense looked nowhere near the group that dropped 62 points the week before. But it didn’t make the mistakes down the stretch to spoil an incredible defensive performance that saw the Badgers fail to score a touchdown. At Camp Randall, that’s worth an ‘A’ every time.

Maryland: F

What do you want to look at with the Terps? The 10-of-36 passing? The 1.1 yards per carry? How about just a 28-point loss to open B1G play?

Michigan: B+

Michigan’s defense made history by recording the team’s second straight shutout for the first time since 2000. Offensively, however, it took 37 minutes for the Wolverines to score their first touchdown against a brutal Maryland defense. Michigan is good enough to where it can pick apart 28-point wins.

Michigan State: D+

That felt like a loss, didn’t it? Despite the fact that L.J. Scott had the best game of his young career, the No. 2 team in the country had to fend off one-win Purdue on the final drive at home to improve to 5-0. Injuries are hurting this team badly, and so are the second-half offensive woes.

Minnesota: F

Absolutely nothing worked for the Gophers. They couldn’t throw, they couldn’t run and they certainly couldn’t score against the stout Northwestern defense. Jerry Kill’s group showed it has some serious limitations on both sides of the ball.

Nebraska: D

You can’t allow that. It doesn’t matter how good you’ve been for 59 minutes defensively. You simply cannot lose a game in which you possess the ball deep in your opponent’s territory up six with less than a minute to go. A lack of late game execution — from players and coaches — killed the Huskers yet again.

Northwestern: A

I couldn’t believe when I saw three College GameDay analysts pick against Northwestern at home. How did they not expect that defense to contain Minnesota? The game was over when it was 10-0. Yet again, the Wildcats looked scary good.

Ohio State: C-

The Buckeyes needed their best player to play the best game of his career to beat a team that hasn’t been to a bowl game in nearly eight years. Why? They lost the turnover battle 3-0, they were 2-for-14 on third downs and they racked up 109 penalty yards. The issues are deeper than quarterback play, people.

Penn State: C

Without Akeel Lynch and Saquon Barkley, an offense without much room for error did enough to get past Army. Three forced turnovers by the Lions defense helped neutralize Army’s triple-option attack in some less-than-ideal playing conditions. It’s hard to say many teams would’ve delivered a clean performance playing in that kind of weather.

Purdue: B+

A freshman quarterback and running back nearly led the Boilers into East Lansing and pulled out a victory. Had Purdue not turned the ball over three times, it would’ve gotten its biggest win in a long time. If there was ever a moral victory, Saturday was one of them.

Wisconsin: C+

Joe Schobert and the Wisconsin defense turned in one of the top performances of the year so far. But that wasn’t enough because of the Badgers’ inability to get out of their own way. We saw how badly Joel Stave needed Corey Clement and Alex Erickson down the stretch. It’s a tough pill to swallow for a Badger offense that needs to get healthy in a hurry if it wants to compete in the B1G West race.