What we learned from Week 8 in the Big Ten

Some observations from Saturday in the Big Ten:

1. No surprise: Michigan State 'D' dominates

Michigan State's offense again was anemic, but it didn't matter as the Spartans' stingy defense carried the day in a 14-0 win over Purdue, which finished with just 226 total yards. The Spartans' key defensive seniors -- each considered at least a third-day draft prospect -- all played well. LB Denicos Allen (5-foot-11, 218 pounds) scored on a fumble return and had eight tackles. LB Max Bullough (6-3, 245) led the Spartans with 10 tackles and added a sack, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. CB Darqueze Dennard (5-11, 197) had seven tackles. And SS Isaiah Lewis (5-10, 208) had five tackles, a pick and a pass breakup. Rising-star sophomore DE Shilique Calhoun (6-4, 250) had a sack and two quarterback hurries. Michigan State (6-1) is at Illinois next week, then welcomes in Michigan on Nov. 2.

2. Minnesota defense rises up

Minnesota (5-2) helped its postseason hopes and put a damper on Northwestern's with a 20-17 victory. Golden Gophers star senior DT Ra'Shede Hageman (6-6, 311) had only one tackle, but he also had an interception, three pass breakups and a quarterback hurry as Minnesota forced three turnovers and held host Northwestern (4-3) to 328 total yards. Hageman is seen as a potential first-rounder by some analysts because of his size/speed combination. Minnesota managed just 299 total yards, but its defense surprisingly came up with a stout performance. The Wildcats have lost three in a row.

3. Indiana offense does its job

Indiana rolled up 572 yards and scored 47 points at Michigan. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, their defense also had to play, and Michigan had 751 yards and 63 points. IU's passing attack, as usual, was sharp. Indiana QBs Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson combined for 410 yards and four TDs, but there also were two interceptions, one from each. Roberson's pick was particularly damaging, coming deep in Michigan territory with 2:57 left in the fourth quarter. Junior WR Cody Latimer had five receptions for 96 yards and a TD, and again showed he is one of the five best at the position in the Big Ten.

4. Iowa's offense shows some signs of life

Iowa's defense had, by far, its worst day of the season, but one positive the Hawkeyes can take from their loss to Ohio State is that they can take more chances in the passing game. Sophomore QB Jake Rudock (6-3, 205) threw for 245 yards and three TDs, and was effective throwing to TEs C.J. Fiedorowicz (6-7, 265) and Jake Duzey (6-4, 245). Fiedorowicz is one of the best seniors nationally at the position, but this was a coming-out party for Duzey, who was listed third on the depth chart going into the game. Duzey had Iowa's best play, an 85-yard pass-and-run TD reception in which he ran away from Buckeyes CB Armani Reeves.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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