And, yep, that’s not a typo in the headline.
Northwestern, coming off a 10-win 2017 season and after starting 2018 at 1-1, was expected to handle its business this weekend with a non-conference matchup versus Akron in Evanston on tap. After 30 minutes of play, the expected was happening as the Wildcats took a 21-3 lead into halftime. Then the wholly unexpected happened.
On the strength of a stunning 36-point second half — including Allen Davis‘ two interception returns for touchdowns — Akron scored a monumental 39-34 win over Northwestern. Again, to put a finer point on one of the day’s most stunning turn of events, a MAC school hung 36 points in the second half on a Big Ten school on that Big Ten school’s home field.
It marks the first time Akron, then known as Buchtel College, has beaten a team from the Big Ten since they got past Ohio State 12-6 in 1894.
Eighteen. Ninety. Four.
Grover Cleveland was President of the United States the last time Akron beat a team from the Big Ten. The price of a car sold in the United States at the time of that win? That’s a trick question as the first car sold in this country didn’t come until two years later.
And Akron/Buchtel College’s head coach at the time of its win over a Big Ten team? John Heisman, who’d go on to have a relatively famous college football award named in his honor.
Northwestern’s come-from-ahead loss was symbolic of what was essentially a lost weekend for the Big Ten West division.
In addition to Northwestern, conference and divisional heavyweight Wisconsin lost at home to BYU while Nebraska did the same in Lincoln to Troy. Illinois lost at home (to USF), as did Purdue, although at least they lost to a Power Five team in Missouri. The West’s saviors in Week 3 were Minnesota, which dropped the Miami of the MAC, and Iowa, which dropped an FCS team.
The B1G East fared much better, especially Ohio State as the Buckeyes went into the heart of TCU territory and claimed an impressive win over the 15th-ranked Horned Frogs. Michigan (over SMU), Penn State (over Kent State) and Indiana (over Ball State) all handled business as well, even as previously unbeaten Maryland stumbled against previously winless Temple and Rutgers got embarrassed by previously embarrassing Kansas.
Regardless of the highs, it was still a historic night of overall lows for the conference as a whole.