Two of the three biggest games of the week took sudden and sharp turns with major injuries as No. 22 Michigan and No. 25 Wisconsin both suffered losses. They also both suffered losses of their starting quarterbacks as Denard Robinson and Joel Stave were knocked out of each game.
According to reports the injury to Stave is perhaps the more serious of the two as he suffered a broken collarbone on the 1st play of the 3rd quarter and will miss the remainder of the season, including the bowl game.
Robinson left the game at Nebraska in the 2nd quarter of their 23-9 loss to the Huskers with an apparent elbow injury and was unable to return. However, his status for the future was unknown as we went to publish.
Without either player the offenses for Wisconsin and Michigan went completely lifeless and as a result the chances for both teams to make a run at the Big Ten championship game took some serious hits.
In Lincoln it was pure disaster for Robinson's replacement, Russell Bellomy, who went just 3 of 16 passing for 38 yards and threw three interceptions. The Wolverines offense managed a whole 52 yards in the 2nd half of the blow out loss to the Huskers.
Over at Camp Randall in Madison it was season opening starter Danny O'Brien taking over for Stave and the Badgers offense went completely lifeless with O'Brien behind center for the rest of the 2nd half. O'Brien would go just 5 of 11 for all of 44 yards. He also took 3 sacks in the 2nd half, two of which completely killed drives that could've been moving forward towards field goal range.
Michigan now must hope for Nebraska to drop a game to a remaining schedule that features at Michigan State, Penn State, Minnesota, and at "rival" Iowa to close out the season. Michigan State and Penn State are perhaps the last chances for Michigan to get back in the race for the Big Ten title, but that also depends on the pending news on Robinson's elbow and defeating a schedule that includes a tough Northwestern team and of course "The Game" in Columbus to close out the season.
Meanwhile the Badgers loss coupled with Indiana's win over Illinois sets up a very interesting race as the Badgers lead by just one game in the standings with a matchup between the two looming just two weeks from now in Bloomington and Wisconsin also facing Ohio State at home and Penn State on the road to close out the season. They now face the proposition of not only having to beat Indiana but also of finding a way to avoid losing one or both of the final two games of the season to make their trip to Indianapolis secure.
The results of these two injuries have drastically changed what many thought could be forgone conclusions to see Wisconsin and Michigan square off for the 2nd Big Ten Championship game. What's now clear is that both teams need to do some major digging and find something else at quarterback.
Clearly Bellow and O'Brien aren't the answers that will lead either team to Indianapolis, but luckily for Wisconsin they will have this bye week to get things figured out and perhaps turn the offense over to 6th year senior Curt Phillips to light a bit of a spark in the offense. As for Michigan, they could stick with Bellow who won't be thrown completely to the wolves, or could even turn to former QB turned WR Devin Gardner as well.
Either way these two teams will need to dig deep to find the right answers if they want to do their part in making it to Indianapolis. After all, as coaches always say, you can only control what you can control. It's time for these two teams to show that bit of coach speak to be true and right the ships at Michigan and Wisconsin.