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Big Ten Sampler: Week 6

The Big Ten in review and preview

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana 44, Penn State 24

Indiana shredded Penn State's defense for 486 yards and stopped the PSU offense four times on fourth down. Still, Penn State was in the game until Indiana pulled away with a 23 point fourth quarter, improving their all-time record against Penn State to 1-16 (yes, that is a 1 in the win column). Indiana's third win gives the Hoosiers a path to bowl eligibility that runs through home games against Minnesota, Illinois, and Purdue; if they can find an upset in one of their tough road games (OSU, Wisconsin, and the Michigans), they could even afford a slip-up.

Nebraska 39, Illinois 19

Between Taylor Martinez missing another game with turf toe and the Illinois offense looking competent to start the year, this game looked set for intrigue. Instead, Nebraska scored the first 17 points on their way to an easy win. Ameer Abdullah stepped up for the Huskers, managing 225 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on 20 carries, while the Nebraska defense held Nathan Scheelhaase to 13-26 passing for 135 yards and an interception.

Michigan State 26, Iowa 14

A week after Iowa shut down Minnesota's previously strong running game, Michigan State gave the Hawkeyes the same treatment, holding Iowa to 23 rushing yards on 16 carries. MSU punter Mike Sadler picked up 25 rushing yards on a fake punt, making him one of three Spartans to run for more yards than Iowa. Through the air, Connor Cook (25-44) and Jake Rudock (26-46) turned in similar performances, but Cook was a bit more efficient (6.3 YPA to 5.2) and threw only one interception to Rudock's two, giving the Spartans enough gas to pull away in the second half.

Michigan 42, Minnesota 13

Jerry Kill never made it to the stadium due to a seizure, and Minnesota was manhandled in his absence. While the Michigan run game struggled once again (35 carries for 113 yards), Devin Gardner had a tremendous day through the air (13-17 for 235 yards and a touchdown). On the other side of the ball, Minnesota struggled to move the ball (only 281 total yards) and turned the ball over twice, sealing their fate.

Washington State 44, Cal 22

Cal's offense gained 585 yards to Wazzu's 520, but 5 turnovers and 3 failed fourth down conversions doomed the Bears. This was one of the more winnable games on Cal's schedule, so the blowout is a particularly bad sign for the rest of the season.

Clemson 49, Syracuse 14

Syracuse also hosted a top-5 opponent, but they didn't put up nearly as much of a fight as Northwestern. Clemson scored 21 in the first quarter, gained 624 yards, and completely shut down the Syracuse passing game, holding the Orange to 74 passing yards and recording 4 interceptions. Syracuse did rush for 323 yards, but that wasn't nearly enough.

Toledo 47, Western Michigan 20

Toledo jumped out to an early lead and dominated on both sides of the ball, gaining 528 yards and recording 4 takeaways. Western Michigan has a real chance of going winless this year, though their road date with UMass on October 26 looms large as an obstacle to that dubious achievement.

Maine 62, Delaware 28

Northwestern's FCS opponent moved to 5-1 on the season with their blowout of Delaware, pushing them ahead of Cal in the Sagarin rankings. With Maine at 98 and Syracuse at 73, it is entirely possible that the Black Bears will finish the year as NU's highest-ranked non-conference opponent.

This Week

11:00 CT

Indiana @ Michigan State

Indiana gave MSU a scare last year, jumping out to an early lead before allowing the Spartan offense to come back for the win. This year, MSU's offense is somewhat improved and their defense stout as ever; Indiana still has a chance, just not a very good one.

Nebraska @ Purdue

Purdue is easily the worst team in the conference so far, and Nebraska has found enough defense to take care of bad teams without difficulty. 50 points for the Huskers is a real possibility.

1:00 CT

Western Michigan vs. Buffalo

Buffalo is 3-0 after their two season-opening body bag games (against OSU and Baylor), including a 5 OT win over FCS Stony Brook. They should have no problem with the Broncos.

2:30 CT

Syracuse @ NC State

NC State played Clemson much closer than Syracuse, but the Wolfpack also lost to Wake Forest. This is ACC football at its finest: mediocre teams with inexplicable records facing off without a clear favorite.

4:00 CT

#18 Michigan @ Penn State

Penn State's loss to Indiana showed that they can be blown out by mediocre opponents; it can't be a good sign for Michigan, then, that the Wolverines are only favored by 1. Michigan turned in an efficient beating against Minnesota, but Vegas seems to think that the real Michigan is the turnover-prone team of the first few weeks of the season.

9:30 CT

Cal @ #11 UCLA

Cal gets to go on the road against a ranked opponent again this week. I don't expect UCLA to be as dominant as Oregon, but the Bruins could easily cover the 24.5 point spread.