Every Sunday, after a whirlwind autumn Saturday of college football, we'll be taking you around the Big Ten to keep tabs on the rest of the conference. As it fights as one for respectability in the non-conference, or as its power dynamics shift on a week-to-week basis in October and November, we'll follow the narrative to give you a better idea of where Northwestern fits into the 14-team puzzle.
Here are the top three storylines from Week 6:
Top Three Storylines
1. Rutgers almost upsets Michigan State
For the second consecutive week, Michigan State barely squeaked past one of the Big Ten's worst. Rutgers led for much of the game, forcing Connor Cook to lead the Spartans to a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. The Scarlet Knights had one last chance to knot up the game, but quarterback Chris Laviano spiked the ball on fourth down with three seconds left to seal the game. Michigan State survived 31-24.
Last week, the Spartans barely help on to beat Purdue. The Boilers-- which have not beaten a single FBS team this season-- outscored Michigan State 21-3 in the second half. These past two weeks beg the question of whether the team from East Lansing is as good as its top five ranking suggests, especially considering it has yet to register an impressive win this season (Oregon, the most impressive win to date, lost to Washington State this week). Many questions will be answered when Michigan State travels to Ann Arbor next week.
2. Nebraska loses another heartbreaker
The Cornhuskers cannot buy a win in a close game this year, losing this time 23-21 on a 46-yard field goal with four seconds left in the game. Wisconsin improved to 4-2 (1-1), tying the Badgers with Illinois and Minnesota in the Big Ten West standings.
3. Ohio State rolls in... Edsall's final game(?)
The No. 1 Buckeyes got off to a slow start against Maryland, as they were tied with the supposedly inferior Terrapins midway through the third quarter. However, as expected, the Buckeyes pulled away, cruising past Maryland 49-21 on the shoulders of J.T. Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott, who combined for five rushing touchdowns on the day As for Maryland, Randy Edsall may have coached his last game for the Terrapins. It was announced during the week that he would not return next year, and after fielding questions about his job security, he angrily stormed out of his postgame press conference.
- The No. 22 Iowa Hawkeyes stayed undefeated, beating Illinois 29-20. Iowa freshman wideout Jerminic Smith racked up 118 receiving yards on four catches in his first ever game in which he registered a statistic.
- Minnesota bounced back from its loss to Northwestern a week ago, dominating Purdue 41-13. The Gophers improved to 4-2 (1-1). Mitch Leidner got the start at quarterback even though some fans were begging for Demry Croft after Leidner's awful performance in Evanston in Week 5.
- Christian Hackenberg led Penn State to an impressive 29-7 rout over Indiana. Hackenberg threw for two scores and ran for two touchdowns. It was a clear letdown performance from Indiana, which had so nearly knocked off Michigan St. in Week 5.