Every Sunday, after an entire Saturday’s worth of college football, we'll take a look around the Big Ten. As the conference as a whole fights as respectability in the non-conference, or as its power dynamics shift on a week-to-week basis in this fall, we'll follow every team and try to piece together the puzzle that is the 13-week-long season all the way up until Indianapolis.
Here are the top three storylines from Week 5:
Penn State handily deals Maryland its first loss, 38-14
The formerly undefeated Terrapins (4-1, 1-1) got a 2015 Northwestern-esque wakeup call as they were handled easily on the road by Penn State (4-2, 2-1) by a margin of 38-14. No one expected Maryland to be as good as its record, but this loss still stings. Penn State meanwhile, behind a balanced offensive attack and solid defense, is looking like a solid middle-of-the pack team in the Big Ten, and should make an appearance in a good-looking bowl game come December. Nittany Lions QB Trace McSorley threw a pair of touchdown passes, and Saquon Barkley ran for a career-high 202 yards.
Iowa outlasts Minnesota 14-7 on the road
In what can only be described as an atrocious offensive game at TCF Bank Stadium, Iowa (4-2, 2-1) eked out a 14-7 win over Minnesota (3-2, 0-2). Yes, it’s technically a bounce-back in for the Hawkeyes, but C.J. Beathard did not look like himself (17-31, 2 INT, 0 TD), and the game essentially came down to Iowa RB Akrum Wadley breaking off for a 54-yard touchdown run with 5:28 left in the fourth quarter. To be fair, Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner also threw for no touchdowns and two picks, so I don’t really know whether to pin this on terrible offense or competent defensive work by both sides. Either way, Iowa needs to find a way to get back to Big Ten West champion form, and fast.
No. 4 Michigan clobbers Rutgers 78-0 in Piscataway
Michigan (6-0, 3-0) absolutely pummeled Rutgers (2-4, 0-3) in Piscataway by a score that looks like a basketball score until you read the loser’s column (and even then…). Now while the win-loss result wasn’t surprising, I don’t think anyone expected the score to be this bad. And it’s not like Michigan was running up the score either. The only thing being run up (and down and through) was the Scarlet Knights’ defense, by second- and third-string Wolverines. Take a look at the individual stats for yourself for more absurdity. Also this.
Ohio State beats upstart Indiana 38-17 in Columbus
Another week, another win for Ohio State (5-0, 2-0) as the Buckeyes took care of business at home versus Indiana (3-2, 1-1). But give Indiana some credit. It hung with the Buckeyes for a lot of that game, and there were points where many a Buckeye fan broke a sweat or two more than they’ll admit. The Buckeyes only had four more first downs than Indiana, and outgained them by 100 yards. Michigan State’s struggles this week vs BYU might not make Indiana’s upset last week seem as significant, but this week they played a solid game, beat the spread (OSU -28.0), held a three-point lead at one point early on, and really don’t have too much to be embarrassed about.
Michigan State drops third consecutive contest 31-14
Michigan State (2-3, 1-2), on the other hand, can’t seem to find its footing as it dropped yet another home contest to BYU (3-3, 1-1) this week. The Spartans’ first drive of the game spanned 15 plays, 72 yards, and ended in an eight-yard TD run by Gerald Holmes, but that would be the last MSU saw of the scoreboard until Damion Terry muscled his way into the end zone with just under five minutes left to play. Cougars RB Jamaal Williams ran for 163 yards and two touchdowns, and QB Taysom Hill accounted for 138 of his team’s 398 total yards of offense. Michigan State’s next game is still at home, but the contest against a Northwestern team with some momentum coming off a win at Iowa just went from a should-win to an absolute must-win for Mark Dantonio and co.
Purdue outduels Illinois 34-31 in battle of lightweights
Purdue (3-2, 1-1) strolled into Champaign and beat an equally crummy Illinois team (1-4, 0-2) for its first conference win of the year. While it’s definitely a victory for the Boilermakers in that they’re not the worst team in the conference anymore, this game really does nothing in the larger scheme of the Big Ten standings. So much for all of Lovie Smith’s preseason trash talk. His team just lost to Purdue, which lost by over 40 points to Maryland. Yikes.