Every Sunday, after an entire Saturday’s worth of college football, we’ll take a look around the Big Ten. As power dynamics shift on a week-to-week basis 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 storylines from Week 7:
1. Michigan State takes down another top contender
For the ninth (!!!) time since 2013, the Spartans have beaten a top 10 team. This time, it was Penn State (4-2, 1-2 B1G) who was dealt another crushing blow in the form of a Felton Davis III touchdown that essentially ended any remaining playoff hopes the Nittany Lions were nurturing. Michigan State (4-2, 2-1), who now will host Michigan firmly in the possession of the worst trophy in college football, is somehow in position to make noise in the conference again despite how bad they looked against Northwestern. Lewerke and Davis is still just about the only thing they have going offensively, but it was enough for two scores and a 21-17 win. On James Franklin’s part, if this was how he reacted to last week’s loss to Ohio State, I’m genuinely concerned for him and his players this time around.
2. One of the divisions in the Big Ten is bad. You’ll never guess which...
Wisconsin (4-2, 2-1 B1G) got absolutely pantsed by Michigan (6-1, 4-0), 38-13. Paul Chryst was too conservative, the Wolverines were too athletic, and basically everything that people have been saying about the seemingly inevitable end to Wisconsin’s success came to pass. Michigan played like a legitimate Playoff contender, but the Badgers looked out of their depth in just about every phase. As a result, there’s a legitimate chance that not a single team in the West Division will be ranked in the polls this week, and a place in the Big Ten Championship is pretty much up for grabs. Say, who’s the current leader in that division again?
3. Illinois is still bad
Confirming that last week’s success was a flash in the pan, Purdue trounced the Illini 46-7. David Blough threw three touchdowns, DJ Knox went for 150 yards on the ground, and the Boilermakers’ defense racked up a whopping nine tackles for loss. Purdue (3-3, 2-1 B1G) looks like a legitimate contender and is becoming an impressive win, while Illinois (3-3, 1-2) mainly just looks sad again. The way things should be, if you ask me.
Iowa 42, Indiana 16
I guess Iowa (5-1, 2-1 B1G) is solid, too? Nate Stanley threw for six touchdowns for his second big game in a row, so the offense is looking pretty different from their typical fare. The Hawkeyes have as good a shot as anyone in the muddled West to make the Big Ten Championship. Meanwhile, Indiana (4-3, 1-3) is becoming adept at finding new and semi-predictable ways to lose conference games.
Ohio State 30, Minnesota 14
The Golden Gophers (3-3, 0-3 B1G) kept it close for a while, but the outcome of this one was never really in doubt. Dwayne Haskins went 33-for-44 for 412 yards and three touchdowns, and the Buckeyes (7-0, 4-0) continued down their collision course with Michigan (despite a couple of potential pitfalls along the way). The OSU defense continued to struggle at points, but eventually Mohamed Ibrahim, who rushed for 157 yards, ran out of time, and Zach Annexstad couldn’t get anything going through the air for the visitors.
Maryland 34, rutger 7
The Terrapins (4-2, 2-1 B1G) continued to put their inexplicable loss to Temple behind them with this shellacking. Kasim Hill needed just 76 passing yards to throw for three touchdowns. As for Northwestern’s next opponent, against a defense that entered the game allowing 227 passing yards and 27 points per contest, Artur Sitkowski went 2-of-16 for eight yards and four picks. The Scarlet Knights (1-6, 0-4) look like not only the far and away worst team in the Power 5 conferences, but probably among some of the Little 5 as well.