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 this fall, we’ll follow every team and try to piece together the puzzle that is the 14-week-long season all the way up until Indianapolis.
Here are the top storylines from Week 6:
Michigan’s defense secures 10-3 win over Iowa
The same group that allowed Wisconsin to rack up 35 points two weeks ago bounced back this Saturday to shut down the Hawkeyes (4-1, 1-1 B1G), holding them to 3.6 yards per play and one net yard rushing. Michigan’s strength in the trenches combined with a lack of pass protection from Iowa meant that this was a rough game for quarterback Nate Stanley, who was sacked eight times by five players.
Prior to this game, Stanley had been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the conference — he had thrown eight touchdowns to zero interceptions — but against Michigan (4-1, 2-1), he threw three crucial picks without a score. The Wolverines’ offense struggled mightily as well, especially after the first quarter, but an early touchdown from Zach Charbonnet proved to be the difference.
Penn State continues to dominate against injury-ridden Purdue
The Nittany Lions (5-0, 2-0) took down the Boilermakers (1-4, 0-2) 35-7 after a standout performance from the defense yielded a whopping 10 sacks and negative 19 net rushing yards, never allowing Purdue’s offense to get on track. Penn State came out swinging, scoring on its first four drives to take a 28-0 lead within the first 16 minutes. Sean Clifford threw for 264 yards and three touchdowns, running for another as well.
The Boilermakers came into this game with an injury report that included eight names earlier this week, the most significant being starting quarterback Elijah Sindelar and receiver Rondale Moore (and they likely added defensive tackle Anthony Watts’ name to the list). Until some of those guys get healthy, it’s going to be tough for Purdue to beat just about anyone in conference play.
Ohio State defeats Michigan State with second quarter burst
The Buckeyes (6-0, 3-0) remained undefeated and secured bowl eligibility by taking down the Spartans (4-2, 2-1) 34-10, making it every game this year they have won by at least 20 points. This was one of the first matchups of the season that presented a real challenge for the Buckeyes as the normally hyper-productive offense only scored three points in the first quarter. Nonetheless, the Ohio State we know all too well struck for three touchdowns and a field goal in the ensuing 15 minutes.
The Buckeyes’ talent and depth was on display tonight: J.K Dobbins ran for 172 yards and carried the ball 24 times, Justin Fields had three total scores, Master Teague III gained 90 rushing yards, Binjimen Victor averaged 26.3 yards per catch including a 60-yard TD, and so on. Though they showed some initial weakness that we had yet to see so far this season, the Buckeyes ultimately proved, once again, that they are at the top of the conference.
Maryland 48, Rutgers 7
Well, this at least helps shake out the rankings at the bottom of the conference. Josh Jackson threw two touchdowns for the Terps (3-2, 1-1) while Javon Leake added three more. Rutgers (1-4, 0-3) is bad. Nothing more to say.
Wisconsin 48, Kent State 0
Wisconsin (5-0, 2-0) is good. Jonathan Taylor passed the 100-yard mark for the 27th time, this time doing so with five total scores. He is also good. At the same time, though, the Badgers, who have Michigan State and Illinois in the next two weeks, might have to wait until their clash with Ohio State for a true test.
Minnesota 40, Illinois 17
Could Minnesota be a contender for the West title if Wisconsin stumbles? The Gophers improved to 5-0 (2-0 in Big Ten play) behind Rodney Smith, who totaled a career-best 211 rushing yards. Illinois, after a 2-0 start, continues to stumble with their third straight loss and second against a Big Ten opponent. They allowed the Golden Gophers over 300 yards on the ground all told.
Nebraska 13, Northwestern 10
I don’t want to talk about it.