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Around the Big Ten, Week Six: Wildcats fall, Scarlet Knights rise

I really didn’t want to write one of these headlines.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Purdue Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

After a Saturday full of college football, we take a look at some of the top story lines around the Big Ten. We’ll follow every team throughout the bizarre eight-week season all the way up through Champions Week.

Here are the top story lines from Week Six:

Michigan State upends No. 8 Northwestern

MSU quarterback Rocky Lombardi led his team to a 29-20 upset of the No. 8 Wildcats, throwing for 167 yards and two touchdowns while also using his legs for 65 additional yards on 10 carries. Northwestern turned the ball over four times to the Spartans’ one.

The ‘Cats struggled offensively as the Michigan State defense put heavy pressure on them. The offensive line failed to protect Ramsey, who was sacked four times and threw two interceptions.

After Northwestern came back from a 17-0 hole to take a 20-17 lead, MSU hit two field goals, including the eventual game-winner with 3:35 left.

Next week, Michigan State is slated to face East leader Ohio State, while Northwestern is supposed to face Minnesota (although the chances either game happens seems slim).

Ohio State, Wisconsin sit the week out

Due to a rise in positive COVID cases in both programs, two of this weekend’s matchups — No. 4 Ohio State vs. Illinois and No. 16 Wisconsin vs. Minnesota — were canceled. There was little question that undefeated Ohio State would have won if it played, but what does a cancellation mean for this team? With just two games left now, the Buckeyes are at risk of being ineligible for the Big Ten Championship if one more game gets axed. If they don’t play six games, they can’t qualify for the East title.

And for Wisconsin, this cancellation officially ends its path to the Big Ten Championship. After having two games canceled due to a COVID outbreak of their own, the Badgers cannot hit the six-game mark and are thus ineligible for the West title.

Wisconsin is lined up to take on Indiana next Saturday while Ohio State will travel to face the Spartans.

Rutgers tops Purdue 37-30

The Boilermakers mimicked last week’s loss against Minnesota when they let yet another underdog team upset them. Rutgers, who beat Purdue by one touchdown, was led by two quarterbacks: first Artur Sitkowski, and then Johnny Langan. Sitkowski paced RU in the air, going 18-27 for 141 yards and two touchdowns, while Langan used his legs to lead the team to victory, finishing as the top rusher with 95 yards on 21 carries.

The highlight of the game was a Rutgers touchdown — a 100-yard kickoff return score — by Aron Cruickshank that marked the start of the Scarlet Knight’s final push. The team outscored Purdue 24-7 in the second half and capped off the win with 17 unanswered points.

Up next, Rutgers will host Penn State while the Boilermakers host Nebraska.

Other scores

No. 12 Indiana 27, Maryland 11

What was supposed to be a quarterback showdown between Indiana’s Michael Penix Jr. and Maryland’s Taulia Tagovailoa didn’t go as planned when Penix Jr. successfully completed just two of his first 15 pass attempts before ultimately leaving the game with an injury.

Nonetheless, what started as a closer-than-expected game ended with a comfortable Hoosiers win, led by running back Stevie Scott III, who had three touchdowns. Tagovailoa threw for 241 yards, but it was not enough to put the Terps past the highly ranked Hoosiers.

Penn State 27, Michigan 17

The Nittany Lions finally secured a win — their first of the 2020 season — against the Wolverines on Saturday afternoon. James Franklin’s team relied heavily on the run game, with freshman running back Keyvone Lee leading the squad with 135 yards on 22 attempts. Additionally, quarterback Sean Clifford did it both on the ground and through the air, throwing for 163 yards and scrambling for 79 and a touchdown.

Iowa 26, Nebraska 20

Tyler Goodson rushed for 118 yards on 30 carries to lead the Hawkeyes to a victory over Nebraska on Friday afternoon, accounting for almost 80 percent of Iowa’s rushing yards. Quarterback Spencer Petras played a solid game and didn’t lose it for Kirk Ferentz, going 18-30 for 193 yards and one touchdown. In the end, however, it was two field goals from Keith Duncan in the fourth quarter that solidified Iowa’s sixth straight win in the rivalry series.