For this week’s edition of Around the Big Ten, I welcome you to the inaugural Inside NU Week Six Awards. Today, three teams in the Big Ten will have the privilege of walking away with some very special honors. Numerous teams garnered consideration for these honors, but only a select few were able to come out as winners. So, without further ado, I present to you the winners:
The award for “Winner of Big Ten East: Round One” goes to… Ohio State
The Buckeyes staked an early claim as the top team in the Big Ten with a 37-17 home victory over Maryland this weekend. The Terrapins raced out to a 10-0 lead and eventually held a 17-10 advantage early in the third quarter, but it was all Buckeyes after that. Ohio State finished the game scoring 27 unanswered points thanks in large part to the combination of quarterback Kyle McCord and wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., who connected eight times for 163 yards and a touchdown.
The win was not only big for Ohio State, but for the entirety of the Big Ten East. Four teams in the division came into the weekend with a perfect record, and the winner of this matchup would put the rest of the league on notice. The Buckeyes accomplished that and more, despite playing without one of their star players in running back TreVeyon Henderson. While Ohio State travels to West Lafayette to play Purdue next week, and Maryland returns home to take on Illinois, it isn’t until Oct. 21 that Big Ten East: Round Two takes place, when Penn State travels to Columbus to play Ohio State.
The award for “Winner of The Little Brown Jug” goes to… Michigan
The Wolverines proved why they were the overwhelming favorite when they traveled to Minneapolis and walloped Minnesota 52-10 Saturday night. The night started poorly for the Golden Gophers when Michigan cornerback Will Johnson took an Athan Kaliakmanis pass the opposite way for a 36-yard pick-six to give the Wolverines the early lead. The night ended just as poorly for the Golden Gophers when Kaliakmanis presented Michigan safety Keon Sabb with an early (or late) birthday gift in the form of a 28-yard pick-six to make it 45-10.
Minnesota was bad, which was expected. On offense they were missing star running back Darius Taylor and without him it was always going to be an uphill battle on that side of the ball. This is especially true since this Michigan defense is ELITE. The offense has gotten a lot of attention this year due to the exceptional play of quarterback J.J. McCarthy, running back Blake Corum and wide receiver Roman Wilson, but as has been true for the majority of head coach Jim Harbaugh’s tenure in Ann Arbor, the defense is what makes this team go. Ask Kaliakmanis... he’ll have nightmares of Jackson, Sabb, and co. throughout their upcoming bye week. If it’s any comfort to Kaliakmanis, Indiana quarterback Tayven Jackson might be in the same boat, as he has to face this Wolverine defense next weekend.
The award for “Winner of the Charlie Jones Legacy Game” goes to… Iowa
In a brand new rivalry game that I may or may not have just created, Iowa took down Purdue at home on Saturday in a barn-burner, 20-14. Despite playing with a backup quarterback in Deacon Hill who went 6-for-21 passing, Iowa won this game behind an opportunistic defense and a sharp rushing attack. Shocker. The Hawkeyes once again proved they belong among the favorites in the Big Ten West alongside Wisconsin. Speaking of Wisconsin, these two teams play next weekend in Madison and you can give the Big Ten West title to whoever wins.
The Hawkeyes also proved this weekend that they don’t need a good offense when playing bad teams thanks to their dominant defense. Speaking of bad teams, Purdue is bad. Like, likely-to-fail-to-make-a-bowl-game-bad. And while Hill struggled for Iowa, Purdue quarterback Hudson Card also struggled, continuing his up-and-down play this season. That said, his offensive line allowing him to be sacked six times probably didn’t help the cause Saturday. Luckily for the Boilermakers, they return home for their next game as they look to iron out some of these issues. Unluckily for the Boilermakers, they’ll have to do it against aforementioned “potential top team in the Big Ten” Ohio State.
Nebraska 20, Illinois 7
Northwestern 23, Howard 20
Wisconsin 24, Rutgers 13