Even though the majority of the conference was off, Week 5 was highlighted not only by a thriller between the two best teams in the conference but a game where a prohibitive favorite trailed most of the afternoon just to fight back and avoid upset.
Big Ten East Division:
Indiana Hoosiers 4-1 (1-1)
It may have been a lot closer than expected but the Hoosiers got the job done by defeating the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 24-17. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey passed for 288 yards, and one touchdown and the Hoosiers were able to control the ball for the final 3:52 to close out the game. Fueled by cornerback Jamar Johnson’s interception, the Indiana defense limited the Scarlet Knights offense to 291 total yards. The Hoosiers are beating the teams they are supposed to, but to get to that next level, they will have to beat a good team one of these days.
Maryland Terrapins 3-1 (1-0)
No game scheduled
Michigan Wolverines 4-1 (2-0)
It looked as if the road woes under Jim Harbaugh would continue as the Wolverines trailed the Northwestern Wildcats 17-0 for the majority of the first half but adjustments on both sides of the ball sparked a furious comeback that led to the 20-17 win. Shea Patterson is becoming the quarterback that Michigan fans have hoped for as he passed for 196 yards and rushed for 30 more. After the sluggish start, the defense locked down the Wildcats offense by only allowing 90 yards in the second half. Defensive lineman Kwity Paye and Josh Uche both had two sacks including one by Uche that ended the game. As the schedule begins to get tougher Michigan cannot afford these slow starts, so something needs to be fixed in Ann Abor quickly.
Michigan St. Spartans 3-1 (1-0)
The Spartans jumped out to a 31-3 lead and coasted to a 31-20 victory over the Central Michigan Chippewas on Saturday. The offense had four rushing touchdowns — two by quarterback Brian Lewerke –, but something seemed off with the Spartans. The offense only tallied 345 yards, and even though the game was never in doubt but, it has to be concerning to give up 17 unanswered points in the second half. Spartan fans will have to chalk this up to overlooking a far inferior opponent and hope there isn’t a hangover once it gets back into conference play
Ohio St. Buckeyes 5-0 (2-0)
Despite trailing by double digits at two separate points, the Buckeyes found a way to steal a victory over the Penn St. Nittany Lions 27-26. This was the first game that quarterback Dwayne Haskins looked mortal as he struggled in the first half. But when it mattered, he stepped up and guided the Buckeyes to two scoring drives in the fourth quarter to get the victory. Defensive end Chase Young had two sacks on the night, but the most important play he made in the game was stopping running back Miles Sanders on a critical fourth down play to seal the victory. The Buckeyes got the victory, but this game showed that they are not utterly invincible like many thought after defeating TCU two weeks ago.
Penn State Nittany Lions 4-1 (1-1)
For the second straight year, the Nittany Lions could not hold onto a late-game lead against the Ohio State Buckeyes. This time it was a 13 point fourth quarter lead that turned into a 27-26 loss. Quarterback Trace McSorley combined for 461 total yards and two touchdowns, but on the most critical play of the game — a fourth and 5 — head coach James Franklin decided to give the ball to running back Miles Sanders who was stopped for a loss. That decision will be second-guessed forever but the lack of a run game from someone other than McSorley was non-existent, and the defense seemed to be a step slower trying to corral the OSU offensive players. Safety Garrett Taylor had an interception, but the Nittany Lions only had one sack and five tackles-for-loss on the night. PSU has two weeks to simmer on this loss, and it will be interesting to see how they respond the rest of the year.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights 1-3 (0-2)
The struggle season continues for the Scarlet Knights as they got off to a slow start and couldn’t overcome a 17 point deficit to lose to the Indiana Hoosiers 24-17. The best offensive player continues to be running back Raheem Blackshear ( eight carries, 64 yards), but when you dig a hole like Rutgers continually does, it’s almost impossible to run the ball. The defense forced two turnovers — an interception by cornerback Damon Hayes and a fumble recovery by linebacker Deonte Roberts –, but it’s hard to win when you surrender seven plays over 20 yards and 451 total yards. Finding a victory over the next few weeks may be hard for a team looking for anything to build upon.
Big Ten West Division:
Illinois Fighting Illini 2-2 (0-1)
No game scheduled
Iowa Hawkeyes 2-1 (0-1)
No game scheduled
Minnesota Golden Gophers 3-1 (0-1)
No game scheduled
Nebraska Cornhuskers 0-4 (0-2)
.The Cornhuskers jumped out to an early 7–0 lead over the Purdue Boilermakers, but it was all downhill after that as the team lost 42-28 to remain winless on the season. Of all the losses this season, this may have been the most perplexing as the offense was able to move the ball. Led by running back Devine Ozigbo’s 170 yards on 17 carries, the Cornhuskers rushed for 259 yards but somehow still surrendered 42 points and 516 total yards. Part of the issue for the Cornhuskers remains the lack of a pass rush; Saturday the defense only had one sack and five tackles-for-loss. The defense has a long way to go, but if quarterback Adrian Martinez can continue to put up big numbers (323 passing yards and 91 rushing yards), there is hope for the team in the future
Northwestern Wildcats 1-3 (1-1)
Playing on emotions, the Wildcats jumped out to an early 17-0 lead but couldn’t muster any offense in the second half and were defeated by the Michigan Wolverines 20-17. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald’s initial game plan was masterful for one half as it relied on the short passing game of quarterback Clayton Thorson offensively, and forced the Wolverines to move the ball through the air on the defense, but once Michigan adjusted he didn’t have a counter-punch, and it cost the team. Blake Gallagher and JR Pace both had double-digit tackles but the Northwestern defense failed to force a turnover and eventually wore down. The Wildcats have been in this place before so it will be interesting to see if they can bounce back and salvage the rest of the season as it did in 2017.
Purdue Boilermakers 2-3 (1-1)
The Boilermakers are starting to find consistency at the quarterback play and its leading to better team play. This week David Blough’s 328 yards passing was the catalyst to the 42-28 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers. In addition to Blough’s improved play, the offense is getting a nice contribution from the run game as the team rushed for 188 yards — including 87 yards by DJ Knox and 59 yards by Markell Jones. Defensively the Boilermakers need to figure out how to finish games better — they allowed 21 points in the second half — but if the offense keeps progressing they may be able to outscore their opponents.
Wisconsin Badgers 3-1 (1-0)
No game scheduled
Sports Q&A Big 10 Player of the week:
Dwayne Haskins – QB Ohio St.
The redshirt sophomore put on a second-half show that not only salvaged the Buckeyes season but kept him in consideration for the Heisman. Yeah, it may not have been the best game statistically for him, but he showed a lot of grit by being able to lead the offense on two key drives when it mattered.
Game of the Week
Maryland vs. Michigan
This is a game that could cement the Terrapins as a competitive team in the East Division. Against inferior opponents, Maryland has shown the ability to move the ball and force turnovers but facing Michigan in the Big House is a different obstacle. Michigan cannot afford another slow start, and fortunately for the Wolverines fans, they won’t have one. Quarterback Shea Patterson continues to show leadership as the U-M quarterback and leads them to victory.
Michigan 31 Maryland 20
Week 6 Picks: (Week 5 record: 5-0)
Michigan St. over Northwestern
Illinois over Rutgers
Iowa over Minnesota
Ohio St. over Indiana
Wisconsin over Nebraska
BYE WEEK: Purdue, Penn St.