Many of the teams are starting to figure out who they are this year, some good and some bad. The conference is still led by Ohio St. but Michigan and Wisconsin are out to prove that they have a strong say in who wins the conference when its all said and done.
Big Ten East Division:
Indiana Hoosiers 4-2 (1-2)
On Saturday the Hoosiers showed that its offense is good enough to contend in the conference. Unfortunately, the defense showed why it’s still a few years away in 49-26 loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes. Quarterback, Peyton Ramsey passed for 322 yards and three touchdowns and showed that he has the potential to be an outstanding quarterback in the conference. Even though the Hoosiers defense surrendered 49 points and 609 total yards, it forced three turnovers and had four consecutive drives in the second half where it didn’t allow the Buckeyes to score. Freshmen defensive backs Bryant Fitzgerald and Devon Matthews both had interceptions for the Hoosiers who are trying to find a way of putting together a complete game, if they do, watch out!!!
Maryland Terrapins 3-2 (1-1)
This was an excellent opportunity for the Terrapins to pull off a big upset, but it just didn’t work out that way as they were easily defeated by the Michigan Wolverines 42-21. Offensively Maryland struggled to move the ball as it tallied only 220 total yards. Neither Kasim Hill or Tyrrell Pigrome was able to move the ball through the air and outside of a 42-yard run by Pigrome when the game was already decided, the Terrapins couldn’t run the ball either. Tre Watson, Isaiah Davis, and Antoine Brooks Jr were everywhere defensively, except in the backfield during passing plays as Maryland did not register a sack and only had two tackles-for-loss on the afternoon. There are some strong building blocks on the Maryland roster, it just will take some time for things to come together.
Michigan Wolverines 5-1 (3-0)
Quarterback Shea Patterson put together his best game in a Michigan uniform as he passed for 288 yards and three touchdowns in the 42-21 victory over the Maryland Terrapins. Patterson showed the poise and escapability on the afternoon that gives Wolverines fans hope about getting over the hump against tougher opponents in the upcoming weeks. Tight end Zach Gentry was Patterson’s favorite target as he caught seven passes for 112 yards. The Michigan defense continued to play strong even without the services of defensive end Rashan Gary, who was held out due to a shoulder injury, but with teams unable to focus on him, the Maryland offensive line was able to neutralize the red-hot Chase Winovich to only two tackles. It wasn’t as bad as in other games, but the Wolverines have to do better in not having slow starts. Against Wisconsin, Michigan St. and Penn St that could cost them.
Michigan St. Spartans 3-2 (1-1)
Well, it seems as if that hangover lasted longer than expected for the Spartans and it cost them in the 29-19 loss to the Northwestern Wildcats. The frustration from MSU fans is starting to reach the boiling point as the team struggled to move the ball offensively and the pass defense was lit up once again. The stat sheet says quarterback Brian Lewerke threw for 329 yards, but if you watched the game, he could have easily had 400 yards as he missed open receivers and made terrible reads. Where is the MSU run game? I get that LJ Scoot is hurt, but it has to be concerning when your leading rusher is a wide receiver, Felton Davis III, and most of that came on one play. Connor Heyward may be young but is talented enough, at least I thought he was, to be called on to lead the way. The rush defense did its job by limiting the Wildcats to eight yards rushing but where was that intensity on passing downs? The Spartans only tallied 1 sack. Safety Khari Willis and defensive tackle Mike Panasiuk had interceptions but like its been said before something seems off with this team, and there is no relief in the schedule to regroup as games with Penn St. and Michigan are next up.
Ohio St. Buckeyes 6-0 (3-0)
The final score may say a victory by 23 points, but it was a lot closer than that as the Buckeyes defeated the Indiana Hoosiers 49-26. Dwayne Haskins put on another show by passing for 455 yards and six touchdowns, but he also had two interceptions. Both interceptions came when the Hoosiers were still within striking distance. It will be interesting to see how he responds in a tight situation against a team that actually has a defense. What also has to be concerning for OSU fans was how Indiana was able to easily pass the ball. Allowing 322 passing yards has to be frustrating for a defense that is littered with high school all-Americans and five-star talent. Safety Jordan Fuller had five tackles and one fumble recovery for the defense. Indiana usually plays OSU tough, so maybe it was just a matter of that, or it could be a sign of unfavorable things to come against a more balanced team.
Penn State Nittany Lions 4-1 (1-1)
no game scheduled
Rutgers Scarlet Knights 1-4 (0-3)
What else is left to say about a Rutgers team that continues to be the laughing stock of the conference week after week? This week it was a 38-17 loss to the Illinois Fighting Illini. The growing pains for true freshman quarterback Artur Sitkowski continued as he was asked to pass the ball 46 times. Even though he threw for 267 yards, that is too much to expect from a guy who was playing in high school a year ago. The over-dependence on the passing attack is strange because Rutgers has two capable running backs in Jonathan Hilliman (10 carries, 76 yards) and Raheem Blackshear (15 carries, 34 yards.) The pass defense limited Illinois to 89 yards but allowed two 100-yard rushers as Illinois ran the ball 43 times for 330 yards. Maybe head coach Chris Ash needs to take a page out of Lovie Smith’s page on how to protect an inexperienced quarterback. Maybe Ash will get things together in Piscataway, but the local fans aren’t holding their breath.
Big Ten West Division:
Illinois Fighting Illini 3-2 (1-1)
It had been 13 games since Illinois won a conference game, but they finally ended the streak with a 38-17 win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Senior quarterback AJ Bush Jr. made his return to the lineup after missing two games, but it was with his feet that he made the most significant impact as he rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Joining him in the century club was running back Reggie Corbin who had 137 yards on 11 carries. Despite running the ball 43 times, Illinois still loss the time of possession battle with the Scarlet Knights by 1-minute. The Illini defense made the most of being on the field longer by forcing three turnovers — interceptions by Nate Hobbs, Del’Shawn Phillips, and Jartavius Martin. It has to feel good to get that conference win for the team, but it must be able to build upon it, or another streak could start very soon.
Iowa Hawkeyes 3-1 (1-1)
The Hawkeyes jumped out to a 14-0 lead and never looked back as it defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers 48-31. Quarterback Nate Stanley continued his steady play as he passed for 314 yards and four touchdowns but the focus on the afternoon was the lack of a run game by the Hawkeyes. True to Iowa fashion head coach Kirk Ferentz ran the ball 40 times, but the team only amassed 106 yards. Ivory Kelly-Martin was the leading rusher with 47 yards on 20 carries — with 15 of those yards coming on one play. Defensively, the Hawkeyes manhandled the Minnesota offense by sacking the Golden Gopher quarterback five times. Defensive end Anthony Nelson led the way with three, and when they weren’t sacking the quarterback, they were intercepting him as true freshmen cornerback Riley Moss had two, and Julius Brents had one. The Hawkeyes were able to get by winning through the air, but they have to find a way of running the ball against tough opponents.
Minnesota Golden Gophers 3-2 (0-2)
There weren’t many positives that can come out of the 48-31 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Golden Gophers. Quarterback Zack Annexstad was sacked five times and threw three interceptions. When Annexstad was able to complete a pass, it was to Tyler Jonson who finished the afternoon with six catches for 107 yards. Defensively the Gophers bounced back after allowing 300+ yards against Maryland to limit the Hawkeyes to 106 yards on 40 carries. Now its time to find a way to limit teams in the passing game but that will be a daunting task as senior cornerback Antoine Winfield Jr. was lost for the year due to a foot injury. The Gophers will have to continue to row the boat and hope they find fertile land to grow upon.
Nebraska Cornhuskers 0-4 (0-2)
Despite a better offensive output the Cornhuskers still came up short in the 41-24 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers. Quarterback Adrian Martinez had 441 total yards and three total touchdowns and continues to show promise under center. Wide receiver JD Speilman was Martinez’s favorite target as he had nine catches for 209 yards. The problem in the 17 point loss was the inability to slow down the Badgers rushing game as it allowed 370 yards. Still winless, it’s hard to find reasons to be excited about this season so far, but Nebraska is inching closer to that ever elusive win.
Northwestern Wildcats 2-3 (2-1)
Once again the Wildcats built an early lead, but against the Michigan St. Spartans they were able to keep it and won the game 29-19. Unable to run the ball, eight total yards on 20 carries, the Wildcats offense relied on the arm of its veteran quarterback, Clayton Thorson, and it worked as he passed for 373 yards and three touchdowns. A 77-yard touchdown pass to Kyric McGowan gave the offense the spark it needed and wide receiver Flynn Nagel was Mr. Reliable as he caught ten passes for 111 yards. Even though it allowed 425 total yards, the Northwestern defense subscribed to the “bend but don’t break” mentality as it allowed the Spartans to move the ball but found ways to keep them out of the end zone most of the afternoon. Linebacker Blake Gallagher had 11 tackles to led the way for a unit should be more confident the rest of the way. Northwestern rebounded from a slow start in 2017 to win 10 games, can they do it again this year???
Purdue Boilermakers 2-3 (1-1)
no game scheduled
Wisconsin Badgers 4-1 (2-0)
Led by running back Jonathan Taylor’s 224 yards and three touchdown performance, the Badgers easily defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 41-24. The run game is the strength of this Badgers team, and head coach Paul Chryst is smart enough to stick to what’s working. What has to be concerning is the fact that the defense allowed over 407 yards passing on the afternoon. Linebacker TJ Edwards did have two sacks, but it will take a better collective effort from that side of the ball against better teams
Sports Q&A Big 10 Player of the week:
Shea Patterson QB – Michigan
Patterson came into the season with the expectation of being Michigan’s savior at quarterback. Unfortunately, it didn’t start that way as he struggled against Notre Dame and has found footing difficult in other games. But against Maryland, he showed why he was a top recruit out of high school and how he could be the reason why the Wolverines find success against good teams.
Game of the Week
Wisconsin vs. Michigan
The second big test for the Wolverines brings the tough-minded Badgers to the Big House in a primetime match-up. The key to the game is whoever can execute its offense while limiting turnovers. The Badgers could find success running the ball, but I’m not so sure that they won’t turn the ball over multiple times. Michigan has to show it won’t crumble against comparable competition and it won’t be this week as the defense makes its share of big stops and Karan Higdon lets people know there is another talented running back in this game.
Michigan 27- Wisconsin 23
Week 7 Picks: (Week 6 record: 5-1)
Ohio St. over Minnesota
Maryland over Rutgers
Iowa over Indiana
Northwestern over Nebraska
Penn St. over Michigan St.
Purdue over Illinois
BYE WEEK: none