The highlight of Week 6 was two Top 25 conference match-ups with the home team coming out victorious in both contests. After coming up big in the second quarter, it is safe to say that the OSU Buckeyes are the best team in the conference and looks primed for a berth in the College Football Playoff
Big Ten East Division:
Indiana Hoosiers 3-2 (0-2)
no game scheduled
Maryland Terrapins 3-2 (1-1)
In a matchup between two struggling teams, the Terrapins used the 48-7 win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to regain some confidence on both sides of the ball. It’s hard to get excited over beating a team that has allowed 130 points in three conference games, but after the Penn State debacle two weeks ago, a victory, regardless of the opponent was needed.
Key Players: Receiver Dontay Demus Jr. (three receptions, 93 yards, one touchdown), Running Back Anthony McFarland (seven carries, 87 yards, two touchdowns)
Michigan Wolverines 4-1 (2-1)
The U-M defense most fas were accustomed to finally made an appearance in the 10-3 victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday. Not only did the Wolverines defense force four turnovers, but they finished the game with eight sacks and only allowed the Hawkeyes running backs to accumulate 67 yards rushing. Now if the team could find any semblance of an offense, the team could be dangerous down the stretch.
Key Players: Linebacker Cam McGrone (six tackles, 1.5 sacks), Defensive End Aidan Hutchinson (six tackles, one sack, 2.5 tackles for loss), Defensive End Kwity Paye (2.5 sacks)
Michigan St. Spartans 4-2 (2-1)
Going into the game, most knew that it would take a near-perfect game to upset the Ohio State Buckeyes. Unfortunately, that is not what happened in the 34-10 loss on Saturday night as the Spartans had three turnovers and only converted 4-of-13 third-down attempts. The defense tried to hold the fort — limiting the Buckeyes to three first-quarter points but the flood gates opened in the second quarter and the team could not recover. MSU has struggled to be balanced offensively and only rushed for 67 yards on Saturday and the depth chart took a hit as another back entered the transfer portal.
Key Players: Linebacker Joe Bachie (11 tackles, two sacks), Wide Receiver Darrell Stweart Jr. (six receptions, 68 yards), Cornerback Josiah Scott (12 tackles, one interception)
Ohio St. Buckeyes 6-0 (3-0)
Early on in the 34-10 victory over the Michigan State Spartans, it looked as if the Buckeyes had been exposed. The offense struggled to move the ball and only mustered three points in the first quarter. But after making adjustments the Buckeyes fans had been used to seeing in 2019 resurfaced and scored 27 points in the second quarter. The ability for the Buckeyes to run the ball the way it did against a quality rush defense has to be discouraging for the rest of the conference and even the nation. As in the past, the only thing that will appear to derail the OSU season is a lack of focus.
Key Players: Quarterback Justin Fields (206 yards passing, three total touchdowns, 61 yards rushing), Running Back JK Dobbins ( 172 yards rushing, one touchdown), Cornerback Jordan Fuller (seven tackles, one interception)
Penn State Nittany Lions 5-0 (2-0)
In the 35-7 win over the Purdue Boilermakers, the Nittany Lions took advantage of a depleted Boilermakers offense that was without its starting quarterback and best offensive weapon… but that’s football. The balance of the PSU offense has to be recognized as it passed for over 250 yards and almost rushed for 200 yards. But not to be left out the defense held its own by limiting Purdue to only one third-down conversion in 12 attempts. The only hiccup in the victory were the three turnovers; against better competition that could come back to bite them.
Key Players: Quarterback Sean Clifford (264 yards passing, four total touchdowns), Running Back Noah Cain (105 yards rushing, one touchdown), Defensive End Shaka Toney (three sacks)
Rutgers Scarlet Knights 1-4 (0-3)
Just when you think things couldn’t get worse for Rutgers before the 48-7 loss to Maryland, it was announced that the team’s two best offensive players, quarterback Artur Sitkowski and running back Raheem Blackshear would be sitting out the rest of the season to maintain their redshirt year. As many have previously said, myself included, this marriage between Rutgers and the Big Ten has been a disaster and it may be time for a divorce
Key Players: Running back Isaih Pacheco (19 carries, 78 yards)
Big Ten West Division:
Illinois Fighting Illini 2-3 (0-2)
As a defensive-minded head coach, it had to be tough for Lovie Smith to see his defense get run over in the 40-17 loss on Saturday. With the number of transfers in the program, you’d think that Illinois would not be subjected to these types of butt whoopings but unfortunately not. The clock is ticking on Smith in Champagne, IL and after a loss like this, there might not be anything he can do to salvage his job at this point.
Key Players: Linebacker Dele Harding (15 tackles, one interception, one touchdown), Linebacker Milo Eifler (five tackles, one fumble recovery, one touchdown), Running Back Reggie Corbin (14 carries, 68 yards)
Iowa Hawkeyes 4-1 (1-1)
For a team that had done a great job protecting the ball, the Hawkeyes picked the wrong game to get careless with the ball. In the 10-3 loss to the Michigan Wolverines, the Hawkeyes had an uncharacteristic three interceptions. You never want to play this bad but you have to figure that its best to get it all out of your system now as other significant games still loom on the schedule.
Key Players: Cornerback Geno Stone (one interception), Defensive End Chauncey Golston (eight tackles, one sack, two tackles-for-loss) Wide Receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette (four receptions, 60 yards)
Minnesota Golden Gophers 5-0 (2-0)
The Gophers continue to “Row the Boat” to victory this year and last week’s 40-17 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini was an example of how a team finds a weakness and just attacks it. In past games, head coach PJ Fleck used the arm of his quarterback to secure the victory but last week two Minnesota backs combined to rush for over 300 yards. There are some in the conference waiting to see how the Gophers fare against a team with the pulse but you have to admit that winning the way they did Saturday was impressive
Key Players: Running Back Rodney Smith (211 yards rushing, one touchdown), Running Back Shannon Brooks (111 yards rushing, one touchdown), Cornerback Antoine Winfield Jr. (four tackles, one interception)
Nebraska Cornhuskers 4-2 (2-1)
Sometimes you have to find a way to win games even when you don’t play well. That’s what the Cornhuskers did in the 13-10 win over the Northwestern Wildcats. There are some concerns about quarterback play but head coach Scott Frost may have found his team’s next superstar in a true freshman do-it-all. While it looks like the defense will never live up to the “blackshirt” moniker, they are doing a better job at limiting teams that they are more talented than. The better teams… that’s another situation.
Key Players: Wide Receiver Wan’Dale Robinson (seven receptions, 123 yards, 44 yards rushing, one touchdown) Cornerback Lamar Jackson (four tackles, one interception)
Northwestern Wildcats 1-4 (0-3)
The lack of good quarterback play was key in the 13-10 loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Injuries have decimated the position and being one-dimensional makes it easy for opposing defenses to focus on stopping the run. The defense played well all afternoon but it was a controversial non-call that led to a Wildcats turnover that put its defense in a position it couldn’t get out of.
Key Players: Linebacker Paddy Fisher (10 tackles, one tackle-for-loss), Quarterback Aidan Smith (64 yards rushing, one touchdown, 136 yards passing)
Purdue Boilermakers 1-4 (0-2)
The next man up mentality is nice to have but when there is a wide gap in that talent level it’s hard to overcome. With its starting quarterback and star receiver on the sidelines Saturday, that’s what the Boilermakers had to deal with in the 35-7 loss to the Penn State Nittany Lions. Purdue’s coaching staff won’t make any excuses but you hate to wonder how this game could have been if those two were healthy. The defense tried to pick up the slack by forcing three turnovers but when the offense has zero flow, it is hard to win games.
Key Players: Linebacker Jaylan Alexander (10 tackles, three tackles-for-loss, one fumble recovery, Receiver David Bell (three receptions, 56 yards), Defensive back Simeon Smiley (four tackles, one interception)
Wisconsin Badgers 5-0 (2-0)
The Jonathan Taylor Heisman hype train is gaining steam and in the 48-0 blowout over the Kent State Golden Flash, he continued to show why he is considered the best running back in the conference and maybe even the nation. Albeit against a lesser opponent, the Badgers defense continued its stellar play finishing the game with nine sacks and posting the third shutout in five games. Is this team as a whole or are they just taking advantage of horrible offenses?
Key Players: Running Back Jonathan Taylor (186 yards rushing, five total touchdowns), Quarterback Jack Coan (134 yards, two touchdowns), Linebacker Zack Baun ( three sacks), Linebacker Leo Chenal (two sacks, one interception)
Sports Q&A Big 10 Player of the week:
Dele Harding Illinois – LB, Wan’Dale Robinson – WR Nebraska, Rodney Smith Minnesota – RB
All three players contributed above expectations for their respective teams with two of the three carrying his team to victory. Illinois, Nebraska, and Minnesota will need more performances like this if they hope to win the bigger games that loom on their schedules
Game of the Week
Penn State vs. Iowa
Playing on the road isn’t easy in the Big Ten and there are some road environments that as an opposing fan you dread seeing for your favorite team. One, in particular, is Iowa at night. Is it the pink road locker room? Is it the brisk Iowa night? It’s hard to determine but we have seen great teams go into Iowa City riding high and leave with a deflating loss. Fortunately for Nittany Lions fans, their talent outweighs the environment and while this will be their biggest game of the season, they should be able to grind out a victory.
Penn State 23 Iowa 13
Week 6 Picks: (Week 5 record 6-1)
Michigan over Illinois
Indiana over Rutgers
Maryland over Purdue
Wisconsin over Michigan State
Minnesota over Nebraska
BYE WEEK: Ohio State, Northwestern,