The Whistlestop Tour: Week 7 of Big Ten Football

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State and Michigan played what might be the most exciting game of the season in the Big Ten.

This weekend may have had the game of the year in the Big Ten as Penn State used a very late comeback to win in four overtimes. The other games... They were not quite as exciting:

Nebraska 44, Purdue 7

Purdue has now given up 99 points in its last two home games combined and has led for barely more than two minutes total in that time. Boiled Sports sees some changes on the horizon:

In hindsight, the toughest predicament that the last staff left this current staff in was not bring young guys along. We've said it before, but FORTY SEVEN players on the current roster are Freshman. Some of those guys who showed promise last year should have probably saw the field earlier...maybe in a 40 point loss...I dunno, I'm just spit-balling. On top of the guys that were completely held back, you've got players that were ready to play that simply didn't. The end result is what we've seen this year.

For Nebraska, it was a very good day as you can expect:

It was the blowout that Husker fans were hoping for; it was the performance that some Husker fans didn't think was possible this weekend. Purdue is a team struggling with a transition in coaching staffs and systems, so a 44-7 victory doesn't mean that all is right with Nebraska football now. It is what it is. A dominating victory over an overwhelmed opponent. So while Nebraska football looks better now than it did in September, we really won't get a good read on that until November.

Michigan State 42, Indiana 28

The Hoosiers followed up the celebrated greatest win in program history and turning point by turning said corner and smashing face first into another corner. It will be a tightrope season for a bowl game here on out, as they need to be perfect at home with three likely losses on the road:

Overall a frustrating game. Not necessarily something we didn't see coming. I would have preferred a 14-28 loss over a 28-42, but I don't think anyone is shocked at the final result. It's disappointing but wasn't a game we were supposed to win. Looking forward I don't think we win a single road game this season. However, we should sweep the final three home games and finish with a season that we had expected to have. That doesn't feel like a successful season right now, but when we can put it in perspective away from this game I think we'll all be happy to see that the season is pretty well on track.

As often happens to teams, the Spartans feel a lot better about their ground game after playing Indiana:

It seems strange to say it, but a rushing game that lost Le'Veon Bell to the NFL draft appears to have actually improved this year. Spartan running backs rushed for 238 yards on 47 carries and cracked the 5 YPC mark at 5.1. Jeremy Langford led the way with a 109-yard game and 3 TDs (and 1 more TD receiving) on 23 carries but MSU got big plays from freshmen Delton Williams, who had 92 yards, 34 of them on a 4th quarter touchdown, and R.J. Shelton (40 yards on 2 attempts). It's looking more and more like Langford and Williams the rest of the way, as Nick Hill was nowhere to be seen today.

Wisconsin 35, Northwestern 6

Wow! What a hangover by Northwestern, who outplayed Ohio State for most of the night last week before laying a dud in Madison. Suddenly the Wildcats are 0-2 after a pretty solid start and the dream of the Purple in Pasadena may be dead:

Against Wisconsin, basically no facet of Northwestern's game looked good. The defense looked alright at moments, forcing turnovers on occasion and allowing 35 points, which would have been enough for Northwestern to win most of their games this year. The offense was a barren, plague-infested skeletal wasteland, and since the hypothetical cause for the horror was injuries to Venric Mark and Kain Colter -- and we don't know whether Venric Mark and Kain Colter will be healthy -- there's reason to believe a unit that looked strong most of the year is in trouble.

The Badgers, meanwhile, did what they always do: Stampede teams into the turf:

Getting some help from a timely bye week, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon looked back to his old ways after suffering an injury in the team's last game against Ohio State two weeks ago. Gordon highlighted the Badgers' ground game with 172 yards on 22 carries, including a 71-yard touchdown scamper on a jet-sweep to the left side in the second quarter.

Complimenting Gordon was also the efforts of fellow tailback James White, who added 101 yards on the ground of his own and three catches in the flat for 29 yards.

Penn State 43, Michigan 40 4OT

What a nutty game this was. Michigan trailed by 11 at halftime and led by 10 with 7 minutes to go. The overtimes featured only one touchdown and three missed field goals. It was a welcome relief after an ugly loss at Indiana for the Nittany Lions, and a homecoming win to boot:

Even if Bill Belton is stopped on fourth down, dayenu. Who needs a fifth overtime, anyway?

But he wasn't, and so this game went on, long enough for Allen Robinson to drop a would-be game winner, but long enough for Michigan to give Penn State the game on a silver platter, long enough for Bill Belton to run it in and for Beaver Stadium to explode and us all to scream and shout and jump up and pump our firsts in the air, to startle and scare our roommates and our wives and our friends and whoever else was unfortunate enough to stand near a Nittany Lion in heat.

As expected, the loss of an unbeaten season was rough for the Wolverines, who just say their advantage in the Legends Division go away:

Here's why: imagine yourself as anything other than Michigan fan, and picture yourself watching this team. What do you see? If you're being honest, you'll see a average squad with exceptional talent and ability in spots, but not enough to produce a consistent effort on either side of the ball. Michigan turns it over a lot (i.e. like a bad team). Almost entirely irrespective of its opponent, Michigan runs the ball like an FCS team trying to run into the teeth of Alabama's defense.

Non-conference opponents:

Cincinnati 38, Temple 20 - Cincinnati continues to play well at home with the Friday night win, but man, are they rough to watch on the road.

South Dakota 17, Indiana State 14 - The Trees are now 1-5 with their only win coming over a D-II school.

Notre Dame - ON BYE

Northern Illinois 27, Akron 20 - Akron has now lost 28 games in a row to FBS competition and 38 of 39. They still played Northern Illinois better than Purdue.

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