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The Whiststop Tour: Week 6 In the Big Ten

Outside of Ohio State, the Big Ten sucks this year.

Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

We've reached a new low in terms of putridity in the conference. For the first time in the history of the coaches' poll there is not a single team ranked from the Big Ten Conference. Ohio State would be ranked, but they are ineligible for the coaches poll. They are at least the lone representative in the AP poll. Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin are all receiving votes, but aside from the Buckeyes every team in the conference has two losses.

That is why the faster Purdue can get over the loss to Michigan yesterday, the better. Purdue can still take firm control of the Leaders Division by beating Wisconsin if Danny Hope can come up with one of his patented, "where the hell did THAT come from" wins. It doesn't even need to be as shocking as Ohio State in 2009. It would be more on the level of beating Michigan at Michigan in 2009.

It's not the best possession to be in, but at least mathematically it is a good place to be. If only we had enough confidence to feel excitement again. That's really what the Michigan loss does.

Michigan State 31, Indiana 27

Indiana choked. No team should ever blow a 17-point lead at home, especially Indiana. Had the Hoosiers gotten his one a bowl game was at least possible. Instead, it ended like the Ball State game did: as a missed opportunity:

As I mentioned, it wasn't a game in which anything strange happened. There were no turnovers either aided IU's early lead or preventing IU from scoring in the second half. Each of IU's second half possessions ended in a punt. The only real controversy came a fourth quarter IU punt, when Michigan State fumbled. It appeared that there was a premature whistle on the play, and at least a decent chance that IU recovered the fumble. MSU came away with the call, and tight end Ted Bolser was ejected from the game for, as far as the replay showed, doing absolutely nothing. Perhaps there was something awful in the pile, but it wasn't at all apparent.

Mcihgian State, meanwhile, is in a similar position to us. They have not looked good at all, but they are still alive in the race for the divisional title and a return to Indianapolis. As bad as it looked, beating Indiana counts the exact same in the league standings as beating Wisconsin:

The Spartans move to 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten. A big one indeed, as no team has won the Big Ten after an 0-2 start. Is MSU the first half team or the second half team? Either way, a win's a win.

Penn State 39, Northwestern 28

Pride is an interesting motivator. Through two weeks it looked like an 0-12 Penn State was possible. Now they have come together and. Before the scholarship restrictions really begin to decimate them over the next few years, are looking like one of the better teams in the conference. When I left Harry's before yesterday's game it was 28-17 in the fourth quarter for the Wildcats. Then, the Nittany Lions roared back:

That was not the same old Northwestern team of the last decade. That was much closer to the 1995 - 1997 Northwestern squads. No, this 2012 NU squad isn't a physical beast jacked up on 'roid rage, grinding on you with a power run game for 60 minutes. But they have the same fight as those squads. Northwestern came into Beaver Stadium expecting to win, and they didn't wilt or throw in the towel. Not even when they fell down 10 - 0 early in the second quarter.

But Penn State's got some fight in them, too.

Sippin' On Purple is not used to losing, especially after shedding the "worst FBS team ever" level on Indiana last week. They thought Northwestern was the better team:

With that football stuff said: you have to do better than that. You have to win that game, up by two scores in the fourth quarter. Instead, Northwestern's defense got absolutely eviscerated in the last quarter. Zach Zwinek got about three or four yards after first contact every carry, and Matt McGloin dinked-and-dunked Northwestern to a fitting death. I don't think he threw the ball downfield more than ten yards once in the final quarter, but Northwestern couldn't stop it. There was no pressure, and while the coverage was alright, having five guys short, Northwestern couldn't keep all of them from getting the ball.

Wisconsin 31, Illinois 14

The Badgers are starting to look like Wisconsin again, which is why I don't have any confidence heading into this week's game after as bad as we looked against Michigan. They fell behind the Fighting Illini early, but dominated the rest of the way:

Wisconsin did not start strong on either side of the ball, but eventually found their groove and played extremely well in the 4th quarter. Stave made good decisions with the ball following the first play of the 3rd quarter until the end of the game, and both White and Ball were effective. Scheelhaase was excellent on the ground early and UW struggled to contain him, but eventually upped their game and kept the Illinois QB to 3.8 yards per carry by the end of the game.

Illinois at least saw some fight in this game, which was encouraging:

But yesterday it was different. Yesterday I saw fight. Yesterday I saw togetherness. Sure, we crumbled in the fourth quarter, and we have a lot to fix, and there are still some serious coaching flaws that need to be corrected, and we're probably not going bowling. But I saw a team that was fired up on the sideline. And I saw players going hard on the field. And after the last two dreadful weeks, that was very encouraging.

Michigan 44, Purdue 13

I've already said enough about this game, which was kind compared to what J Money and Boilerdowd had to say about Purdue's effort:

If you didn't watch it, congratulations. Those hours that you spent coaching your children, watching better football, gardening, painting, napping or hunting for the perfect pumpkin were hours well-spent. But the three hours that I spent in one of my favorite places in the world, I'll never get back. The good news is that I got to watch the game with a friend of mine, and it was good to hang out together...sarcastically cheer every now and again and hope that something would change.

Maize N' Brew was naturally excited about a dominant defense that stopped our running game on the few times we tried to run:

Robinson picked up the slack there, though, rushing for 236 yards with a long of 59, off of 24 carries altogether. He had four times more rushing yards than Purdue had rushing altogether. Their leading rusher was Akeem Shavers, who only managed 34 yards off of 10 carries. Michigan's defense was simply dominant in this one, as TerBush managed only 105 yards through the air to go with their lack of rushing attack.

Ohio State 63, Nebraska 38

It is time for me to accept that Ohio State is a good team. The defense gave up 38 yards, but it didn't matter when they scored 63 points with Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde each rushing for a combined 326 yards and five touchdowns:

There can be no doubts about Ohio State now, other than their inability to play all four quarters. We saw the potential of OSU's defensive line, who pressured Martinez and helped slow a very potent rushing attack. The Buckeye's offensive line got a great push, opening holes for Hyde and Miller to help each get career rushing days. OSU's wideouts struggled a little to get separation at first, but when you score 63 points against a top 25 team, further offensive quibbling seems rude and pointless. It was an excellent effort and win for the Buckeyes.

Corn Nation was also overwhelmed:

63-38. Someone on twitter said that this is the most points ever given up by a ranked opponent in a loss since 1936. I don't buy that (we'll check later), but it certainly was a ball of suck.

Non-Conference opponents:

Tennessee Tech 23, Eastern Kentucky 20 - The Colonels had a chance to knock off unbeaten Tennessee tech, but lost on a touchdown with eight seconds left.

Notre Dame 41, Miami 3 - The Hurricanes were in this one for a half down only 13-3, then the wheels completely came off. I feel bad for Gary Bush's parents, whom I met yesterday. Gary had all his family in town to watch him against Michigan, but they planned to leave at halftime to drive to Chicago and see his younger brother, Dion Bush, for the Hurricanes. Whoops.

Kent State 41, Eastern Michigan 14 - A hopeful EMU season is now at 0-5.

Tulsa 45, Marshall 38 - Another week, another shootout loss for the Thundering Herd.