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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 6 Of Big Ten Football

Recapping the week that was even though Purdue was on a bye.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

I am enjoying my final day in Miami before flying home tonight, so here is your quick rundown of the weekend that was in the Big Ten:

Indiana 44, Penn State 24

The Hoosiers got their first ever victory over the Nittany Lions, and it came as a surprise to many. Penn State rushed for only 70 yards on 38 carries for a pathetic 1.8 yards per run. Does that mean that Indiana suddenly has a run defense? Not likely according to Black Shoe Diaries:

BOB chose to spread Indiana out on defense, and call most of his runs from the shotgun. I thought that was a curious choice. I expected more two tight-ends, or even more I-formation, from Penn State this week, particularly after we practiced so much of it two weeks ago against Kent State. For as much praise as this O-Line has received from BOB, I thought we'd just bully the pathetic Hoosier rush defense. Instead, it looked like we tried to trick them, by using the same thing they see every week in practice from their own offense.

For Indiana fans, it was probably the marquee win of the Kevin Wilson era:

Well it took 20 years, but it has finally happened. Indiana defeated Penn State by a score of 44-24. Certainly 44 points is a lot of scoring and Indiana's offense should get some credit for this game, but the majority of the win goes to the Indiana defense. CB Tim Bennett and LB TJ Simmons especially had some great games. The fact that Bennett didn't come away with a pick is somewhat disappointing. He was all over the place.

Nebraska 39, Illinois 19

Tommy Armstrong Jr. took over at quarterback for an injured Taylor Martinez and threw for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Ameer Abdullah rushed for 225 yards and two scores as well as Purdue's next opponent rolled. The Cornhhuksers'ground game was key, but the once vulnerable defense also came through:

Well, the Blackshirts played better.  Not great, mind you. But better.  Armstrong wasn't exactly Frazier-like, but he was efficient.  His receivers bailed him out throughout the day, and he did show a couple of nifty moves on the option.  Remember when people have wondered why Tim Beck had option plays in his offense?  Taylor Martinez is a dynamic runner who doesn't seem to get the grasp of the option run, while Armstrong is an average runner with a gift for executing the option.

For the Fighting Illini, the Champaign Room stated that there was work left to do:

Just like we saw against Washington and Bishop Sankey we saw Illini defenders being swallowed up by Nebraska's offensive line on Saturday and Ameer Abdullah running by everybody, breaking weak tackle attempts and dancing all over the field to the tune of 225 yards and two touchdowns. And if those numbers weren't impressive enough, Abdullah averaged 11.3 yards per carry.

Michigan State 26, Iowa 14

The Spartans won a little ugly, as they often do these days. The big surprise was that Connor Cook played well in the passing game. He threw for 277 yards and two scores while the Hawkeyes had a decent passing game of their own. The Only Colors pointed out that the running game was the key:

A total of 138 yards as a team and 3.9 yards per carry when you take out the kneels. Not great, but Iowa has a stout front seven that is barely allowing 3.0 yards per carry, even after the MSU game. They finished with 35 non-kneel rushes, compared to 44 pass attempts. They didn't have big plays, but they only had four negative rushing yards. I was expecting/hoping for more runs after the ND game, but Iowa generally took it away, and MSU adjusted well.

For Black Heart Gold Pants, they felt that the Hawkeyes got beat up:

If you had told me before the game that Connor Cook would throw the ball 44 times in this game, I would have been ecstatic.  The goal for Iowa was to force Cook and the MSU passing game to beat them, because the evidence suggested that they could not do that.  About that... I don't think the evidence lied, per se, but the MSU passing game we saw today was not the MSU passing game that had stumbled through the first four games of the season.  Cook looked sharp and made good throws and his receivers, a unit averaging four drops a game, made several clutch catches and big plays.  And if that was going to happen, well... game over, man.

Michigan 42, Minnesota 13

After two ugly games against crappy teams the Wolverines finally had everything go according to plan according to Maize N' Brew:

It wasn't a high-flying offensive circus, but Michigan continually found ways to move the ball down the field.  The run game, behind a new face on the offensive line in Chris Bryant, found a little more success running power.  Fitz Toussaint had 17 carries for 78 yards and a two touchdowns for an average of 4.6 yards/carry - not a bad number.  Derrick Green looked good early but struggled in the second half to a final line of 10 for 23 yards and a touchdown.

The Golden Gophers saw injuries mount for their team as they fell behind big after a competitive first half:

The real backbreaker for the Gophers today was the defense's inability to get off the field on third down.  Devin Gardner was able to float passes that were not well placed to receivers who made great plays on the ball while our defensive backs were still trying to get themselves back in the play.  Michigan finished the game 10/13 on third down, this is a stat that makes life very difficult and demoralizes a defense.

Ohio State 40, Northwestern 30

As a Purdue fan these types of losses are all too familiar. Northwestern was the better team for most of the game, but because they settled for field goals instead of getting touchdowns they were not able to put away the Buckeyes. That spelled doom for the Wildcats, who could not stop Carlos Hyde when it mattered:

This is really getting old. So Northwestern played well for most of the game, but they couldn't stop Carlos Hyde (who is really good at football). Also Kain Colter looked like he might have gotten a first down on 4th and 1 in OSU territory late in the game, but that might also be the booze talking.

For Land-Grant Holyland, Hyde was the story for the Buckeyes, as he almost single-handedly brought them back:

With Hall out, shuttling backs in and out wouldn't have been a bad strategy. Hyde has only played a couple games, there's a lot of depth at running back, and using guys like Rod Smith wouldn't have been a bad move. Yet Hyde was a BOSS, running for 168 yards and three second half scores.

Non-Conference Opponents:

South Florida 26, Cincinnati 20 - South Florida got blown out by FCS McNeese State and was winless coming in, but blocked a field goal and returned it for a touchdown as well as returned a fumble for a touchdown as Cincy suffered an awful loss.

Youngstown State 35, Indiana State 24 - Shakir Bell was back, but rushed for only 17 yards as the Trees fell to 1-4 after losing their conference opener.

Notre Dame 37, Arizona State 34 - Tommy Rees had 279 yards and three touchdowns, but the Irish still almost blew this one after getting a late pick-six from Dan Fox.

Northern Illinois 38, Kent State 24 - Darrell Hazell's old team did better against NIU than his new team as they picked off Jordan Lynch twice. Cameron Stingily ran for 266 yards and twos cores in the win.