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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 6 Of Big Ten Football

Doesn't matter. Purdue won!

Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

What the hell has gotten into Northwestern? Just two weeks ago it looked like they were in line for a 1-11 season. Now they are leading the West Division and have a huge game with Minnesota for the Division lead this week. They are easily the biggest surprise in conference play. Seeing them run the table in league play might be possible, especially with two impressive victories under their belts.

It also appears that we have two dead coaches walking in Brady Hoke and Tim Beckman. Beckman is almost certainly gone, as he could easily finish his tenure at 1-23 in B1G play. Hoke may stay, but only because of the incompetence of the organization above him.

Ohio State 52, Maryland 24

I thought that Maryland would have a better showing here, but instead it was an Ohio State beatdown:

But what about the actual football team? Maryland struggled, falling behind 14-0 early, shooting themselves in the foot with a critical interception out of their own end zone as they attempted to make a comeback before halftime, and then obliterated whatever chances they had with turnovers and their inability to stop Ohio State's power rush game. The Terps had four turnovers, one returned for a touchdown and another two that nearly were. They were outgained 533-310, outrushed 269-66, and came out completely overmatched along the line of scrimmage, a foreboding sight, given the depth of strong defensive lines in the Big Ten East.

Maryland might have a quarterback controversy on its hands after getting beat down:

Maryland has a bye week ahead, but when they the Terps host Iowa on Oct. 18, might they have a different man under center? In his postgame press conference, Edsall indicated not, but the quarterback position will surely be scrutinized by fans and media alike. In a bit of a paradox, Edsall backed Brown as his starter while acknowledging that Rowe gave his passing offense a better chance start churning against Ohio State.

Purdue 38, Illinois 27

Wins are so much more fun to talk about, and Boiled Sports breaks out a Battle of Hastings reference to honor Saturday's win:

Usually, when two bad teams meet, one of two things happens: the offenses either implode or explode. Purdue and Illinois combined for 1066 yards today (ooh, Battle of Hastings), so you can guess which we saw. Four Boilers had carries of 40+ yards; Austin Appleby completed 75% of his passes and did not turn the ball over once. The Purdue return game was shut down for a change (4 total returns for 15 yards), but the Boilers blocked a late Illinois field goal attempt and saw the Illini miss an extra point that could have turned out to be big if the Purdue defense hadn't come up with a late goal-line stand.

Things aren't so fun in the Champaign Room:

He's had two and a half years to rebuild this program, and with it he's produced a single B1G win with little to no improvement whatsoever. The team is flat and unprepared every week. Illinois has been in a holding pattern of futility for years, waiting for Beckman to make a step forward. He hasn't. The waiting is over, we restart from here.

Indiana 49, North Texas 24

Former Boiler Reggie Pegram only had 14 yards on six carries as the Hoosiers rolled to move to 3-2:

Three years ago, Indiana traveled to North Texas in Kevin Wilson's first season as head coach. Despite a fourth-quarter rally, the Hoosiers lost that game, 24-21. Yesterday's blowout 49-24 victory in Memorial Stadium showed how far the Hoosiers have come in the past four seasons under coach Wilson. However, the win also showed that there still is room for improvement this year as the Hoosiers enter the meat of their Big Ten schedule. The Hoosiers finish the nonconference part of their schedule with a 3-1 record, and are now 3-2 on the season.

Northwestern 20, Wisconsin 14

This was simply a shocking, shocking win, and it is not impossible now to think of Northwestern as a contender in the West:

We've written this twice already, but it's becoming more true each week. Wisconsin was believed to be the best team in the division heading into this game, and how the Badgers have lost to Northwestern. Iowa, like NU, can't move the ball. Nebraska has struggled at times and nearly lost to McNeese State. Minnesota's offense is awful. And Purdue and Illinois are Purdue and Illinois.

After a loss like this there are definitely some questions in Madison:

With the loss, the Badgers fall to 3-2 and 0-1 in Big Ten play. Where do they go from here? Saturday's loss all but eliminates them from College Football Playoff contention and sends them to the cellar of the Big Ten West standings. And after losing to Northwestern despite 259 rushing yards from Gordon, Badgers fans can't be too confident about the team's chances -- barring major adjustments -- against teams like Nebraska and Iowa. I've said many times that, after losing the season opener to LSU, Wisconsin needed to roll undefeated through its "cupcake" conference schedule and win a Big Ten title in order to crack the top four. So much for cupcakes.

Rutgers 26, Michigan 24

Rutgers was able to build a lead on the Wolverines and hang on for their first Big Ten victory:

Rutgers was picked to finish dead last in the conference by many pundits in the preseason, as everyone believed the Knights would struggle with the step up in competition. Now, RU is sitting at 5-1 on the season, including 1-1 in the Big Ten after claiming their first conference victory and need just one more win to become bowl eligible.

It was just a sad ending to a terrible week for Michigan fans:

For the first time this season the offense wasn't the major issue against a power-5 conference team.  Michigan moved Devin Gardner back into the starting lineup and switched the game's emphasis to quick passes early before pounding the ball out of shotgun zone runs in the second half.  The Wolverines ended the day with 336 yards of total offense and 8.1 yards per pass attempt and 4.5 yards per rush.  It wasn't a stellar performance, but Michigan had more play-to-play success, converted four third downs out of 11, and only turned the ball over once.

Michigan State 27, Nebraska 22

Purdue's next opponent was rolling before giving up 19 straight points and nearly succumbing to a massive comeback:

For the first 30 minutes, the defense finally began to look like the defenses of each of the last two years that has Narduzzi near or at the top of the lists of ADs looking for head coaches in bailing out the offense by not allowing Nebraska to score a single point off three turnovers after Connor Cook and company turned the ball over twice deep in their own territory and Macgarrett Kings, Jr. muffed a fair catch deep in Spartan territory.

Corn Nation was at least encouraged by the comeback:

Nebraska tried an unsuccessful onside kick, but Michigan State was unable to run out the clock when Randy Gregory forced Langford out of bounds. The Spartans tried a field goal (with Sadler holding), but the kick doinked off the goal posts and fell short, giving Nebraska the ball at their own 20 yard line with just 1:07 left in the game with no timeouts.  On first down, Tommy Armstrong overthrew Abdullah, who was wide open with nobody in front of him for 20 yards.  But on second down, Armstrong threw a perfect pass to Alonzo Moore, who streaked 43 yards to the Spartans 37 yard line.  Two plays later, Armstrong again found Moore in the end zone, but the ball popped loose into the band as Moore hit the turf.  But the game ended on the next play when Armstrong's pass was intercepted by Trae Waynes with 30 seconds left.

Non-conference opponents:

Toledo 20, Western Michigan 19 2OT - The Broncos lost because they missed an extra point in the second overtime.

Central Michigan 28, Ohio 10 - The Chips get their first win since dismantling Purdue.

Notre Dame 17, Stanford 14 - After the last-minute win let the wanking begin.

Southern Illinois 41, South Dakota 10 - SIU remains undefeated against teams not named Purdue.