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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 6 of Big Ten Football

Michigan's defense is rolling and would probably force Purdue into negative points somehow.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

We, as Purdue fans, have reached the point where we just want the season to be over. We are halfway through and it does not look like another win is in sight. This includes a third straight loss to Indiana, something that has not happened in 68 years.

Remember, it is 32 days to basketball season.

There is still Big Ten football to discuss, however, and this past weekend had a full slate of seven games.

Ohio State 49, Maryland 21

For a moment it looked like Ohio State was going to continue its struggles. They were tied 21-21 in the third quarter, but turned it on for an easy four touchdown win:

Maryland tied the game up early in the third quarter, but Ohio State would regain the lead midway through the quarter, on a 48-yard touchdown pass from Cardale Jones to Jalin Marshall. The Buckeyes would add another score to open up the score to 35-21, after a J.T. Barrett goal-line touchdown. After that, it was all Ohio State, as they would go on to win the game 49-28.

The bigger news for Maryland is that Randy Edsall was fired Sunday morning, bringing the Big Ten Coaches Fired count to 2:

Maryland will pay Edsall about $2.6 million to walk away - $2.1 million in salary this season, plus a $500,000 buyout negotiated as part of a three-year extension Edsall signed in June.

Michigan State 31, Rutgers 24

A touchdown with 43 seconds left, and Rutgers spiking the ball on 4th down, sealed another too-close-for-comfort win for the Spartans:

A win is still a win - despite the injuries, the gaffes, and the apparent (lack of) quality on this team, they're still undefeated and have won 32 out of the last 35 games.

Rutgers, of course lost in Rutgers fashion:

Last night's game was the definition of a heartbreaker.  There was no fairy tale happy ending at High Point Solutions Stadium. Rutgers was the servant boy who loved Cinderella all along, only to have the prince win her over and smash his dreams at the end.   However, last night was also something else. For those that have felt the dark cloud over this program for the past 8 weeks, last night was a clearing of the skies.  Sure, there were some bad plays made and frustrating calls, including the 4th down spike at the 50 yard line.  Paul James had one carry all game after his 72 yard jaunt.  The Rutgers defense gave up another last minute, game losing drive, including a 4th and long play.  However, I choose to focus on the positives of this Rutgers performance, against one of the best college football teams of the past three years, who have won 31 of their last 34 games.

Michigan 38, Northwestern 0

Holy crap is the Michigan defense good. They have now shut out three straight opponents (two of them ranked), haven't given up a point in B1G play, and have given up just 14 points total since losing to Utah:

Heading into the weekend, Northwestern was all the rage. They were ranked #13! They had just shut out Minnesota! The 12-point spread for Michigan was way too high, and these two teams always play close games*, so take the free money! The asterisk in the previous sentence was for the fact that these close games involved Brady Hoke's Michigan teams. And unfortunately for our calculator-watch-wearing guests, that is no longer the case.

Northwestern's momentum came to a screeching halt as their own pretty good defense was shredded:

The Wildcats' offense ranks 93rd nationally, according to S&P+, and it's running even fewer successful plays — defined as 50 perecent of first down yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down and 100 percent on third down — than last year, ranking 113th in that category. NU has a potentially explosive quarterback in Thorson, and he's shown his ability to make big throws, but the Wildcats don't even let him throw the ball downfield (NU ranks 89th in explosiveness).

Iowa 29, Illinois 20

Illinois may not be that bad, but Iowa now has sole possession of first place in the West as they are likely the favorite, especially with a road win over Wisconsin already notched:

So yeah: Jordan Canzeri.  JORDAN FREAKIN' CANZERI.  He carried the ball 43 (!!!) times for 256 yards and one touchdown -- and tacked on two receptions for 15 yards, including a 17-yard screen pass that gave Iowa a lead they would never give up.  The 43 carries was the most by an Iowa running back -- ever.  The 256 yards was the third-most rushing yards for an Iowa running back, behind Tavian Banks' 314 yards against Tulsa and Ed Podolak's 286 yards against Northwestern.  But Canzeri's performance might have been the best of the bunch, given the quality of the opponent (Illinois was 33rd in the nation, giving up 126 rushing yards per game before today) and just how important all those yards were.  Iowa needed damn near all of those yards to come away with a win.  All hail Canzeri.  We're gonna be watching this play a lot, I'm guessing:

Illinois is playing well in Big Ten play with a couple of competitive games and a win over Nebraska. Their defense is probably the best story:

This was an incredible performance by the Fighting Illini defense. Sure, Jordan Canzeri racked up over 200 yards on the ground, but the penetration from the defensive line was something we haven't seen for quite some time.

It all starts with Jihad Ward, Dawuane Smoot, Chunky Clements and Rob Bain up front. Iowa twice had first-and-goal from inside the 5-yard line, but the unit stepped up to the challenge and allowed a combined three points during those two possessions. There was also an ample amount of pressure being placed on Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard this afternoon; the Illini lost containment on him a few times, but they more than made up for it by recording four sacks.

Penn State 29, Indiana 7

Black Shoe Diaries called this game their most complete of the season:

Coming into Saturday's game, Indiana's pass defense was ranked the second lowest in the country, an obvious weakness Penn State was looking to exploit. The Nittany Lions almost did, too, on the first play of the game, with Christian Hackenberg lobbing a bomb down the left sideline to Chris Godwin, but he under-threw the wide receiver. On the very next play, third string running back Nick Scott -- getting his first start over injured RBs Akeel Lynch and Saquon Barkley -- broke through a hole in the middle for a 35 yard run. However, Penn State's first drive stalled after a sack and two incomplete passes from Hackenberg.

For Indiana, injuries, especially at quarterback again, are stopping a really good season:

Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard are not healthy enough to play. Forget all you've heard Kevin Wilson say, forget all you've read about the injuries to the Hoosiers' top options at quarterback and running back: neither were healthy enough to play. Both traveled to Happy Valley and dressed for the game but neither played a single snap. And despite an in-game injury to Zander Diamont and the ineffectiveness of Devine Redding, Kevin Wilson didn't send either into the game while it was still winnable. Ultimately, you have to trust the coaching staff to have evaluated what they've heard from the trainers and the player to make the right decision, and not second-guess based on what they may or may not have said to the media. Kevin Wilson, and football coaches everywhere, get hilariously secretive and duplicitous about injuries and until we see either take the field, we can safely assume they're too hurt to play.

Wisconsin 23, Nebraska 21

Wisconsin wins on a 46-yard field goal with four seconds left, so of course Nebraska was involved:

The margin of error for winning is pretty small in big-time college football. After a close loss last week against Iowa, Wisconsin was able to come away with a hard-fought 23-20 victory over Nebraska Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. For the Huskers, it was another heartbreaking loss, as all four of their losses have come on the last possession of the game.

For Nebraska, it was a fourth stomach punch loss in a season full of them:

Nebraska had their hopes raised late in the fourth quarter when fullback Andy Janovich ran through tacklers and found open field to score on a 55-yard touchdown run to put Nebraska ahead 21-20.

Nebraska fans knew the game wasn't over. Janovich scored with 3:38 left, giving the Badgers far too much time. Wisconsin got the ball back, marched downfield against a somewhat gassed defense and got themselves into field goal range.

Minnesota 41, Purdue 13

Minnesota was missing several starters and reserves, but still had their best game of the season:

I was pretty frustrated at halftime. Minnesota's offense hadn't really done that much. The defense had played well overall, but their one bad drive to start the game had given Purdue the chance to be in the game. We'd even missed a field goal. I definitely thought Minnesota could win the game, but it felt like we'd all leave feeling unsatisfied by the end. Instead?

We saw 41 straight Minnesota points.

Let's go to Boiled Sports, which called it utter failure:

What's astonishing to me is how we can all have low expectations... we can see years of bad football and adjust and not expect anything great. And yet, somehow, some way... they still manage to be disappointing.

As we've said before, it's not just that they're going to start the year 1-7 — it's the way they do it. Losing games they should have in hand, only to come back and give us all hope last week, outscoring MSU 21-3 in the second half. And then following that up with this steaming pile of cow turds, including being outscored 28-0 in the third quarter alone.

Minnesota couldn't muster a single point last week against a Northwestern team that just got pasted 38-0 by Michigan. It looks like it took John Shoop three games to ruin Blough — as B-dowd said, a new record!

Non-conference Opponents:

Marshall 31, Southern Miss 10 - Marshall is at least 5-1 with a loss only to Ohio.

South Dakota State 24, Indiana State 7 - Step up, Trees! They lost to a backup QB this week.

Virginia Tech 28, North Carolina State 13 - The Hokies had a 21 point second quarter to get their first ACC win of the year.

Bowling Green 62, Massachusetts 38 - Matt Johnson threw for 450 yards and 5 TDs.