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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 7 of Big Ten Football

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At least we aren't Indiana or Michigan...

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

This morning we are thankful for Michigan and Indiana, who both epically and memorably choked away sure victories at home. They are distracting us from the fact that, as of this writing, it is 11:23am on October 19th and John Shoop is still employed by Purdue University. If there was even a semblance that Purdue cared about football he would have been gone weeks ago, but when you basically decide to punt an entire game away from an offensive perspective it needs to be the final straw.

As usual, I expect nothing to happen.

Here is the rest of the Big Ten:

Ohio State 38, Penn State 10

It might be a little late, but the Buckeyes appear to have the rolling death machine fired up:

When Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett takes over for Cardale Jones in the redzone, the Buckeyes are a perfect 11-of-11 in converting drives into 10 touchdowns. Jones struggled to start the game, completing only one of four passes in the first couple of drives, including some wide open misses and a near interception. But once Barrett stepped in, the offense had a complete shift in attitude. The up-tempo game with Barrett at the helm catapulted the Buckeyes into a three-score lead entering halftime. Barrett had two rushing touchdowns, both coming on read options at the end of the first half.

For Penn state, it was a game where the Nittany Lions did not bring the level they needed to bring:

Early in the week, I was discussing the game with a good friend. He told me something that has stuck with me since the end of the game. Penn State needed an A+ performance to beat Ohio State, while the Buckeyes only would need about a C. OSU got their C, maybe a B-, but Penn State was not much above a C+, at best. At this point, the Lions need to play a damn near perfect game to play with the nation's best. The margin for error (holding calls, dropped passes, missed receivers) is so small, that they simply cannot afford to miss chances for points. Meanwhile, Ohio State was able to spend over a quarter plodding along, with an ineffective quarterback, and then run off 21 unanswered to take control. Yes, PSU deserves some credit for OSU's early struggles, but Penn State just is not good enough, yet, to let the best team in the country hang around.

Michigan State 27, Michigan 23

If you don't know what happened by now, well, you probably aren't a college football fan. In which case, why are you reading this? The Spartans officially stole this one:

Dantonio vs. Harbaugh is going to be something fun to watch for many years. The immediate turnaround engineered by Michigan by Harbaugh is reminiscent of the turnaround MSU had in 2007 under Mark Dantonio, in fact. It was massively obvious that even the (largely) same group of guys RM had in 2014 had made crazy improvements. They'll get even better after a few years of Harbaugh and the acquisition of a more effective quarterback.

Michigan fans are left wondering just what the hell happened:

Okay, before I go on, I must say that I have looked forward to writing this column each week. This time, it's different though. Yeah, Michigan lost, but it isn't that Michigan lost. It's the way that they lost. As a kid, I would have cried. But, as a Michigan and Detroit fan, I have developed pretty thick skin. Even so, this loss was a punch in the gut. I was at the game, and, after the play, I just stood up and stared at the field for a solid five minutes with my jaw dropped. This one will take some time to get over, and it doesn't help when the final play is shown over and over, everywhere you look.

Iowa 40, Northwestern 10

Either Northwestern is hitting their swoon or Iowa is swinging the biggest stick in the West right now:

Okay, no more dirty tricks like going more than a decade into the past. Let's try this one again. [clears throat] It's seven weeks into the season, and Iowa is 7-0 and surging up the polls. It's a surprise, but it's no fluke or illusion; the Hawkeyes have gone to two of their toughest Big Ten opponents (plus the always-treacherous trip to Iowa State) and beaten all three while flexing some serious defensive muscle. The rushing attack has already featured a pair of backs, largely due to necessity, and the brash and fearless QB has both a steady possession receiver (Mr. Third Down, we could call him, for his ability to move the chains) and a deep target with incredible hands, to say nothing of multiple NFL-caliber tight ends. The defensive line has taken control of multiple games, even ones where Iowa's offense has struggled to get going and needed the help, and the secondary is led by the Big Ten's best, meanest cover corner (to say nothing of the other three rangy playmakers). The sky is truly the limit for this Hawkeye squad, who has the national media buzzing about contending for the National Championship.

After starting the year with a great defense Northwestern has now been stomped in consecutive games:

If you can't stop the run, you can't win. It's one of the most basic tenets of football, and it's especially true in the Big Ten, where hard-nosed football reigns. And Saturday, Northwestern was soft. At the line of scrimmage, Northwestern was dominated. The Wildcats knew Iowa would try to pound the run and they couldn't handle it. Missed gap assignments, whiffed tackles and pancake blocks were plentiful. Akrum Wadley, who came into this game with 221 career yards, ran for 204 and four touchdowns. As a team, the Hawkeyes ran for nearly 300 yards. Winning games in any conference -- let alone one that emphasizes running the ball -- is tough when you give up 294 yards on the ground, 293 of which came from guys not named Jordan Canzeri, who went down with an ugly injury early.

Wiscosnin 24, Purdue 7

Wisconsin's offense didn't necessarily play well and still won:

Wisconsin dominated the first half in yards, time of possession (20:22 to 9:38) and other statistics, yet it was still a one-score game until the end of the third quarter.

Stave's interception was due to pressure by the Boilermakers' pass rush. Wheelwright was heading to Stave's left, though it didn't appear he'd get the first with several Purdue defenders in front of him. The Badgers were knocking on the door in the red zone on Purdue's 16-yard line. The return by safety Leroy Clark set up Purdue's lone score.

The Badgers also missed another solid drive in a two-minute look at the end of the first half. Stave drove the Badgers down in 10 plays to the Purdue 17 to set up sophomore kicker Rafael Gaglianone's 35-yard attempt -- which was blocked.

For more fire from Purdue, here is Boiled Sports:

Coach Shoop's plan was obvious: Never pass...never, ever, ever (except after the game's out of hand). Entering the third quarter, Blough had completed three passes...and one of those was an underhanded shuffle toss. So as the modern football world continues to march towards more high octane offenses and more points, Hazell and Shoop have decided the wave of the future will be staying in or around single digits (while holding opponents to 20-50 points).

Rutgers 55, Indiana 52

Was this a heroic comeback by Rutgers or an epic collapse by Indiana? Let's ask Rutgers first:

Rutgers followed one of the worst quarters they have played in a while with one of the best, going for 200 yds in the 4th, and the D finally put together a few stops. Laviano looked pretty good all day, and Carroo is a savage. Can we please find a way to get Agudosi on the field at the same time as number 4? I like the attempts to get the ball in Janarion's hands in space through little pop passes to the flat. Also like that Flood finally rode the hot hand at RB and got away from the rigid rotation, but it took too long.

After watching the end of this I kind of agree with Crimson Quarry in that it was an epic collapse:

For pretty much any other team in college football, this would be game over. If you showed the third-quarter score to someone unfamiliar with Indiana football (and there are a lot of folks who are), they'd probably think this would be an easy stroll to a victory for the Hoosiers.

But if you showed this score to someone familiar with Indiana football, they'd tell you that the game wasn't even close to being over. And they'd be right. And the loss yesterday was indicative of everything that has frustrated me through watching this team over the past few years. Even worse, the loss happened after Leante Carroo, the Rutgers WR who was probably the best player on the field among both teams, left the game after suffering an injury.

Nebraska 48, Minnesota 25

Purdue next opponent, Nebraska (who has struggled) went to Minnesota and scored 48 points on the same beaten up defense that easily held Purdue at bay:

On the second play of the quarter - just as the TV announcers were talking about playing in conservatively and going for the field goal, Tommy threw a touchdown pass to DPE. The pass was tipped by the defensive back, but Pierson-El showed great concentration sticking with the play, pulling it down and knowing where the sideline was. A personal foul on Minny was declined and the TD stood. Huskers lead 38-14.

Minnesota looked like the Minnesota team that has played everyone except Purdue so far:

Nebraska has had their issues with putting teams away this season losing four games in the final seconds of the game. Today they did not fall victim to another end of game meltdown as they took the lead over the Golden Gophers, extended it and put them away.  Behind 471 yards of total offense, the Cornhuskers were never really threatened, taking home the coveted $5 Bits of Broken Chair rivalry trophy.

Non-conference opponents:

Marshall 33, Florida Atlantic 17 - Marshall is now 6-1 and appears to be rolling.

Indiana State 39, Southern Illinois 36 - The Trees get a critical win in the MVFC to stay alive for a playoff bid.

Miami 30, Virginia Tech 20 - I watched most of this game for obvious reasons and VaTech looked nowhere near as good as they did against Purdue.

Bowling Green 59, Akron 10 - Matt Johnson had 5 TDs as Bowling Green is now 5-2.