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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 6 of Big Ten Football

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Good God, what did Michigan do?

Purdue v Illinois Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Aren’t Monday’s a lot more fun after winning football games? This is especially true after Big Ten game and rivalry games. With two more victories Purdue can now tie the all-time series with Illinois, so we’re coming for you, Illini!

With fresh eyes let’s take a look around the Big Ten:

Purdue 34, Illinois 31 OT

Our friends at Boiled Sports were a lot like us in that they were measured after the win, but it still feels good to win:

Make no mistake, Purdue beat a pretty lousy team in the now 1-4 Illini. But I didn't think they'd win this one in the wake of last week's lambasting at the hands of the mediocre Terps from Maryland. Chances are, you didn't either, if you're a Purdue fan. In my straw poll among pals that root for Purdue, I could only find one who thought the good guys would win the game (atta boy, Ron).

The Champaign Room is already calling it rock bottom for the Illini, and I have to agree because Darrell Hazell outcoached Lovie Smith:

This is a Purdue team that just surrendered 50 points to Maryland last week. This Purdue team was held to just 10 rushing yards. I understand that it’s difficult to operate with your backup quarterback, but this isn’t a game that you should ever lose. This has the feeling of 2012 all over again, and it’s really, really hard to pencil in any more wins on the season. This is rock bottom -- just five games into the Lovie Smith era.

Ohio State 38, Indiana 17

The Buckeyes had to work for it, which might have been a good thing in the long run according to Land-Grant Holyland:

This weekend was the first time in the 2016 season where the Buckeyes looked mortal. During College GameDay on Saturday, ESPN put up a graphic with different stats about the Bucks, showing that Ohio State ranks first in the country in "game control." ESPN defines game control as the "chance that an average Top 25 team would control games from start to end the way this team did, given the schedule" and about the team's changing win likelihood throughout the game. Unlike the Oklahoma game, it wasn't clear whether Ohio State totally had complete game control against Indiana.

Indiana played well for the most part and was in the game into the second half, which is big for their program going forward:

After a yet another hard-fought loss at the hands of Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes, you should feel as good as you’ve felt about an Indiana football team and what’s left for this team to accomplish since Bill Mallory left Bloomington. And, yes, we’re talking about more than just 6 wins.

Michigan 78, Rutgers 0

Michigan killed a guy! No, really! Rutgers was just eviscerated for over 3 hours at home:

When it was all said and done, six different Wolverines found the end zone. Michigan outgained Rutgers 600 yards to 39, and the Scarlet Knights earned just two first downs and finished 0-for-17 on third down conversion attempts.

How do you respond if you’re Rutgers? You have been outscored 136-0 over the last two weeks. At least they get Illinois next:

Well then. We are either really bad or these teams are ridiculously good. I think it is a combination of both. After getting shutout two straight weeks, one of which was at home under the lights in an alleged stripe-out, I am more down on this team than ever. Coach Chris Ash listened to the fans and pulled Laviano after a poor start. Unfortunately, Zach Allen did very poorly himself.

Iowa 14, Minnesota 7

Iowa has now won a second Big Ten game 14-7, but this time they get a pig:

I said that on Friday, and to my amazement (and probably yours, too), the Hawkeyes seemed to, for one game at least, fixed some of their issues. The defense that was giving up an average of 182 rushing yards per game held Minnesota to only 102, which is less than half of the 228 rushing yards the Gophers were averaging previously. Minnesota’s 268 total yards was the lowest total allowed by Iowa all season. Even Iowa State managed to gain 291 yards on the Hawkeyes.

The Gophers still have some questions and could see their season start to slip away a bit:

The Gophers are the most penalized team in the Big Ten. You’re not going to win a lot of football games when you’re the best in your conference at drawing a flag. Minnesota amassed eight penalties for 58 yards compared to four penalties for 32 yards for Iowa. And most of the penalties were on offense, where a holding or a false start or a chop block penalty can stall an entire drive. The Gophers have been undisciplined all season long and the onus is on the coaching staff to address that.

Penn State 38, Maryland 14

Saquan Barkley ran for 202 yards against the terrapins, which was more than 20 times what Purdue gained on the ground against them:

The numbers were flipped by the end of the day as Penn State rushed for 372 yards while allowing just over half of what the Terps had averaged, 170. Entering the game quarterback Trace McSorley had just 105 total rushing yards on the season, a point of contention for many fans of the team who wished the sophomore signal-caller would keep the ball more often on the option read. McSorley finished with 85 yards rushing for the day, nearly duplicating his season total. Saquon Barkley went for 202 yards on the ground on a hefty 31 carries. Penn State as a team rushed the ball 62 times.

As for Maryland, we can pump the brakes on them a bit. They were about the opposite of what we saw against Purdue:

If you doubled Maryland’s passing yardage total and added it to the Terps’ rushing yards, the sum would still be less than Penn State’s 372 yards on the ground. Saquon Barkley (202 yards on 32 carries, both career highs) was in peak form, and there’s only so much that can be done about that, but Trace McSorley’s 81-yard performance is worrisome. Maryland has struggled to contain mobile quarterbacks this season. McSorley scrambled for several first downs, including one on what looked like a designed quarterback draw on 3rd-and-13.

BYU 31, Michigan State 14

Good lord, what is wrong with Michigan State? They looked awful:

Head coach Mark Dantonio said it best during his postgame press conference in that it’s a lot easier to slide backwards than it is to climb forwards. The latter is what he hopes to get the Spartans doing more going forward, but it’s going to take a lot of work to get there.

Non-Conference Opponents:

Eastern Kentucky 31, Southeast Missouri State 16 – Bennie Coney had 337 yards passing a 4 TDs for the Colonels as they got their second win.

Connecticut 20, Cincinnati 9 – The bearcats had 315 yards passing, but managed only three second quarter field goals in the loss.

Nevada 27, Fresno State 22 – Wyatt Demps caught three TD passes in the win for the Wolf Pack.