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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 5 of Big Ten Football

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A quick look at the week that was in Big Ten football.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

In a year where Hazell should have Purdue much better and the west open for the taking Purdue’s struggles are doubly troubling. By now we expected Hazell’s complete rebuild to be thriving. Instead, we came down to the final minutes against a pretty bad Nevada team. The drubbing by Maryland showed that Purdue is nowhere near being competitive, let alone winning in the Big Ten. It made for a dreary Saturday, but others in the conference enjoyed themselves.

Maryland 50, Purdue 7

To see what it is like to win in a rout on Homecoming check out Testudo Times, who had a ball while Purdue floundered:

Johnson’s performance stood out, but each of Maryland’s six running backs did his job against Purdue. 400-yard games don’t come around often, even against lackluster defenses, and they require a balanced attack. In his return from suspension, Wes Brown only had two yards on five carries, but Maryland didn’t need him. Harrison, Kenneth Goins, Jake Funk and quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome all averaged over five yards per carry. Most games won’t turn out like this, but Maryland will need contributions from everyone if it wants to hang with the top dogs in the Big Ten.

Our friends at Boiled Sports were as frustrated as we were:

But listen, I just didn’t get to watch enough tape this week. The VCR has been on the fritz, you know how it goes. Their dubious “runs up the middle” caught me by surprise, and turns out there are ways for Private Blough to move the ball forward using these things called “throws”.

Those darn Terrapins boarded the ship, as I stood stoicly in the cabin. I didn’t know Purdue fans had more soul I could flatten.

Ohio State 58, Rutgers 0

As predicted, there was a lot of blood:

Ohio State had six times Rutgers' total yards, averaged over five yards per attempt more both rushing and passing, pulled their starters mid-way through the third quarter and held Rutgers to just three completed passes for only 2.1 yards per attempt. Only one Rutgers receiver managed to catch a pass. And this was against a conference opponent.

While Purdue sucked, at least we scored points, unlike Rutgers:

This one actually started off the opposite than it has most of the season. It was only a 6-0 Buckeye lead after the first quarter. Chris Laviano looked good as did Robert Martin and the defense. We were able to move the ball and we intercepted Heisman candidate J.T. Barrett on his first drive.

Then the rest of the game happened...

J.T. Barrett and Ohio State scored three touchdowns before the half, putting them up 30-0. Barrett would run and throw his way as he pleased through the Knights’ defense. We were doing a pretty good job tackling and in coverage, he just put the ball in perfect spots. It also does not help when Ohio State’s Offensive Line opened up holes the size of cars.

Michigan 14, Wisconsin 7

This was a dull, dull game, but Michigan won in a battle of top 10 teams:

We touched on the kicking game above, and that is probably the biggest concern as we head into the meat of the Big Ten schedule. You simply cannot leave points on the field in games and expect to win. It worked out today, but that will not always be the case.

For Wisconsin, the Badgers are still in good shape to win the west, and get a week off before a huge home game against Ohio State:

I hate to be obvious here, but the Badger defense, even without Vince Biegel is elite. They held a Michigan team that averaged north of 50 points a game to 14, with what seemed like every UM possession starting in Badger territory. They were able to force three field goals, and gave up 14 points, that should be good enough to win a game. However, it unfortunately wasn't enough on Saturday.

Nebraska 31, Illinois 16

The Cornhuskers were in trouble in this one at home before a late rally secured a win:

I was impressed with how the coaches and team responded when it seemed like things were unraveling. The offensive line found some new life, Terrell Newby hung onto the ball and the Blackshirts locked down the visitors. I for one welcome our new nerves-of-steel overlords.

Purdue’s next opponent, the Illini, saw things fall apart on an 18 play drive by the Huskers:

On a drive that can only be described as ‘death by 1,000 cuts’ Nebraska took the lead by holding the ball for more than 10 minutes on an 18-play drive. What made it even more frustrating was the fact that Illinois had the drive stopped on two separate occasions: Chunky Clements sacked Tommy Armstrong on 3rd-and-18 but pulled him down from behind for a horsecollar penalty, then Darius Mosely was whistled for pass interference while breaking up a pass on fourth down. Nebraska converted another fourth down inside the Illinois 5-yard line, and the play stood upon further review, thanks to a potentially favorable spot from the officials. From there, Illinois went 3-and-out, and Nebraska took another 11 plays for a backbreaking touchdown.

Indiana 24, Michigan State 21 (OT)

The Hoosiers recover from last week’s defeat for a huge win that saved their bowl hopes:

In the end, though, this wasn’t like years before. The Hoosiers did complete the upset, a rare feat considering they were 1-24 in their last 25 meetings against Top 25 teams prior to last night, giving students all the (unnecessary) reason to rush the field they would have needed.

The Only Colors was certainly not pleased that the defending B1G champs are now 0-2 in the league:

The play calling was suspect. MSU ran the ball 41 times and threw it 35, which is a good ratio, but 11 of those runs were by O’Connor, tying LJ Scott for the team lead. Why waste carries on him? MSU has three very good running backs (although Gerald Holmes field vision continues to be a major issue) and O’Connor is far from a dynamic runner. Can he get the job done when he needs to? Sure but he should not be toting the rock as often as Scott.

Northwestern 38, Iowa 31

Since both teams lost to Missouri Valley Teams, Northwestern now gets the honor of finishing third in the MVFC:

Today, there were also responses to bigger issues this season. And yes, issues remain, and perhaps new ones emerged — the special teams coverage units were downright awful — but the response to the big-picture issues facing this team was truly impressive. It was a response that was necessary for the Wildcats to win at a place they hadn’t won at since 2009.

Iowa’s hopes of repeating as the west champion are now likely done:

When some national pundits were saying that this OL would be one of the best in the country, I was hesitant to go that far, but I did think they would be solid, as are most Ferentz OL’s. James Daniels and Sean Welsh are almost certainly going to be in the NFL, so the talent is there. But my God, this OL is a freakin’ embarrassment right now. Northwestern literally doubled their season output in sacks with 6(!). This goes along with paving the way for an offense that put up a whopping 283 yards of total offense. For comparison, Nebraska went for 556 yards last week.

Penn State 39, Minnesota 36 (OT)

The second OT game of the day saw the Nittany Lions win on just one play of their OT possession:

There has been a lot of talk lately about coach James Franklin and his need to secure a notable victory. Some call it a signature win. An overtime victory, one gained after trailing by ten points in the second half to a solid Minnesota team, should qualify as a big win. While some may be underwhelmed with a win versus Minnesota, taking the ‘hey, Penn State is supposed to beat the Gophers, that’s what we expect to happen’ mentality, others will see this as a giant leap forward for the young team.

For Minnesota, it is a heartbreaking loss after having a late lead:

Coming into the season I felt there was a quiet confidence about this team and I picked them to go 10-2. With their schedule I felt 10-2 was attainable. I chose one of the two losses coming against Penn State. My thinking was it was the first road game of the season and the first time at Beaver Stadium for all of the players. It can be an intimidating place to play if you’ve never played there before. I am writing this on the Sunday after the game. I have given my daughter her morning hug and one could then assume I have accepted this loss. But I want to be very clear here, I am STEAMING HOT about this loss.

Non-Conference Opponents:

Tennessee Tech 33, Eastern Kentucky 30 - Remember Michael Birdsong, the guy that beat Purdue at Marshall last year? He lead his team to an overtime win in conference play after transferring to Tennessee Tech.

South Florida 45, Cincinnati 20 - I really wish Danny Hope was still at USF, just to have an interesting measuring stick here.

Hawaii 38, Nevada 17 - Guys, I think it turns out that Nevada is just a really, really bad team.