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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 7 of Big Ten Football

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Why is Rutgers?

NCAA Football: Purdue at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

That was a fun one yesterday. It has been a while since Purdue has absolutely dominated a Big Ten foe. Last year we had the Missouri game out of nowhere, but this is a little different. There is a familiarity there with Illinois because we face them every year. Purdue started a little slowly, gave up an early score, then waxed them in their own house for the next three hours. As always, out game leads off the Whistlestop Tour

Purdue 46, Illinois 7

Illinois is exactly where we were three seasons ago. Remember, Purdue was in year three of Hazell, had a mediocre Illinois coming in for homecoming, and it was a game we needed to at least show a spark in if we were truly turning a corner. It didn’t happen. The Illini absolutely leveled Purdue that day and it pretty much sealed Hazell’s fate. Illinois might now be in the same spot:

This is a real quote from Lovie Smith after the game: “We have a sound defense. We have a sound offense. Sometimes execution doesn’t happen.” Sometimes execution doesn’t happen? You mean like for an entire damn game? Stop lying to my face and insulting our intelligence. This is much worse than any Beckman, “we were only a few plays away” bs. This is either arrogance or delusions of grandeur from Lovie. Probably both.

Ohio State 30, Minnesota 14

This was a close game going into the fourth quarter before the Buckeyes scored 10 points in the last 15 minutes to put it away. Are they vulnerable? Well, the defense is having some issues right now:

The strange thing about this defense, and the thing that makes them a bit difficult to figure out, is that on paper, they haven’t been awful. Ohio State is allowing 19.1 points per game through seven games, good enough for 24th in the country, and only 0.1 more than last season’s defense.

However, as anyone watching the games would know, that really doesn’t reflect the actual performance of the team. Hell, just taking out the two worst teams Ohio State played (Rutgers and Tulane) moves that per game average all the way up to 25 over the other five games. That feels far more reflective of what this defense has done this season.

Minnesota at least had a running back break out for 150+ yards and two scores:

Mohamed Ibrahim. The brightest light for the Gophers in their loss to the Buckeyes was undoubtedly the performance of redshirt freshman running back Mohamed Ibrahim. Averaging a ridiculous 6.8 yards per carry, Ibrahim broke out with 157 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Suddenly, Minnesota could have another formidable pair of running backs to lead their rushing attack when Shannon Brooks returns to action in a couple weeks.

Michigan State 21, Penn State 17

The Nittany Lions are now effectively out of the East race after Michigan State stunned them in the final seconds:

There isn’t much that can be said that will make Penn State fans feel better. There were a number of plays that could have went in favor of the Lions that would have made a difference in the outcome of the game. We can spend the next few days analyzing each first down that wasn’t made, the missed field goal, the play that Trace McSorley was pushed out of bounds to keep the clock running late in the fourth quarter. The dropped interception. They all happened. This is real.

For the Spartans, it was a great recovery after a tough home loss to Northwestern:

Plenty of ugliness, a little help and more guts than can be measured – that’s what it took for the Michigan State Spartans to pull the upset over Penn State in Happy Valley.

Fresh off of a home loss, the Spartans entered the game a double-digit underdog the the Nittany Lions. But the Spartans took their first lead of the game with less than 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter on the Brian Lewerke pass to Felton Davis III for a game-winning touchdown.

Michigan 38, Wisconsin 13

The Wolverines were completely dominant in this one:

People were disturbed by the performance against Notre Dame in Week 1, but that feels like it was lightyears ago despite being only six weeks behind us. Ed Warriner is doing a hell of a job with this group and they had their best showing of the season against a front seven that was depleted. However, it did not matter. Michigan was the hammer all night long and their guys in the trenches opened up some of the biggest holes of the season against the best team they’ve been up against since Week 1.

The Badgers are still favored in the West, but the margin for error is much smaller:

The Wisconsin Badgers were outplayed in seemingly every facet of the football game on Saturday night as they fell to the Michigan Wolverines 38–13. The loss handed Alex Hornibrook only his second road loss as a starter, with both losses coming in Ann Arbor.

Maryland 34, Rutgers 7

The Terps got five interceptions in this game because Rutgers is really, really bad:

Maryland football’s easy win over Rutgers was made even easier by a Scarlet Knights passing performance that will go down as an all-time stinker.

True freshman QB Artur Sitkowski threw 16 passes on the day, and senior Giovanni Rescignothrew one. Rutgers finished with two completions, eight yards passing, five interceptions and zero touchdowns. For Maryland, it was a bright spot as the perils of a Big Ten schedule loom. So let’s rank each of the Scarlet Knights’ attempts to complete a pass on Saturday.

Yes, that is right. Rutgers completed only two passes for eight yards:

I’ll leave you with one thought, imagine how bad these scores would be if Rutgers did not have a guy who never played a game of organized football before this year in Adam Korsak?

Iowa 42, Indiana 16

The Hawkeyes played one of their most complete games of the season and moved into the top 25 as a result:

And until last Saturday, none of them had reached more than 20. So, Nate Stanley actually did something no Iowa quarterback (or combination of QBs) had done under Ferentz: He completed more than 20 passes and kept a yards per completion of at least 15.2.

Stanley’s six touchdown passes is also something that’s never been done under Ferentz.

For Indiana, the Hoosiers are reverting to their old ways after a fast start:

At most schools, Homecoming is a time to head back to the alma mater, talk about all the crazy times in the dorms, what bars you made out with strangers at, and then you get to watch the football team win 49-0 against Division 2 East Central Wyoming Tech or something like that.

At Indiana, you can do most of those things too — except for the last part. And one of the strangest trends in the recent tortured Sisyphean history of Indiana football is the team’s inability to win on Homecoming weekend. In fact, you have to go back to when Bill Lynch was coaching to find a Homecoming victory - 2010 against Arkansas State, in a wild 36-34 nailbiter over the Red Wolves.

Northwestern 34, Nebraska 31 (OT)

Man, I would love to have that season opener back with Blough playing as well as he is right now. The Wildcats needed a big comeback to beat the league’s winless team:

Last week’s victory over Michigan State was an ideal turning point for Northwestern’s season. If all went according to plan, Northwestern would go on to to beat a winless Nebraska, roll over lowly Rutgers and give Wisconsin a run for its money in a showdown to decide the Big Ten West. For the majority of the game Saturday, it looked like the Cornhuskers would ruin that plan.

But, after being down 14 points in the second half, and after coverting two fourth-and-10s on a field goal drive to cut the Cornhusker lead to seven, Northwestern put together a 99.5-yard drive to force overtime, before Drew Luckenbaugh — a walk-on kicker making his first-career start — stepped up to seal the deal with a 37-yard field goal to win 34-31 in overtime.

For the Huskers, it continues to be a nightmare of a year:

In case you didn’t know this is the first time Nebraska is winless after six games in school history. They didn’t mention it at least five times during the game yesterday or anything.

So who or what is to blame? As a fan you are obligated to pick one. I think that is how it works.

Non-Conference Opponents:

Eastern Michigan 28, Toledo 26 – Hey! The Eagles actually won a close game over someone not named Purdue.

Alabama 39, Missouri 10 – Yeah, Alabama is really, really good.

Boston College 38, Louisville 20 – The Eagles have righted the ship and continue to play really well.

Quickie Big Ten Power Rankings

1. Ohio State (7-0, 4-0) – They’re the champs until further notice, and that offense is absolutely scary.

2. Michigan (6-1, 4-0) – I’d really like to see the Wolverines play Notre Dame now instead of in week 1.

3. Iowa (5-1, 2-1) – The Hawkeyes were so close to beating Wisconsin, and if they had, they’d be in the top 15 right now.

4. Penn State (4-2, 1-2) – The Nittany Lions are going to vent in Bloomington.

5. Wisconsin (4-2, 2-1) – I am starting to think we might be able to beat the Badgers in West Lafayette.

6. Michigan State (4-2, 2-1) – Sparty is a hard team to figure out, but winning in Happy Valley was impressive.

7. Maryland (4-2, 2-1) – The Terrapins are two wins from a bowl berth, but the schedule is going to get much harder.

8. Purdue (3-3, 2-1) – I really want those first two games back now, but even if the Boilers lose to Ohio State they could steal the West.

9. Indiana (4-3, 1-3) – Indiana still has to play Michigan and Penn State, so bowl eligibility is not assured. As always it seems, it will hinge on Maryland and Purdue.

10. Northwestern (3-3, 2-1) – Can this team steal the West? They have the tiebreaker over Purdue.

11. Minnesota (3-3, 0-3) – The Gophers have a good defense, but that offense is pretty bad.

12. Illinois (3-3, 1-2) – The Fighting Illini at least have a conference win.

13. Nebraska (0-6, 0-4) – The Cornhuskers are getting closer, but it is going to take a lot of time.

14. Rutgers (1-5, 0-4) – Eight yards passing? Really?