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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 6 of Big Ten Football

Give it up for Wisconsin’s virtual perfect game.

Purdue v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

I have to give it up to the Wisconsin defense, really. The Badgers, like everyone else in the conference, got three non-conference games. They did not give up a single point in any of them. One Jonathan Taylor touchdown would have been enough in each, but he now has three Bundys and the Badgers have the best defense in the conference.

They lead off the Whistlestop Tour.

Wisconsin 48, Kent State 0

The Badgers have now given up 29 points total in five games, which is about as impressive as you can get in modern football:

Taylor although would not return to the game following his fifth score, finishing with 19 carries for 186 yards and three receptions for 29 yards.

This was Taylor’s 27th career game with 100 or more rushing yards. Taylor also moved into third place all-time at Wisconsin, with 4,916 yards, passing Melvin Gordon.

Taylor has done so in less than two and a half seasons.

Ohio State 34, Michigan State 10

The Buckeyes are probably elated that Purdue is 0-2 and they won’t meet them in the Big Ten championship game:

On Saturday night, both the crowd and the home team’s jerseys were blacked out as the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes hosted their first night game of the season as Mark Dantonio’s No. 25 Michigan State Spartans came to Columbus for OSU’s homecoming game.

However, the Buckeyes’ offense was anything but blacked out following the first 15 minutes, as Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins paced the home team to a 34-10 victory against what had been the nation’s No. 7 defense.

For the Spartans, it was another case of not having enough offense.

Penn State 35, Purdue 7

Penn State really went on cruise control after taking an early 28-0 lead:

For the first month of the season many Penn State fans, myself included, were decrying the lack of the penetration the defensive line was getting both in the run and pass games. Well, whatever the unit figured out against Maryland has clearly stuck. The Wild Dogz (TM) were incredible against Purdue, recording 13 tackles for loss and 10 sacks, which is one shy of a program record. Yetur Gross-Matos looked every bit the All-American caliber player that he is and Shaka Toney showed his prowess as a lethal pass rusher. Add in strong showings from Fred Hansard and Robert Windsor and you have a recipe for success.

Michigan 10, Iowa 3

I cannot believe Michigan scored 10 points int he first 7 minutes and decided to sit on it:

Shea Patterson had an awesome showing last week against a dreadful Rutgers team, but was back to inconsistent play in the game against Iowa. He finished the day with 147 yards on 14-of-26 passing attempts and an interception. A chunk throw to Nico Collins in the first quarter for 51 yards accounts for more than a third of his output on the day. For a good part of this game, the offensive gameplan was not terrible and the offensive line was holding up against a physical Iowa front, but Patterson continues to not process quickly enough and hold onto the football too long. People want Josh Gattis to dial up all of these pass plays down the field, but much of the time when it is there Patterson does not see it.

For Iowa, three points is bad even for Ferentz:

Eight sacks. Eight penalties. Seven punts. One giant pathetic performance from the offense.

Maryland 48, Rutgers 7

The Terrapins are a Jekyl/Hyde team, getting shut out last week, but exploding for 48 points this week:

on the opening play of the second half, running back Javon Leake returned the kickoff 100 yards for the touchdown, cutting across the field while turning up the right sideline with a convoy of blockers who paved the way to the endzone.

Just over two minutes later, fellow backfield mate Anthony McFarland Jr. took a handoff 80 yards to the house to give the Terps a 41-7 lead.

The Terps had an abundance of chunk plays on Saturday in their 48-7 win over the Scarlet Knights — their first Big Ten victory of the season.

Rutgers continues the aimless, coachless existence:

Of course the day did not begin without drama. About an hour prior to kickoff, we found out that not only would Art Sitkowski not play as he contemplated a redshirt, but Junior Captain Raheem Blackshear would not be in action either. As reported on the BTN broadcast and also, Blackshear told interim Head Coach Nunzio Campanile shortly before the game he planned to redshirt this season, having already played the maximum four games.

What do you know, RU had the ball first. Rutgers drove the ball well on their first drive against the Maryland defense without Raheem. Campanile’s playcalling proved quite effective on the first drive. Through a mix of runs by starting quarterback Johnny Langan and Isaih Pacheco with one pass to Daevon Robinson, RU moved the ball down to the Maryland 20 yard line. Unfortunately in what was a microcosm of the day, Justin Davidovicz’s 37 yard field goal attempt was tipped, still reached the crossbar, yet no good when it bounced the wrong way. Still though, Rutgers felt good about themselves for well ... a moment anyway.

Minnesota 40, Illinois 17

The Gophers moved to 5-0 with a dominant home win:

The triumphant return of the Gophers’ rushing attack. The Minnesota ground game against Illinois looked a lot like the 2016 version, when Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks last made for one of the most formidable running back tandems in the Big Ten. Well, Homecoming at the University of Minnesota was a homecoming sorts for Smith and Brooks, who combined for 322 rushing yards and two touchdowns against the Fighting Illini.

For Illinois, the Illini continue to run out the clock on the Lovie Smith era:

This is not progress.

It’s year four. Against a good, not great Gophers team. Yet, here we are, getting trucked for 500+ yards. Two 100-yard rushers. Minnesota barely needed to pass the ball.

That’s a tough pill to swallow for Illini fans. I think the fans know what they’re getting with Lovie. This was inevitable.

The time to change is now. Josh Whitman better be on the phone back-channeling to find the next head coach. This was inexcusable.

Nebraska 13, Northwestern 10

The Cornhuskers won it on a late field goal from a walk-on safety that was partially blocked:

It looks like starting quarterback Adrian Martinez might be injured. For how long it remains to be seen. Some fans, in my opinion wrongfully, have been calling to see Noah Vedral get some time.

Well it looks like his opportunity might be coming next week as Martinez was helped off the field after the game. It will be a night game next week in Minneapolis against an undefeated Minnesota team.

Northwestern continues to struggle mightily on offense:

The offense failed to connect on a single throw down the field. Northwestern’s longest pass and play of the day was a 23-yard catch-and-run from Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman in the third quarter. The shots down the field were limited once again, and the Wildcats’ longest run of the day, despite consistency in that aspect down the stretch, was just 12 yards.

Non-Conference Opponents:

Nevada - On Bye

Ole Miss 31, Vanderbilt 6 - The Commodores also have not been great offensively.

Iowa State 49, TCU 24 - The TCU defense is not the same as it was in West Lafayette.