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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 6 of Big Ten Football

WHY ARE WE STILL DOING THIS!?!?! (Oh yeah, TV money).

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Purdue Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

I think we’re all just about done with this lousy experiment called Big Ten football this year. Games are getting cancelled left and right to the point that Ohio State, far and away the best team, will not be eligible for the Big Ten title game with one more cancellation. Northwestern lost to a bad Michigan State team but will still probably go to Indianapolis. Iowa might be the best team in the West, but the two losses early to Purdue and Northwestern will likely stop them from going to Indy. Then you have Purdue, who has played about seven good quarters of football this year and none really since Illinois.

Oh, and Rutgers just kicked our asses.

Let’s just end this already and try again next year. At least then we can avoid another loss to Indiana.

Here is what happened around the league:

Minnesota at Wisconsin – CANCELLED

Ohio State at Illinois – CANCELLED

Rutgers 37, Purdue 30

We all saw it. Purdue was pushed around and dominated from the moment Aron Cruickshank took back that kickoff for a touchdown. Over at On the Banks they are celebrating a well deserved win:

On their first possession following halftime, Langan connected with Kay’Ron Adams for a 62-yard score to get within three. Langan connected on all four of his pass attempts for 95 yards and one touchdown but it was his legs that carried the Scarlet Knights to this victory.

Langan carried the ball 21 times for 95 yards including a six-yard gain on third-and-three to ice the game in the fourth quarter with 2:22 left.

This was a game where the Scarlet Knights showed some things that fans have not been used to. The Scarlet Knights outscored Purdue 24-7 in the second half to win a Big Ten game on the road. This season, there are a few aspects of the game that Rutgers has yet to show and we saw a few today.

Iowa 26, Nebraska 20

For the sixth straight year Iowa beat Nebraska, and for the third straight year it came on fourth quarter field goals:

You know what? Scott Frost is right. It’s impossible to keep my concentration with all this clapping.

Check back tomorrow for more thoughts and less clapping.

Nebraska comes to Purdue next in the battle of “who is more pissed off at their team” among the fans:

Not every game is a referendum on Scott Frost and this Nebraska football program. What has become abundantly clear, however, is that in year three of Scott Frost’s tenure there have been obvious steps forward. Unfortunately, for several reasons there has also been steps back in certain areas.

This wasn’t something we learned in the 26-20 loss to Iowa. This was something we already knew. At least for this season Nebraska is a team that can play and beat almost every team on the schedule (except Ohio State). However, it is not a team that can overcome mistakes at this point.

Michigan State 29, Northwestern 20

What the hell was THAT? Michigan State has been DOA most of the season, but mostly stayed in control throughout against the Wildcats:

Saturday started off as another beautiful day for football at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans sure didn’t disappoint! Michigan State turned in quite the impressive performance as the Spartans went on to stun the No. 8 Northwestern Wildcats 29-20 in a truly impressive performance by all facets of the game at times.

Over at InsideNU the disappointment of losing a possible playoff bid, now matter how small of a chance it was, is palpable:

No. 8 Northwestern (5-1) lost 29-20 to Michigan State (2-3) in a sloppy, turnover-filled contest. The Wildcats’ first loss of the season ruins NU’s chance at a perfect season and likely the College Football Playoff and will push back the opportunity to clinch the division by at least another week.

The Wildcats dug themselves an early hole that they were able to climb out of, but they couldn’t put the Spartans away when they had the chance.

Indiana 27, Maryland 11

Michael Penix Jr. struggled, but it didn’t matter as Indiana’s defense was dominant in yet another win:

It was a bad day all around for Penix, who never really looked like himself on Saturday. Everything was a little off, from the way he delivered his throws to the way those passes were placed. He completed only two of his first 15 attempts of the afternoon, and didn’t get much help from the folks around him. Then the injury happened, and an ugly day became something much more concerning.

We don’t know what, exactly, is ailing Penix, nor do we know the severity. Specifics probably won’t be revealed until Monday, at the earliest, after Tom Allen told reporters after the game only that he has a “lower-leg” injury. Penix has had horrible injury luck during his first three years in college, so you really have to feel for him and hope it’s nothing too serious. Fingers crossed that he’s right back out there as soon as possible.

Maryland’s offense was flat with their own dynamic quarterback:

The Terps hadn’t played in two consecutive weekends following a coronavirus outbreak within the team, which left head coach Mike Locksley’s squad down 23 players, nine of which played key roles, as it faced the No. 12 team in the country.

Despite the odd stacks against them, the Terps had opportunities to pull off the upset. Instead, they continuously got in their own way from the opening drive onward.

Penn State 27, Michigan State 17

Penn State finally won a football game! Unfortuantely, it just further proves there is a lot of butt in the league this year:

Penn State’s offense was objectively good against Indiana. The Nittany Lions racked up over 500 yards, but turnovers and red zone troubles proved to be too much to overcomes. The red zone issues have persisted and need to be cleaned up, but Michigan showed that the offense can work.

Penn State accumulated 429 yards from scrimmage against the Wolverines, 266 of which came on the ground. The Nittany Lions controlled the clock and largely stayed ahead of the chains, which is how the offense is supposed to look.

Meanwhile, if you thought Jeff Brohm was in trouble, look at Jim Harbaugh:

We have all been in relationships that have gone sour before despite our best intentions to make it work.

The courtship is the most exciting part, followed by the honeymoon phase where your partner can seemingly do no wrong. But the true test of any relationship is what happens when adversity hits and there are some things you might have to put some serious effort into fixing at its foundation.

Jim Harbaugh, a hire that was a match made in heaven for both he and the Michigan Wolverines, has been tested more than anyone expected through almost six seasons at the helm of the football program. There are several well-documented chapters in his story that have stood in the way of the Wolverines taking that next step as a program, but this has now regressed to something that is speeding toward its expiration date.