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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 6 of Big Ten Football

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Purdue gets a shot at No. 2 again now.

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

With no Purdue game this week I had mostly a casual eye on college football, and it was a banger of a week around the country. Texas-Oklahoma, Mississippi-Arkansas, and Texas A&M-Alabama were fantastic games. Our own conference had some good games too:

Iowa 23, Penn State 20

The Hawkeyes are Purdue’s next opponent and the defense has been stifling with 11 turnovers forced in the last two games, 10 of them being interceptions:

It wasn’t always pretty, particularly for the Iowa offense, but once again, they made plays when it mattered most. Petras’ line on the day: 17/31 with 2 touchdowns and an interception, and a frustrating day at the offense, as well as a gorgeous throw to Nico Ragaini for what ended up being the game-winning 44-yard touchdown after a series of stalled drives that resulted in field goals.

Penn State saw its undefeated season die in Iowa City thanks to four picks:

Saying a quarterback is the most important player to a football team is not a surprise. But that was on full display on Saturday afternoon in Iowa City, because once Sean Clifford left the game with injury the Nittany Lions were a completely different team.

When Sean Clifford exited the game with injury Penn State was leading 17-3. Not only were they leading 17-3, the Nittany Lions were out gaining Iowa in total yards 208-49 and the offense was humming.

Ohio State 66, Maryland 17

Bad news: Ohio State is a murder death machine again:

Ohio State fans have been spoiled. For decades now, we have been gifted fantastic quarterbacks who seem to have been able to jump right in and have relatively few growing pains as first time starters, especially when you consider what Cardale Jones, Dwayne Haskins, and Justin Fields did in their first starts.

However, that wasn’t the case for C.J. Stroud. Whether it was nerves, poor play-calling, or a bum shoulder, while he put up some pretty impressive numbers at times, he never looked right, but that all changed following his week off against Akron. Since resting his shoulder, Stroud has been practically perfect.

What else can Maryland do?

Halfway through the first quarter, Ohio State had a narrow 7-3 lead over Maryland with the ball. Pass, run, pass, pass, run. That’s all it took for Ohio State’s offense to go 75 yards on five plays and stroll into the end zone against an injured and struggling Maryland defense.

From there, it was the No. 7 ranked Buckeyes offensive show as they were too much for the Terps’ depleted secondary to handle as Maryland fell to Ohio State, 66-17, in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday.

Michigan State 31, Rutgers 13

Kenneth Walker III is playing like a Heisman candidate as he went for over 200 yards:

Walker finished the day with 29 carries for 233 yards (his second 200-plus yard rushing game of the season) and a touchdown. Nailor had five catches for 221 yards and three touchdowns. Thorne was 16-for-27 (59.2 percent) passing for a career-high 339 yards (and back-to-back 300-plus yard passing games) with three touchdowns and an interception. This was just the fifth time in FBS history a team had a 200-yard rusher, 200-yard receiver and 300-yard passer.

Rutgers is still alive for a bowl and is at least through the worst of its schedule:

The result of this game in a lot of respects came down to two players. Jalen Nailor and Kenneth Walker. Michigan State had them and Rutgers didn’t have any answer for them. Nailor had three touchdowns of over 60 yards each and 221 receiving yards total. Walker had a 94 yard run for a score that effectively ended the game in the third quarter. He finished with 233 yards rushing on 8.0 yards per carry. The inability of the Rutgers defense to stop the big play was the main reason that the game ended in defeat. The pass defense was abysmal and Michigan State gained 588 of total yards in the game.

Michigan 32, Nebraska 29

The Wolverines were definitely tested in Lincoln, but came away with their first ever win there:

The Michigan Wolverines advanced to 6-0 in a chaotic 32-29 win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers. It was a much different Wolverines offense that took the field in Lincoln today as Cade McNamara threw for a career-high 255 yards on a career-high 38 attempts. The ground game continued to roll, too, with 204 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Nebraska suffered its 4th loss of the season, and they have now lost to three top 10 teams by 13 points total:

Several plays happened. Nebraska was probably one play away from field goal range. But they will be remembered for not winning.

Wisconsin 24, Illinois 0

The Badgers rediscovered that whole “Running the football” thing again:

This was Wisconsin’s first meeting with former head coach Bret Bielema, who was at the helm of the Wisconsin program for seven seasons, compiling a 64-24 record including three-straight Big Ten Championships to conclude his tenure.

Bielema entered the game looking for career win No. 100, but his offense wasn’t even able to match that in total yards on Saturday afternoon. The Wisconsin defense, who leads the nation in rushing defense allowing 42.6 yards per game, was as advertised against the Illini, allowing just 26 yards on the ground on 13 attempts.

The Illini had 93 yards of total offense. That seems bad:

Homecoming could have gone better for Illini fans. A crowded Memorial Stadium watched Illinois fall, 24-0, to Wisconsin.

The struggles of the Illini offense were evident throughout the game. It only managed 33 yards in the first half and finished with just 93 yards. The Badgers also weren’t great on offense, but it was still enough. To compare, Wisconsin had 491 total yards.

Non-Conference Opponents:

Washington State 31, Oregon State 24 – The Beavers fall after having a shot to take full control of the Pac-12 North.

UMass 27, UConn 13 – The battle of the unwinfeated teams ends in a UConn loss.

Notre Dame 32, Virginia Tech 29 – The Irish win on a late field goal.