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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 6 of Big Ten Football

The Big Ten West has some very bad offenses.

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

We have reached the halfway point of the season and Purdue is 4-2. We’re two plays from 6-0, really. Even though the dream of an undefeated season is dead, some great hings can still be accomplished. A second straight bowl game is very likely, and there is a real chance to win the West Division. It’s a good place to be.

Let’s look around the league from this past week.

Nebraska 14, Rutgers 13

NCAA rules dictate there be a winner and a loser each game, and in this one it was Nebraska:

The offense was simply awful as the offensive line might have had their worst game of the season. Casey Thompson got knocked out of the game with just over a minute to go before halftime, and with the memories of last week’s goal line sack and fumble, Mickey Joseph and Mark Whipple inexplicably asked Chubba Purdy to once again throw the ball in that situation. The incomplete pass left time on the clock for Rutgers to try a long field goal just before halftime. If not for Garrett Nelson’s sack making the field goal unmanageable, the halftime deficit might have been 16 and the Huskers would have had to score again to win this game.

Rutgers let a chance at a home win slip away: (There has been no wrap-up from On the Banks yet)

Purdue 31, Maryland 29

The Terrapins have an upset fanbase because some questionable calls did not go their way:

Last week against Michigan State, Maryland intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown with under a minute to go in the first half to take a 28-13 lead. There was only one problem. The referees called Maryland for a personal foul penalty on the play, negating the pick-six and giving the ball back to the Spartans. It was an objectively horrific call that prompted anger from college football fans around the country on social media. The call could have been a turning point for a Spartan comeback, but luckily for the Terps, it wasn’t.

After the game head coach Mike Locksley said, “We can’t control the referees. We can’t control the calls. At some point I think we’ll earn respect around here where we are able to take advantage of calls like that.”

Ohio State 49, Michigan State 20

For the second straight year Ohio State dropped multiple first half touchdowns to put this away early:

Yesterday, C.J. Stroud was the manager of Ohio State’s Motel 6, tossing six touchdowns, marking the third time he has tied the school record for passing touchdowns in a game. Over the last two years against Michigan State, Stroud has gone 53-of-61 for 793 yards and 12 touchdowns. The 69-yard touchdown pass to Emeka Egbuka in the first quarter moved Stroud pass Justin Fields for second-most career touchdown passes in school history. Stroud currently has thrown 68 touchdown passes in less than two seasons as Ohio State’s starting quarterback.

The honeymoon is over after last year’s great Michigan State season:

The Michigan State Spartans have lost four-straight football games by double-digits. MSU hosted the No.3-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes at Spartan Stadium on Saturday afternoon, and fell in blowout fashion by a final score of 49-20.

While this was an expected result, Michigan State’s season is in a downward spiral. The Spartans fall to 2-4 on the season, and 0-3 in Big Ten Conference play. Ohio State moves to 6-0 (3-0 in conference play).

Michigan 31, Indiana 10

It took a bit for the Wolverines to get going, but they eventually pulled away from the Hoosiers:

Relentless. Determined. Successful. There are many ways to describe how Michigan played after halftime. Starting strong matters but finishing strong is just as pertinent. The best teams in football have the ability to make adjustments, throwing out parts of the gameplan that aren’t working in favor of something fresh that will do the trick. From an execution and focus standpoint, it was clear Michigan was on a mission.

The Hoosiers were able to push a top 5 team, but got a similar result:

Gourds are on mantles, pumpkin spice lattes are in hands, the leaves have changed from green to various combinations of orange, yellow or red and Indiana football played a really weird game against Michigan that ended in a loss.

In other words, Fall is back.

Wisconsin 42, Northwestern 7

For one week, at least, the Badgers looked like Wisconsin again under an interim coach:

The Wisconsin Badgers(3-3, 1-2) defeated the Northwestern Wildcats(1-5, 1-2) 42-7 in a conference beatdown, gaining 515 yards offensively and delivering a strong performance on both sides of the ball in Jim Leonhard’s head coaching debut.

The Badgers started the game firing on all cylinders, as Graham Mertz was involved in a first-down dropback and a play-action from the jump.

A combination of Mertz throws with a 33-yard Braelon Allen carry led the Badgers into Northwestern territory, but the junior quarterback missed two potential touchdowns on consecutive throws.

Northwestern remains winless in North America this season:

Northwestern’s dysfunction has shown through ever since the Nebraska game. A horrendous defensive performance allowed Duke to jump out to a 21-0 lead, then mistakes piled up to lead to upsets from Southern Illinois and Miami (OH). Offensive ineptitude and an inability to capitalize on five takeaways doomed the ‘Cats in Happy Valley. Now, the 42-7 loss to Wisconsin on Saturday seemed to be a culmination of it all.

Between bad coaching and poor execution, the Wildcats were completely outmatched at Ryan Field against Wisconsin. The defense had no answers for Chimere Dike (10 catches, 185 yards, three TDs) and Braelon Allen (23 carries, 135 yards, one passing TD) and made Graham Mertz (20-for-29, 299 yds, five TDs) look like a star quarterback. The Badgers were literally toying with their opponents so much that they had their RUNNING BACK throw a touchdown and knew there was no way the Wildcats could stop it.

Illinois 9, Iowa 6

The Illini saw the Colts-Broncos game from Thursday and thought it was way too high scoring:

Freshman kicker Fabrizio Pinton learned at kickoff that he would be replacing Caleb Griffin, and he made the most of it. His three field goals were the only points Illinois scored all game, with the third one being the biggest.

His go-ahead 36-yarder with 2:49 left gave Illinois (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten) the lead.

“I was just happy that me, [punter] Hugh [Robertson] and [long snapper] Lane Hansen could go out there and execute such a perfect field goal,” Pinton said.

The Hawkeye offense continues to be an affront to the game of football:

The defense kept Iowa afloat as the defense always keep Iowa afloat. Quinn Schulte had an interception at Iowa’s 1 in the fourth quarter. Jack Campbell recovered a muffed punt. Seth Benson recovered a fumble inside Illinois’ 10. The two fumbles happened within a span of three drives where Iowa gained -21 yards and came away with just a field goal.

Screw the “we’ll be alright” at halftime when your failson has led an offense to 6 touchdowns in 6 games of American football.

Non-Conference Opponents

North Dakota State 31, Indiana State 26 – The Trees gave the No. 1 team in FCS a hell of a game before falling late.

Syracuse – On Bye

Florida Atlantic – On Bye