If you wanted a wild weekend in the Big Ten, Week 6 did not give it to you. There were six games featuring Big Ten teams, and only one of them could’ve been called an upset. In the East, Ohio State reigned supreme for another week, while on the other side, Wisconsin has unsurprisingly emerged as the West favorite, while a five-team pileup is starting to appear in the Badgers’ rear-view mirror.
Who will be in Indianapolis for the conference title game is still yet to be determined, but we have a good guesstimation as we approach the midway point of the regular season. Unsurprisingly, the Buckeyes have slayed another Big Ten opponent in the Hoosiers. In that game, we saw more of what quarterback Dwayne Haskins can do, which is be more and more like a Heisman candidate.
His 455-yard (!) homecoming day achievement was a career-best, and the second-best single-game passing performance by an OSU quarterback. He completed 33 passes and connected on six touchdowns— both tying for a school record. We’ve come to expect this in the now pass-happy offense of Ohio State.
Even though the defense allowed the same problems (big plays, missed tackles, penalties) to appear this week, OSU has a very clear path to being undefeated into November. Barring some kind of meltdown, the remaining October games (Minnesota and Purdue) should be relatively easy wins. Traveling to West Lafayette, Ind., to face the Boilermakers may cause some trouble, but at worst, it should be a redux of the Indiana game from Saturday: tough first half before the Buckeyes pull away. And then the Nebraska contest in the first week of November is looking to be an easier win than expected with every passing week.
What do those three upcoming opponents have in common? They are all part of the West division of the conference. Wisconsin doesn’t have a run-in with the Buckeyes in the regular season, but the conference title game is a different story. Two weeks ago, I had a feeling that the West was going to end like the movie “Reservoir Dogs.” Now, I’m a little less sure about a (spoiler) shootout ending, but more of a “Titanic” kind of ending— one where Wiscy hangs on to a door while heartlessly watching everyone else around them drown, even though there’s more than enough room on the piece of wood for more people to survive.
But, I digress. Wisconsin levied Nebraska’s fifth loss in five games this season behind a 221-yard, three TD ground attack from Jonathan Taylor. The Badgers move to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the conference, and now face a road contest with Michigan. By no stretch of the imagination is Wisconsin out of the woods just yet, as they have road games at Penn State and Purdue later this season. But for right now, their win against the Huskers was something to be expected.
I’ve cooled off on the Scott Frost criticism. We’ve graduated from having a reaction of “lol they lost to Troy” to “lol they got rolled by Michigan” to “uhhh, I think this problem extends past Frost.”
A 0-5 start is something that I didn’t think would happen to this Nebraska team, and with a road trip to Northwestern on tap, an 0-6 start to the season is a very real possibility.
In a weather delayed game, Michigan handled Maryland, 42-21. Shea Patterson has progressed since the Week 1 loss to Notre Dame, throwing for 282 yards and three scores against the Terrapins. The Wolverines enter the Wisconsin showdown 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the conference. While it doesn’t directly impact OSU, the game in Ann Arbor will show how much space the Buckeyes have behind them. Owning the tie-breaker on Penn State gives the Buckeyes a cushion as is, but a Wolverines loss to the Badgers would give them even more space, as both Michigan and Penn State must face each other on Nov. 3 in The Big House. Effectively, it’s a race for second place in the East if Michigan falls to Wisconsin.
Illinois beat Rutgers to snap a 13-game regular season conference losing streak. It wasn’t the prettiest of games as Scarlet Knights freshman Artur Sitkowski lobbed three interceptions, en route to a 38-17 loss to the Illini. Even though it was against the bottom of the B1G barrel, I guess Lovie Smith’s Illinois program winning a game in conference broke up an otherwise routine weekend, but compared to the next two games we’re about to skim through, it’s a round-off error.
Iowa trounced Minnesota with the help of some trickery.
Check out this trick play by the Iowa Hawkeyes pic.twitter.com/n7OGTiU4eM— Red Zone Hive (@RedZoneHive) October 6, 2018
I’m not entirely sure what the deal is, but the week after Ohio State beats Penn State, Kirk Ferentz turns his Hawkeye team into a scoring juggernaut. Iowa scored 48 points in the win against the Gophers; last year in the week following OSU-PSU, the Hawkeyes tallied 55.
My teachers taught me that causation does not equal correlation, but it makes you think. I like to believe that Iowa just gets hot one game every season, and it’s just hot enough for the athletic department to think about backing up another Brinks truck into Ferentz’s driveway, unloading him another 3-year deal worth beaucoup dollars. Guess we’ll just have to schedule 12 games in a row of Ohio State-Penn State to find out.
Normalcy was being built the whole weekend, even before and after Northwestern’s win against Michigan State. That might’ve been the biggest shock of all of Saturday’s Big Ten slate.
Sparty was at home, and still found a way to lose by 10 points. Earlier this season, a game-winning field goal by Arizona State rocked the Spartans; and in Week 1, Utah State nearly got the best of MSU, before losing 38-31. I mentioned last week about the #disrespkt that Mark Dantonio generates internally for his team.
Once it gets to a certain level, it turns into the motivational equivalent of enriched uranium. Sure, Sparty lost by 10 at home to NU. But, I can still see this team beating either Michigan or Ohio State later this season. Dantonio’s strategy is like quicksand: the more you try to fight it head-on, the more you start sinking into it. The Wildcats were a 10-win program last season, so they aren’t slouches. Then again, they dropped three-straight games this season to Duke, Akron and Michigan. Then again, again, they had the Wolverines on the ropes for most of the game.
College football is wild. But, sometimes you get weeks that kinda mellow out. This week, at least for the Big Ten, was one of them.