Tom's Take: Week 6 Big Ten honors, grades, stock watch & numbers

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Tom's Take: Week 6 Big Ten honors, grades, stock watch & numbers

Week 6 is in the books, complete with a big win by Michigan State. And the feel-good vibe continues for Rutgers, while Purdue tastes Big Ten victory for the first time since 2012.

Here’s a wrap of the day’s action.

Biggest surprise: Northwestern. Two weeks, two big wins. First, the Wildcats dumped Penn State in State College, Pa., 29-6. This week, they tripped Wisconsin, 20-14. If you’re scoring at home, NU is 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten. And, it’s doing it with the best defense you’ve never heard of.

Biggest disappointment: Illinois. The Fighting Illini needed to show something vs. a visiting Purdue team that hadn’t won a Big Ten game since 2012. Alas, Illinois flopped. The offense did its part, generating 515 yards. But the defense couldn’t contain what statistically was the worst offense in the Big Ten entering the day, as the Boilermakers had 551 yards after averaging 312.0.

Play this again: Rutgers’ 26-24 win over Michigan had lots of ebbs and flows and back-and-forth fun. The game could have gone either way. Mix in the drama of Michigan with the excitement of Rutgers with a mix of a controversial call, and you have the makings of a fun game.

Never play this again: Indiana’s 49-24 win over North Texas was little more than a glorified exhibition. But, that’s what the Hoosiers needed. But, it wasn’t compelling.

Best play: Ohio State’s Michael Thomas made a spectacular grab in the corner of the end zone, leaping and coming down with two feet in to haul in a J.T. Barrett pass. Just beautiful.

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WEEK 6 GRADES

Illinois: F

Indiana: B+

Maryland: D

Michigan: C

Michigan State: B+

Nebraska: C+

Northwestern: A

Ohio State: A

Purdue: A

Rutgers: B+

Wisconsin: C-

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WEEK 6 STOCK REPORTS

RISING

Northwestern. Remember when the Wildcats opened the season with home losses to Cal and Northern Illinois? Seems like a hundred years ago. Look at NU now, all sparkly and riding a three-game winning skein while sitting atop the West standings. This looks nothing like the team that was 1-9 in the 10 games before this hot streak.

Purdue. The Boilermakers may have found something in QB Austin Appleby, who led the program to its first Big Ten win since 2012. The sophomore hit 15-of-20 passes for 202 yards with a touchdown. He also ran seven times for 76 yards and two scores in place of Danny Etling, who had made the previous 12 starts.

Rutgers. One win. That’s all that separates the Scarlet Knights from bowl eligibility, this after Saturday night’s exciting win vs. Michigan. Just think of what could be if the Scarlet Knights had found a way to beat Penn State in September before falling, 13-10? An amazing debut continues for RU.

FALLING

Michigan. It’s going from bad to worse for the Wolverines, who fell 26-24 at Rutgers. The Wolverines have lost three in a row to fall to 2-4. The team showed some heart and fight after a trying week. Still, the effort was for naught. Will Michigan become bowl eligible?

Wisconsin. The No. 17 Badgers look disjointed on offense, thanks to an unstable quarterback slot. Tanner McEvoy started but gave way to Joel Stave. It didn’t matter, as the Wisconsin signal-callers combined to hit 12-of-29 passes for 138 yards with a touchdown and four picks in a 20-14 loss. That ended the Badgers’ three-game winning streak.

Maryland. Are the Terps still a sleeper in the East? I thought they were before Saturday’s first Big Ten home game vs. Ohio State, although I’m not so sure following the 52-24 defeat. The defense continues to struggle, and that’s going to an issue moving forward.

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WEEK 6 TOP PERFORMERS

Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett. The redshirt freshman continues to get better. He completed 18-of-23 passes for 267 yards and four TDs at Maryland. Barrett also ran 16 times for 71 yards and a score to help OSU to 533 yards and 52 points.

Rutgers QB Gary Nova. The senior is coming on. He hit 22-of-39 passes for a career-high 404 yards with three TDs vs. Michigan. The last two games, he has completed 36-of-60 passes for 695 yards with seven TDs and just one pick.

Northwestern DB Godwin Igwebuike. He picked off three Wisconsin passes to help the Wildcats notch a huge home victory vs. No. 17 Wisconsin.

Purdue RB Akeem Hunt. He carried 30 times for 177 yards and a TD, which came on a 54-yard jaunt.

Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon. He did all he could vs. Northwestern, running 27 times for a career-high 259 yards. Alas, it wasn’t enough, as the Badgers lost at Northwestern.

Michigan State’s Jeremy Langford. He ran for over 100 yards (111) for the ninth Big Ten game in a row, as he was the backbone of the offense vs. Nebraska. He continues to play better each week.

Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld. He bounced back from a rough game last week to complete 23-of-29 passes for 230 yards and three scores.

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WEEK 6 NUMBERS

12, times Ohio State has scored at least 50 points since 2012. That’s more than any other league school in that span.

1, Big Ten win for Illinois coach Tim Beckman, who is now 1-17 in conference play. The lone league victory came at Purdue last season.

349, yards rushing for Purdue at Illinois. The Boilermakers entered the game averaging 134.2 yards rushing.

168, points scored by Ohio State since it lost at home to Virginia Tech.

5, Plays of over 40 yards for Purdue. QB Austin Appleby had a 62-yard run; RB Akeem Hunt a 54-yarder; RB Raheem Mostert a 44-yarder; RB Keyante Green a 53-yarder; Danny Anthrop an 80-yard catch.

9, catches for Nebraska’s Jordan Westerkamp, which went for 158 yards.

4, wins for Michigan in its last 10 games. The 2-4 start is the worst for Michigan since it opened 2-7 in 2008 under Rich Rodriguez.

8, catches for Illini freshman Mike Dudek, which went for 200 yards (25.0 ypc).

180, rushing yards for Indiana’s Tevin Coleman, with a TD. He now has rushed for 100 yards in seven games in a row (the longest such streak in America) and scored a TD in a school-record 14 consecutive games.

4, interceptions for Ohio State.

312.0, Purdue’s total offense per game, which ranked last in the Big Ten. But the Boilermakers ripped off 551 yards at Illinois.

5, Ohio State scoring drives that took less than 3:30 vs. Maryland. Three of the Buckeyes’ scoring drives too less than two minutes.

593, yards for Indiana vs. North Texas, including 363 on the ground. Tevin Coleman (150) and D’Angelo Roberts (102) each eclipsed the 100-yard barrier.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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