What did Tom Dienhart learn in Week 6? Find out here!

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

What did Tom Dienhart learn in Week 6? Find out here!

The Michigan bandwagon is officially a runaway train. Will the party every stop? Is this the best team in the Big Ten East? Is this a … playoff team? The possibilities seemed endless for the Wolverines as Saturday night slipped into Sunday morning following a dominating 38-0 win vs. an unbeaten Northwestern team whose saw its own vaunted defense shredded.

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Here is what I learned this week.

1. The mystique around Michigan continues to swell. The Wolverines looked impressive in sitting on Northwestern to take a 38-0 decision, the team’s third shutout in a row. That’s five wins in succession for Michigan after opening with a 24-17 loss at Utah, which has proven to be an elite team. Jim Harbaugh Big Ten Coach of the Year? How about Jim Harbaugh, National Coach of the Year? He is spoiling Michigan fans. Can it really be this easy, this successful, this soon? Brady Hoke left the new staff some talent, apparently. Harbaugh is coaching it up. Up next: a visit from Michigan State.

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2. Ohio State’s QBs may have turned a corner. Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett combined to hit 77 percent of their passes for 317 yards with two touchdowns in the top-ranked Buckeyes’ 49-28 win over Maryland. They also had three TDs rushing (all by Barrett, who came in as a red-zone threat) and 81 yards on the ground.

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3. Wisconsin is still alive in the Big Ten West. The heroic 23-21 win at Nebraska on a 46-yard field goal with four seconds left by Rafael Gaglianone gives the Badgers hope. This isn’t a conventional Badger squad, as it has to rely on the pass to win. And, it seems capable. Joel Stave (24-of-50) became just the fourth Wisconsin QB to throw 50 passes in a game—and was the first to win. And this was the first time the Badgers won while throwing (50) more than running (34) since the 2007 Outback Bowl vs. Arkansas. Hey, whatever works to get a win.

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4. It’s just one of those seasons for Nebraska. All four of its losses have come on foe’s final offensive play. And the four losses have been by a combined 11 points. The latest gut punch was a 23-21 loss at home to Wisconsin on a last-second field goal. Nebraska (2-4) is left wondering “what if?” as it is off to its worst start since 1959, when Dwight Eisenhower was president. Enough said.

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5. Northwestern isn’t ready for prime time. The Wildcats had allowed 35 points the first five games; it got ripped for 38 Saturday (the defense and special teams scored for Michigan). But it was the offense that is a concern. The vaunted rushing game that entered the game No. 1 in the Big Ten (248.8 ypg) had 38 yards on 25 carries. Justin Jackson had 12 totes for 25 yards; he was averaging 127.2. Redshirt freshman QB Clayton Thorson and the passing game aren’t equipped to win games if the NU rushing attack isn’t clicking, or if the Wildcats fall behind early. This is a good Northwestern team. But a championship squad?

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6. Indiana may want to start worrying … at least a little bit. The injury-riddled Hoosiers were without quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard on Saturday at Penn State, and they have now lost two in a row. Indiana still needs two wins to become bowl eligible. Next week’s visit from Rutgers may be a must-win. If IU loses, it may be faced with winning its last two games to get to 6-6: at Maryland and at Purdue. A healthy Sudfeld and Howard would help. A lot.

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7. The Big Ten West is Iowa’s to lose. This is especially the case if the Hawkeyes win at Northwestern next Saturday. Iowa is 6-0 and playing well on both sides of the ball, though the offensive line is banged up and defensive end Drew Ott suffered a torn ACL vs. Illinois. This has been quite a year of redemption for Iowa boss Kirk Ferentz, who is doing some of the best coaching of his 17-year career in Iowa City.

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8. I’m still not sure what to make of Penn State. The Nittany Lions have won five straight, although each has been vs. less-than-formidable foes (Buffalo, Rutgers, San Diego State, Army, Indiana) at home—who else in America will play five home games in succession this season? And, often, the victories haven’t been overly impressive. To be fair, Penn State has been without its top two running backs (veteran Akeel Lynch and sensational freshman Saquon Barkley) the last two games. A big dose of reality could be waiting in Columbus, Ohio, next week. But, let’s do like James Franklin and be positive: Penn State is 5-1! And, as Bill Parcells used to say: You are what your record says you are.

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9. Maryland has some fight left. It was tumultuous week that saw wild speculation around the future of coach Randy Edsall, and It was great to see the Terrapins put up a good fight at Ohio State. Maryland, which lost its previous two games by a combined score of 73-6, not including an earlier 21-point loss vs. Bowling Green, was tied with the Buckeyes early in the third quarter before the defending national champ 28 of the final 35 points.

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10. Purdue is in serious trouble. Following a humiliating 41-13 home loss to a Minnesota team that was missing 11 players from its two-deep and was coming off a listless 27-0 loss at Northwestern, the Boilermakers are 1-5 and must go 5-1 the rest of the way to make a bowl game. The Gophers had 74 yards rushing vs. NU; they scorched Purdue for 326. Still, the Boilers laid down, allowing 41 unanswered points en route to what some felt was a must-win game. Now what? Darrell Hazell is 5-25 at Purdue and 1-17 in Big Ten play. Three of his five victories are vs. FCS foes. More was expected in Hazell’s third year in West Lafayette.

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Tomorrow
4:00 PMGeorge Mason at MarylandWatch
4:00 PME. Michigan at Michigan St.Watch
6:00 PMChicago St. at PurdueWatch
6:30 PME. Michigan at Michigan St.Watch
7:00 PMBradley at IllinoisWatch
Wednesday Apr 25
3:00 PMSt. Peter's at RutgersWatch
3:00 PMToledo at Michigan St.Watch
4:00 PMJames Madison at MarylandWatch

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