Week 6 primer: The Floyd of Rosedale is on the line Saturday
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Week 6 is highlighted by the battle for iconic Floyd of Rosedale between Iowa and Minnesota. There also is an interesting non-league game, with BYU playing at Michigan State. And Ohio State, Michigan and Maryland look to continue to roll.
Here is a look at the Best of Week 6.
Best game: Iowa at Minnesota. If the Gophers want to contend in what looks like an open Big Ten West, they probably will need to beat visiting Iowa in the battle for Floyd of Rosedale. The Hawkeyes have won three of the last four meetings, but the Gophers won the last time Iowa came to Dinkytown in 2014. Iowa has already lost as many games as it did last year, as it is struggling to stop the run—among other issues.
Player of the spot: Michigan State QB Tyler O’Connor. O’Connor needs to rally his team, which has lost two in a row. The Spartans are just No. 12 in the Big Ten in scoring (22.8 ppg), with O’Connor hitting 60 percent of his passes for 918 yards, eight TDs and five interceptions. He would be helped by more production from the ground game. Does this team have a No. 1 back?
Best matchup: Indiana offense vs. Ohio State defense. The Hoosiers are No. 2 in the league in total offense (496.8 ypg); the Buckeyes are No. 1 in total defense (238.0 ypg). It will be really fun to watch IU’s nice collection of pass-catchers (Indiana is No. 1 in pass offense, 320.8 ypg) battle an Ohio State secondary that may not have a peer in the nation (OSU is No. 2 in pass defense, 140.3 ypg).
Best QB matchup: Indiana’s Richard Lagow vs. Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett. Lagow has impressed since arriving from a JC, pacing the Big Ten in passing (319.5 ypg) en route to hitting 62 percent of his passes for 1,278 with nine TDs and six interceptions, five coming in the loss to Wake Forest. Barrett is a top Heisman contender, ranking No. 1 in the league in pass efficiency, and he just became Ohio State’s all-time leader in pass TDs. He is completing 68 percent of his passes for 888 yards with a league-high 14 TD passes and only two picks.
Best coaching matchup: Kevin Wilson vs. Urban Meyer. Wilson has Indiana on the rise, taking the Hoosiers to their first bowl since 2007 last year. Now, he’s trying to guide IU to consecutive bowls for the first time since 1990-91. He will face Urban Meyer, a living legend with three national titles to his credit. These two coaches do a terrific job in vastly different circumstances.
Best coordinator matchup: Minnesota OC Jay Johnson vs. Iowa DC Phil Parker. The Golden Gopher offense is No. 5 in the Big Ten in scoring (36.3 ypg), as the run game ranks No. 4 in the league (228.3 ypg). Parker is a veteran mind whose defense has struggled to stop the run in ranking No. 11 in the Big Ten (182.8 ypg). Can the Hawkeyes slow down the 1-2 punch of Minnesota backs Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks?
Best chance for an upset: BYU at Michigan State. The Spartans are a team still searching for an identity as it has lost two in a row for the first time since 2012 and is looking to avoid its first three-game skid since 2009. BYU won’t be intimidated, as it already has played the likes of Utah, Arizona, UCLA and West Virginia. And the Cougars have a savvy, veteran quarterback in Taysom Hill and have the best running back you’ve never heard of in Jamal Williams.
RANKING WEEK 6 GAMES
1. Iowa at Minnesota
2. Maryland at Penn State
3. BYU at Michigan State
4. Indiana at Ohio State
5. Michigan at Rutgers
6. Purdue at Illinois
More Week 6 notes:
- IU takes on Ohio State in what has been one of the most lopsided series in the nation. Indiana went 2-1-1 vs. the Buckeyes from 1987-90, including a victory in Columbus in 1987. Since then, the Hoosiers have lost 21 in a row in the series. But last year, IU threw a major scare into Ohio State, which had to battle for its life to escape Bloomington with a 34-27 win as the No. 1 team in the nation. The Hoosiers are coming off what may be a program-defining 24-21 OT win vs. No. 17 Michigan State last week. The Buckeyes have been a buzz saw in 2016, winning by an average of 47.7 points in a 4-0 start.
- BYU and Michigan State never have met. The Cougars lost at Michigan last year and won on a Hail Mary and Nebraska. The Spartans—who are dealing with some injuries–are trying to avoid their first three-game skid since 2009.
- Maryland is at Penn State in a growing rivalry in the Big Ten East. Who can forget the 2014 game, when the Terps captains refused to shake hands with the Nittany Lions captains at the coin toss, got penalized and went on to beat Penn State, 20-19, in Beaver Stadium to end a 29-game winless streak vs. the Nittany Lions? Penn State is 36-2-1 vs. Maryland, which is looking to start 5-0 for the first time since 2001. The Nits won last year in Baltimore, 31-30. This is a big battle to help establish a strong recruiting presence along the Eastern seaboard. Each team comes into the game off good wins, with the Terps crushing Purdue, 50-7, and the Nittany Lions rallying for a 29-26 OT win vs. Minnesota.
- If Purdue wants to move up the pecking order in the Big Ten West, it needs to start beating Illinois. The home team has won the last four in this series. Purdue got embarrassed last year in falling 48-14 at home to the Illini, which ran for 382 yards and gained 595 overall. The Boilers got blasted, 50-7, at Maryland in their Big Ten opener last week, while the Illini fought hard in losing at Nebraska last week, leading 16-10 entering the fourth quarter before falling 31-16.
- Rutgers and Michigan have split their two meetings. The Wolverines won last year, 49-16, in Ann Arbor; the Scarlet Knights won, 26-24, in Piscataway in 2014. Michigan is rolling with a 5-0 record, while RU is coming off a brutal 58-0 loss as it searches for answers.
- Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin are off.