Get Tom Dienhart’s best of Week 7 in the Big Ten
On a Saturday when Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan State and Maryland all had quarterbacks make starts for the first time, Ohio State needed its veteran superstar QB to pull out a huge overtime win at Wisconsin.
Biggest surprise: It was stunning to see Northwestern waltz into Michigan State and win with relative ease, taking a 54-40 decision even after falling behind, 14-0.
Biggest disappointment: Michigan State. The Spartans had a big sense of urgency, losers of three in a row when the day began. MSU needed a win to get back on track and likely save its season. Alas, the Spartans got thumped, 54-40, by Northwestern. The Spartans hadn’t lost four in a row since 2006, and this was the most points they’d allowed since a 56-21 loss to Wisconsin in 2003.
Play this again: The No. 2 Ohio State at No. 8 Wisconsin game lived up to its hype. This was a slugfest that saw each offense struggle to gain much consistent traction. The Badgers led 16-6 at halftime before the Buckeyes took a 20-16 lead early in the fourth quarter. Regulation ended with 23-23 tie, forcing OT after OSU kicked a tying field goal with 3:57 left. The Buckeyes took care of business in OT to take a 30-23 triumph.
Never play this again: Iowa ran roughshod over Purdue, taking a 35-7 lead and never looking back in a game the Hawkeyes dominated from start to finish in taking a 49-35 decision that only looked close because of three meaningless TDs scored by the Boilermakers in the fourth quarter.
Best play: Nebraska’s Brandon Reilly made a spectacular grab, making a reception on his back on a ball that was batted in the air in the first quarter.
Did you see this? Don’t see this every day: Urban Meyer was flagged for a 15-yard sideline interference penalty in the second quarter of Ohio State’s win at Wisconsin. Meyer was standing outside the coaching box and an official accidentally slapped him in the face while he was waving his arm to start the clock.
WEEK 7 GRADES
Michigan State: D-
Ohio State: B+
WEEK 7 SUPERLATIVES
Offensive Player of the Week: Northwestern WR Austin Carr continues his boffo season. He had 11 receptions for 130 yards and two TDs in a win at Michigan State. Carr paces the Big Ten with 43 catches for 595 yards and seven TDs.
Co-Defensive Player of the Week: Wisconsin LB Jack Cichy had 15 tackles with a sack and 3.5 TFLs vs. Ohio State. Illinois DB Darius Mosely returned an interception 78 yards for a touchdown, recovered a fumble and registered four tackles, including one tackle for loss, in Illinois win at Rutgers.
Special Teams Player of the Week: Northwestern’s Solomon Vault raced 95 yards on a kickoff for a TD, his fourth such score in his career.
Nebraska. The Huskers have eased to a 6-0 start after taking a 27-22 win at Indiana. Nebraska is jockeying to win the West but still has games at Wisconsin, at Ohio State and at Iowa. The last time NU was 6-0 was 2001.
Iowa. That’s two wins in a row for the Hawkeyes, who are gaining steam. The 49-35 victory at Purdue was the Hawkeyes’ school-record ninth in a row on the road. Eight of those road victories have been vs. Big Ten foes. Up next: A visit from Wisconsin.
Minnesota. The Gophers ended a two-game losing skid with a 31-10 submission of Maryland with QB Conor Rhoda making his first career start with Mitch Leidner out with a concussion. Rhoda hit 7-of-15 passes for 82 yards with a TD. The Gophers have yielded just two TDs in their last two games. And Minnesota could win its next three, as it takes on Rutgers, Illinois and Purdue before going to Nebraska.
Northwestern. The Spartans raced to 14-0 lead before the Wildcats roared back to take a 54-40 win. There was a safety (notched by NU’s Joe Gaziano), kickoff return for a touchdown (NU’s Solomon Vault) and quarterback change (Brian Lewerke was replaced by Tyler O’Connor) in a fun, wild game in East Lansing. The Wildcats started 1-3 and are now 3-3.
Michigan State. The misery continues in East Lansing, as the Spartans have lost four in a row. The 54-40 loss to Northwestern was dubious for many reasons. Among them: MSU has just 51 yards rushing (2.2 ypc). It’s the most points the Spartans have allowed in a game in Mark Dantonio’s 10 years in East Lansing. Will MSU even make a bowl a season after winning the Big Ten and making the playoff last year?
Maryland. The Terrapins have seen their 4-0 start morph into 4-2 reality after dropping a second game in a row. Maryland had just 290 yards and four turnovers, as true freshman Tyrrell Pigrome made his first career start with Perry Hills out (shoulder) and hit 18-of-37 passes for 161 yards with a TD and two picks and a team-high 70 yards rushing on 25 totes.
Rutgers. That’s four losses in a row, as RU suffered five turnovers in a 24-7 home loss to Illinois. The good news for the Scarlet Knights? They scored a TD, snapping an 11 quarter scoring dry spell. The offense got a bit of a spark when Giovanni Rescigno took over for Chris Laviano and hit 10-of-18 passes for 120 yards with a TD and pick. Will he start next week?
Purdue. The Boilermakers got run off their own field on Homecoming in falling 49-35 to Iowa, which scored TDs on five of its first six possessions and never looked back. Darrell Hazell is now 0-9 following a win at Purdue, which hasn’t won back-to-back games since 2012. Purdue is 0-4 in homecoming games during Hazell’s four seasons and has been outscored 176-83 in those defeats.
144, yards rushing for Minnesota’s Rodney Smith on 18 carries with two TDs, as the Golden Gophers had 228 yards rushing. Smith’s highlight was a 70-yard TD jaunt.
458, yards passing for Purdue’s David Blough who hit 30-of-60 passes with five touchdowns and a pick. Alas, the Boilermakers lost to Iowa, 49-35.
108, yards rushing for Illinois’ Kendrick Foster on 21 totes with a TD.
365, yards rushing for Iowa. Akrum Wadley (170) and LeShun Daniels (156) each eclipsed the 100-yard barrier in a dominating effort at Purdue, which had 46 yards rushing. It was the first time Iowa had two 100-yard rushers in a game since 2008.
164, yards rushing on 25 carries for Wisconsin’s Corey Clement.
190, yards receiving for Michigan State’s R.J. Shelton on seven catches with two TDs.
226, yards passing for Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett, who also ran for 92 and two scores in an OT win at Wisconsin.
188, rushing yards for Northwestern’s Justin Jackson on 34 carries with two TDs.
20, road wins in a row for Ohio State, something that hasn’t been done since Miami in the 1980s.
2, touchdowns allowed by Minnesota in the last two weeks.