Best of Week 7: Grades, individual honors, stock watch & numbers
Week 7 is in the books. This much is clear: Ohio State has gotten a lot better since that home loss to Oklahoma. And Wisconsin is going to be difficult to beat in the Big Ten West, while Michigan State is sneaking up on everyone.
Here is the Best of Week 7.
Biggest surprise: I figured Ohio State would win at Nebraska. But, I didn’t think the Buckeyes would demolish the Cornhuskers. Sure enough, they did, taking a 56-14 decision and outgaining Nebraska, 633-393. J.T. Barrett was sensational. Since that loss to Oklahoma, when Barrett completed 19-of-35 passes for 183 yards with no TDs and a pick and ran 18 times for 66 yards, the senior has hit 99-of-137 passes (72 percent) for 1,351 yards with 18 touchdowns and no interceptions. Barrett also has run 39 times for 232 yards and four scores, averaging 5.9 yards per tote.
Biggest disappointment: Thought maybe Illinois would scratch out a home win vs. Rutgers. Alas, the Fighting Illini fell flat, losing 35-24 as the Scarlet Knights ended a 16-game Big Ten losing streak. That’s four losses in a row for Illinois. When will it stop?
Play this again: Michigan’s 27-20 OT win at Indiana was exciting. The Wolverines looked in command late, leading 20-10 with 10:25 left in the game. But the Hoosiers fought back, making it 20-17 with 3:27 remaining and then getting the ball back for one last chance. And IU delivered, marching to a 46-yard field goal to tie the game at the buzzer. Michigan opened the OT session with a 25-yard TD run and then stuffed the Hoosiers’ attempt to answer.
Never play this again: Any potential drama in Lincoln, Neb., evaporated quickly, as Ohio State raced out to a 28-0 lead and never looked back in a 56-14 triumph. Ohio State went into the game as a 24-point favorite; Nebraska hadn’t been a bigger underdog at home since 1957. Last week, the Cornhuskers lost at home to Wisconsin, 38-17. Now this loss to OSU comes a year after the Buckeyes won 62-3 over the Huskers in Columbus.
Best moment: Northwestern RB Justin Jackson has had a phenomenal career for the Wildcats, and the senior re-wrote the school record books Saturday by passing Damien Anderson to move into first place on the program’s all-time leading rusher list.
Did you see this? The Michigan State at Minnesota game was delayed by weather. It’s the second week in a row the Golden Gophers have had to endure a weather delay, as last week’s loss at Purdue was delayed 88 minutes in the fourth quarter.
Best tweet: This one isn’t Big Ten related, but we can all appreciate an adorable bunny and the opportunity to poke fun at the SEC in one tweet.
WEEK 7 GRADES
Michigan State: B
Ohio State: A
WEEK 7 SUPERLATIVES
Offensive Player of the Week: J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State. He completed 27-of-33 passes for 325 yards with five TDs, and he ran 10 times for 48 yards and two TDs in a 56-14 win at Nebraska. Also have to mention Michigan RB Karan Higdon. He rumbled for a career-high 200 yards on 25 carries with three TDs in the Wolverines’ 27-20 OT win at Indiana. The last time Michigan had a 200-yard rusher was Denard Robinson in 2012.
Defensive Player of the Week: Juwan Harris, DB, Rutgers. He picked off a pass and led the Scarlet Knights with 11 tackles in a 35-24 win at Illinois. Not bad for a former wideout. And props to Northwestern LB Nate Hall. He tallied 11 tackles with four TFLs and helped the Wildcats turn back Maryland, 37-21, in College Park.
Special Teams Player of the Week: Griffin Oakes, K, Indiana. He hit 2-of-3 field-goal attempts, including a 46-yarder that tied the game and sent it to OT as the clock expired.
Ohio State. The Buckeyes are rolling, winning five in a row after that home loss to Oklahoma. OSU has won the last five by an average of 53-11. Saturday’s 56-14 at Nebraska showed the full fury of the Buckeyes’ potential, as OSU scored on its first eight possessions. The 56 points is the most by a Nebraska conference opponent in Lincoln and most overall since Minnesota won 61-7 in 1945 when the Huskers were in the Big Six.
Rutgers. Let’s hear it for the Scarlet Knights! RU snapped a 16-game Big Ten losing streak that stretched to 2015, as Chris Ash notched his first conference win. Purdue visits next Saturday. You thinking what I’m thinking?
Northwestern. The Wildcats needed a win … badly. And they got one at Maryland, 37-21. NU wanted to avoid its first 0-3 start in Big Ten play since 2013, as the Wildcats had 531 yards and limited the Terps to 85 yards rushing.
Wisconsin. It wasn’t pretty, but the Badgers overcame three turnovers and a blocked punt to take down Purdue, 17-9. Wisconsin is 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten, already beating West foes Northwestern, Nebraska and Purdue.
Michigan State. This team keeps getting better, as the Spartans are 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten, taking down Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota. The lone loss: vs. a good Notre Dame squad.
Illinois. Well, someone had to lose to the Rutgers. Makes you wonder if the Illini will win again in 2017.
Nebraska. The Huskers had some mojo after opening Big Ten play with a win vs. Rutgers and at Illinois. But consecutive losses at home to Wisconsin and Ohio State have been a big dose of reality.
Minnesota. After a 3-0 start, the Golden Gophers have opened Big Ten play with three losses in a row. The offense is struggling, as Conor Rhoda was pulled for Demry Croft, who nearly rallied Minnesota to victory in a 30-27 loss to MSU.
111, receiving yards for Illinois freshman WR Ricky Smalling on five catches with a TD.
194, yards rushing for Michigan State RB LJ Scott on 25 carries with two TDs.
171, rushing yards for Northwestern’s Justin Jackson on 28 carries with two TDs. In the process, Jackson became the Wildcats’ all-time leading rusher, passing Damien Anderson with 4,639 yards.
9, Big Ten wins in a row for Wisconsin, which ties a school mark.
219, yards rushing for Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor on 30 carries with a TD. It is the third time the true freshman has rushed for 200 yards in a game this season. Taylor is the first Big Ten freshman to have back-to-back 200-yard rush games since Michigan’s Mike Hart in 2004.
6, Big Ten losses in a row for Illinois.
106, rushing yards for Ohio State RB J.K. Dobbins on 12 carries with a TD.
274, rushing yards for Rutgers, its most ever vs. a Big Ten foe.
22, losses in a row for Indiana to Michigan. The last time the Hoosiers beat the Wolverines was 1987. It is IU’s only victory vs. Michigan since 1967.
106, yards receiving for Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson on eight grabs with three TDs.
12, wins in a row for Wisconsin vs. Purdue. It’s the most consecutive losses to an opponent in Boiler history.
200, yards receiving for Nebraska’s JD Spielman on 11 grabs with a TD.
210, yards receiving for Maryland’s D.J. Moore on 12 catches with two TDs.
303, passing yards for Nebraska’s Tanner Lee with two TDs.
100, yards receiving for Wisconsin’s Quintez Cephus on five catches with a TD.