Michigan State upends the East, Nebraska proves itself mediocre yet again and Purdue gives up on another starting quarterback. This is the Big Ten in Week 6.
INDIANA 27, CHARLESTON SOUTHERN 0
Congratulations to Big Ten football program Indiana for decisively beating the football program maybe 5% of America has ever heard of in their lives "Charleston Southern," 27 to nothing. This is like when you look at the historical records of major college football programs and back in 1897 there's games against, like, "Sioux City Dental." Anyway, Charleston Southern completed precisely zero passes in the game, so it really is like 1897 all over again.
Indiana Week 7: vs. No. 17 Michigan
NO. 10 OHIO STATE 62, MARYLAND 14
Ohio State outgained Maryland 584-66 for the game. Max Bortenschlager has more letters in his name (17) than he had passing yards on Saturday (16). I really don't know what else to tell you about this game other than it was a full-on squash match. But we do still love you, Bortenschlager.
Maryland Week 7: vs. Northwestern
Ohio State Week 7: at Nebraska
MICHIGAN STATE 14, NO. 7 MICHIGAN 10
That's two games in a row Michigan State has turned things into an unrecognizable, chaotic slog and come away with a victory. It was a little impressive when Sparty did it to Iowa; it was one hell of a statement when Sparty went to Ann Arbor and knocked off Michigan to inject MSU (!!) into the Big Ten East race. The jury's still completely out on whether Brian Lewerke's (11-22, 94 yards, 1 TD; 11 rushes, 61 yards, 1 TD) even in the top half of Big Ten quarterbacks, but with a defense like MSU's, it's (much) less of a concern.
Michigan Week 7: at Indiana
Michigan State Week 7: at Minnesota
PURDUE 31, MINNESOTA 17
For a non-contender, the powerhouse games aren't what define conference seasons. It's the meat of the schedule, the games against the fellow non-contenders, the ones that set the striations among the teams vying for the Outback and on down. Minnesota's had two of those games, and Minnesota has lost them both — crumbling late against Maryland and backup QB Bortenschlager last week, then crumbling late against Purdue and backup QB Elijah Sindelar here. Sparty comes to town next; that's a strong chance for the underdog prairie dogs to make something happen.
Meanwhile, this is Jeff Brohm's first season in West Lafayette, but it's great to see he's keeping up the program's defining tradition: giving up on starting quarterbacks mid-season. In the last 10 seasons, Purdue has eight years where multiple quarterbacks have thrown at least 90 passes, including 2010's Disasterpiece Theater where Rob Henry, Robert Marve and Sean Robinson combined for this monstrosity:
Iowa, if you were curious, has had precisely one season since 2001 where two quarterbacks had at least 90 throws: C.J. Beathard logging 92 in 2014 while Jake Rudock started most of the year. That was plenty chaotic at the time, even with the obviously positive result for all parties involved. Now: imagine that being your program's status quo. Every. single. year. You'd probably cycle through head coaches like windshield wipers too.
Minnesota Week 7: vs. No. 21 Michigan State
Purdue Week 7: at No. 7 Wisconsin
NO. 9 WISCONSIN 38, NEBRASKA 17
There's something a little too on-the-nose about Nebraska putting on 1998 throwbacks for this game, but like all cosplayers know deep down, putting on the disguise doesn't make you the character. Nebraska hung tough into the third quarter, but Wisconsin just overwhelmed the Huskers with physical line play. Jonathan Taylor flattened Nebraska's once-proud defense — an outfit that has been pretending it's 1998 for about that long — for 249 yards and two scores on just 25 rushes. Things go from bad to worse for the Huskers, who must now travel to Columbus as 24-point (!!) underdogs to the Buckeyes. But hey, blackshirts, right?
Nebraska Week 7: at No. 9 Ohio State
Wisconsin Week 7: vs. Purdue
NO. 4 PENN STATE 31, NORTHWESTERN 7
It's extremely Northwestern that the Wildcats held Saquon Barkley to negative yardage midway through the third quarter, even as the Nits held a decisive 17-0 advantage, giving the tiny erudite fanbase a perfect opportunity to shift some goalposts in national perception without making an actual difference. Then Barkley ripped off a classic 53-yard touchdown run, juking the souls out of defenders as he did to Iowa, uh, way too often, and the manufactured accomplishment of a non-competitive opponent vanished into the ephemera where it belonged. When you're down 17 and selling out to affect a Heisman race your players will never sniff, then your backs get broken anyway, you're just Northwestern.
Northwestern Week 7: at Maryland
Penn State Week 7: Idle; Week 8 vs. No. 17 Michigan