Even with Penn State not on the slate, Saturday’s Week 6 of Big Ten play was plenty Big Ten enough.
Things are really starting to come into focus with the Big Ten West - as in there’s no telling what might happen out there. Three teams are tied atop the standings, while idle Minnesota sits just a half game back.
But that will be settled in the future, let’s go back to Week 6. Here are some of your highlights - or maybe lowlights.
Best Win of the Week - Purdue
The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach sent out an irksome tweet on Saturday, noting how 4-2 Purdue, for all intents and purposes, is unbeaten. The inverse is that the Boilermakers could just as easily be 2-4. Parcells voice - “You are what your record says you are.” At the same time, this is reflective of Purdue being one of the most interesting teams to watch thus far in the conference with four of their six games decided in the waning moments, most recently their 31-29 win at Maryland. Purdue led this game 24-23 with less than two minutes remaining, finally scoring a touchdown that the Terrapins were begging them to take. Maryland answered, scoring with just seconds to go and seemingly tying the game with a two-point conversion. However, it was waved off because of an illegal man downfield, leading to another attempt that Purdue thwarted. The Boilermakers sit right in the thick of the West race now at 4-2, 2-1 in Big Ten play and more and more, it’s looking like that opening night rally by the Nittany Lions was a quality win.
Worst Loss of the Week - Rutgers
Oh boy. Someday Big Ten teams will stop having Friday night blackouts. They just usually don’t end well, especially when you’re shut out in the second half by the defensive artists formerly known as the Black Shirts. By the way, Nebraska transfer, but seemingly at Rutgers since 2014, Noah Vedral struggled with a hand injury throughout much of the game. This meant some wildcat time from Johnny Langan. Couple all this with Art Sitkowski playing a lot in the Iowa/Illinois game, which we will get too soon, and I felt like I was in some weird fever dream of screen-pass throwing Scarlet Knights playing in every game on my television. I was just waiting to stumble upon some auxiliary channel where Gary Nova wass stepping 14 yards across the line of scrimmage before throwing down the field. Anyway, the Scarlet Knights led 13-0 before cratering in the final two quarters, allowing the Cornhuskers to move to 2-0 in conference under interim coach Mickey Joseph…and claim a share of first place in the West.
Most Big Ten Thing of the Week, Part 1 - A Nice Night in Champaign
The NFL gave us its most competitive terrible game on Thursday night as the Colts knocked off Denver 12-9 in overtime. Most notable part of that game? Russell Wilson failed to even look at a wide open KJ Hamler on the game’s final play, something that never would have happened with Sean Clifford at quarterback. Anyway, the Big Ten version of that came on Saturday night. The Hawkeyes and Illini combined for five field goals, the last of which came after the aforementioned Art Sitkowski was ruled down and also negated an Iowa scoop and score. Illinois is 5-1 and an Auerbachian 6-0 when you consider their loss at Indiana. BERT rules the West again?
Coach Boone : You're smiling.— Josh Harvey (@JoshHarvey247) October 9, 2022
Brian Ferentz: Yes
Coach Boone : Yes, sir. Why are you smiling?
Brian Ferentz: 'Cause I love football. Football is fun.
Coach Boone : Fun, sir? It's fun?
Brian Ferentz: Yes.
Coach Boone : You sure?
Brian Ferentz: I think... pic.twitter.com/2i9neY3UvU
Most Big Ten Thing of the Week, Part 2 - Those West Standings
Speaking of those standings. Just honestly look at them. Not one team is unbeaten, while not one is winless. Combining two Counting Crows lyrics, “So symbolic, somewhere in Middle America.”
Big Ten West standings:— John Steppe (@JSteppe1) October 9, 2022
T-1. Illinois, Purdue and Nebraska (2-1)
4. Minnesota (1-1)
T-5. Iowa, Wisconsin and Northwestern (1-2)
Most Iowa Thing of the Week - Iowa’s “Drive” for 3
This. “Drive.” Chart.
IOWA DID WHAT??? WE LOVE YOU IOWA!! YES HAHAHA YES!! pic.twitter.com/K7WQKC2yl0— Sickos Committee (@SickosCommittee) October 9, 2022
Offensive Player of the Week - C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
So many weapons for the Buckeyes and such great scheming…that’s the takeaway of most games where you watch Ohio State. It’s not wrong. Maybe C.J. Stroud will be the next (first?) great Ohio State quarterback to play in the NFL. Maybe he won’t. But, he’s having an amazing year and certainly at the top of that Heisman contender list. He shook off an early Pick 6 from a miscommunication to eviscerate the Spartans…361 yards and 6 touchdowns in less than three quarters of play.
CJ Stroud vs Michigan State:— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) October 8, 2022
• 361 yards
• 6 TD
• Passed Justin Fields for second most career TD passes by a Buckeyes QB
The Ohio State QB had himself a DAY against the Spartans pic.twitter.com/GjwAPM2rip
Defensive Player of the Week - Garrett Nelson, Nebraska
Someone will dig through PFF’s numbers and find something better…or maybe I’m missing something obvious on a Sunday morning. But, let’s give some good things to the Huskers this week. They’re 3-3 and, as mentioned, in first place in the Big Ten West. Nelson had 11 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks as Nebraska shut out Rutgers in the second half in Piscataway.
Offensive Play of the Week - Marvin Harrison Jr. is Good
I hate repeating myself. But, Marvin Harrison Sr. might have been one of my all-time favorite players to watch. As an absolutely mediocre high school wide receiver at a rural Indiana high school, I tuned in every Sunday to see the way the position is supposed to be played. Now, 20 years later, I shake my head at the plays that Harrison, Jr. is making week after week. I hate it. I just hate it. I’m sorry.
Defensive Play of the Week - Could Also Be Called Most Offensive Play of the Week
What’s your favorite part of this play? Spoiler. You can’t say “all of it.”
Just an absolutely perfect ending to this Iowa and Illinois game. *chefs kiss* pic.twitter.com/YXu0hvDFrI— Sickos Committee (@SickosCommittee) October 9, 2022
Thing We’re Looking Forward to the Most - Weekend in Ann Arbor
There are two monster games ahead on Saturday in college football. Our team gets to play in one. There’ll be plenty of other analysis throughout the week about the trip to Ann Arbor. But, Kurt Vonnegut, paraphrasing his uncle, once wrote that, every so often, it’s important to kick back with a lemonade next to a tree and say “isn’t this nice?”. Well, 5-0, ranked in the top 10 and about to play a huge game. Isn’t this nice?