Big Ten Football Rankings And Reactions, Week 6

    Week 6 rankings and reaction: It was another wild one in the Big Ten race. Ohio State and Michigan State continue to struggle, while Michigan came up with its statement performance and Wisconsin survived a nasty game at Nebraska.

    September 26, 2016

    Week 6 Big Ten rankings and reaction: It was another wild one in the race to Indianapolis. Ohio State and Michigan State continue to struggle, while Michigan came up with its statement performance and Wisconsin survived a nasty game at Nebraska.

    Big Ten Player of the Week

    Iowa RB Jordan Canzeri ran 43 times for 256 yards and a score, and caught two passes for 15 yards and a touchdown in the win over Illinois.

    Week 6 Big Ten Football Rankings

    1. Michigan (5-1)

    W, Northwester, 38-0: And now the spotlight is really on. It’s been fun, and the defense has done its job with three straight shutouts, but now it’s for real. Beating Northwestern in a blowout proved that the timetable has moved up, but the expectations are going to come to not only compete with Michigan State, but actually come up with the win. The key to beating Northwestern was getting up early, but it was also a sharp day from Jake Rudock, who completed 17-of-23 passes for 179 yards and no mistakes. The D only allowed 168 yards, the O held the ball for over 37 minutes, and there weren’t any turnovers. The formula keeps on working.

    2. Ohio State (6-0)

    W, Maryland 49-28: Cardale Jones continues to be okay, but the team is still looking sluggish overall. Jones completed 21-of-28 passes for 291 yards and two scores, but J.T. Barrett did more to put the game away with three touchdown runs. The concern this week was the Buckeye defense that for the second straight week couldn’t seem to figure out a mobile quarterback, with Maryland’s Perry Hills coming up with a big 170-yard rushing day. But it’s all relative. Once again, OSU didn’t look like the No. 1 team in the country, and once again, it was a poor performance, but once again, the team won. It’s never a bad thing to come up with a lousy game and win by 21.

    3. Northwestern (5-1)

    L, at Michigan 38-0: It was sort of a question of who got up early and who made the most mistakes. Michigan took the opening kickoff for a score, Northwestern had to press from the start – ballgame. Obviously give credit to the Wolverines for the stomping, but the game exposed the Cats’ biggest weakness with the downfield pass. Michigan bottled up Justin Jackson, Clayton Thorson couldn’t make things happen down the field, and that was it. It’s a setback, but it’s a lost to the East – if NU wins out, it’s playing for the Big Ten title.

    4. Michigan State (6-0)

    W, at Rutgers 31-24: Maybe Michigan State has just been going through the motions waiting for this moment. Connor Cook might have thrown for 357 yards against Rutgers, but he threw a pick and he wasn’t all that sharp until he had to be. The overrated secondary couldn’t figure out Leonte Carroo, and it shouldn’t have taken a late punch to get past a bad team. But again, maybe the Spartans have simply been waiting for now. One win over Michigan erases all the mediocre performances, but this is going to be a fight. The last thing a struggling offense needs to face is a team that hasn’t allowed a point in three games.

    5. Iowa (6-0)

    W, Illinois 29-20: It’s hardly a thing of beauty, but Iowa was able to get tougher than Illinois when it had to, running Jordan Canzeri 43 times for 256 yards and grinding out a good win over a dangerous team on the way to 6-0. The loss of defensive lineman Drew Ott to a torn ACL is a huge problem, but that just means the offense has to continue to grind out drives and the clock, keeping the ball for almost 36 minutes. The run defense continues to be outstanding, but it’s about to get tested against Northwestern and Justin Jackson. Win that, and it might just be smooth sailing to the West title.

    6. Wisconsin (4-2)

    W, Nebraska 23-21: Who knew Alex Erickson was such a vital cog to the Wisconsin O? Dare Ogunbowale ran for 117 yards, but the ground attack still isn’t really working at the level needed, so the offense continues to fall on Joel Stave’s shoulders to run it. He might have struggled in the loss to Iowa, but he showed his veteran skills leading the Badgers to the comeback win, throwing for 322 yards and setting up the final field goal, but along the way, the return of Erickson proved to be the difference with seven grabs for 113 yards. There’s still time to win the West, but it’s going to take a flawless run the rest of the way and for Iowa to lose twice. Nebraska might not be Nebraska at this point, but the Badgers just got past one of their biggest remaining steps.

    7. Illinois (4-2)

    L, at Iowa 29-20: It might have been a loss on the road, but considering there was no Josh Ferguson at running back, the Illini played okay. The aggressive and tough defense came up with enough third down stops, but it still couldn’t control the clock, stop Iowa RB Jordan Canzeri, or get off the field. Ke’Shawn Vaughn was fine, running for 67 yards and a score, and Geronimo Allison was terrific, catching eight passes for 148 yards and a score, but Iowa was simply better at home. There’s still a chance to make a lot of noise in the West, but it’ll take a win over Wisconsin at home next week to do it.

    8. Nebraska (2-4)

    L, Wisconsin 23-21: Yeah, Nebraska is four plays away from being 6-0, but good teams know how to close. The running game didn’t work outside of the one big Andy Janovich dash that seemed to seal the deal, but the inability of the offense to come up with one more first down – and the coaching staff going conservative – allowed the Badgers to come back for the win. Tommy Armstrong used his legs well, but the brilliant 41-yard touchdown catch from Alonzo Moore was the only real bright spot. The return of De’Mornay Pierson-El didn’t seem to matter too much, and the offense stalled too often, but this should’ve been a key win instead of a fourth heart-ripping loss. With a road trip to Minnesota up next followed up by Northwestern, it’s going to continue to be a fight.

    9. Penn State (5-1)

    W, Indiana 29-7: Yeah, Indiana might not have had starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld or running back Jordan Howard, but the team did what it needed to with Christian Hackenberg having a solid, error-free game and with the ground game doing a nice job of pounding out drives. Indiana wasn’t going to hit the Nittany Lion defense with any really big plays with Zander Diamont at quarterback, so it was an easy gameplan of ball control, owning the clock, and stopping the run. But even with all the positives, there still hasn’t been any sort of a win to make anyone take notice. Penn State, 7:00 in Columbus next week – you’ll get your chance.

    10. Minnesota (4-2)

    W, at Purdue 41-13: That’s more like it. Minnesota had yet to come up with a dominant performance that looked like the Minnesota of last year, but this was it with Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith providing the running game, and Mitch Leidner – other than a pick – coming up with a solid 8-of-12 performance to do just enough to keep things moving. However, it wasn’t quite like the Minnesota of old, struggling a wee bit with the ground attack at times outside of one big Brooks run, but the defense made things easy with four takeaways and plenty of third down stops. If Minnesota can hold the ball for over 36 minutes, it’s normally going to win.

    11. Indiana (4-2)

    L, at Penn State 29-7: Without quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard, here just wasn’t anything for IU to do against a good Penn State defense that dared Zander Diamont to throw deep. There wasn’t any passing attack, and there wasn’t any pop to the offense on a consistent basis to get into the game. The Hoosier defense didn’t get gouged, but it rarely came up with a good stop to give the offense a chance. It wasn’t a sharp effort in a game the offense had to be flawless. Fortunately, a winnable game against Rutgers is up next.

    12. Maryland (2-4)

    L, at Ohio State 49-28: And thus ends the Randy Edsall era. The Terps can hardly be blamed for the loss to Ohio State, and losing to Bowling Green, West Virginia, West Virginia and Michigan shouldn’t be considered anything to get too upset over, but the program appeared to be trending the wrong way, and now it’s time to see if there’s anyone who can make Maryland a true player. It’s going to be a fight just to get back among the living with Penn State, at Iowa, Wisconsin and at Michigan State up next, but to get better, the secondary has to be stronger, the offense needs more than Perry Hills, and the team needs a whole bunch of luck.

    13. Rutgers (2-3)

    L, Michigan State 31-24: Is it okay to have a moral victory? After all the problems and all the issues, coming that close to beating the No. 4 team in the country showed the type of fight the team still has. It also helped to get past Leonte Carroo, who came off suspension to catch seven passes for 134 yards and three scores, giving the offense one of the Big Ten’s best weapons to work around. Outside of Chris Laviano’s fourth down spike to end the game, it was a solid overall performance against one of the nation’s best defenses. However, next week comes the key game needing to beat Indiana with Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan to follow.

    14. Purdue (1-5)

    L, Minnesota 41-13: This loss to the Gophers is a big problem. This is a mediocre Minnesota team coming to West Lafayette, but instead of controlling the game, the Boilermakers couldn’t stop turning the ball over with David Blough throwing three interceptions and doing next to nothing on third downs. With a road trip to Wisconsin up next followed up by Nebraska, Illinois, Northwestern and Iowa, it’s going to take a major miracle to finally get a win over an FBS team. To do it, the team has to be flawless. There weren’t any penalties, but the four turnovers ended the fun.

    MORE: Week 6 College Football Rankings, No. 1-128

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