1 B1G takeaway from each team in Week 11
Ohio State: The offense is just fine
The Buckeyes were absolutely electric in a 59-31 win over Purdue. Remember when the big story was that they had settled for 8 field goals the last 2 weeks? Well, that’s clearly a thing of the past. Ohio State (9-1, 7-0) found the end zone on its first 6 drives before settling for a field goal just before halftime. It surely helped to have Garrett Wilson back in the lineup, as he had 118 yards from scrimmage and 3 TDs — in the first half. He finished with 4 TDs. When TreVeyon Henderson had to go to the locker room, Miyan Williams stepped up and racked up 117 yards. This offense is just so loaded.
Michigan State: Ready for Ohio State
I thought this was a trap game for the Spartans (9-1, 6-1), but they proved me wrong with a convincing 40-21 win over Maryland. The Terrapins can hurt teams through the air, and Michigan State allowed over 500 passing yards last week. But Michigan State held Taulia Tagovailoa to 7.3 yards per attempt, below his season average of 8.1. That’s important considering the explosive Buckeyes are waiting for the Spartans in Columbus next week. If Payton Thorne (287 passing yards, 4 TDs) can play this good, Michigan State should be able to keep it close.
Purdue: Don’t overreact
What can you do when the best offense in the country is clicking like that? It’s unfortunate that Purdue ran into the Buckeyes on a day where they were truly unbeatable. The best thing Purdue can do is shrug and move on. Aidan O’Connell played extremely well with 390 passing yards and 4 TDs, but there’s only so much you can do against a team clicking like that. Allowing 45 points in the first half isn’t a good look, but here’s the good news: Purdue has the 2 worst teams in the Big Ten left on its schedule: Northwestern and Indiana. An 8-4 finish is highly likely.
Michigan: These defensive ends are elite, but needs to get healthy
Michigan hung in there during a slow start thanks to its elite pass rush. Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo are as good of a duo that there is in the country. They combined for 5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles, as the Wolverines sacked Sean Clifford 7 times. Michigan really needs Blake Corum back, but for now, Hassan Haskins (31 carries for 156 yards) is doing all he can to keep the offense afloat.
Wisconsin: Tough to beat when it has this balance
Even without Chez Mellusi, Wisconsin’s offense was clicking on all cylinders in the 35-7 win over Northwestern. The Badgers had 9 players record a reception, which is notable considering they completed 34 passes in the entire month of October. Braelon Allen had yet another ridiculous game, rushing for 173 yards and 3 TDs, his sixth straight 100-yard game. The true freshman is more than capable shouldering the load in the backfield. If Graham Mertz (18 for 23 for 216 yards) keeps this up, Badgers will be a worthy adversary in the Big Ten Championship Game and the bowl game.
Penn State: The same old story up front
The offensive line has been a point of weakness all season, and it’s shown up in the run game. But Penn State could not protect Sean Clifford at all in the 21-17 loss to Michigan, allowing 7 sacks. At a certain point, you have to feel for Clifford, who probably is not close to being healed from the big hit to the ribs he took against Iowa. When the line can’t give Clifford time, Jahan Dotson can’t get free in the secondary for big plays. He had 9 catches but for only 61 yards, which was just the third time he has been held below 10.5 yards per reception.
Iowa: Needs to win through the air
The Hawkeyes haven’t done much on the ground all year, and that was evident yet again in the 24-22 win over Minnesota. The Hawkeyes had just 74 yards on the ground, the third time in 4 games that they were held below 80 yards. The good news is, Alex Padilla’s arm enabled Iowa to move the ball, as he threw for 206 yards and 2 TDs. And Iowa’s pass rush showed up late to force Tanner Morgan into some tough throws.
Minnesota: Another valiant effort, but not enough
You’ve got to give the Golden Gophers credit. On the road against the one-time No. 2 team in the country, Minnesota didn’t flinch. It had the ball for over 40 minutes. It out-gained Iowa 409-277. It held Iowa to a field goal after turning the ball over on downs to give its offense one last chance. That’s the identity of this team. But Minnesota just isn’t good enough. We saw it when the Golden Gophers lost to Bowling Green and Illinois.
Rutgers: A bowl game is still possible
This was a must-win for Rutgers if it wanted to reach a bowl game, and the Scarlet Knights left no doubt in a 38-3 trouncing of Indiana. Rutgers (5-5, 2-5) now just needs to either win at Penn State or at home against Maryland. This means that the Big Ten will have at least 9 teams bowl eligible. Rutgers forced 6 turnovers in cruising to its largest margin of victory in the Big Ten.
Indiana: The Hoosiers have given up on the 2021 season
If it wasn’t already clear, Indiana has called it a season. That’s the only logical explanation after a 38-3 loss to Rutgers, which entered Saturday as the sixth-place team in the East. But judging by this game, which was in Bloomington by the way, Indiana is the worst team in the Big Ten by a sizable margin. It was one thing when Indiana was playing current top-10 teams like Cincinnati, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State, but this 6-turnover performance was embarrassing. It’s basketball season now in Bloomington.
Northwestern: No bowl game this year
Not that it’s any surprise at this point, but Northwestern’s season will be over by Thanksgiving weekend thanks to a 35-7 loss at Wisconsin. The Wildcats (3-7, 1-6) are going to miss a bowl for the second time in 3 years after 4 straight bowls. The biggest thing they can do to get back to a bowl next year is shore up the offense. Andrew Marty and Ryan Hilinski combined to go for 13 of 26 for 125 yards and 4 INTs.
Maryland: Defense needs to make strides for Maryland to be a threat
The Terrapins can almost always move the ball, and they did that with 451 total yards in the 40-21 loss to Michigan State. But turnovers and poor defense seem to hold them back. They haven’t kept a Big Ten team under 30 points since the opener against Illinois. They need to emphasize defense in the offseason, like Purdue did.