1 B1G takeaway from each team in Week 6
It was an absolutely wild day in college football, and that included the Big Ten, with several games going down the wire despite there only being 5 games. Here is 1 takeaway from each team:
Ohio State — The Buckeye defense has made strides
There was a time when the Buckeyes were viewed as not only vulnerable on defense, but a complete mess. They allowed over 500 yards to Oregon and Tulsa, continuing a trend from last season in which they couldn’t stop much of anyone. But the 66-17 win over Maryland marked 3 straight games of holding their opponent to under 350 yards of offense—and this one came against a team that entered Saturday with the B1G’s No. 3 offense. Ohio State (5-1) has 4 straight games with a pick-6.
Michigan — Cade McNamara needs to play better if he’s going to hold onto starting job
It isn’t often that you hear about a QB of an undefeated team being pushed, but McNamara has to play better. He misfired on several deep balls that should’ve been walk-in TDs, and as a result, Michigan had to sweat out a 32-29 game at Nebraska that it should’ve won by double digits. And really, the Wolverines could’ve lost if not for a late Adrian Martinez fumble to set up the go-ahead field goal.
Nebraska — It’s the same old story
What else is there to say? What else is there to write about this? Nebraska refuses to get out of its own way. Scott Frost’s face said it all after Adrian Martinez’s fumble gave Michigan a 32-29 win. The most disappointing part is that all 4 losses have been by 1 possession, and the last 3 have been against teams that will be in the top 10 of next week’s AP poll. It’s just astounding. These fans deserve better.
Scott Frost. Pain. pic.twitter.com/n3k93vLbdB
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 10, 2021
Iowa — The Hawkeyes need to improve in all facets offensively
At a certain point, you are who you are, and Iowa isn’t going to turn into Ohio State. But the No. 3 Hawkeyes (6-0) really need to make some improvements offensively if they want to win the Big Ten and go to the College Football Playoff. Iowa added to its national-best 12 INTs with 4 more this week. It’s mind-boggling how one defense can continue to put the offense in such great position. Spencer Petras was inaccurate for much of Saturday’s 23-20 win over Penn State, and until that improves, I can’t take Iowa seriously.
Michigan State — This is officially an explosive offense
You’ve got to hand it to offensive coordinator Jay Johnson and the strides the Spartans have made. This is just a much more dynamic offense, as it racked up 4 TDs of more than 60 yards, highlighted by 3 TD catches from Jalen Nailor. For perspective, the Spartans had 4 such plays in the prior 3 seasons combined. With Kenneth Walker III, Nailor and Jayden Reed, though, Michigan State now has 7, which was the most in the country entering Saturday.
Penn State — Sean Clifford’s value is obvious
James Franklin just does not have anywhere to go after Sean Clifford. Ta’Quan Roberson, last year’s 4th string QB, was 7 of 21 for 34 yards (1.6 yards per attempt) in relief of the injured Clifford, as Penn State blew a 14-point lead in the 23-20 loss to No. 3 Iowa. It’s a shame, because the Nittany Lions have all the ingredients for a special season, except a backup QB. That’s on Franklin for not replenishing his QB room when Micah Bowens (Oklahoma) and Will Levis (Kentucky) transferred.
Wisconsin — The breakout game for Braelon Allen
There’s been a considerable amount of buzz for the true freshman running back who was viewed by some as more of a safety in college. But his natural athletic ability allowed him to find a home at RB, and he could start rising to the top of a crowded position group and be the next great Wisconsin back. In the 24-0 win over Illinois, he totaled 131 yards and a TD on 18 carries, marking his first game with more than 7 carries. Expect to hear this name a lot over the next few years.
Maryland — Taulia Tagovailoa can’t single-handedly beat elite teams
Program building takes time. And having one very good player like Tagovailoa just isn’t enough. In games like Saturday’s 66-17 loss to Ohio State (and the previous week against Iowa), it’s been clear that the Terps just aren’t on that level. Tagovailoa has been taking more chances and has 7 INTs the last 2 weeks. Meanwhile, Maryland has a total of 153 rushing yards in those games.
Rutgers — Better things are ahead
Whew, that was a tough 3 weeks, and I’m sure the Scarlet Knights learned a lot in facing Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State, all of which should be in the top 10 of next week’s AP poll. With a 31-13 defeat to the Spartans, Rutgers should have a chance to get back on track with Northwestern and Illinois up next, plus Indiana and Maryland also still on the schedule.
Illinois — The Illini are regressing… and may have hit bottom
Remember how much promise the Bret Bielema era started with? Well, after managing 93 yards in the 24-0 dud against Wisconsin, it’s fair to wonder where this is going. The Illini didn’t have any turnovers and didn’t allow any sacks, but to average fewer than 2 yards per play is something. That had only happened 5 times this season entering Saturday.