1 B1G takeaway from each team in Week 7
Iowa — Offense is an issue when defense doesn’t get interceptions
The big question mark all season has been whether Iowa’s offense was good enough to win a game when the defense didn’t set it up for easy scores. Well, the answer is not a good one if you’re an Iowa fan, as was obvious in the 24-7 loss to Purdue. Purdue only committed 1 turnover, and Iowa (6-1, 3-1) only scored once (and committed 4 turnovers). By early in the fourth quarter, the Hawkeyes had half as many yards as Purdue. This Iowa offense isn’t built to come from behind. It came into Saturday dead last in the Big Ten in yards per game and yards per play, and that was finally reflected on the scoreboard.
Minnesota — Tanner Morgan still has it
For a while in the 30-23 win over Nebraska, this felt like 2019 Tanner Morgan. He was dealing against a good defense. It obviously helps to have Chris Autman-Bell back and fully healthy. It’s been a little puzzling that Minnesota (4-2, 2-1) refuses to throw the ball and as a result, had the No. 124-ranked passing offense in the country entering Saturday. Morgan finished 20 of 24 for 209 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs, breaking a streak of 4 straight games with under 20 pass attempts and fewer than 200 passing yards.
Nebraska — Record in close games isn’t just bad luck
Nebraska (3-5, 1-4) is always close. Always. Whether it’s a really good team like the 3 top-10 foes it has faced, or whether the team is near the bottom of the Big Ten like Illinois, Nebraska plays to the level of the competition. The Huskers do that with silly, undisciplined mistakes. Inopportune false starts and missed field goals/extra points. Even though Adrian Martinez only took 2 sacks, it felt like Minnesota got some really good pressure on him and forced him to throw from a crowded pocket. This is a team that Nebraska should have beaten.
Michigan State — Spartans can win playing their worst game
This was a trap game all the way — on the road and against a team that started the season in the top 20. The Spartans played about as poorly as they could, with 12 penalties for 134 yards while gaining only 241 total yards. And yet, Michigan State will go into the Michigan game in 2 weeks at 7-0 and an East-best 4-0 in conference play after defeating the Hoosiers 20-15. It wasn’t pretty, and the Spartans have a lot to clean up offensively before facing the Wolverines, Penn State and Ohio State, but this has to be reassuring to still find a way to win — especially when others in the conference, like Nebraska, seem to find every way to lose.
Purdue — If only ever game could be against Iowa
What is it about playing Iowa that brings out the best in Purdue? After the 24-7 win, the Boilermakers (4-2, 2-1) have won 4 of their last 5 against the Hawkeyes, who have been one of the B1G’s best programs during that span. And Purdue, well, has not been one of the B1G’s best programs. It helps to have Purdue killer David Bell, who went off for 240 yards and a TD against arguably the best pass defense in the country. Aidan O’Connell, who has struggled with interceptions this season, somehow didn’t throw any against the defense that leads the country in interceptions. Purdue now is tied in the loss column with Iowa.
Wisconsin — The Badgers still haven’t found an offensive rhythm
It’s been a struggle for Wisconsin (3-3, 1-2) from its very first game. Now officially at the halfway point, things haven’t gotten any easier for the Badgers, who gained only 310 yards in the 20-14 win against Army. Wisconsin need a fake punt to set up its second TD and a fumble return to the 1-yard line set up the clinching TD. Graham Mertz hasn’t made much progress, as he completed only 8 of 15 passes. The West looks wide open, but Wisconsin still doesn’t look like a contender.
Indiana — It doesn’t matter who is at QB
Inserting Jack Tuttle for the injured Michael Penix Jr. didn’t cure Indiana’s offensive woes. Tuttle attempted 52 passes and only threw for 188 yards. There have only been 2 such games with that many pass attempts and that few yards since 2000 (Wake Forest’s Tanner Price in 2013 and Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn in 2013. Tuttle threw 2 interceptions, including a pick-6, and took 3 sacks. The Hoosiers (2-4, 0-3) have Ohio State and Michigan 2 of the next 3 weeks, so it won’t get any easier.
Northwestern — Ryan Hilinski settles in
This is the best possible news for the Wildcats (3-3, 1-2), who probably aren’t going to a bowl game this year, even after a 21-7 win over Rutgers. But they needed one of the high-end QB talents to establish themselves as the guy moving forward, and that looks to be Hilinski, who completed 18 of 33 passes for 267 yards and 2 TDs. That’s 2 straight games with over 250 passing yards and a major improvement from his first 2 appearances of the season when he averaged fewer than 5 yards per pass attempt. The key has been getting Stephon Robinson Jr. going, as he has 2 straight 100-yard games.
Rutgers — The offense needs a makeover
The Scarlet Knights (3-4, 0-4) haven’t scored more than 13 points during their 4-game losing streak, which continued with the 21-7 loss at Northwestern. This has been an issue all season, like when they beat Syracuse despite gaining only 195 yards. Rutgers had only 222 yards against a Northwestern defense that allowed 657 yards to Nebraska 2 weeks ago.