After Saturday, 13 of the 14 Big Ten teams have played exactly half of their regular-season schedule (Rutgers has only played five times). What have we learned?
There's a pretty clear-cut group of contenders now: Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan in the East Division and Iowa, Northwestern and maybe Wisconsin in the West. Teams like Penn State, Minnesota and Illinois are on the fringe. The rest will be battling for bowl berths and relevancy the rest of the way. But as we've seen with Michigan State's close call with Rutgers on Saturday and Indiana's scare of Ohio State in Week 5, the margin between teams in this league is pretty razor thin.
Let's get on with the Week 6 rewind:
Team of the week: Who else but Michigan? The Wolverines’ 38-0 victory over then-No. 13 Northwestern was their third straight shutout, making them the first FBS team to do that in 20 years. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Michigan is one of just five teams since 1937 to score at least 28 points while shutting out two ranked opponents (BYU and Northwestern). Three of the other four teams who did won the national championship.
Big Man on Campus (Offense): Iowa’s Jordan Canzeri deserved a massage and some time in the hot tub after his workhorse effort in a 29-20 win over Illinois. Canzeri carried the ball a school-record 43 times for a career-best 256 yards and a touchdown. He also had two catches, including a 17-yard score.
Big Man on Campus (Defense): While Michigan's shutout was a total team effort, Minnesota’s Jalen Myrick was an individual standout. He grabbed two interceptions and ran one back for a touchdown in the Golden Gophers’ 41-13 blasting of Purdue. Myrick also had a tackle for loss.
Big Man on Campus (Special teams): Wisconsin’s Rafael Gaglianone missed two of his five field goal attempts vs Nebraska, one of which boinked off the right upright with 1:26 left and the Badgers trailing by one. But Gaglianone rebounded to drill a 46-yard game-winner with four seconds left to potentially save Wisconsin’s season.
Huskers nightmare, Part IV: It's almost impossible to believe Nebraska lost another game in the final minute to drop to 2-4 on the season. It's a 60-minute game, so you could point to any number of reasons why they lost. But against Wisconsin, the Cornhuskers compounded the mistake they made a week earlier.
In the Week 5 loss at Illinois, Tommy Armstrong Jr. mistakenly threw the ball on a third-and-seven to stop the clock even though the Illini had no timeouts. Illinois rallied for the winning score. Against Wisconsin on Saturday, Nebraska took over on its own 21, leading by a point, with 1:21 to go. But since the Badgers had all three timeouts remaining, this would have been the time to try at least one pass to get a first down. Instead, the Huskers were so scarred by what happened the week before that they ran three straight predictable running plays. Wisconsin used its timeouts, and Nebraska only bled 18 seconds off the clock. That left the Badgers plenty of time to get in field-goal range, especially against a spotty and gassed Big Red pass defense.
The lesson: Never turn one mistake into a second one. But every bad thing keeps repeating for the Huskers this season.
Strangest moment: Rutgers trailed Michigan State by a touchdown and had time for maybe one final play from midfield. Chris Laviano got up to the line of scrimmage and spiked the ball to stop the clock. Small problem: it was already fourth down. Laviano said afterward that he and the coaching staff all thought it was third down. Interim coach Norries Wilson took the blame for calling for the spike. It would have been nice if the Scarlet Knights could have heaved one prayer up for Leonte Carroo, who had a spectacular game. It would have been even nicer if the actual head coach were around to make those calls.
Fun with numbers: Penn State has held its first two Big Ten opponents (Rutgers and Indiana) to 10 total points. That's the best two-game defensive showing in league play since the Nittany Lions joined the conference in 1993. ... Ohio State has trailed on 20 percent of its offensive plays this season, the same amount that Florida State trailed through six games a year ago. Hmmm ... ESPN’s Football Power Index now gives Michigan a 73 percent chance to beat Michigan State this week. That’s more than double the chance FPI gave the Wolverines this game in the preseason (34 percent). ... Illinois' Geronimo Allison has been targeted more times (72) than any other FBS receiver through six games. But Allison has only caught the ball on 55.6 percent of those targets, which is 192nd nationally. Compare that to TCU's Josh Doctson, who's No. 2 nationally with 68 targets and has caught ball 73.5 percent of them.