Week 6 was a defining week for many teams around the country, including Michigan, which marked the halfway point of its season with a gritty road win at Nebraska.
How did the Wolverines’ 2021 opponents, past and future, do? Let’s take a look as we do every week.
Western Michigan (Sept. 4, 47-14 win)
The Broncos, who had been the MAC’s most impressive team over the season’s first five weeks, got the chance to make a statement against the league’s defending champion at home. But Ball State rolled WMU, 45-20, scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter to cruise to victory. WMU, which actually led 20-17 at halftime, turned the ball over three times in the second half.
At 4-2 and 1-1 in conference play, WMU hosts Kent State this week.
Washington (Sept. 11, 31-10 win)
The Huskies (2-3, 1-1 Pac-12) were on bye last week and will host UCLA this Saturday night.
Northern Illinois (Sept. 18, 63-10 win)
The Huskies scrapped, clawed and kicked their way to a 22-20 win over Toledo this past weekend, the latter quite literally. John Richardson nailed five field goals, the last of which gave NIU the lead with 26 seconds left after a 60-yard drive in the final minutes. Playing without leading rusher Harrison Waylee, the Huskies still dominated on the ground, running for 242 yards led by Antario Brown’s 93 and Rocky Lombardi’s 90. They’re now 4-2 (2-0 MAC) and sit alone atop the West Division.
NIU will play host to Bowling Green this week.
Rutgers (Sept. 25, 20-13 win)
The Scarlet Knights got off to a decent start at home against Michigan State, coming within 14-13 midway through the second quarter, but subsequently allowed a 65-yard touchdown on the Spartans’ next play from scrimmage. Rutgers gained more than 70 yards on two of its first three drives, but finished the game with seven drives of less than 10 yards on the way to a 31-13 loss.
After a 3-0 start against weak competition, Rutgers has fallen back to a more predictable level as it’s faced better teams. But with winnable games at Northwestern and Illinois later this month, the Scarlet Knights have a chance to bounce back and put themselves in position to go bowling.
Wisconsin (Oct. 2, 38-17 win)
Wisconsin is still Wisconsin, at least against teams clearly less talented. The Badgers (2-3, 1-2) ran it 61 times for 391 yards in their 24-0 win at Illinois this past Saturday, with Chez Mellusi (21 carries, 145 yards) and Braelon Allen (18-131) getting the bulk of the work. Wisconsin had scoring drives of 18, 14 and 13 plays and didn’t have a single negative play from scrimmage. On defense, the Badgers held the Illini to 93 yards on 47 snaps.
Wisconsin hosts Army (4-1) this Saturday in a game that could very well take less than two hours.
Northwestern (Oct. 23)
The Wildcats (2-3, 0-2) are coming off a bye and will host Rutgers this Saturday.
Michigan State (Oct. 30)
Michigan State is 6-0 for the first time since 2015 and Kenneth Walker III might be the Heisman frontrunner. He carried the ball 29 times for 233 yards against Rutgers, including a 94-yard touchdown bolt, and now is averaging 152 yards per game on seven yards per carry. Payton Thorne had another strong game as well, throwing for 339 yards on the back of three long touchdowns to the dangerous Jailen Nailor (five catches, 221 yards).
The Spartans will travel to Bloomington next week to take on Indiana.
Indiana (Nov. 6)
The Hoosiers (2-3, 0-2) were on bye this week and await MSU.
Penn State (Nov. 13)
Iowa beat Penn State, 23-20, in a way only Iowa can. The Hawkeyes snagged four interceptions and almost totally shut down the Nittany Lions in the second half, rallying from an early 17-3 hole to pick up their biggest win in...well, a long time.
It’s worth nothing Penn State only began to lose its lead after Sean Clifford was knocked out of the game in the second quarter. Clifford had already thrown it 25 times and was PSU’s leading rusher at the time, and actually ended the game that way as well. That just goes to show how little the Nittany Lions’ offense functioned without their senior signal-caller. Ta’Quan Roberson (7-of-21, 34 yards, two picks) might have plenty of potential, but he was thrown into an absolutely brutal scenario.
Penn State (5-1, 2-1) is on bye this week and will probably be praying for Clifford to recover soon, even though they shouldn’t need him to beat Illinois at home next Saturday.
Maryland (Nov. 20)
Things continued to snowball for the Terrapins (4-2, 1-2) in a 66-17 loss at Ohio State. The Buckeyes scored touchdowns on their first eight drives and Maryland didn’t get them off the field until C.J. Stroud and the rest of the starters had left the game. Taulia Tagovailoa was once again shaky after he threw five picks against Iowa, with two interceptions and a fumble in this one.
In desperate need of a regroup, Maryland will get one this week, as it’s on bye before it travels to Minnesota next Saturday.
Ohio State (Nov. 27)
The Buckeyes’ offense, which gained 597 yards against Maryland, is still the best in the Big Ten and maybe in the nation. C.J. Stroud went 24-of-33 for 406 yards and five scores, TreVeyon Henderson ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns, and Chris Olave and Jaxon Smith-Njigba both had more than 100 yards receiving. Ohio State brought the house on defense, sacking Tagovailoa five times and coming up with 8.5 tackles for loss, though star defensive lineman Haskell Garrett left the game with a leg injury.
The Buckeyes (5-1, 3-0) have a bye this Saturday before heading to Indiana on Oct. 23.