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In a B1G Country: Week 6 Recap, Week 7 Preview

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Apart from Michigan's collapse, the East is playing out reasonably close to form. The West, on the other hand, is total chaos.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week's Results

Non-Conference

Just one: Indiana 49, North Texas 24. This was the Indiana offense we've all expected to see: 593 yards of offense, with Tevin Coleman and D'Angelo Roberts both surpassing 100 yards on the ground. The first and third quarters are when Indiana did most of its damage, outscoring UNT a combined 42-3 in those two quarters. North Texas was fairly high in several defensive statistical categories coming in, but the schedule may have had much to do with that (SMU has the worst offense in FBS, Nicholls State is a tire fire even by FCS standards, and among non-cupcakes Texas's offense is not especially formidable either).

Conference Games

Michigan State 27, Nebraska 22

Three quarters of awesome, one quarter of steadily rising panic, and 30 seconds of relief while screaming "DON'T SCARE ME LIKE THAT EVER AGAIN!"

Purdue 38, Illinois 27

Last year, Tim Beckman celebrated his first Big Ten win as a coach against Purdue. It is only fitting that his Illini returned the favor for Darrell Hazell. Both teams put up over 500 yards of offense, which is somewhat startling; Purdue ran for 349 (more than in their three losses on the year combined) while Illinois threw for 450. With Wes Lunt out for several weeks with a broken leg, there is still a strong chance of an 0-8 team in the Big Ten West; it just won't be Purdue.

Ohio State 52, Maryland 24

The Buckeyes pulled away early, leading 24-3 21 minutes into the game and only letting Maryland get within two scores for a brief period just before halftime. J.T. Barrett put up an impressive 18/23, 267 yards, 4 TD line and added 71 more yards on the ground; C.J. Brown started for Maryland but did not play well (likely hampered by a wrist injury sustained against Indiana), managing only 71 yards (just under 4 per attempt) before being pulled at halftime.

Northwestern 20, Wisconsin 14

Melvin Gordon had another ridiculous game (27 carries, 259 yards, 1 TD), but Wisconsin's passing game sabotaged the day as Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy combined for a dismal 12/29, 138 yards, 1 TD, 4 INT line. Three of those interceptions, all in the red zone, went to Godwin Igwebuike. Raise your hand if you predicted Northwestern would be the first to two wins in the Big Ten.

Rutgers 26, Michigan 24

The bad news just keeps piling up for Michigan. Devin Gardner was reasonably effective (13/22, 178, 1 INT, 40 yards and 2 TDs rushing) and the defense held Rutgers to 74 yards rushing, but Derrick Green picked up a season-ending injury (broken clavicle) and Gary Nova threw for 404 yards and three touchdowns. A dubious no-catch call with 3 minutes left forced Michigan into 4th and 8 at the Rutgers 38; they opted for a 56-yard field goal attempt with the wind, which was predictably blocked (Rutgers leads the nation with five blocked kicks on the year). The Scarlet Knights then ran out the clock.

This Week's Games

All conference play this week. All times ET. Odds are based on my margin-aware ratings including preseason bias (available here); all four sets of rankings (margin-aware or W-L only, with or without preseason bias) are available here. At this point, the preseason bias in the ratings is relatively low: for teams that have played six games, last season's rating is given a weight of one game; for those who have played only five, the weight is 1.67 games. Once everyone has played eight games, it will be gone entirely.

Race to 24: Northwestern at Minnesota (Noon, BTN)

It feels weird to write this, but Northwestern's defense looks pretty solid this year. How they hold up against Minnesota's extremely run-heavy offense is tough to predict, though; of their two conference games, Penn State has difficulty running against anyone with a pulse, and Wisconsin had no difficulty on the ground but threw the game away in the air. Minnesota has been similarly stout defensively. Points should be at a premium.

Odds: Minnesota 80% (favored by 9)

Half of a Great Game: Indiana at Iowa (Noon, ESPNU)

The Hawkeyes, coming off a bye week, host Indiana's up-tempo attack. Iowa's defense has been solid, but the offense has struggled enough that C.J. Beathard and Jake Rudock are now rotating snaps at QB. Indiana is the polar opposite: very good offense, mediocre or worse defense. When Indiana has the ball, this should be a fascinating matchup. When Iowa has it, think easily resistable force vs. easily movable object.

Odds: Iowa 67% (favored by 5)

Blowout of the Week: Illinois at Wisconsin (Noon, ESPN2)

Illinois just gave up 350 rushing yards to Purdue. Even if Illinois puts 11 in the box, it might be a mistake for Wisconsin to throw the ball at all. (Of course, last week I had Wisconsin-Northwestern listed as the mismatch of the week, so take that heading for what it's worth.)

Odds: Wisconsin 94.3% (favored by 18.5)

Please Don't Be As Interesting As Last Week: Michigan State at Purdue (3:30, ABC/ESPN2)

This begins a stretch of three relatively easy games for MSU (the others being at Indiana and hosting Michigan) before the bye week and difficult late schedule (OSU, at Maryland, Rutgers, at PSU). Purdue's defensive front is respectable and could pose a challenge for the run game, but the pass defense is somewhat less stout and Purdue hasn't showed much ability to move the ball against defenses that aren't Illinois-level awful.

Odds: Michigan State 88% (favored by 13)

The Battle of Bad Blocking: Penn State at Michigan (7:00, ESPN2)

Both teams have had offensive line play ranging from poor to catastrophic, and both defensive fronts are capable of exploiting that. This could be painful to watch.

Odds: Penn State 57% (favored by 2)

Bye Week: Nebraska, Maryland, Ohio State, Rutgers

Conference Race

Projected records are based on game-by-game odds. Division title chances (outright or share) are estimated by 100,000 season simulations.

East Division

Team Avg wins 0-8 1-7 2-6 3-5 4-4 5-3 6-2 7-1 8-0 Bowl Outright Shared
Ohio State 6.49 N/A 1 in 1,890,000 1 in 20,900 0.15% 2.01% 12.50% 33.35% 37.49% 14.49% >99.99% 45.90% 70.39%
Michigan State 5.95 N/A 1 in 24,500 0.13% 1.52% 8.33% 23.21% 34.11% 25.26% 7.43% 99.86% 24.86% 47.50%
Maryland 4.12 N/A 0.81% 6.79% 21.72% 33.57% 26.12% 9.66% 1.32% N/A 92.40% 0.90% 5.32%
Penn State 4.02 N/A 1.13% 8.27% 23.43% 32.91% 24.17% 8.83% 1.26% N/A 96.89% 1.43% 6.27%
Indiana 3.12 0.53% 6.72% 22.70% 33.67% 25.08% 9.54% 1.67% 0.09% N/A 70.05% 0.19% 1.29%
Rutgers 2.88 N/A 7.07% 29.27% 38.15% 20.15% 4.81% 0.52% 0.02% N/A 92.93% 0.09% 0.60%
Michigan 1.60 13.02% 34.81% 34.20% 14.96% 2.81% 0.20% 1 in 22,700 N/A N/A 3.01% <0.01% 0.03%

Ohio State leapfrogs MSU for the division lead after a blowout win at Maryland; MSU's rating barely budged thanks to the close win and the Oregon game continuing to slip in value. MSU is still favored at home against OSU, but only by one point, and three moderate-difficulty road trips (PSU, Rutgers, Indiana) await with MSU favored in all but not by more than 3.5. Ohio State hosts two of those three, making them significantly easier, but does have to go to Minnesota.

West Division

Team Avg wins 0-8 1-7 2-6 3-5 4-4 5-3 6-2 7-1 8-0 Bowl Outright Shared
Nebraska 5.35 N/A 1 in 14,500 0.31% 3.42% 15.78% 34.13% 34.03% 12.32% N/A 99.99% 17.65% 41.81%
Minnesota 5.32 N/A 0.01% 0.41% 3.98% 17.17% 34.77% 30.63% 11.53% 1.50% 99.58% 15.92% 39.13%
Northwestern 5.26 N/A N/A 0.24% 3.68% 18.48% 36.91% 29.60% 9.95% 1.15% 79.22% 13.37% 35.15%
Wisconsin 4.73 1 in 10,700 0.28% 2.61% 11.45% 26.44% 32.95% 20.95% 5.32% N/A 97.10% 7.40% 23.53%
Iowa 4.35 N/A 0.65% 5.46% 18.16% 30.64% 27.90% 13.60% 3.29% 0.31% 93.89% 5.32% 16.46%
Purdue 1.80 N/A 40.77% 41.33% 15.08% 2.59% 0.22% 1 in 11,500 1 in 801,000 N/A 2.82% <0.01% 0.04%
Illinois 0.99 31.91% 42.32% 20.68% 4.60% 0.47% 0.02% 1 in 380,000 N/A N/A 5.09% <0.01% <0.01%

Pick a name out of a hat. The average win projection difference between first and third place is less than 0.1 wins, and the gap between first and fifth is just one win. If you're in the West and you aren't Illinois or Purdue, you've got a realistic chance of winning the division. Wisconsin's loss at Northwestern dropped them from first all the way to fourth, while Purdue's win gets them out of the basement.