Rapid recap of the week that was: Penn State and Iowa were off this week. Illinois wet the bed at home against Rutgers. Michigan squeaked by Indiana on the road in overtime a week after its loss to Michigan State in the monsoon. Wisconsin laid a whooping on Purdue in Madison. Northwestern scored three touchdowns in the second quarter en route to an important road win at Maryland. Ohio State continued their Big Ten winning ways at Nebraska. Michigan State almost let one get away at Minnesota in a rain delayed game to close out Week 7 on Saturday night.
Big Ten Top Performers
Michigan running back Karan Higdon
Michigan’s been trying to find a running back they consistently like and can trust in big situations since the departure of leading rusher De’Veon Smith last season. Karan Higdon appears to be the guy. The former 3-star back was the best player on the field against Indiana. His 59-yard touchdown run with just over 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter was the play of the game.
Higdon punched in the winning score in overtime, bouncing outside of the tackles and sprinting once again untouched to the end zone. The Wolverines were their typical inept self on offense until that play. On the day, Higdon had 200 yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns.
Michigan’s defense led by guru/coordinator Don Brown continues to anchor this team. No matter how bad the passing offense looks, the Wolverines defense is reliable and nasty. Michigan has now won 22 in a row against the Hoosiers, a streak that dates back to 1987.
Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor
Jonathan Taylor makes this list almost weekly. His stats are jaw dropping for the starting running back on what is perennially known as one of the best running teams in college football. He had nearly 150 yards and a touchdown before halftime in Wisconsin’s win over Purdue on Saturday.
Taylor already has 986 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season through six games. Remember: He’s a true freshman who’s beating out junior Chris James and redshirt sophomore Bradrick Shaw for a majority of these carries.
The 6-0 Badgers are rolling and it’s entirely possible this team starts the season 9-0 with a manageable three-game stretch ahead that includes Maryland, at Illinois and at Indiana.
Northwestern running back Justin Jackson
The Wildcats have been waiting for a performance like this from Justin Jackson in 2017. He struggled mightily in Northwestern’s opening two Big Ten games at Wisconsin and versus Penn State. Against Maryland, Jackson ran for two touchdowns (including the dagger in the fourth quarter) and 171 yards on 28 carries.
Congrats to @NUFBFamily RB Justin Jackson! All-time leading rusher at NW and all that is good about college football.— Anish Shroff (@AnishESPN) October 14, 2017
This is clearly a pass-heavy offense. Quarterback Clayton Thorson threw 49 times. Northwestern is at its best controlling the clock and winning games behind one of the best running backs (statistically at least) in Big Ten history to open up the pass.
Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett and the entire offense
Adding a team’s complete offensive performance to this list would usually be a cop out. In this case, the Buckeyes looked truly invincible running and passing the ball.
J.T. Barrett’s symphony of accuracy, total yards and touchdowns:
J.T. Barrett Tonight:— The Buckeye Nut (@TheBuckeyeNut) October 15, 2017
27/33 325 5TD
48 Yards Rush 2TD
There was a time when Nebraska was unbeatable, especially at night at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. After two straight shellackings to Wisconsin last week and now Ohio State, these are now desperate times for Big Red.
Nebraska head coach Mike Riley and Butch Jones of Tennessee are in similar situations following ugly home losses on the second Saturday of October.
Michigan State’s road and rain dominance
Michigan State’s turnovers and poor fourth quarter play helped Minnesota crawl back to within three — the final score 30-27 in favor of the Spartans.
Final score and fourth quarter aside, Michigan State has a toughness to them that was absent during their 3-win campaign in 2016. Two weeks in a row the Spartans go on the road to tough environments playing in miserable weather and come out with the victory.
Shout out goes to Spartans running back LJ Scott with a career day: 25 carries, 194 yards and two touchdowns.