Another week is in the books, and the plot has continued to thicken as the Big Ten race starts to take a shadow of what it may become in the upcoming weeks. Here are some thoughts, observations, and awards from week six of the season:
Player of the Week: Terrelle Pryor
It's Terrelle Pryor's turn in the rotation of Ben Chappell, Denard Robinson, and the gazelle himself. On a bum leg, all Pryor did was put up a career passing day in what amounted to only three quarters of play. The 26 of 30 passing for 334 yards are remarkable considering all he could do was pass.
With Denard Robinson's tough day, Alabama's loss, and the fact that nobody else has jumped to the forefront, Pryor is still firmly embedded at the front of the Heisman race. The guy can run, and now it appears, pass at will.
There is enough of a body of work now to believe that Terrelle has turned into a dangerous passer to go with his always dangerous legs. If only he stays healthy, or healthy enough.
There are many more weeks ahead, but Pryor is starting to become the player that everyone though that he would be out of High School. He continues to play what appears to be ho-hum performances, but at the end of the games, the stats jump out at you.
Team of the Week: Michigan State
Hello Sparty! Another week, another statement for the fighting Mark Dantonio's. Despite everyone knocking Michigan State for not beating anyone, they continue to impress and get better week after week.
The Spartans made their best statement yet by dismantling a Michigan team that was playing with a lot of confidence, and did it in the Big House. Denard Robinson unstoppable? Not against Greg Jones and the Spartan defense.
The offense was physical and pushed the Michigan defense around at will. The result was probably the most impressive win in the young Big Ten season yet this year.
A quick look at the Michigan State schedule reveals a glaring match up against Iowa on October 30th. Every other game outside of the clash in Iowa City is a conceivable win (More on not sleeping against Illinois later). With some tough games upcoming for Ohio State, Michigan State may just have earned the inside track to a Big Ten title.
Time will tell though whether MSU can avoid that flaky game that has seemed to haunt them in the past, but so far so good.
Clunker of the Week:
We'll go with Minnesota again. I have run out of descriptions on just how bad this team is. Next subject.
Breakout Performance of the Week:
Don't look now but maybe, just maybe, Illinois is much better than anyone gave them credit for. The Fighting Illinois put a decent scare into Ohio State last week, and followed that up with a convincing win in Happy Valley against Penn State.
Yes Penn State is struggling, and is experiencing some growing pains, but anytime a team goes into that stadium, with that student section, with those lion roars piercing the ear drums, and comes out the other side, it is worth applauding.
Illinois' only losses this year are to currently ranked opponents, and they played those games tough as well. The Zooker seems to have them pointed in the right direction again, and could save a trip to the unemployment line if he can get a few more wins to get into a decent bowl game.
There are three match ups this weekend that should have everyone at least interested, if not salivating.
Ohio State at Wisconsin
Ohio State goes to Mad Town to jump around a little bit and try to come out unscathed. Wisconsin will no doubt be as amped up as ever to welcome the now new number one team to their house at night.
The Buckeyes have always struggled at Wisconsin, and this one should be a physical battle of attrition like years past. Let's call it anyone's game, and every Big Ten spectator's joy. The big question: Just how healthy is Terrelle Pryor's thigh?
There is no doubt that Ohio State is the better team, but in this environment, they are going to need the dual threat Pryor available, and not the one masquerading as a pocket passer. This game is now flying a bit under the radar because of Wisconsin's loss at Michigan State, but this one should come down to the end.
Iowa at Michigan
Michigan's road continues to stay tough as the welcome a more than quality opponent to their stomping grounds for the second straight week. Aside from one game in the desert, Iowa has looked as good, if not better than everyone else in the conference.
As good as Michigan State's defense is, Iowa's may be a bit better, providing an interesting back drop to whether Michigan can get anything going against a good defense. You've got to believe that Iowa is going to score on a porous Michigan defense.
The difference will be whether Michigan can find its shoelaces again and keep pace.
Illinois at Michigan State
The last of the three intriguing match ups involve Illinois at Michigan State. Both teams are a bit of a surprise this year, and this game will prove to be a reality check of sorts for both teams. We think we believe that Michigan State is for real, and we think that there are signs that Illinois has more talent and execution than anyone thought.
We will find out if both are correct, or if one team has an upper hand. Michigan Sate will need to avoid a let down after bruising "big brother" last week, because Illinois is going to give the Spartans all they want.
Get the popcorn ready and rake the leaves prior to noon because this week should be fun.