That thud you heard last night? It wasn't Khabib Nurmagomedov flying down into the stands to swing on Conor McGregor's fight team in Las Vegas. It was the bottom dropping out on Michigan State stock. What we learned in Week 6 of Big Ten Takeaways is centered around another punchless effort from Sparty.
Michigan State Ain't It
This is one of the most experienced teams in the Big Ten. The team brought back nearly 20 starters from last year's 10-win squad. Yet here we are, Michigan State is now 3-2 with a road loss to Arizona State and a 10-point home loss to Northwestern.
Not ideal. At the center of the collapse? The offensive line, which continues to make QB Brian Lewerke run for his life within the pocket on anything resembling a deep drop in the pocket. Lewerke hasn't helped his own cause. Lacking in progression from last season, Lewerke is still failing to recognize opportunities to climb the pocket to avoid edge rushers and reset his feet. His ball placement has been spotty, making his (not very good) receivers have to work to finish receptions.
The bright spot for Sparty lies on the defensive side. I've enjoyed watching LB Joe Bachie Jr. this season, as well as a budding interior lineman in Raequan Williams (6 TFL on the season).
But go ahead and forget about Michigan State winning double digit games this season. This offensive is putrid all around. I still am a fan of Lewerke and I'm not out on his potential, but this is a frustrating season where his development has been put into neutral.
Ohio State Needs To Make 2018 Count
Ohio State had better make this shot count. The longer this season goes, the more likely it feels that QB Dwayne Haskins will be one and done. That's for two reasons: Haskins' play continues to exceed expectations. And to put it mildly, the 2019 QB class looks like it's pretty hopeless otherwise.
But Haskins isn't the only name the Buckeyes have to worry about leaving. Three names for sure leaving are the speedy trio of WR Parris Campbell, WR Johnny Dixon and WR Terry McLaurin. Sure, the team may retain WR Binjimen Victor, WR KJ Hill and WR Austin Mack...but the redshirt trio of Campbell, Dixon and McLaurin can scoot and have combined for 16 of Ohio State's 26 touchdown receptions this season.
Add in Mike Weber's status as a RS Junior at the most precarious position in football (see Love, Bryce) and there's potential for a lot of turnover in this Buckeyes offense next season. They need to make this year count by going out and making the CFB Playoff. To do so, they'll need to beat....
Wisconsin and Michigan Are #Back...For Now
...Michigan (Rivalry Weekend) and Wisconsin (Big Ten Championship).
The Wolverines started slow, but eventually hung 42 points on Maryland to move to 5-1, the only loss being a 7 point decision CFB Playoff contender Notre Dame in South Bend in Week 1.
Wisconsin has bounced back from probably the weirdest result of the season thus far (a home loss to BYU on a last second field goal) to handily defeat a tough Iowa team and Nebraska by 3 scores.
Both teams are back, but not for long. They play each other next weekend in Ann Arbor.
Iowa Is Mishandling TE Noah Fant
Imagine having the most prolific tight end in the country and then refusing to use him outside of the opposing team's 10 yard line. Couldn't be me...I'm not an Iowa fan.
The Hawkeyes have taken a player who averaged 16.5 per catch in 2017 and decided they don't like big plays anymore.
Fant, who is averaging 10.3 yards per catch this season, is still scoring. He has 5 touchdowns in 5 games. But if Fant decides to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft, make sure to throw a couple 2017 games on your watch list to get a better idea of how much of a game breaking player Fant can be when afforded the opportunity.