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Despite 4 conference teams being on bye, this week's games still produced a handful of PTPs (basketball season's just around the corner, baby), and just as importantly, some pretty solid tailgating weather as well. To the honorees:
Jesse Collins: When you transfer in as a Juco kid, sometimes the hype of your immediate impact can overshadow the real expectations that one should be held to. This is especially true on defense, and even moreso when you play in a Pelini system that confuses kids more than Calculus-based Physics confused me - which is to say I hated Physics AND Engineering after that class. Anyhow, Randy Gregory had a lot on his shoulders when he signed on the dotted line for the Huskers and while we had seen flashes of greatness to this point, it was sure fun to see a complete game by the suddenly scary DE. Sure, I'm guessing he had it in for the team that once recruited him hard - which is weird considering he more or less spurned them, but whatever - but 2 sacks, a safety, a sack called off for a weird offsides penalty, a fumble recovery, and a lot of chasing the young Etling every which way showed that he may be one of the scarier rush-ends in the B1G. Good signs for a defender and defense starting to make things click.
Green Akers: Yeah, yeah, Indiana can't play defense and so forth. Tell that to Penn State. Given where this offense was a few weeks ago, I have no problem whatsoever with MSU racking some points against a string of suspect defenses, since they couldn't do that at the beginning of the season against even worse opponents. Connor Cook and the passing game have shown dramatic improvement, but Langford was the one who cashed in, big-time, on Saturday. 109 rushing yards on 23 attempts for 3 TDs, plus an 11-yard TD reception, made him MSU's first 4-TD scorer since Edwin Baker in 2010. Even with freshman sidekick Delton Williams meriting some carries, Langford should continue rolling in October with Purdue and Illinois coming in the next two weeks.
Aaron Yorke: While Hackenberg is going to get a lot of credit from the national media for showing "poise" and confidence in a comeback victory, that would not have been possible if not for an outstanding defensive performance from C.J. Olaniyan. The junior defensive end sacked Devin Gardner two (and a half) times in addition to forcing a fumble. Penn State was expecting a breakout campaign from Deion Barnes in 2013, but instead it has been Olaniyan and senior defensive tackle DaQuan Jones who have powered the pass rush. That's something that has to continue if the Lions hope to keep the pressure off of their shallow secondary.
Beer of the Week: Hooligan Hoppy Pumpkin, North Peak Brewing Co. (Traverse City, MI), 6.5% ABV
Saturday was just a grand fall day. Two teams with serious questions earlier in the season showed more progress towards resolving them, another established itself as the probable second-best conference team by flattening a fellow contender, and two of our biggest brands played a classic in front of a national audience.
I'm almost tempted to keep the fall archetypes rolling by just putting "pumpkin spice latte" here as I don a tasteful scarf/sweater combo and Instagram pictures of a pile of leaves. But this is a footbaw site, and we've got a couple fanbases (nods to Boilermakers and Wolverines) who could probably use a nice pick-me-up right now.
Ergo, OTE presents as the BOTW this seasonal release from Traverse City's North Peak BC. I've generally been very pleased with the wave of pumpkin specialty beers that have come out this season, and I was sorely tempted to go with Arcadia Ales' Jaw Jacker here instead. But Hooligan Hoppy is a tad stronger, and every bit as tasty, especially with a heavy soup. Stash some for the winter as a break from your porters and stouts.
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