The virtue of a Yom Kippur aided late kickoff for Northwestern (kickoff at 8 pm to help the tribe), meant that I got to watch a bunch of Big Ten football from the comfort of my home before heading to our exquisite golf course parking spot to grill up carne asada, quesadillas, chicken, and mix up some mango-black-bean salsa-with-cumin.....
The vice? I watched UCLA curb stomp on Nebraska. I watched Jerry Kill have a sideline seizure and miss the 2nd half. (Full disclosure: I'm a Jerry Kill fan. He's the best coach Minny has had in......forever. So, I'm going to take what should be a non-assailable position and say he should stay at Minnesota as long as he'd like, and as long as they are going to bowls and/or competing in the B!G Legends/Western division....you don't fire a guy just because he has a medical condition that means he has an occasional seizure, .) I watched a Bowling Green player quite literally take a punt off of the foot of the defender......
Oh, and did I mention Akron almost beating Michigan?
So then I went to my tailgate.....and was spared UCF beating Penn State from start to finish (UCF never trailed the entire game), Washington beating Illinois (although kudos to the Illini for fighting back to make it a game), Purdue losing but getting some type of moral victory against Notre Dame.....and the screwjob in the desert that was the ending of Wisconsin-Arizona State. A 7-5 day for the conference, with 3 losses to the Pac12. Ugly.
On to the bullets:
- Controversial Theory #1: Maybe Michigan isn't all that good. They frankly were lucky to win against Akron - the Zips missed 2 FGs, and threw a goal line interception, while Michigan benefited from (a.) a dubious/ticky-tack pass interference call on their final TD drive (the Zips cornerback made a great play on the ball, but got flagged because his other hand touched the receiver), (b.) the refs inexplicably not putting time back on the clock for Akron on their final drive after a booth replay, and (c.) the fact that the referees did not call pass interference on Michigan on the final play (a defender essentially tripped the receiver). The win over Notre Dame now doesn't look all that impressive (they had to come back to beat Purdue, and their other win is over a Temple team that just lost to Fordham). Oh, and Devin Gardner threw 3 INTs, Michigan has no running game OTHER than Devin Gardner (this is a recipe for injury disaster), and the Wolverine defense just gave up 311 yards passing to the immortal Kyle Pohl. For those of us who hate Michigan (i.e. almost all of us), this was just about the perfect result - Michigan was humiliated and deserved to lose, but the conference was spared a loss. On the other side of the field, something tells me this game gets Terry Bowden an interview at a bigger program this offseason.
- Nebraska beat UCLA.....and then they played the second half. The Cornhuskers 2nd half performance was downright atrocious - no discipline on defense, no coherent offensive play-calling on offense, and no points (while giving up 31 to UCLA). The Nebraska defense was who we thought they were (horrible), their offense is not nearly as good as Husker fans claim (or, at minimum, lacked good enough play calling to do anything in the 2nd half), and Bo Pelini just needs 3 more losses this season to fulfill his destiny. Classy tribute to Nick Pasquale, though, from the classy fans in Lincoln.....I just wish the Huskers players and coaches hadn't quit like they did in that 2nd half.
- Minnesota won and ugly 29-12 game against Western Illinois (which we determined over Twitter is essentially Iowa), but the big news is Jerry Kill, who suffered a seizure at halftime/right before halftime and was taken to the hospital where he checked out fine, apparently. Here are the facts: 1) Jerry Kill is a good coach. 2) You don't fire good coaches. 3) No one should be fired if they are good at their jobs due to a medical condition that they have as under control as possible (which is the case with Kill). Keep an eye on Philip Nelson, who got dinged up running the read option, and the Minnesota offense (which frankly looked unimpressive against a defense they should have crushed).
- I think Indiana has it's QB in Nate Sudfeld, who threw for 335 yards and 2 TDs against Bowling Green to (at least temporarily) right the Indiana-bowl-season ship. Indiana's defense actually looked impressive - they only gave up 3 points in 11 offensive series (BG's touchdown came on special teams, when a Bowling Green player literally took the football off of the punter's foot), while the Hoosiers got big rushing days from Stephen Houston (155 yards) and Tevin Coleman (129 yards and 2 TDs). The next game will be a big test against Mizzou....beat the SEC for us, will you Hoosiers?
- Controversial Theory #2: maybe Michigan State's defense isn't really that good, they've just played bad teams/offenses. I mean, Western Michigan/USF/Youngstown State isn't exactly murderer's row, am I right? That being said, it was nice to see the MSU offense actually score, and I guess Connor Cook is the winner of Dantonio's QB derby (202 yards passing and 4 TDs). Also, Shilique Calhoun had a sack and fumble recovery, further adding to his All-American resume this season. Given other results today, Michigan State fans might feel good about their chances of winning the Legends now....
- In the Unbridled Hate and Corn Bowl, Iowa held off a late surge by Iowa State to win 27-21. I, for one, was happy to see Mark Weisman have another big game running the ball (145 yards rushing, although only averaging 4.1 ypc), and Jake Rudock had a "game-manager" style efficient performance (160 yards passing, 2 TDs in the air and 1 TD on the ground) that must have brought pride to Kirk Ferentz for being so damn boring. Hawkeye fans, enjoy a year of lording it over the rubes from Ames.
- Despite another good performance from Christian Hackenberg (21/28, 262 yards passing, 1 TD), Penn State fell behind UCF and never caught up, losing 34-31. The game had to be mildly concerning to Nittany Lion fans in terms of Penn State's defense, which gave up 507 yards of offense, including 219 rushing yards, and missed a bunch of tackles and blew a lot of coverages along the way. If there is a silver lining here, Zach Zwinak had a pretty good day running the football (128 yards, 3 TDs).
- Am I done with the B1G losses yet? NO! NOT EVEN REMOTELY! Let's turn to Illinois, who up until Saturday was the big surprise of the season. The Illini's luck ran out in Soldier Field, however, against a Washington team that ran up 615 yards of offense in building up a 21 point lead, before the Illini made a valiant attempt at a comeback. The Illini's offense is clearly improved from last year, but they struggled yesterday with only 327 yards of total offense and allowing four sacks of Nathan Scheelhaase. It may have been too much to expect the Illini to win this game (Washington is a top 25 team, after all, while the Illini won just 2 games last year and are still coached by Tim Beckman), and the Illini fans still have a lot to be hopeful about, but given the rest of the B1G's performance yesterday this loss stung.
- I alluded to it above, but Notre Dame needed a 4th quarter rally to beat Purdue. I repeat: Notre Dame needed a 4th quarter rally to beat Purdue. I'm sure Purdue fans don't want moral victories at this point....but, there you go. Rob Henry's pick-6 was back-breaking, and Purdue's pass defense (including Ricardo Allen, who I really liked preseason) struggled to stop DaVaris Daniels (167 yards receiving, 2 TDs, and one ferocious stiff arm of Allen). The bigger problem? An anemic Purdue rushing attack, which only managed 38 yards rushing.
- Ohio State basically cruised against Cal, building a 31-14 lead in the 2nd quarter and a 45-20 lead early in the 3rd quarter en route to a 52-34 win. Kenny Guiton had a huge game in relief of dinged up Braxton Miller, as Guiton threw for 276 yards and 4 TDs while also picking up 92 yards on the ground. If there's any negative to be taken from this game it's that Cal managed 503 total yards (including 371 passing yards by freshman QB Jared Goff) against the Buckeye defense....then again, Cal was playing from behind and Urban Meyer largely called off the dogs, I suspect, when the game was out of reach.
- Meanwhile, in Evanston, something strange happened: Northwestern won by 21 points against Western Michigan, and Northwestern fans were arguably disappointed. Another weird thing happened: Jeff Budzien missed a field goal. Anyways, it was a workman-like, vanilla game plan performance by the Wildcats, with Treyvon Green rushing for 158 yards and 2 TDs, Kain Colter contributing 106 yards on the ground and a rushing TD himself. A 24 point 2nd quarter put this game out of reach, and the Wildcats cruised. There's still plenty for the Cats to work on (the Cats were shut out in a quarter for the first time this year in the 1st quarter last night), but the path remains clear to a huge October 5th showdown with the Buckeyes in Evanston.
- Sweet Jesus Wisconsin got screwed. I mean, honestly, that was highway robbery by the officials, who completely blew it at the end of that game. Joel Stave kneeled down, Arizona State should have been penalized for falling on the ball that way, and the referees should have done SOMETHING to restore order to the chaos of those final minutes. Keep in mind, though, Wisconsin still would have had to make that FG to win. A gritty performance in what should have been a nice win by the Badgers, who clearly are going up on my own power rankings. Melvin Gordon is an absolute beast - 193 yards rushing on only 15 carries, 2 TDs, and countless defenders left eating his dust. Pac12 officials completely suck, and we should refuse to play in any game in which they are used ever again. Just a goddamn disgrace.....