1. Husker fans enjoy dressing as staple crops. They're also the 91,000 nicest people you'll ever meet at one time.
2. No one has ever been happier about a $5 and a broken chair than the small but vocal Minnesota contingent in Lincoln.
3. Penn State: "6 wins makes us bowl eligible? Well let's stop at 6 then."
4. All that stands between Illinois and a bowl berth is Northwestern. Zut alors! The bro-visor may survive.
5. Don't worry, Rutgers, it's almost over.
6. The Buckeyes are now employing Florida State's 3-to-1 rest/work ratio.
7. If Purdue was an OTE moderator, they'd ban themselves.
8. Few could have predicted that Tanner McEvoy would net 66% more yards per carry than Melvin Gordon.
9. Fewer still imagined Jake Rudock throwing for over 300 yards.
10. Michigan sure knows how to roll out the welcome mat for our new friends from the seaboard.
BONUS: If I see the State Farm "Hans & Franz" commercial one more time, I'm going to burn things and turn over cop cars.
Minnesota at Nebraska // Minnesota wins 28-24. In 1952, the United States had reached a bloody stalemate in Korea, Dwight Eisenhower was elected President, and Minnesota won its last back-to-back victory over the Huskers. Jerry Kill has finally reset the clock. Injuries were the story of this game from the start, with both teams losing a key playmaker. Topping the Scarlet & Cream's misfortunes for the day was the loss of potent WR Kenny Bell to a concussion. The Gophers arguably fared worse, losing their biggest playmaker when RB David Cobb tweaked his hamstring. The turning point in the game looked to be a blocked FG that Nebraska ran back for a TD to put the Huskers up 21-7 (a play which, oddly, has made ZERO game recap reels) mid-way through the second quarter. Nebraska could've buried Goldy's minions with a 4th TD before the half, but the Gopher defense stiffened and stripped the ball from Demornay Pierson-El to keep the lead at 14. As bad as that was for the Huskers, Pierson-El would do his team one worse by game's end.
With a ruthless, grinding offensive performance in the 2nd half, the Gophers went up 28-24 with 3:25 left to play. Armstrong Jr. marshaled the troops, connecting on a beautiful pass to Pierson-El at the 6-yard line. Mere seconds later, Husker hopes were dashed when Briean Boddy-Calhoun stripped Pierson-El as he headed for the game-winning score. (This will forever be known as the Great Hyphening.) Goldy Gopher triumphantly hoisted the B1G's best rivalry trophy in the air, and the day was won in Lincoln for the first time since 1960.
The much-maligned Mitch Leidner was 8-17 throwing for 135, but his real heroics came on the turf by way of a 110-yard rushing performance. I've been criticized for daring to call Leidner "mediocre B1G QB" vice calling him an outright disaster (He's 7th out of 14 B1G starters by QBR). While many may disagree based on his raw numbers, I offer this: he gets it done. If the Gophers need 5 yards, he gets 5.1, maybe 6 or 7 if all goes perfectly. But he gets that damn 5. That's the real danger of Mitch Leidner, that both OSU and UN discovered to varying degrees. The big bearded man gets it done, often in defiance of his own stat line. You have to respect that. Minnesota next up: at Wisconsin for the Axe and the B1G West. #HATEWEEK. Nebraska next up: Iowa, for Pelini's trademark 4th loss.
Indiana at Ohio State // Ohio State wins 42-27. Tevin Coleman will not be ignored, and Ohio State will not hold onto the ball. For the 3rd week in a row, the Buckeyes handed the ball over multiple times. Indiana did their best to capitalize, scoring points off two of the Buckeyes' three gaffes. While Jalin Marshall stole the headlines with his 4-TD performance in the second half, Tevin Coleman was a force of nature, racking up 228 yards, including TD runs of 90 and 52 yards. The Buckeye offense looked anaemic for most of the day, until Jalin Marshal started his "Sorry About Last Week" campaign with a punt return for a TD. He would go on to add three more as Ohio State steadily pulled away in a game they should have dominated. Barrett's numbers looked good by the end, but his two first-half INTs and poor throws on critical downs kept the Hoosiers in the fight. With the B1G East all wrapped up, all that remains before Indianapolis is the annual showdown against the ghost of TTUN. #HATEWEEK. Indiana next up: Purdue. Ohio State next up: _ichigan.
Penn State at Illinois // Illinois wins 16-14. The B1Ggest game of the week. With their bowl eligibility assured, PSU traveled to face an Illinois team that needs to win out to play in honor of Chicken/Car Parts/Chicken-derived Car Parts in December. Everyone expected better performances out of Illinois with Wes Lunt back under center, but his return hasn't materialized into offensive output. To that end, Lunt was pulled in favor of Reilly O'toole before the half, who went 18-of-25 on the day. Penn State was once again the victim of its own errors, including a botched field goal and the questionable choice to punt on a 4th-and-1 late, setting up Illinois' game-winning FG drive. Hackenberg avoided turnovers this week, completing half his throws--including a TD shot to Akeel Lynch. Oddly, he threw all of two passes in the 4th quarter. In the end, the Illini found just enough out of their offense to bury the Nittany Lions with a late kick. Six wins looks to be the ceiling in Happy Valley this year. Tim Beckman may reach a bowl game after all, extending our long national nightmare. Penn State next up: MSU. Illinois next up: at Northwestern for the coveted LOLhat.
Northwestern at Purdue // Northwestern wins 38-24. The ‘Cats quest for a bowl appearance could not have come at a greater price, as QB Trevor Siemian sustained a potentially career-ending knee injury on a QB sneak. The elder Wildcat has been the most reliable playmaker all season, and despite the cringe-worthy stumble (literally) at Michigan, he's been a remarkable talent on an otherwise middling squad. This game was all NU from the start, thanks to Purdue's rather charitable nature with the football. Four of the Boilermakers' five turnovers came in the first half, and the Cats never looked back from their 24-7 halftime lead. Austin Appleby finished 26-of-48 for Purdue and accounted for both TDs. Purdue seems condemned to a slow regression at season's end after nearly dropping Minnesota four weeks ago. Northwestern next up: Illinois for the dreaded LOLhat. Purdue next up: at Indiana.
Rutgers at MSU // MSU wins 45-3. When the most notable morsel from a game is that a WR also started at CB, it's a lead-pipe cinch that the outcome was never in question. Rutgers mustered only 234 yards of offense against the Borderline Elite defense of Michigan State. Gary Nova completed only 11 of his 26 attempts. Add in two INTs and zero TDs, and his was probably the worst B1G QB performance of the week. Conversely (Connor-versely?), Cook was his old reliable self. Along with yet another 100+ yard day out of Langford, Cook had the MSU offense firing on all cylinders. Only one more week for Rutgers to endure, though it looks (sorta?) winnable. Rutgers next up: at Maryland. MSU next up: at Penn State.
Wisconsin at Iowa // Wisconsin wins 26-24. Another year in the B1G where a two-point conversion makes all the difference in a key divisional game. To say this one defies expectations would be an understatement. Iowa did an admirable job of bottling up Gordon in the first half, holding him to just 25 yards in the first quarter. The outsized focus on Gordon left Tanner McEvoy free to roam, resulting in a 45-yard TD run by the largely non-throwing QB. Down 19-3, Iowa looked to be on the ropes in the 3rd. That's when Jake Rudock put the team on his...arm? The big man stood in the pocket and heaved big pass after big pass, connecting for two TDs and running for a third. But as ever, the Badgers leaned on the outstanding legs of Melvin Gordon and the serviceable passing of Joel Stave to win the day.
A botched PAT by Rafael "Fat Kicker"
Gaglione Gagalione Gaglianone gave the Hawkeyes a chance to tie it early in the fourth, but the missed 2-pt conversion ultimately gave Wisconsin the victory. Rudock finished with an outstanding 311 yards through the air. Melvin Gordon tied the Ron Dayne's season rushing record, and he still has one game left. Something tells me he'll gain a yard next week. After the game, a BTN sideline shill asked Melvin if he'd heard that his single-game record had only stood for one week. Melvin's answer speaks volumes about the level of class he possesses: "Records were made to be broken. Congratulations to that guy." Wisconsin next up: Minnesota for the Axe and the B1G West. Iowa next up: Nebraska for...the other side of the hateful polygon. #HATEWEEK.
Maryland at _ichigan // Maryland wins 23-16. It's amazing to think that Maryland went 5-1 on the road this season. At least _ichigan can say they were part of something special. With the loss of star DE Frank Clark to felony charges, the Wolverine defense suddenly found itself without its best tackler. The Wolverine offense was the same as ever-barely capable of getting out of its own way (which means they'll score 48 in Columbus next week). The Wolverines' 16-9 lead came on three FGs and a 3rd-quarter touchdown. Gardner's 15-yard TD scramble was the first of the day by either team. They probably would've had this one locked up, had the kick-blocking unit not roughed Craddock on a long FG. The penalty put the Terps in scoring position, and score they did on a CJ Brown run. Like Siemian, he's another QB who's carried a mediocre offense at key points this season. Maryland got the ball back on downs late in the fourth, and with only one timeout left _ichigan watched the Terps march it down and score the game's third and final TD. A fitting home finale for Brady Hoke. Maryland next up: Rutgers. _ichigan next up: at Ohio State. #HATEWEEK
Considering the general disdain for the B1G at the outset of the season, it's safe to say things have shaped up nicely. In fact, it's sort of amazing to see the start power around the league. Right now, two B1G players are likely to receive invites to New York to watch Mariota win the Heisman. That's two more than the SEC or the ACC.
Furthermore, three of the following RBs will NOT make the All-B1G 1st or 2nd team: Melvin Gordon, Tevin Coleman, Ameer Abdullah, Jeremy Langford, David Cobb, Ezekiel Elliot, and Justin Jackson. After Saturday, with (at least) one game remaining for each, they all are over 1000 yards rushing for the season, with Gordon over 2000 and Tevin Coleman nearly guaranteed to exceed 2000 yards as well. What an insanely talented group of RBs in the B1G this year....and that list above isn't including guys that have been good-to-great-but-not-outrageous (Akeem Hunt, Corey Clement, Mark Weissman, etc.).
The RB may be dying in the NFL, but he's alive and well in the heartland of college football.
Oh, and welcome to Hate Week.