In the last week of the regular season featuring multiple nonconference games as well as some conference action, we had some unsurprising romps, some surprising un-romps, and a couple of triumphant overthrowings of the bourgeoisie. Around we go:
Michigan State and Nebraska both trampled lesser opposition in games where many of their key players sipped Gatorade the entire second half. Both teams also had some breakdowns in the secondary that neither defensive-minded coach can be pleased with, but overall these two are looking like the class of the conference for the time being and next week's tilt in East Lansing should be one of the season's best games anywhere. Illinois will try to pick itself off the mat by hosting Purdue. Oh, and if he continues on anything close to the pace he's on now, Ameer Abdullah ought to at least be in New York when the Heisman is handed out. #FearAmeer, y'all.
Maryland got its B1G career off to an auspicious start by sandblasting Indiana. Stop me if you've heard this before, but Maryland's starting QB, CJ Brown, left the game with an injury; nonetheless, the offense seemed to run smoother with backup Caleb Rowe in control, and WRs Stefon Diggs and Deon Long both went over 100 yards. Nate Sudfeld struggled badly against a Terps defense that hasn't exactly been turtle-stout of late. Maryland figures to get a considerably stiffer test next week when the Buckeyes come to College Park; Indiana hosts North Texas for its last body-bag game (right? RIGHT?????)
I suppose you can throw Rutgers' 25-point win over Tulane into the dominant victory category as well, but the combo of Desmon Peoples and Justin Goodwin sure isn't fooling anyone into thinking Paul James is still around. Gary Nova did turn in another efficient game, though. The Scarlet Knights get one more cupcake game in Ann Arbor (/trollface) before running into Ohio State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin in consecutive weeks.
Wisconsin had one of those games where, seeing the score updates while in another stadium, you wonder to yourself what exactly that was about. Melvin Gordon was held to 50 yards in the first half, McEvoy and the passing game continued to be uninspiring at best...and then Gordon resolved, apparently, to singlehandedly put away the upstart Bulls. Next up for Wisconsin is a trip to
Ryan Field Camp Randall South/Spartan Stadium South/Memorial Stadium East/Ohio Stadium West/You Get The Picture against Northwestern.
Iowa against Purdue. Uhhh. That happened, I suppose. There was nothing efficient or explosive about Iowa's offense, and the game was closer than it should have been, but ultimately the Hawkeyes ground out the win. I feel as though I could copy and paste that summary for every game Iowa has been favored in for the past 10 years, other than the occasional toe-stubbing against some MAC team, or worse, Iowa State. Purdue got a decent day from Akeem Hunt, but its QBs appeared to believe John Lowdermilk was on their team. I guess the uniforms are similar enough that that's an understandable mistake. Next week, Purdue visits Illinois in the Our Coach Really Needs This Win Bowl, and Iowa decamps for a bye with a Most Hated Victory in hand.
For Ohio State, the good news was the offense appears to be coming along nicely, with a multitude of options being available- 10 different players caught a pass and 7 had rushing attempts. But, uh. That pass defense. Woof. Cincinnati's Gunner Kiel looked every bit like the Eastern European Disney movie villain his name makes him sound like. Considering it was supposed to be the point of emphasis for new DC Chris Ash, proper utilization of the wealth of alleged talent the Buckeyes have back there has to remain priority #1 for the Buckeyes going forward. We'll see if they can sort anything out when they go visit Maryland's potent passing attack next week.
If you haven't heard from the host of Northwestern writers lurking around these parts, the Wildcats pulled a stunning upset over Penn State, in Happy Valley no less. The Nittany Lions offense looked dumbfounded for whatever reason, and was two Sam Ficken field goals from being shut out at home. Trevor Siemian vindicated his reported 40 time with three rushing scores, and though DaeSean Hamilton continues to look like the real deal, Penn State's bafflingly poor performance in the run game needs correcting if they intend to do more than shuffle into some second-tier bowl. Up next, Northwestern hosts Wisconsin, and Penn State takes a week off to think about what they've done.
And last but certainly not least, the Little Brown Jug Game between Michigan and Minnesota. You know it's gotten bad for Michigan when I don't even get any joy out of piling on. Simply put, coming off what has to be one of the most disheartening losses this program has ever had (the monsoon game against Utah), Michigan turned in a horrendous clunker. The defense, to its credit, stood tall for most of the game before succumbing to the suffocating bear hug that is Minnesota's offense, led by David Cobb. But the offense was essentially a redux of the 2013 MSU game: nothing worked. Shane Morris reprised the role of Devin Gardner admirably for a while, getting regularly pulverized by virtue of an offensive line that can't do any of the things an offensive line is supposed to do. Michigan will now go to Rutgers to try to get its season back on track; Minnesota has a bye to cherish the sweet, sweet Jug for the first time since 2005.
There's the added issue of the injury to Michigan QB Shane Morris. Having now gone back and seen the video, I would be floored if the kid wasn't concussed. And, based on that assumption, Michigan's coaching staff just might have been criminally negligent in how it handled Morris. First, they left him on the field for additional plays when he could barely stand. Then, after finally realizing they needed to take him off, they put him back in when Devin Gardner had to come off for a play due to losing his helmet. When asked about it after the game, Brady Hoke gave his typical response when presented with a challenge: dismissive ignorance. He said he didn't see it.
In the past 18 hours, enough outraged internet ink has been spilled over Hoke's handling of the Morris injury, the game at large, and the Michigan program in general. So all I'll say is this: it's now apparent that he isn't the man for this job. There are no excuses left. The roster is entirely his. He's in his fourth year. And this is the quality of team and quality of decision he's putting out on the field? At this point, we have an example of his stewardship of the program being a threat to the safety of his players. He's got to go.