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Week Five B1G Ballers – Conference Beatings Arrive

Who balled out this week? Some names are familiar, others not so much. And then there's this guy named seriously. And beer!

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten Conference play arrives in a big way. As we expected, defense prevailed across the league. Northwestern blanked Minnesota and Michigan blanked Maryland. In Maryland’s defense, they were only down by six points for a lot of that game.

In a classic B1G showdown, Iowa prevented Wisconsin from scoring a touchdown in a 10 – 6 snoozer gripper. And Wisconsin kept Iowa’s rising quarterback C.J. Beathard in check nearly all game.

And how about Purdue scaring the pants off Sparty? And it isn’t even Halloween yet. Glass half-empty folks (MSU fans) think their team quit on them. However, the glass half-full folks (Boiler Up!) can point to halftime adjustments made by their coaches…or something.

But you know all about that. Let’s talk about something you may not know…

Some great individual efforts from (almost) every team in the B1G:

Illinois Fighting Illini: Holy cow, did this really happen? Illinois beat Nebraska 14 to 13. And it was a good showing for the Illini defense. Nebraska had a ton of three and outs. They would get seven or eight yards on two rushes, and then Armstrong would throw an incompletion.

There weren’t many turnovers, but Clayton Fejedelem picked off Tommy Armstrong. The Illinois’ offense didn’t set the world on fire either.  However, Geronimo Allison delivered a clutch catch when he needed to.

Indiana Hoosiers: Indiana faced the number one team in the country and made them flinch. The rushing game didn’t rack up the yards as usual. This was the first game that Indiana’s rushers didn’t break 200 yards, but they scored three rushing TDs anyway. Their usual baller, running back Jordan Howard was knocked out of the game in the first half. Their starting quarterback, Nate Sudfeld also went down with an ankle. But that opened the door to the baller of this game…

Zander Diamont was en fuego in this game. In relief for Sudfeld, he went 6 of 14 for 76 yards. And he rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown on seven tries.  Oh, and he caught a pass. He was playing back-yard ball against the Buckeyes. That alone makes him a baller.

Iowa Hawkeyes: I hate to rub it in, but I saw this one coming. Iowa’s quarterback C.J.Beathard looks like the real deal. He’s 23rd in the nation in total QBR. That’s second best in the B1G after MSU’s Connor Cook. That said, Wisconsin kept him in check for most of the game.

The offense really turned on running back Jordan Canzeri. He ran 26 times for 125 yards.

On Defense, Desmond King had two picks to kill Wisconsin drives. The D-Line came through as well, with a strip sack of Joel Stave that gave the offense a short field.

Maryland Terrapins: Yeah, last week I said, "at least it wasn’t a shutout". This week it was a shutout. That’s unfair to the Maryland defense, who kept this close for most of the game. The defense forced three fumbles (Quinton Jefferson, Jalen Brooks, and Sean Davis) as well as a pick by Quinton Jefferson.

The defense balled, but it just wasn’t enough.

Michigan Wolverines: If you just looked at the final score, Michigan looks dominant. But I watched a lot of this stinker. The Wolverine offense gave away the ball four times and could only muster two field goals in the first half…against Maryland.

The highlight play was Jehu Chesson’s jet sweep 66 yard run for a touchdown.

One thing about Maryland, the quarterbacks are generous. Three Wolverines snagged passes from Caleb Rowe: Jeremy Clark, Desmond Morgan, and Jourdan Lewis. That helped keep the Maryland offense toothless.

Michigan State Spartans: The baller of the first half was L.J. Scott, hands down. He’s a freshman(!), who tore up Purdue’s D for 146 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns. Connor Cook was remarkably efficient, completing 13 of 19 for 139 yards and a touchdown. It isn’t gaudy, but it is enough to win.

On defense, Sparty remains tough…forcing turnovers and pressuring the quarterback into bad throws. Demetrius Cox had a pick. Malik McDowell forced a fumble and added a sack. Arjen Colquhoun and Jon Reshke both had sacks as well.

Minnesota Golden Gophers: Ouch. Not much to talk about here. Ballers? Um, talk to me next week.

Ohio State Buckeyes: In classic form, the Buckeyes nearly got rolled by Indiana. Without the heroics of ultimate baller Ezekiel Elliot, this game could’ve gone the other way.

Let me summarize this kid’s play…he had touchdown runs of 55 yards, 65 yards, and 75 yards. Holy hell. But on defense, they couldn’t put the Hoosiers away. It came down to the final play of regulation to decide this on.

Nebraska Cornhuskers: Didn’t see this one coming. Illinois? You know they are coached by a substitute right? How the hell…don’t answer that. We’ll talk about it next week.

Northwestern Wildcats: Well hello there legitimacy, it’s been a while. The whole defensive unit balled hard this game. This was a huge statement game for these guys. They’ve only give up 3 touchdowns in five games. And they can put points up too. Tyler Lancaster knocked the ball loose from Mitch Leidner and Anthony Walker scooped it up to run 13 yards for the touchdown.

The offense continues to roll on too. It’s hard not to like this young quarterback, Clayton Thorson. He ran for two touchdowns. His passing was efficient, completing 14 of 19 for a modest 128 yards. Not gaudy…but no mistakes.

Running back Justin Jackson had a big day against Minny’s defense. He carried the ball 20 times for 120 yards.

Penn State Nittany Lions: Ugh. The lions didn’t win this one so much as Army fumbled it away. The defense had no answer for the triple option, other than pray they fumbled. Which Army did, repeatedly. On offense, there was no rhythm and drives bogged down quickly. No ballers emerged.

Purdue Boilermakers: If you hadn’t spotted them a half of play, you win this game. You had Sparty on the ropes…on the ropes! And you let him win. It was a great game anyway, hopefully it marks a turning point in the season. But I doubt it.

The real baller for Purdue was running back Markell Jones. He ran the ball 22 times for a whopping 157 yards and two touchdowns. That’s against the vaunted MSU defense.

Gelen Robinson forced a fumble to help stop a Spartan drive.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Did not play…no ballers for you.

Wisconsin Badgers: From a blowout of Miami last week to zero touchdowns this week…hmm. The offense struggled but the defense played well.

They made phenom C.J. Beathard look pedestrian. And damn, senior linebacker Joe Schobert had himself a game. He tackled everything. He was out for blood all game. He forced Iowa QB C.J. Beathard to throw early five times and sacked him three times for -23 yards. He had another 3.5 tackles for a loss for -24 yards and two forced fumbles. He also made the Hawk mascot cry. Now that’s a baller!

Ballers of the Week:

Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliot is the Offensive Baller of the Week. He balled hard, when few of his team mates did. It was the difference in the game for the Buckeyes.

Wisconsin’s Joe Schobert gets the nod for Defensive Baller of the Week. He had a hell of a game in a losing effort.

Minnesota’s punter, Pete Mortell gets the special teams Baller of the Week. Pete booted the ball 7 times for almost 300 yards. His offense kept him busy but he managed nearly a 43 yard average.

Now for the Beer!

This week I tried out a growler of Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale from Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City, Mo. It’s a Saison style beer. I found it to be a fruity, easy drinking beer that went well with the grilled sausage I made for dinner. Definitely a recommendation for an easy drinking selection.

Your Friend,