In the words of a long-time OTE poster, "Evil has triumphed today, gentlemen" That may be a bit of a bold take on yesterday's events, (especially if you happen to be a Michigan fan) but on some level it does feel as though the fates denied us a thing of beauty. After the week the Minnesota football program endured, it seemed only right and just that they should emerge victorious on the final play of a hard-fought game. Alas, the fates are cruel and cynical.
Mike Riley would most certainly agree that the gods who pull the strings of college football have no sympathy for a nice guy. His Cornhusker ark had been shipping water for weeks, and he could only watch with crossed arms and glowering face as the once-grand vessel slipped beneath the waves of Purdue Harbor. The Good Ship Nebraska has now become a salvage operation. Sadly for the other new entrants to the B1G, Nebraska is hardly alone in their decrepitude. Give credit to Illinois for showing some midwestern hospitality and joining in on the act.
Week the Ninth held plenty of emotion and subtext across the B1G, as has been more often the case than not this season. From Minnesota's tribute to Jerry Kill to the J.T. Barrett's colossal blunder, even a seemingly vanilla slate of games can underpin a week of considerable emotion. Love it or hate it, this is 2015 in the B1G.
14 B1G Things
1. Penn State has now played 7 of their 9 games in the state of Pennsylvania, and two of their nine games with the YOLO Module installed on Hackbot.
2. Illinois is the first B1G team to be shut out by Penn State in six seasons.
3. The worst case scenario has come true for Illinois: Bill Cubit sucks and they're the least desirable job on the market.
4. Iowa's entire offensive backfield out-rushed Perry Hills by 20 yards...or by 6 if you count Beathard's sacks.
5. Maryland's longest pass of the day went 14 yards...or possibly longer if you count some of the ones Iowa caught.
6. Iowa looks likely to make it to the CCG, but Beathard may not live to see it.
7. Purdue's victory gives Darrell Hazell his first home win against a B1G opponent.
8. The Huskers have only lost 6 or more games four times in the last 50 years. All of those seasons have occurred in this century.
9. Nebraska may have just saved Darrell Hazell's job. Then again, Al Golden probably though that too.
10. Rutgers, seriously, there's still room in the AAC.
11. Wisconsin with Corey Clement is the offense Iowa thinks it is.
12. If Jabrill Peppers flops any harder, Bo Ryan and the Premier League will start a recruiting war over him.
13. Minnesota should forever be known for the two worst goal line play calls in history.
14. Ohio State officially lost to BYE, and nothing short of feeding J.T. Barrett into a wood-chipper feet first will slake the fauxtrage of the masses.
The Nitty Gritty
Nebraska at Purdue // Purdue Harbor claims another victim, 55-45.
"Yea, verily, I say unto thee, not a single down of defense was played that day." Consider this Nebraska's ode to the Big XII. The Huskers fell victim to one of the greatest B1G tropes as they let David Blough and the Boilermakers put the proverbial nail in the proverbial coffin of a very Old Testament season. Mike Riley's personal horror show started slowly. Purdue led 7-3 in the waning seconds of the first quarter when a snap sailed over the head of backup QB Ryker Fyfe, setting up a Purdue scoop-and-scramble deep into the Nebraska red zone. After the teams swapped ends, Purdue capitalized to stretch their lead to 14-3.
The errant snap opened the taps on a series of costly Nebraska blunders. Fyfe's debut was marred by four back-breaking interceptions. To the Boilermakers' credit, they proved adept at turning those Husker mistakes into points. David Blough's offense converted three of the four turnovers into touchdown-scoring drives. The Purdue signal-caller, in only his fifth college start, had a career day as he notched 42 points through three quarters--the first 40+ point endeavor by his team since 2012. Fyfe, in only his first start, didn't fare so well. His inability to connect to his own receivers crippled a Husker offense already racked by injury. The loss of playmaker Demornay Pierson-El and running back Terrell Newby only punched more holes in an already leaking ship.
To his credit, Fyfe led a frantic 29-point comeback attempt in the fourth, but it was far too little, far too late. His 407 yards passing and four TDs couldn't stem the flooding, nor bail the sinking ship fast enough. The day belonged to David Blough. Having never run for more than 13 yards on a carry, his 56-yard TD sprint in the first quarter set the tone for all that was to come. This game was, in many ways, a microcosm of the season. Injuries upon injuries, a befuddled coach, and a team flailing in vain against overwhelming forces. What started out as a transition season for the Huskers has given way to a full-blown Texas-style meltdown.
Babaoreally's take: Purdue won their conference game for the year, which was fun. I'm not going to look at the stats, but I think the Huskers either scored or threw an interception on every one of their drives. Purdue scored eight touchdowns, which is crazy. They also seemed to let Nebraska score at will in the fourth quarter, but who cares. A win is a win is a win. I love football!
Purdue next up: Illinois | Nebraska next up: Michigan State
Illinois at Penn State // PSU wins 39-0.
There can be little doubt in Champaign as to the state of the program. After nine weeks, it feels safe to say that the Illini's early success was part cupcake competition, part dead-cat bounce following the Great Un-Beckmaning. For the visiting squad, it's nigh impossible to find positives from this game. Penn State dominated Illinois from the first kick to the final gun. The Illini managed only 70 yards rushing against Penn State's front. Worse yet, they lost 33 yards to sacks of Wes Lunt for a net ground campaign of 37 yards. The situation was scarcely better through the air. Lunt connected on only 16 of his 37 passes for a paltry 129 yards. That's right, the Illini only put up 167 yards of total offense. Consider that Army posted 293 yards and Maryland ripped off 466, and one can begin to see the depth of the troubles at Illinois.
Hackenberg looks to be slightly less YOLO this week. He connected on a variety of shorter passes, including the screens and shallow swing routes that are the trademarks of a Donovan offense wholly unwilling to get out of its own way. Nevertheless, TD passes of five and six yards put PSU up early in the first quarter of a game that gave Illinois fans plenty of time to rake leaves or research Seppuku. To top off the rout, this week's devil-may-care moment of Hack Zen came in the third quarter when he scored a receiving touchdown on an option-pass throwback from RB Nick Scott. Hack finished 21/29 for 266 yards and two touchdowns.
Thump's #HOTTAKE: Illinois made me give up and leave the house after the first drive of the second half. One of my earliest-ever quits of an Illini game was brought on by the fact that they looked totally outcoached and overmatched from the second the game started. Our D line blew right past their O line only to overrun the play, where our linebackers would be positioned as though they've never seen an off tackle handoff before, let alone 43 times in Iowa City.
Wes "The Statue Of Limitations" Lunt threw a pick so brutal that Juice Williams was like "wow that's a bad pick." He threw 37 passes for 129 yards. Our only chance to end the shutout was ended when we muffed a snap to back out of field goal range. Running the ball was not an adventure we chose to undertake very often. Ke'Shawn Vaughn is probably rethinking a lot of things right now, as he's a fairly talented runner. Bill Cubit has at long last become the familiar model of "interim coach that couldn't keep the team motivated" and his offense is predictable and one-dimensional. We're at rock bottom, and we won't win again this year.
If anyone wanted to know what exactly I envisioned when I went all "football sucks" when we fired our coach as the season was starting, this was the scenario I feared. Clownshoes. I won't miss anyone from this coaching staff when they're gone. If someone wants to rob Tim Banks on his way out of town, I wish him luck coming up with a defensive scheme to stop them. A mobile quarterback like the one we ran off could have helped. An actual head coach instead of a MAC washout that once found a decent gimmick for a few years would also help. I'm totally done with Bill Cubit. We couldn't match Army, Buffalo or Maryland. Offensive guru Bill Cubit's vaunted offense has put up 47 points in 4 big ten games. I can't articulate enough how terrible this game was, and how angry I am with myself for believing anything else was possible this year.
PSU next up: at Northwestern | Illinois next up: at Purdue Harbor
Maryland at Iowa // Iowa wins 31-15.
Iowa should be thankful that the B1G doesn't hold a beauty pageant each week, because the Hawkeyes would still be stammering on about "U.S. Americans" and "such as the Iraq." It didn't have to be that way, as the ever-reliable stable of Hawkeye running backs pushed the score to a comfortable 21-0 by the intermission. Leshun Daniels, Akrum Wadley, and Derrick Mitchell each punched the ball in for the Iowa offense, and the New Kirk Ferentz's team looked to be on their way to a rout. The second half would see a completely different Iowa team emerge from the locker room. The Hawkeye offense that churned out almost 250 yards of first half production sputtered and stumbled its way through the latter periods. Beathard and company mustered a dismal 53 yards of offense and only 3 points. The game-sealing touchdown came on a Desmond King pick-six.
Speaking of interceptions, Perry Hills threw three of them. As pedestrian as Iowa looked for much of the game, Maryland vacillated between decent and abysmal. Hills was once again hot on the ground and hot garbage through the air, rushing for 104 yards but throwing for only 74. His interceptions killed three promising drives and put seven points in Iowa's pocket. The lone moment of excellence for Maryland was yet another Will Likely kickoff return for a touchdown. He appears to be Maryland's most consistent scoring threat, which at this point qualifies as damning with faint praise.
On the whole, it was not a great day for either team. C.J. Beathard looked slow and pained as he moved around the pocket, and the Terps got to him four times for big sacks. He finished 12/23 for 183 yards. Maryland looked exactly like what they are: a team that hasn't won a game well over a month.
DJ's #HOTTAKE: I'm numb to losing at this point, and honestly it's not like Maryland had much of a chance yesterday. There they were in the fourth quarter though with a slim glimmer of maybe making things interesting. Then they threw a pick 6 in the red zone. Then Likely does what Likely does and returned the ensuing kickoff for a TD plus a two point conversion. Iowa recovered the attempted onside kick but the MD defense held. Then MD did the improbable. They laid over and admitted defeat. Like punted on fourth and manageable with 5 minutes to go, then on the next possession ran the clock out and punted. Fuck that nonsense. Whatever slim hope Mike Locksley had to make a name for himself for head coach should be immediately be gone after that showing.
Stewmonkey's #HOTTAKE: Iowa completely dominated the first half-life and looked every bit the top ten team they are. They took the foot of the gas in the second half. Protip: Don't throw at Desmond King or kick to Will Likely.
Iowa next up: at Indiana | Maryland next up: Wisconsin
Rutgers at Wisconsin // Wisconsin romps 48-10.
Reports of Corey Clement's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Fresh off the same treatment that brought astronaut Steve Austin back from the precipice of death, Wisconsin's star running back announced his return with a three touchdown performance. Stave looked good early, too. He fired a well-timed pass across the middle to Alex Erickson, who did the yeoman's work of taking it in, to put the Badgers up 17-3. Erstwhile QB Tanner McEvoy found ways to shine on defense, including an impressive pick of a Chris Laviano pass that caromed off Joe Schobert's helmet.
Rutgers was outgunned from the beginning in this matchup. Chris Laviano turned in a performance he'd rather forget. Harried all afternoon by a bulldozing Wisconsin defense, he managed to complete only 4 of his 14 passes. Rutgers' offense tallied a season-low 165 yards. Stave had some forgettable moments as well--namely two interceptions--but nothing short of an act of God could've put Rutgers back in the game. Wisconsin's offense was transformed by the return of Clement, though it may be too late to make much meaningful noise in the West. Rutgers falls to 1-4 in B1G play as the misery of the expansion era continues.
MNWildcat's #HOTTAKE: Oh, since I watched almost all of Wisconsin-Rutgers (thanks, Ms. MNW): Rutgers is really bad. Their power-run scheme in the first half actually chewed up some yards against a surprisingly-moveable Wisconsin defense, but Wisconsin figured out that it was just because Chris Laviano (4/14, 31 yds) couldn't actually throw the ball in the drizzle. As weird as it is to say, though, I guess I'd give them a puncher's chance to go bowling (no, seriously). Home against Nebraska, @Army (sorry, GF3), and home against Maryland to close out the season? Hey, Nebraska lost to Purdue. Slightly stranger things have happened.
As for Wisconsin...thank goodness for the Badgers that Corey Clement returned. Now Wisconsin can finish runner-up to Iowa in division play with ease. AirStave showed us exactly why he belongs in a Flugtag competition, because the FAA would ground him the moment he set foot on Truax Field. "Throw the ball up to Alex Erickson" appears to be the new "throw the ball up to Jared Abbrederis," and Alex Erickson is a poor man's Abbrederis, while Stave is no Russell Wilson or Scott Tolzien. Fun fact: Wisconsin's offense has "resurged" against Big Ten Powerhouse(s) Rutgers, Illinois, Purdue, and Nebraska. It visits Maryland before playing two possibly decent defenses in Northwestern and Minnesota. Fuck you, Delanybot.
Wisconsin next up: at Maryland | Rutgers next up: at Michigan
Michigan at Minnesota // Michigan survives 29-26.
QB Mitch Leidner hosted the battle standard of the Gophers as his team entered TCF Bank Stadium. The maroon banner told the story of his team's week of heartbreak in one word: Jerrysota. The Gophers were double-digit dogs to a Michigan team fresh off a bye week spent ruminating on their last-second loss on the Punt Heard 'Round the World. Minnesota sported dark gray uniforms and a bulldog attitude, determined to bring home a win for their beloved Coach Kill. Leidner did everything in his power to make it happen, and RB Rodney Smith was right by his side. The oft-maligned QB threw for a career-high 317 yards and a touchdown, while running for 24 yards for another. His two best passes of the night came on the final possession. A 12-yard bullet to KJ Maye to convert on fourth down, and a 22-yard fade to Drew Wolitarsky with less than 30 seconds to play. The latter was initially ruled a touchdown, but was reversed to place that ball on the half yard line.
Then it happened. Leidner inexplicably failed to note that the clock was running, and his goal-line shifting of his offensive set out of the I-formation burned almost all of the remaining game time. The play was a disaster from the start, with a pass falling incomplete in the flat as Leidner fled defenders. The Gophers lined up for one more shot, but Leidner was stuffed on the sneak--an outcome everyone saw coming a second before the snap.
The Gophers clowned Harbaugh's vaunted Michigan defense all game. Minnesota ripped off 461 yards of offense on the nation's top-ranked unit. Rodney Smith ran for 74 yards on 12 carries, with a signature effort of through the tackles of two Michigan linebackers on a third down dump pass to extend the series. For a team that couldn't find a lick of offense against the worst of opponents, the Gophers came alive in honor of their beloved field marshal.
Michigan's offense was its usual self. Rudock threw 13 completions on 21 attempts before
Gardnering leaving in the third with a torso injury. Backup Wilton Speight went 3 of 6, capitalizing on a short field to score the go-ahead TD to Jehu Chesson.
GF3's #HOTTAKE: All good OTE commenters should keep this gem in their pockets for future use. Not that this play mattered or anything. Filthiest, worst, scum-baggiest, khaki-pleat-humping sacks of limp rotten garbage this side of Notre Dame. Whine about the refs again, Michigan fans. TELL US SOME MORE HOW YOU GET SCREWED. You're just domers with cheaper helmets.
WSR's #HOTTAKES: Michigan fans are whining about the officiating last night, completely ignoring a pair of bullshit PI calls, a bullshit roughing the passer, and the refs failing to award Harbaugh the timeout he was asking for when Minnesota moved to the shotgun with 7 seconds left.
insertname's #HOTTAKES, in order...
(continued copious swearing)
You know what, I love that I care, hats off to those kids in the maroon and gold for making me care. No one hurts worse than them and they do it all for their love of the game and drunk ass alumni like me. This is what college football is all about, you have to take the good with the bad. Love you all, time to pounds this double booker neat. Gnite.
Michigan next up: Rutgers | Minnesota next up: at Ohio State