It was another dramatic Saturday of Big Ten football. Ohio State, Michigan State, and Nebraska all rolled to rather easy victories. Iowa took back Floyd in a close game with Minnesota and Northwestern’s offense did just enough against a scrappy Purdue team.
The game of the day had to be Indiana’s near upset of Michigan in 2 overtimes. We’ll cover the ballers in the respective team sections, but this game was great (from an outsider’s view point anyway).
There are always games during a season that test your mettle. Games that could go either way…depending on the breaks. Games that are up for grabs until a player decides to take it…or derps it away.
The UM/IU game was a great tug of war that wasn’t over until the final pass fell to the turf incomplete. That’s why we watch. That was a special game. No shame in that loss Hoosiers, you left everything on the field.
I’ll rewatch that one, it was that good…
There were some stand-out Ballers this week, so let’s talk individual performances…
Illinois Fighting Illini: Welp, I guess you get credit for stepping on the field. If you listen to die-hard OSU fans, you guys are the second coming of Mean Joe Green on defense…I didn’t really get that. They beat you by 25 points.
Dawuane Smoot had a big game on defense. He sacked J.T. Barrett and caused a fumble. He also recovered a fumble. Caleb Day killed an OSU drive in the third quarter, picking off a Barrett pass.
That’s about all the good I can find for you guys this week. That’s a tough OSU team, not enough players made plays, and you guys just aren’t that good this year.
Indiana Hoosiers: I feel like Indiana is really close to being a
great good decent football team. That is, until Jordan Howard goes to play on Sundays. He is a baller’s baller. Michigan had no answer for him. He rushed 35 times for 238 yards and two touchdowns. What I’m curious about is if he can catch passes.
With a guy as talented as he is with the ball, you’d think he’d be part of the passing game too. But he only caught one pass in the game. He’s only caught 11 passes this year. Interestingly, he only caught 13 balls in two years at UAB (he transferred to Indiana this year).
If his hands are an issue, that might be a small ding on his draft position, but this guy is going to play in the NFL. He’s a stud running back that even Michigan’s "vaunted" defense couldn’t stop.
Howard wasn’t the only Indiana running back to break off some big runs. Devine Redding got nearly half of his total yards on a single, 21-yard ramble. In all, Indiana racked up 324 yards on the ground against Michigan.
The Indiana offense needs credit for the success in this game. They were in the red-zone six times and came away with points five of them…two touchdowns and three field goals. They only turned the ball over once and only gave up one sack.
They put up 527 total yards on Michigan…way to ball guys. Now if you could just find a secondary, you’d be a real threat to win one of these.
The other baller I need to call out is Griffin Oakes, Indiana’s kicker. He hit all four of his field goals, including a 51 yarder. His fourth kick put Indiana ahead briefly in the third quarter.
Iowa Hawkeyes: This one put a scare into the Iowa faithful. Minny made it a game until the final whistle. FWIW, I love this kind of game. This is why college football is so bitter sweet. The ebb and flow of the momentum, the rush of the big plays, and ultimately either the heavenly high of the big win or the abject low of the close loss. It’s why I keep watching.
The story of the day for Iowa is that rumors of C.J. Beathard’s ailments were apparently overstated. The kid certainly played like he was healthy. He was 18 of 26 for 213 yards. No touchdowns in the air, but no picks either. He ran for 50 yards and two touchdowns.
The baller, hands down, was LeShun Daniels. He carried the ball 26 times for 195 yards and three (THREE!) touchdowns. He broke ankles on the Minnesota defense. He runs really well for a big man.
Here’s what creightonm had to say about his team’s ballers: LeShun Daniels rushed for 195 yards (7.5 average) and 3 touchdowns against Minnesota. It was only the 3rd best performance by an Iowa running back this season. Runners up include Josey Jewell who had 13 tackles, and Matt VandeBerg who caught 6 passes for 74 yards.
Maryland Terrapins: Wow, you guys were ugly. Five turnovers spoiled a modest outing by the defense. I really hope Lane Kiffen is your next coach. It’s so fitting…
Michigan Wolverines: Whew…what’s with you guys and underdogs taking you to overtime? Indiana pretty much owned you guys on defense. They ran at will. You need to thank your lucky stars that Indiana secondary was played like the lame, the halt, and the blind.
Jake Rudock had a game. He threw 46 (forty-six!) times. He completed 33 for 440 yards, six touchdowns (six!) and a pick. He must have a sick S&C coach to have that kind of stamina. As you would expect, his receivers had a huge day too.
Jehu Chesson was the favorite target, picking up 10 catches for 207 yards and four (FOUR!) touchdowns. His best play was a 64 yard sprint for a touchdown. Amara Darboh caught 8 balls for 109 yards and a touchdown. Jake Butt caught 7 more for 82 yards and a touchdown.
I don’t mean to diminish what Michigan did in this game. Indiana is an under-valued team, because they don’t have a lot of wins. However, they played a lot of teams closely, Michigan included. It took everything that offense had to pull out a win. The offense had a serious gut-check in overtime and pulled it out. In the end, winners do what they need to do to win.
Michigan State Spartans: The story of this game was the loss of Connor Cook at halftime. One of the league’s most consistent ballers, Cook hurt his shoulder. That’s a huge deal if it lingers, because Sparty takes on the Buckeyes next weekend. Cook is by far MSU’s best offensive weapon. He needs to play for them to compete against Ohio State.
It didn’t matter that Cook was out, his team balled for him.
One thing you can count on from Maryland is turnovers. Riley Bullough, another perennial baller for MSU, had a 44-yard pick-six. Montae Nicholson also had a 30 yard pick return. Arjen Colquhoun also caught one of
Perry Hills Caleb Rowe’s many misfires.
Maryland quarterbacks…the gifts that keep on giving.
Here was Andrew Kraszewski’s take: Malik McDowell had 4.5 tackles from the 3-tech for MSU. Maryland had no luck doing anything inside, and the kid's just scratching the surface.
This wasn’t a great game for Michigan State. They looked flat and uninspired at times. The two quarterbacks turned the ball over, and they still won comfortably. However, they need to get it together this week in practice, because next week is the test. That game against OSU is the big hurdle.
Minnesota Golden Gophers: There are several ballers worth noting here, but I have to give some love to true freshman running back Shannon Brooks. Not only did he lead Minnesota in rushing with 86 yards on 14 carries and a score. He also had a huge fourth-quarter pass play that got the Gophers within 5 points of the Hawkeyes. It was a run fake the drew Iowa’s defense in…and Brooks just threw a duck over everyone’s head. Drew Wolitarsky (I can’t help but think of a John Candy character when I hear that name) took the ball 42 yards for the score.
Minnesota’s offense broke out big in this game. While they never led in the game, they seemed to match Iowa’s intensity. They had five touchdowns, two in the air and three on the ground. Who knew?
Mitch Leidner had a good game, throwing 19 of 27 for 259 yards and a touchdown. There were no turnovers in the game, so it meant every possession counted. Leidner did a great job of keeping the offense moving.
Wide out KJ Maye had seven catches for 106 yards, including a big 37 yarder. Brandon Lingen caught six balls for 105 yards, including a huge 40-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
The defense wasn’t great, obviously. While they did get to Iowa’s quarterback twice, they gave up huge chunks of real estate to Iowa’s LeShun Daniels. They had no answer for him.
Ohio State Buckeyes: If we’re talking about the Buckeye ballers, then you know Ezekiel Elliott is in the conversation. This kid can flat out play some ball. He got 27 touches for 181 yards and two touchdowns. He had more yards on the ground than quarterback J.T. Barrett had in the air.
Barrett was good in this game, but he did throw a pick. He had 76 yards on the ground, including a touchdown. He threw a sweet pass to Michael Thomas for a 24-yard touchdown.
The defense just looked tough. They got to the Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt three times. They held the Illinois offense to a net rushing total of…20 yards. Jeez, this defense is peaking at the right time once again.
Nebraska Cornhuskers: Well hello, cupcake or should I say Tastykake? This was the kind of game the Corn Huskers needed. Had you even heard of Cethan Carter before Saturday? Clearly the Rutgers defense hadn’t. This kid had a game to remember on Saturday. Carter is a junior tight end who, prior to this game had no rushes, 30 catches and one touchdown in his career.
Then Saturday in Piscataway happened. He had is first ever carry…that went 32 yards for a touchdown. He led all receivers in yards. He caught four balls for 57 yards and a touchdown. That includes a 40-yard catch.
If Rutgers were a better offense, this game might’ve been a lot different. Tommy Armstrong threw three picks and fumbled the ball twice more. But even with good field position, Rutgers offense was handled by the Nebraska defense.
The Huskers feasted on Rutgers’ poor blocking up front. They got to Rutgers’ quarterback Chris Laviano six times in the game. They picked him off twice.
This was a good game for Nebraska, but Rutgers has a way of making you feel good about your team…
Northwestern Wildcats: Speaking of cupcakes, the Wildcats nearly face-planted into a tray of them. The game against lowly Purdoes was tied going into the fourth quarter.
Here’s what MN Wildcat had to say: The NU RB stable of Justin Jackson (24 for 116 and a TD) and Warren Long (6 for 52 and 2 TDs) was pretty awesome. On defense, ohhh the linebackers. Drew Smith (who?) filled in admirably for the injured Jalen Prater, coming up with 2 sacks. Anthony Walker continues to make a case for All-B1G, racking up another 14 tackles.
Penn State Nittany Lions: Bye week, no ballers for you.
Purdue Boilermakers: This was a tough game. You made the Wildcat faithful holler at their butlers a few times though. I really like the redshirt freshman David Blough. When the running game couldn’t get rolling, he put Purdue on his shoulders and tried to carry them. He had 26 completions in 45 attempts for 287 yards, a touchdown and a pick.
Domonique Young was his favorite target, catching five balls for 107 yards and a score.
The defense played well. They sacked Northwestern quarterbacks twice. Brandon Roberts and Frankie Williams both got picks to kill Northwestern drives. It just wasn’t quite enough…which might be the theme of this year’s Purdue team.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights: I really want to say nice things here, but you make it so fucking hard. Leonte Carroo is a great football player, but otherwise your offense sucks.
On defense, you guys beat the hell out of Armstrong at times, with blitzes getting to him just as he’s throwing. And picking him off three times. But you couldn’t stop him from throwing three touchdowns either. So your defense sucks too.
Damn, I started out intending to say something nice here…see what you made me do? Oh well. I like Zuzu…
Wisconsin Badgers: Bye week, no ballers for you.
Ballers of the Week:
Nebraska’s Cethan Carter gets my nod for offensive baller this week. The kid came out of nowhere to have the biggest game of his life on Saturday. I know there were running backs who deserved it too…LeShun Daniels yes, I hear you Iowa…no, no I’m not a ref goddammit…Oh shut up.
The kid from Nebraska played out of his mind, so as far as OTE goes, he wins.
I’m going with MSU’s Malik McDowell as the defensive baller of the week. I know it was against Maryland, but I love good interior defensive line players. The kid had a great game.
Indiana’s kicker, Griffin Oakes is my special teams Baller of the Week. He hit all four field goals to keep Indiana in the game with Michigan.
Now for the Beer!
I tried two new beers this weekend. The first was Bourbon Barrel Stout by Anderson Valley in Boonville California. It is aged in Wild Turkey Bourbon barrels. I’m a huge fan of this new trend. But this one is not my favorite. In fact, I didn’t taste the bourbon at all. My wife liked it, because it was a mild Stout, but it wasn’t a good style for the genre. If you want that whiskey taste, this isn’t the one.
We also drank Engine 15 Brewing Company’s Nut Sack Double Brown Ale…"Give our nut sack a taste" is the motto. Mrs. Townie has a great sense of humor, which is good…because I’m so juvenile I made nut sack jokes the whole time. She just rolls her eyes and drinks the beer. And this one was really good. Smooth and nutty, with just a hint of whang in it…kidding. Really though, this was the beer we both agreed on as the best of the weekend.
So there you have it…savour the rest of these games folks, the season is damn near gone.