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Week Nine’s Best Players in the Big Ten Conference – Boiler Redemption Edition

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As usual, we saw some huge individual performances in the Big Ten Conference. The return of Corey Clement, a surging Christian Hackenberg, Will Likely doing the 100 yard dash...and some kid named Blough pantsed the blackshirts. Yeah, you need to read this...

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t tell me you saw that coming…

Purdue putting up 55 points and beating Nebraska? How about Minnesota taking Michigan right to the bitter-end and ultimately beating themselves? I read some folks call this a boring weekend, but I had a great time watching these games. It helped that Penn State blanked the Illini, probably putting the final nail in the Bill Cubit coffin.

I was also rooting hard for Temple, who damn near knocked the Domers off their high-horse. They just couldn’t quite pull it off. That said, Matt Rhule is a good coach and he’ll have his pick of some high profile job openings.

By the way, that list

now includes Virginia Tech.

But enough of that stuff, let’s talk individual performances…

Illinois Fighting Illini: t was hard to find much good on offense here…or defense here. The punter was busy. Ryan Frain punted 12 times for 457 yards…he’s still in the ice bath.

One bright spot on defense was the pass rush (as you would expect when playing Penn State). The Illini sacked Christian Hackenberg three times. Dawuane Smoot, Jihad Ward, and Tre Watson all caught Hack in the backfield. Clayton Fejedelem forced a fumble.

Otherwise, there just isn’t much to say…except we might take up a collection to buy Thumpasaurus a new TV, because I think he killed his.

Penn State Nittany Lions: This was the game I’ve been waiting for. The Nittany Lions finally won all phases of the game…except kicking. With two blocked/botched PATs and a kickoff out of bounds I figure we lost that phase. But everything else worked pretty well.

Christian Hackenberg looked great. He went 21 of 29 with 266 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a touchdown pass from freshman running back Nick Scott.

Freshman running back Saquon Barkley got back to form, running 20 times for 84 yards and a touchdown. He caught another three balls for 58 yards. The TD run included a hurdle over a shocked Illinois defender, which was fun to watch, but will probably get him killed at some point. I also want to recognize another freshman running back, Mark Allen’s garbage time 20-yard touchdown run was a thing of beauty.

On defense, the team recovered from letting Maryland’s quarterback run willy-nilly. The defense held Illinois to just 77 yards rushing, just 44 yards if you factor in Wes Lunt’s -33 yards. The Penn State secondary played well. Troy Reeder picked off a Lunt pass and returned it 44 yards. The pass rush really looked strong. Carl Nassib, Anthony Zettel, Curtis Cothran, and Parker Cothren all got sacks. They sacked Lunt three times, but harassed him the entire game.

Way to ball guys.

Maryland Terrapins: You were down just 14 points in the fourth quarter to the undefeated leader of the Western division. The defense kept Maryland in this game the whole time…even as Perry Hills gave the ball away again and again.I don’t know what happened at half time, but a whole different defensive team came out.. After giving up three touchdowns in the first half, you held the Iowa offense to just a field goal in the last two quarters.

You sacked C.J. Beathard four times. Quinton Jefferson, Brett Zanotto, Yannick Ngakoue, Kingsley Opara, and Jesse Aniebonam all got a piece of Beathard in the game.

The big play of the game was Will Likely’s 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Sadly it was too little too late.

Iowa Hawkeyes: Isn’t Perry Hills generous? He gift-wrapped that game for your defense. I will say, that Desmond King 88 yard pick-six was a thing of beauty. The defense took four turnovers from Maryland in the game. Jaleel Johnson, Nathan Bazata, and Nate Meier all got sacks. They were in the backfield with Lunt the whole game.

The offense was efficient in the first half, but disappeared in the second half. C.J. Beathard was solid, going 12 of 23 for 183 yards, but his longest pass play was 26 yards. That was against a Maryland team that gave up three pass plays of nearly 40 yards against Penn State.

Michigan Wolverines: Sometimes you win the game and sometimes the other team loses the game. Minnesota lost this game.

On defense, James Ross III had a solid game. He lead all tacklers with nine and a big sack for a 12 yard loss. Jarrod Wilson had a big night too. He had 8 tackles, a sack and two pass break ups. While Joe Bolden didn’t get into the backfield, he tackled everything that moved.

On special teams, Jabrill Peppers had two big special teams plays. He took a kickoff back 43 yards and returned a punt for 41 yards. Punter Blake O’Neill punted 5 times for 220 yards, including a 61 yard boot.

On offense, The stats look good, but nobody really stood out to me in the game. I’m sure the Michigan fans will fill me on who they thought really balled. Here are some that caught my eye.

Jehu Chesson ripped off a big run for 22 yards. Jabrill Peppers had four carries for 16 yards and a touchdown. However, Minnesota did a pretty good game of limiting the passing game. Amara Darboh caught six balls for 73 yards. Jake Butt caught four balls for 38, but one of those was an 18 yard play.

Minnesota Golden Gophers: Lots of broken hearts in Minnesota today. I was pulling for you guys, in the spirit of coach Kill. You had this one…and gave it away. The good…your offense seemed rejuvenated. You put up 166 rushing yards on Michigan’s vaunted defense. Rodney Smith and Mitch Leidner both broke big runs. Leidner had a good outing, going 16 of 33 for 317 yards and a touchdown.

Rashad Stills had a huge 52-yard catch for a touchdown. Two other receivers, Brandon Lingen and Shannon Brooks both had huge catches of 39 and 40 yards. Lingen had 111 total receiving yards in the game.

I need to give some love to your kicker, Ryan Santoso…remember him? The guy who was 4 of 4 in field goals. Five of his six kickoffs were touchbacks too. He’s great. As an weapon. At the end of a game…you know, to tie it up? As opposed to…well, you know.

Nebraska Cornhuskers: Hoo boy. I know Ryker Fyfe isn’t your starter…but he’s still a junior. That kid from Purdue is a redshirt freshman. Fyfe put up some gaudy numbers, going 29 of 48 for 407 yards and four touchdowns. Holy shit…but he also threw four (4) picks and a fumble. And that’s ugly.

The real problem is that Purdue shut down the running game. That put the entire offense on Fyfe. He tried hard, which is more than I can say for the defense. They didn’t hold Purdue (PURDUE!) to a field goal. They only forced five punts in the whole game…and Purdue didn’t turn the ball over.

Purdue Boilermakers: Congratulations, you left the entire conference slack-jawed with that performance. Your freshman quarterback David Blough played out of his mind. The kid pantsed the "vaunted" blackshirts defense. He went 28 of 43 pass attempts for 274 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for 82 yards and another touchdown.

Markell Jones helped him out, rushing for 92 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns. Danny Anthrop was Blough’s favorite target, catching ten balls for 40 yards and a touchdown. DeAngelo Yancey had a big game, catching five balls for 111 yards and two touchdowns.

On defense, Anthony Brown played out of his mind, picking off three Ryker Fyfe passes. Frankie Williams also had a big pick. The defensive line got two big sacks, including the one that ended the game.

Great job Purdue. No turnovers, a solid opportunistic defense, and an explosive offense got you that win.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights: You guys are doing this on purpose to see just how creative I can get, aren’t you. Damn, it’s hard to pull out ballers from this game. Without Leonte Carroo, your offense doesn’t exist.

On defense, I’m going to give you some love. Blessuan Austin’s pick return for 50 yards was a big play. Quentin Gause was a tackling machine, including 2 tackles for loss and a pass break up. Kalwan Lewis had a pick too.

Wisconsin Badgers: Isn’t playing Rutgers fun? Makes you feel good, like you can play anyone. Don’t take it too seriously, though. It’s still Rutgers…without their NFL-caliber wide receiver. So, yeah. You were going to win this one in a walk.

On defense, Vince Biegel sacked the Rutgers quarterback twice. Tanner McEvoy got him once for a ten yard loss. And it seems like the entire squad chased him around for most of the game.

The ground game came to life for Wisconsin. A healthy Corey Clement had 115 yards and 3 touchdowns on 11 carries. In total, you picked up five touchdowns on the ground. That included one by Tanner McEvoy, who also had an interception. I’m starting to really like that kid a lot.

Through the air, Alex Erickson caught six balls for 103 yards and a touchdown.

Ballers of the Week: On offense, I have to split the honors…Christian Hackenberg had an insanely good day. But come on, Purdue’s David Blough balled out. Congratulations guys.

On Defense, I’m going full homer on you all again. Penn State shut out an Illinois team that, until this week, hadn’t been shut out this year. Congratulations boys, that was a great game.

Special teams baller goes to Will Likely, who is an incredibly athlete on a bad football team. The good news is that Stefon Diggs is making bank while playing on Sundays, just like you Will Likely do next year.

Now for the Beer!

Mea Culpa, I drank Bells Amber and Corona’s all weekend. I didn’t go out and get anything interesting. What did you all drink on this Halloween Weekend?

Hope you had a great weekend.

Your Friend,

Townie