A Few B1G Things
1. You done fucked up, Zeke.
2. The B1G may have just been eliminated from the playoff.
3. Number of total seconds MSU has led in victories over OSU and UM: zero.
4. No, seriously, you done fucked up, Zeke.
5. OSU's loss ends the conference's longest win streak in history.
6. We may have seen the last of Christian Hackenberg without ever knowing who he could have been.
7. Pat Fitzgerald says "B1G refs, you da real MVP."
8. Maryland now loses to disease as well as opponents.
9. Urban Meyer's two choices are to fire Tim Beck or suddenly take ill again. At this point, I'm sort of fine with either.
10. Only QBs sporting some permutation of Connor can play for MSU. It's in the by-laws.
11. Rutgzzz might want to keep Army on the schedule. Or maybe not, given this is the worst Army team in 11 years. But you know the old saying...a third win is a third win.
12. I suddenly feel like it's 2013 all over again.
13. The Gophs are flirting with bowl eligibility. They're doing it in a very Norwegian bachelor farmer way, which is to say they're glancing at it occasionally from afar and mumbling to themselves.
14. The Hoosiers have had that win coming for about two months.
Purdue at Iowa // Iowa doubles up 40-20
This game, like several Iowa has played, was closer than it appeared for most of the afternoon. That being said, it was also never really in doubt. CJ Beathard's three-touchdown performance was far more than anything Purdue was equipped to keep up with. RB Jordan Canzeri, whose prior absence was barely felt thanks to LeShun Daniels and Akrum Wadley, turned in a 95-yard day that was likely only limited by the Hawkeyes' success in other facets of the offense. His touchdown was backed by two more from Daniels, and that was more than enough to down the Boilermakers. Purdue fought to stay in the game, closing the gap with Iowa on several occasions. Despite being down 20-0 in the first half, the Boilermakers narrowed Iowa's lead to only a touchdown in the third. That was as close as they'd come. Austin Appleby had a better day throwing than Beathard in terms of yardage, but turned only one pass into points. Markell Jones again proved to be an able back, netting 87 yards against a run-stingy Iowa defense. They Hawkeyes own the West, but need to keep winning to have a shot at the playoffs.
Stewmonkey's HOTTAKE: Iowa's 11-0, and your team isn't.
Iowa next up: at Nebraska | Purdue next up: Indiana
Rutgers at Army //
Buttgers Buttgzzz Rutgers wins 31-21
This game was a microcosm of both seasons. Rutgers fans were thrilled to get their third win of the year in a game that saw the Scarlet Knights cover the spread against an Army team forced to play a 5-11 170-ls. freshman QB for the first time in his college career. Had he not thrown a redbone interception, Rutgers would've faced a 31-28 score late in the fourth. But he did throw the interception, for that's the tale of Army football in 2015 -- a season of damn-nears and almosts. Inexplicably, Chris Laviano threw for only 105 yards, which sounds even worse when you consider that Army's Chris Carter tallied 140 yards on only six passing attempts. The plebe speedster also ran for 111 on 20 carries, only 5 yards shy of Paul James' 116-yard effort. As ever, points are the only stat that truly matters and Rutgers turned their yardage into scores when Army couldn't. The Scarlet Knights likely have some very tough choices to make as a program going forward, but this weekend they get to enjoy a win on the banks of the Hudson.
Rutgers next up: Maryland
Michigan at Penn State // Harbawwww wins, Pawwwwwwllll, 28-16.
Was this loss the end of Christian Hackenberg in Beaver Stadium? The Nits played host to a Michigan team threatening to turn in a one-loss season and potentially head to the B1G CCG, and it didn't end well for the embattled PSU star. Hack connected on only 13 of his 31 attempts, mustering 137 yards and a touchdown. For the second week in a row, Jake Rudock has set the air ablaze with his passing game. Iowa's erstwhile backup launched 38 passes, completing 25 of them for 256 yards and two touchdowns (he completed 26 if you count ones that PSU caught). PSU was hamstrung by a stout Michigan run defense that held Saquon Barkley to only 68 yards, well below his recent average. DeAndre Tompkins' fumbled punt return attempt in the third put the Nits in a hole they'd never climb out of. While the Wolverines are no longer in control of their own destiny, they return home with a hot passing attack to host an Ohio State team that now looks anything but intimidating.
87Townie's HOTTAKE: Penn State is a bad offense. It's a bad offense that is wasting enormous talent. Christian Hackenberg will leave with all that huge promise wasted by changing schemes, changing coaches, and a lack of anything resembling an offensive line. The offensive play calling is shit. The play designs are shit. I'd love to say that Michigan's defense was just that good, but Army played us just as tough...without all the sideline gyrations.
In fact, Michigan should've beaten us by several touchdowns, but they committed so many fouls that they kept us in the game. That's the achilles heel of meatchicken . This team could be good, if it doesn't make so many mistakes. But there is a huge lack of discipline there, for all of coach Tantrum's "coaching."
Aaron Yorke's HOTTAKE: There are rumors floating around that Christian Hackenberg just played his last game at Beaver Stadium. That wouldn't be all that surprising, although it now seems that the quarterback could be just as close to transferring as he is to entering the NFL Draft. If either of those scenarios come to pass, then Penn State will be starting a different quarterback in 2016. That would be just by me. This one completed more than 54 percent of his passes in just two games this year. He has more games with fewer than 46 percent of his passes being caught. Penn State can do better.
Oh, one more thing. Lay off the offensive coordinator. Either James Franklin is calling the plays himself or he's standing by while his subordinate is calling bad plays. Either way, it's the head coach's responsibility. The Penn State roster isn't ideal right now, but soon it will be time to back up all that "dominate the state" talk. At least we dominated the Trivalry this year.
GoForThree's HOTTAKE: While he's obviously done great schematic things for the program, Michigan fans have got to be growing a bit tired of Harbaugh's shrieking antics on the sideline. As ESPN chronicled, "...at one point in the third quarter following a pass interference call, Harbaugh ripped off his radio then tossed his jacket before screaming at officials." Winning or not, that's not a good look for the program Bo built.
Michigan next up: Ohio State | Penn State next up: at MSU
Illinois at Minnesota // Gophers keep hope alive, 32-23
The return of Mitch Leidner of Old? After two weeks of damn good football by the Gopher QB, big Mitch suddenly reverted to his old self. Sadly for the Illini, that wasn't enough because the Gophers have a Shannon Brooks to turn to when Mitch gets back to being himself. With a victory sealed by a Josh Ferguson fumble, the Gophers are a sniff away from bowl eligibility for another year. Illinois got on the board early thanks to a Wes Lunt endzone strike. All told, Illinois got a pretty great performance out of their QB, and the Illini battled back into this game in the second half. Lunt led scoring drives that pulled his team within one of the Gophers, 21-20. After a Minnesota field goal, Shannon Brooks woke up when the Gophers needed him most. His long TD run sealed the game in TCF Bank Stadium, and makes the Axe game a play-in for bowl eligibility. Lunt was a commendable 34/47 for 279 yards and two touchdowns, but an interception slowed his offense down. Leidner amassed a paltry 88 yards on 15 completions, but one touchdown pass and a 2-point run were crucial elements of the Gophers' win.
WSR's HOTTAKE: Illinois never had a fucking chance.
Thump's HOTTAKE: Illinois actually managed to run the ball and totally shut down Minnesota's offense in the second half. However, terrible special teams and bizarre offensive playcalling (some of which were Cubit, some of which were Lunt audibles aka Luntibles) meant that the defense had to keep getting stops on short fields. It was a showcase of how many things you can do to disadvantage your defense. When we get inside the 30, we should kick immediately. The final play of the game was such a perfect summary of this team. Down 9 with 20 seconds to play, Lunt tried to hand off to a confused Josh Ferguson, who fumbled the ball to end the game. We should have won this game.
The fumble occurred in slow motion, as though Ferguson was saying "Wait, there's 20 seconds to go, you don't really want to hand off to me, do you? Hello? I mean I don't think this is going to work---OK I guess I'll try to run this in---SHIT"
In the wake of football being the same old story of the last 25 years, never to return, and basketball being 1-3 for the first time since 1965, here is the new Illinois fight song.
Indiana at Maryland // Hoosiers slam the door, 47-28.
The crimson-clad faithful have awaited this outcome for weeks. Finally, the Hoosiers make a big lead stand up. As you might have guessed from the score, Nate Sudfeld again made the case that he might be the best thrower in the B1G. His 23/35 performance for 385 yards burned the Maryland secondary to the ground and accounted for 28 of the Hoosiers' points. He also ran one in for his fifth score of the afternoon. Devine Redding did the heavy lifting on the ground with 130 yards on 24 carries. Jordan Howard hauled the ball only thrice before leaving with an injury. Speaking of missing players, Maryland QB Perry Hills was sidelined with the kissing disease. That left backup Caleb Rowe as the starter. Rowe completed 10 of 19 passes for 88 yards before also being sidelined with a possible concussion. Shane Cockerille took over the reins and did little better. This game started out looking bleak for the Hoosiers, who trailed 21-3 in the early going. Then Indiana opened the taps and scored three touchdowns in under five minutes of play. Maryland briefly clawed their way back into it with a long run from Brandon Ross to pull within two, but that touchdown would be their last. Sudfeld threw two more TD passes to seal the deal, and a Griffin Oakes field goal added the cherry on top of a long-sought conference win.
Candy's HOTTAKE: So now that I've had most of the day to digest the fact that we aren't going to utterly waste a 4-0 start by going 4-8, I can actually look forward to the Bucket game as an opportunity. I'll admit that when IU went down 21-3, I was very concerned that we were about to get blown out, but unlike a bunch of our fans, I didn't take to Twitter and demand Kevin Wilson's immediate firing at the end of the game (which would have been a stupid move regardless). From there, we pulled it back, and the defense finally started playing something that actually resembles a real Big Ten defense. It feels like forever since I've been able to say good things about IUFB and not have to temper them with 'but we still lost', and while Maryland isn't exactly the most threatening team we've played this year, a win is a win is a win.
DJ's HOTTAKE: Things I've been doing rather than watch MD football: washed cars, applied RainX to cars, cleaned out cars, put up blinds in the sitting room (this has been an ongoing task across the house...), etc. When Indiana made it 21-10 I knew MD would blow it, and sure enough they're down 44-28 as I come back to the game. Maryland sucks.
Indiana next up: at Purdue | Maryland next up: Rutgers
Northwestern at Wisconsin // NU wins 13-7 amidst a snowball fight.
Most Wisconsin fans are probably less than proud of the antics of a select few fans and their snowball-ing of cheerleaders. I would contend that they should be equally annoyed at the maligning of Joel Stave. In his last start at Camp Randall, Wisconsin's beloved-yet-thoroughly-hated quarterback fell a touchdown short of his 30th career win -- a huge accomplishment by any measure. While he never found the endzone, he did rack up 229 yards of passing offense. Detractors might point to his two INTs, but the first was not his fault and that pass couldn't have been any crazier. The story of Stave ended with a bit of a whimper, I'm sad to say, and the fault lies fully with the B1G officiating crew. Say what you will about missed opportunities, but Stave took his team down the field and won the game with a touchdown pass to Jazz Peavey. And the officials absolutely 100% robbed him. This might sound a bit like a HOTTAKE, but I assure you I have no special love for Wisconsin. I just can't stand to see the officials take a game away from the players. On no planet was that not a touchdown. If that wasn't a touchdown, then no touchdown has ever been scored. Ever. But the call was the call, and an underwhelming Northwestern performance netted a road win in a tough venue. Them's the breaks...but the breaks are verging on utter bullshit with these refs anymore.
MNWildcat's HOTTAKE: Hi, Wisconsin fans. I look forward to each and every one of you magically becoming experts on fair catch rules, when pass interference can be called, and what constitutes a catch. Oh no wait, you've had YEARS of practice from your pro sports team, explaining why Jordy Nelson is interfered with every time he runs a pass pattern. Oh no wait, lucking out when you watched Dez Bryant CATCH THE BALL and somehow got the gift of being told he didn't has already prepared you for this moment of knowing why that wasn't a catc--what's that you say? It WAS a completed catch?!? I am so goddamn excited to read the mental gymnastics that go into this.
Oh, and solid work with the snowballs. For those of you new to the conference, just understand that Wisconsin fans are Philadelphia fans without any history. Fuck you for hitting our Spirit Squad with them, fuck you (although nice aim) for hitting our LB in the hip on the last play of the night, and fuck you for throwing them at our team as they sang the fight song with the fans after the game. Kudos to Jack Mitchell for playing Destroyer with his helmet and punching away 3 or 4 during that. It was lovely as always after the game, walking down Regent with my girlfriend and having people stop what they were doing to tell me I was a cheater and that my team is a bunch of [pick one: nerds, faggots, assholes]. It's that kind of warm reception. Special shoutout goes to the gal sitting in Chipotle eating a burrito who took time out of her meal to put it down and, while shouting what I assume were expletives, give me the double salute as her friends joined in. I don't know if you thought I couldn't see you or what, because you seemed plenty surprised when I responded in kind. You, your state, and your team can get fucked on orders of the highest magnitude.
But I digress. Northwestern's offense is shit, and Mick McCall should be encouraged to ride off into the sunset at the end of the season. He won't be, but c'est la vie. Justin Jackson once again ran wild and that's an awesome thing. He ain't Zeke Elliott, but he sure showed up Corey Clement and the Badger rushing attack, which was all [ERROR NOT FOUND] against a stout 'Cats defense.
Oh, speaking of which, hi. Joel Stave is garbage.
ROLL DAMN 'CATS.
Wisconsin next up: at Minnesota | NU next up: at Illinois
Michigan State at Ohio State // MSU throws back the curtain, 17-14
I don't even know what to say. On the one hand, I feel like I've been calling for this fairly consistently all year. That's not to say I ever uttered the words "MSU will beat OSU on November 21st," but more that I and many other Buckeye fans have seen something just...wrong...with this team. To their credit, Sparty fans have seen many flaws in their own team and have said as much. The net result is that MSU, despite their various shortcomings, put together a gameplan that pulled all the right stops and made history. With the win in Ohio Stadium, Sparty ended the longest win streak in conference history. Which began after the last time Sparty beat OSU.
When I heard that Connor Cook wasn't playing, I first thought it was a joke. Then when it was real, I thought "man, that's good for OSU." Then, as I passed through the airport bar, I saw the weather. An iron curtain of "oh, shit" descended upon me. Dantonio is a hell of a coach, and with the maelstrom negating any hope of a serious downfield pass attack, his biggest weakness had been nullified. The old grump struck with a vengeance, utilizing a stable of two backup QBs to slice through rain and Buckeye defenders. Perhaps his best help came from Ohio State's coaching staff, who abandoned any real constraint theory of offense and continued to run the same play into the same crashing wave of defenders over and over and over. The result was exactly what any sane person would have expected, and OSU produced their fewest offensive yards since the 2006 season BCS national title game -- a dose of beautiful irony, as it was Urban Meyer who handed those Buckeyes that brutal loss.
Sparty now controls its own fate. Ohio State does not. It's beginning to look a lot like 2013.
AK's HOTTAKE: In what I privately just hoped wouldn't be a blowout, MSU only didn't crush the Buckeyes because of 2 horrific turnovers which gifted the Buckeyes their only points. The Spartan D, with an assist from OSU's bafflingly pass-averse gameplan, smothered the Buckeye offense, tied the body to a boulder, and threw them into the ocean. A wonky State offense struggled to put up many points, but controlled the clock, churned out long drives, and kept Barrett and Elliott safely on the sideline, giving Michael Geiger the game-winning kick as time expired. Suddenly, hope springs renewed. Penn State and Iowa stand in the way of MSU's first trip to the Playoff.
GF3's HOTTAKE: I love you like a hot stepsister, AK, but your HOTTAKE is such ripe bullshit I don't even know where to begin. "Only didn't crush the Buckeyes." You didn't crush the Buckeyes because you didn't crush the Buckeyes. Period. Those turnovers weren't an aberration. Sam Hubbard be-cleated your QB and took the ball away. MacGarrett Kings actively chose to make a dumb play on a punt. You're also forgetting that OSU missed a field goal. Add to that, you scored on three of your 10 possessions. The OSU defense made you punt on 50% of your drives. Look, you guys played an awesome game. Your defense played lights-out all night. But let's not go down the road of pretending you were two turnovers away from blowing this thing open. Because you weren't.
GF3's NUCLEARTAKE: In no particular order...
Fire Tim Beck, re-hire him, fire him again, hire his wife, fire his wife, get his kids some paper routes and then fire them. Kick his dog, drop his cat off at a chinese buffet, and take away his birthday. That droopy-d*** asshat gets handed a bag with all the parts to a Rolex and what does he do? He spends 12 weeks BUILDING A DAMN SUNDIAL.
Can we please fire Luke Fickell, too? Or at least demote him to his level of competence? We need a real d-coordinator. Not someone who can't adjust to the same three or four base plays.
Our defense was a joke. MSU ran right into the mouth of a run-stopping beast and did anything they wanted.
I don't know if it was Dead Read, Salt Creek & Stadium, or one of our other fine Nebby fans on here who told me last summer that Beck was a disaster in the making. I poo-pooed and dismissed the notion. Well, I was dead wrong. I'm eating a breakfast casserole of crow, my Nebraska friends. You were 100% correct. My apologies.
Oh, and speaking of Tim Beck, let's talk about Zeke as well. Zeke was out of line with those comments. But let's be real with one thing first: do you really think anyone in that locker room didn't know Zeke was gone after this year? That's not news. What is also not news to anyone who's watched is that this isn't a team. It's a roster of stars running in loose formation for 13 weeks. That falls squarely on the coaches.
Look, I get that we're spoiled. Urban Meyer is still the best coach in the B1G by far. He's 48-4 in four seasons with a national title in his third year. That's insane. What bothers me is not that we lost, because that happens. Hell, I even predicted this one on Friday. Only a fool expects to go undefeated forever. What bothers me his how we lost. Apathy. Selfishness. Incompetence. Running into a brick wall over and over instead of searching for a door.
I don't know what Urban will do about Zeke or the others. Part of me thinks he needs a chance to redeem himself and be a teammate. Insulating is almost always better than isolating. That's not my call, though. And the worst part about what Zeke said is that he isn't wrong. He's 100% right. As with many things, though...it ain't what you said, it's just how you said it.
Congrats to MSU and MSU. Now win out and represent the B1G in the playoff.
MSU next up: Penn Stater | OSU next up: _ichigan.