14 B1G Things
1. YOLO Hack got stuck in traffic on the Dan Ryan for the first half.
2. Zack Oliver may be every bit the thrower that Clayton Thorson is.
3. The Illini, ranked last in the B1G in rushing, more than tripled their output against Purdue.
4. Purdue hasn't won back-to-back B1G games since 2012, and hasn't won back-to-back B1G home games since 2009.
5. Jim Harbaugh went for two with a 25-point third quarter lead over Rutgers "because that's what the chart said to do." This chart is found on page 42 of Basic Butchering of Livestock & Game.
6. The Knights have now lost three straight by a combined score of 146-33, and must win out to become bowl-eligible. Kyle Flood's job is likely safe thanks not to anything he's done, but because Rutgers isn't a name that shops well against USC, Miami, Sakerlina, and Maryland.
7. Iowa is 9-0 for the second time in six years, and the second time in program history.
8. The Hoosiers have lost five straight, with three losses at the hands of unbeatens. They've lost 30 straight against top-ten teams, dating back to 1987.
9. Wisconsin just needs to get used to Corey Clement being a non-factor for their team, and think of him like the elusive Super Mario 3 raccoon suit when he does appear.
10. Wisconsin's leading first-half rusher was a linebacker.
11. For every SPARTY YES!!! there must be a SPARTY NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
12. Apparently B1G refs don't like those ACC goons trying to steal their act.
13. Like the Tony Rich Project, the Cardale Jones Project also needs to fade into bemused memory.
14. As much as Jerry Kill will be missed, Minnesotans can take bit of heart in the fact that Tracy Claeys seems to be willing to open the offense up a bit more, especially where the Leidner-to-Maye connection is concerned.
The Nitty Gritty
Penn State at Northwestern // Northwestern wins 23-21.
The Wildcats captured their 5th victory of PSU in school history, and they did it without their plucky QB. Thorson started the game well, throwing eight times and completing five for 58 yards before an Anthony Zettel hit sent him out. The PSU defense harried Thorson in the early going and one seemingly benign shot put the Wildcat starter on the bench. Enter Zack Oliver. Northwestern's No. 2 man didn't play a perfect game, but what he did was more than enough. Oliver connected with Christian Jones for a 14-yard strike to put NU on the board early in the second quarter. Despite an official rushing line of -20 yards thanks to sacks, he almost managed to score once with his legs in midway six minutes later to push the Wildcat lead to 13 (yet another missed PAT).
Hackenberg, Barkley, and company answered quickly. They marched down the field in tandem to cut the lead to 13-7, only to see their efforts negated by a 96-yard Solomon Vault kick return. YOLO Hack was absent for most of the first half, but started making brief appearances as the game wore on. Nonetheless, the Lions' lone TD toss came from the hand of WR Geno Lewis on a trick play, hitting DaeSean Hamilton from 32 yards out. For the second week in a row, the Hackenberg lined up as a wideout--though this iteration saw Saquon Barkley take a direct snap for a TD run to go up 21-20. They couldn't hold on, though, as Zack Oliver mounted his most crucial drive of the afternoon. Oliver connected with a 23-yard pass on 3rd & 15 to sustain a series that ultimately saw much-maligned kicker Jack Mitchell punch the game-winner through the uprights. The former backup was playing in only his fourth game, and his youth showed. He finished 11/24 for 115 yards and a one TD. Hack looked barely better at 21/40 for no scores and a pick.
MNWildcat's #MILDTAKE: Justin Jackson might be back. Christian Hackenberg left...a lot to be desired. That game shouldn't have ended the way it did, because (1) the Cowardly FrankLoin had an adventure in click management, and (2) what the fuck, Jack Mitchell of the first 59:45?
Please come back soon, Clayton Thorson. I would love to attend a bowl game on New Year's Day.
87Townie's #HOTTAKE: First, let me say that Northwestern had a great plan and executed well. Even after their starting quarterback left the game. Now, as for my team...it was the return of the "bad" PSU team. That offense was terrible. The first half looked like Donovan was calling plays by pulling them out of a fucking hat. Execution sucked, receivers dropped balls or failed to get separation.
But the worst was the lack of discipline on the line. I don't know how many 3rd and short situations ended with a motion penalty. And the Wildcats handled 3rd and long really well. On defense, it was shades of the Maryland game. We failed to seal the edge over and over. Thankfully we have a bye next week to get healthy and get our shit together.
Aaron Yorke's #HOTTAKE: For the second straight week, the beleaguered coordinator's creativity led to a PSU touchdown, but FIUR Donovan anyway for making Christian Hackenberg throw an interception with the Lions up by one and knocking on the door of field goal range. That was a weird game in that I can list just as many reasons why PSU should have won as reasons it should have lost by more.
On one hand, State blew a coverage on 3rd-and-15 on NU's last possession, allowed a kickoff return after Solomon Vault (A+ name BTW) briefly fumbled the ball, and mismanaged the clock in the final minute. On the other, the Lions were only in the game thanks to penalites, struggles by Jack Mitchell, and the unfortunate injury to Clayton Thorson. All together, it was a brutal loss, but this team isn't a division title contender anyway.
NU next up: Purdue | PSU next up: BYE
Illinois at Purdue // Illinois wins 48-14.
One step forward, two steps back for the Boilermakers. After racking up gonzo numbers last week against Nebraska, the Boilermaker offense suddenly went MIA against the Illini. The Purdue offense sputtered from the start, amassing only 25 yards in the first quarter and 263 all day. The Illini showed quite the opposite flair. Coming into the game with fewer than 1000 rushing yards as a team over nine games, Bill Cubit's team looked to Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Josh Ferguson to light a fire under the offense. He was not disappointed. Vaughn ran for 180 yards and Ferguson added 133 of his own as the Illini pounded the ball for 382 total rushing yards. Wes Lunt found his groove as well, throwing for 169 yards and three TDs on 33 attempts. David Blough would've liked to have the same kind of day, but he connected on 29 of his 47 passes for only 174 yards, one TD, and an INT. The difference was clearly the Illini rushing attack, which seems ever more potent with Ferguson back from injury. Whatever magic got into the Purdue team last week must've left with Nebraska.
Thumpasaurus' #HOTTAKE: Josh Ferguson is apparently our entire offense. Prior to today we had him for just one quarter of conference play. Today we had him all game and could actually run a balanced offense. Yikes, Purdue has a very bad defense. Still can't explain why we were so terrible in State College, but I thoroughly enjoyed our first blowout win over a B1G opponent since I was in school in 2011.
I hereby rescind my claim on behalf of Illinois for the title of "worst B1G team." I'm pretty sure that's Purdue, and since I'm not an MSU fan I will not attempt to argue that I've got it worse.
babaoreally's #HOTTAKE: Just like against Minnesota, an average team, the Boilers got blown out at home against Illinois. It was like a cruddy college team playing a cruddy high school team out there. The Nebraska game was the fluke conference win for the year.
Illinois next up: OSU | Purdue next up: at Northwestern
Rutgers at Michigan // Michigan wins 49-16.
This one was over by the half, but don't tell Jim Harbaugh that. His Wolverines jumped out to an early lead on the efforts of Jake Rudock, who threw and ran for the first two Michigan TDs. He added a third touchdown in the second period, after Jabrill Peppers and Drake Johnson each added one of their own. Rutgers' lone first half touchdown came on special teams, with speedster Janarion Grant scampering 98 yards through the Michigan kickoff squad for a score. Kyle Federico gets credit for the balance of Rutgers' first half points with two FGs.
Despite a third quarter lead of 41-16, Harbaugh elected to go for two points in a move that will do little to help his image among coaches. Rudock dashed into the endzone to stretch the lead to 27 points. The Wolverines continued to throw deep well into the second half before finally relenting in the fourth. Perhaps Harbaugh though Rudock needed a statement game, which he got with a career-high 337-yard performance. Rutgers falls to 3-6 and 1-5 in conference.
RayRansom's #HOTTAKE: I now know why everyone hates Michigan. Listening to the announcers verbally fellate the greatest team since fucking sliced bread was annoying in the first quarter, cloying in the second quarter, rage-inducing by the third quarter and holy fuck I can't even by the fourth. Listening to these fuckhead windbags marvel at every time a Michigan player successfully scratched their ass, lined up on the correct side of the line of scrimmage, or gracefully executed an uncalled facemask led me to stop drinking.
I don't know if the worst was Shithead McCrappybritches ignoring Janarion Grant's 3rd KR TD of the season in favor of admiring Jabril Peppers' choice of wristband or the fifty fucking times Matt "OMG Harbaugh's Number 1 Faaaaan" Millen had to point out that Rutgers didn't have any playmakers like Peppers. Hey, dickbags, how about another defense of why the Butt Deception was anything but a childish attempt to cheat? That would be just fucking awesome.
FUCK YOU MICHIGAN. FUCK YOU AND YOUR PEPP-O-METER, AND YOUR 2 POINT CONVERSIONS, AND YOUR SHIT SPORTSMANSHIP, AND YOUR KHAKIS, AND YOUR INTENT TO DECEIVE, YOU OVERRATED SHITS.
ALSO FUCK YOU PENN STATE, FUCK YOU OHIO STATE, AND FUCK YOU ESPECIALLY MICHIGAN FOR RAIDING JERSEY FOR OUR BEST PLAYERS. YOU CAN FUCK RIGHT OFF. ALSO INDIANA. FUCK YOUS AND YOUR QUARRY. IOWA GO WIN A GODDAMN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP FOR FUCKING FUCKS SAKE.
seriously SERIOUSLY fuck Michigan
Michigan next up: at Indiana | Rutgers next up: Nebraska
Iowa at Indiana // Iowa wins 35-27.
The Hawkeyes downed an Indiana squad that may be the best 4-win team in the country. Iowa remains unbeaten largely thanks to the heroics of C.J. Beathard. The corn-fed pigskin-hucker remained hobbled by a nagging groin injury, and it showed--to a point. His halting gait didn't matter when the chips were down, nor did a late first-half back injury he sustained on a diving TD play that looked suspiciously like a fumble. Beathard was helped, of course, by his reliable two-headed beast of a rushing attack. Akrum Wadley fired the opening salvo with a 65-yard touchdown burst on the second play from scrimmage. He would finish with 120 total yards, but his first trip to the endzone would be his last. LeShun Daniels punched in the first of his two TDs early in the second quarter, and Beathard's heroic dive capped Iowa's first half points. Jordan Howard kept the Hoosiers in it with two touchdowns of his own on runs of 37 and 26 yards respectively--the second giving his team a brief lead before Beathard's diving score snagged back the advantage.
The score went unchanged in the third thanks to a flurry of punts (the most B1G of weather phenomena), but the scoring resumed in the fourth. With his team holding a 21-20 lead, Beathard took his team 74 yards down the field before Daniels punched in the 1-yard score. Following an Indiana 3-and-out, the Beathard drove the field again and found George Kittle for a 10-yard scoring pass. Sudfeld brought his team within one score, capping a 76-yard, 10 play drive with his lone touchdown pass of the day. He finished 16/31 for 180 yards, and had an INT to match his touchdown (surprise: Desmond King). Jordan Howard and Devine Redding once again reminded Hoosier fans that Tevin Coleman isn't the last great back they'll see in crimson & chrome, tallying 219 yards together. Sadly for the Hoosier faithful (and for those tiring of Iowa), it wasn't enough.
Creighton M's #HOTTAKE: I'm impressed that Beathard is able to do his thing while only being about 50% health-wise, but I'm completely blown away that the Ferentz-GERG combo has been able to adjust the entire offense to compensate for his injury. I'm still trying to take this season one week at a time, and this week all I can think about is how much I want my damn pig back. #FreeFloyd!
Stewmonkey's #HOTTAKE: Beathard is one tough SoB. By several accounts he's been dealing with a severely hampered groin (probably a sports hernia) since the Pitt game. Against Indiana he gutted several tough scrambles to lead IOWA to a win. Also, by all means, please keep throwing in Desmond King's direction. Oh, hello there Mitch Leidner.
Iowa next up: Minnesota | Indiana next up: Michigan
Wisconsin at Maryland // Wisconsin wins 31-24.
It's hard to fathom how bad the Wisconsin offense can be without Corey Clement. The Badgers went into the half knotted at 17 with Maryland. Joel Stave had produced 20 yards through the air and a reception by a Maryland defender. Their best offensive play had been a 57-yard fake punt run by Joe Schubert. Mr. Schobert is a linebacker, so his efforts are both a credit to him and a condemnation of the rest of the offense.
The Badgers did manage to find the scoreboard, thanks to an Ogunbowale TD run and a Natrell Jamerson kick return. Speaking of credit, Maryland's Perry Hills deserves little. After running for nearly 400 yards over three games, he was held to -20 on four sacks by Dave Aranda's smothering defense. His lone bright moment was a 41-yard arcing throwing that hit D.J. Moore in stride.
The situation improved for Wisconsin in the second half, with Alec Ingold punching the ball in from one yard out and Stave hitting Ogunbowale for a short touchdown pass. Maryland hung in late with a 76-yard touchdown drive led by Caleb Rowe, who replaced the embattled Hills, to make it a 31-24 game. Maryland's onside kick attempt failed due to a penalty and they never saw the ball again. Stave improved marginally throughout the day to finish 15/24 for 188 yards. Hills and Rowe were mirror images of one another. Hills was pulled after going 6/16 for 107. Rowe finished 7/18 for 107. Each had an INT and a TD. The more things change, the more they stay the same for a Maryland team that hasn't won since mid-September.
Wisconsin next up: BYE | Maryland next up: at MSU
Michigan State at Nebraska // SPARTY NO!!!!! Nebraska wins 39-38.
Typically, one might expect to hear cheers at the news of a conference-race competitor losing unexpectedly. But in the warm scarlet and gray confines of Ohio Stadium last night, the reaction was a resounding "....WHAT?" This game will no doubt be dissected and rehashed in depth by our other excellent writers on both sides. Moreover, I just admitted to you that I did not see the game because I was watching OSU sputter against Minnesota. Thus, I humbly submit the following #HOTTAKES in lieu of an exhaustive recap of a game I could not possibly capture from a box score and highlights.
Andrew Kraszewski's #HOTTAKE: After a night of NyQuil-assisted sleep, it turns out last night probably doesn't matter. Looking back to like week 4 or something, I did anticipate this garbage secondary and special teams would cost MSU eventually, and lo and behold, it did. Yes, we saw yet another in the long, pathetic history of blown calls by a B1G official that had an enormous impact on the outcome of a game, but if MSU doesn't spot Nebraska the ball at the 40 on every kickoff and/or had a single defensive back on the roster capable of defending an armpunt, the refs' ongoing blithering incompetence would not have mattered. Props to Nebraska for playing hard despite having a crap season. MSU's secondary and kickoff team can walk home for all I care, because they can look their collective selves in the mirror and know they are the ones who blew it.
Jesse Collin's #HOTTAKE: My SMCD is that the call that MSU fans are angry about today is hardly the reason the Spartans lost. In a game that saw a blatant PI in the endzone not called on Michigan State, a double PI that made absolutely no sense in that they protected another Spartan defender doing nothing but flailing, and playcalling by the Spartan offense that boggles the mind - in a position to put the game away with a first down - along with a penalty that cost them 15 seconds of salting the game away, saying one call cost you the game ignores the fact that your team plays with fire against any team that can remotely pass the ball deep.
I'm willing to concede that the call is iffy, but even as experts in officiating have said all morning, maybe your DBs would get the benefit of the doubt if they hadn't made contact, and maybe - just maybe - they get the call if they had defended one pass on that drive that did not result in going for a big hit long after the catch was made.
My pity level for this nonsense that Michigan State lost on that call - on second down with time left - is non existent. Spartan fans will be out for blood that this call cost them their season, but the truth is that your defense, the defense that you've touted all this time, got burned long before that call, and maybe thats something you should worry about.
Sidenote, Nebraska has flaws. Lots of them. I'm still not sure how this staff will do in the long run. However, for one night, this team played out of its mind, did not give up, rattled Cook at times, and fought for every yard. This year has been awful, but nights like these are to be savored. Yes, we're still a 6 loss team in November, but if you can't enjoy the victories amongst the defeats, what's the point? I sat on my living room absolutely shell shocked as my dad jumped up and down screaming when we won. It was an awesome night.
(Note to Andrew K: this really isn't directed towards you. I saw like ten MSU fans say that the call was the only reason Nebraska won. Like, no sense of self-awareness of MSU's other, multiple flaws. They act as if that was 4th down and there was nothing left. So, you know, it's time to call them on it.)
Andrew K: Any sensible MSU fan knows that call didn't cost us the game, just like the bullshit PI on Dennard didn't cost us the Nebraska game in 2012. But so many of our losses feature a prominent blown call that it's hard not to feel like the world is out to get you sometimes. (Gump voice) and that's all I have to say about that.
Nebraska next up: at Rutgers | MSU next up: Maryland
Minnesota at Ohio State // OSU wins 28-14
I was lucky to attend my first night game at Ohio Stadium and my first game since the renovations. I've been lucky to catch the Buckeyes in a number of away venues, but returning home to my native soil for a Buckeye game has eluded me. The atmosphere was fantastic, including pre-game drinks with extended family at Eddie George's Grille, where we bumped into Eddie himself. The Minnesota contingent was small but vocal. I was proud of the fact that the OSU roving brass groups went to their section and played the Minnesota fight song for them, since the Gopher band didn't travel. I was not proud that the stadium booed the Gophers on their entrance. That is always a boorish and un-sportsmanlike move in my mind.
As the drama unfolded in Lincoln, the drama failed to unfold in Columbus. A brisk November night became a folly of miscues and terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad execution by the Buckeyes' offense. Cardale Jones, though a talented athlete, is simply not the man for the job. He excelled last year with the right supporting cast and system that was pared down to match his meager ability to make reads. With a few different folks in the lineup, he's simply incapable of making the magic happen.
The Buckeye defense smothered Minnesota for most of the game and provided the initial score on a 16-yard Vonn Bell interception return. OSU was initially flagged for a targeting hit on Leidner, but replay overturned the call. The Buckeyes' only offensive score in the first half was a Zeke Elliot dash for 15 yards to cap a drive that eclipsed the rest of the first half offense. Ohio State had managed only 55 yards of offense to that point, and the drive added 77.
The second half saw two more Buckeye TDs, both thanks to Cardale. One was a decently thrown endzone pass to Michael Thomas, and the other came on a 38-yard Cardale rumble to put the game away. The latter TD is important because Cardale has shown almost no willingness or ability to run vertically since Virginia Tech. The beastly QB who rocked Oregon's defense with his bruising hits has done little but stutter-step in the backfield and juke his way to 3-yard losses.
Leidner and company were bottled up for most of the game, but found paydirt with K.J. Maye and Rashad Stil in the fourth quarter. Drew Wolitarsky also grabbed clutch passes to march his team down the field. While their efforts weren't quite enough, the Gophers played the #3 team in the country to 21-14 score late in the game. There's promise in that team, and Tracy Claeys seems to be able to suss it out to some degree.
insertname's #HOTTAKE: I have some gripes with the zebras but not enough to complain about the outcome of the game. Hard to win with 8 starters gone by the end of the game. This is a blowout with JT in the game. Also LOL MSU. HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. So happy they got screwed, my coworkers from msu are the worst. Never talk about the Spartans, only how #HARBAUGH is overrated. They also don't do their jobs and skate by.
OSU next up: at Illinois | Minnesota next up: at Iowa
And the #HOTTAKE of the Week goes to Thumpasaurus, explaining PSU's clock management:
Thumpasaurus: In defense of BSD...why let the clock run down from 46 to 22 seconds before calling a timeout?
Like maybe Franklin stood up really fast and had a head rush and that's when the play clock started and he spent 24 seconds thinking "wait a second. I'm at a football game. What was it that I was supposed to be doing?"
"I'm standing too close to the sidelines to be a trainer or a water boy"
"Am I an usher? No, I'm not wearing the same thing that they are"
"In any case, that clock is winding down. Whoever is Penn State's head coach should really think about using a timeout right now"
"I AM THE PENN STATE COACH, AREN'T I?!?! TIMEOUT TIMEOUT TIMEOUT!"