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Week Ten B1G Ballers

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It wasn't a hollow wooden horse, but rather a little Crouch Magic that brought the mighty Trojans down. I can't believe it myself...but that's why we play the games.

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Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

I have to admit, this was not a great football weekend for me. The weather was nice. I got out on the beach in the morning and had a great surf session. The water is crystal clear right now and about 75 degrees. No wet suit yet and the air was in the 80’s. I was in a great mood until my beloved Nittany Lions laid an egg in Evanston early.

That kind of pissed me off… So, while I did watch bits and pieces of games as the day went on, it was with less vigor than in weeks past.

Honestly, I spent a lot of my time rooting for Vanderbilt to upset the Gators at home. And I noted with joy that Clemson skull fucked the Seminoles, which should quiet that stupid chop cheer for a while. Anyway, I was watching mostly other games…that is, until my phone got bombarded with texts about the MSU/Nebraska game.

I wonder how many of you actually thought that could happen? Not me, that’s for sure.

Now let’s talk about the Ballers of the week…

Illinois Fighting Illini: Last week’s shutout stung like hell, huh? So you went out and rung Purdue’s bell. Nice job all around, rallying after a big loss and curb stomping a Purdue team looking to build on its first home win in its coach’s tenure.

I have to admit, I hate Wes Lunt’s ‘stache. It’s cheezy as fuck. But I’m willing to let it slide, because that kid balled out this week. He was 19 of 33 for 169 yards and three touchdowns. That included several big plays, including catches of 18+ yards by Malik Turner and Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Vaughn was my player of the game. He carried the ball 16 times for 180 yards and two touchdowns. His big play was a 78-yard rumble for a touchdown, but he also had runs of 31 and 29 yards. Kid had a huge day.

The defense played big as well. They sacked Blough three times and held the Boilers to just 91 yards rushing total. Jevaris Little and Taylor Barton both picked off Blough passes as well.

However, a big nominee for special teams player of the week has to be Ryan Frain, Illinois’ punter. He punted three times for 174 yards and a 58 yard average. Hey kid, if you’re looking to go to graduate school and bring a year of eligibility, there’s a place in Happy Valley for you…

Indiana Hoosiers: I saw this one coming. Indiana was playing better each week and I thought Iowa might overlook them. The Hoosiers came within a whisker of pulling off a big upset.

On offense, I want to highlight two players who, if you still have to play Indiana, you’d better scheme. The first is running back Jordan Howard, because this guy will kill you. He’s a UAB transfer who racked up 1,578 yards last year.  He has 961 yards on the year and will be a thousand yard rusher for sure. Against Iowa, he carried the ball 22 times for 174 yards and two touchdowns.

The other outstanding offensive player was wide receiver Mitchell Paige. He only caught two balls, but they were both big plays of 25 yards.

I have to credit these guys for playing hard. They needed to play completely mistake free to win this one. And they needed the Hawkeyes to make a few errors. That didn’t happen, so they didn’t win the game. But it was a damn good try, anyway.

Iowa Hawkeyes: C.J. Beathard is still slinging it well. He was 19 of 31 for 233 yards and a touchdown against Indiana. He got big, 10+ yard plays from four different receivers. But it was the workhorse running backs that really carried the load. Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels Jr. both played solid football. The two combined to carry the ball 35 times for 198 yards and three touchdowns. They both broke runs over 10 yards on several occasions.

Wadley had the big play of the game. On the third play of the game, he broke a 65-yard touchdown run that set the tone for Iowa.

Maryland Terrapins: Once again, Maryland’s defense plays well and its offense gives up the ball. Jalen Brooks picked of Joel Stave. One of Wisconsin’s early second quarter drives looked like this:

  • · Stave pass for 16 yards.
  • · Terp Anthony Nixon Pass Interference
  • · Joel Stave Sacked
  • · Joel Stave Sacked
  • · Wisconsin False Start
  • · Joel Stave Sacked
  • · Wiscy Punt

That’s solid defense for Maryland. They got to Stave four times in the game. They held the Badgers to two touchdowns in the second half. Unfortunately the Maryland offense was anemic…Will Likely, their dynamic special teams player and defensive back was also the leading rusher in the game. No Bueno terps.

Michigan Wolverines: I’m sure there is a reason that you tried to cheat Butt in on that play…and you went for two against Rutgers. But I’m also sure it was bullshit. You didn’t need to do anything fancy here. It was Rutgers. You were up 28 to 16 at the half, for crying out loud.

Jake Rudock had a good game against Rutgers. Throwing 18 of 25 for 337 yards and 2 touchdowns…against Rutgers. Everybody but the water-boy ran for a score…against Rutgers. And Jake Butt had four catches for 102 yards…against Rutgers.

Nice job pulling out all the stops…against Rutgers.

Michigan State Spartans: I didn’t see this one coming…not against Nebraska. Not on a day when Connor Cook goes 23 of 37 for 335 yards and four touchdowns. Holy hell…

Running back Gerald Holmes had a good day, going 117 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Future NFL receiver Aaron Burbridge went off, catching 10 balls or 164 yards and a 33-yard touchdown grab. Macgarrett Kings Jr. (from the all-name team) also had a solid game. He snagged four balls for 97 yards and two touchdown catches of 34 and 18 yards.

With all that offense, the defense just needs to show up…and some did. Riley Bullough and Demetrious Cox both snagged picks in the game. It just wasn’t enough to prevent a huge upset.

Minnesota Golden Gophers: If nothing else, your defense proved to the world that Ohio State only has one great quarterback left. The Gopher defense left it all on the field Saturday night. They got to the Buckeye quarterback four separate times. Jack Lynn had a couple of big tackles for loss and forced a fumble. That was a big game and he stepped up.

The score was 21 – 14 in the fourth quarter, mostly thanks to a stingy Minnesota defense, but they just couldn’t carry the whole load against a talented Ohio State team.

On offense, it’s tough to find a bright spot. The Buckeye’s defense picked off a pass in the second quarter and took it in for six. They stifled the run and bent but didn’t break.  

Ohio State Buckeyes: Whelp…we now know your secret…J.T. Barrett is a great quarterback. Cardale Jones…is not so much. Actually, that’s unkind. The kid threw for 187 yards on 12 completions and a touchdown. He also ran for 65 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown run. But he did cough up the ball and he’s just not as electric as Barrett or even Braxton Miller for that matter. Didn’t matter though, as long as you have that supporting cast around him, this is a great football team. Ezekiel Elliott is a great running back. He ran 26 times for 114 yards and a great touchdown run. Braxton had a sweet 45 yard pass reception. Jalin Marshall had some explosive plays…this team is just loaded.

The defense played well, although Minnesota handled the pass rush. Vonn Bell got a great pick six in the second quarter, which helped seal the deal against Minnesota.

Nebraska Cornhuskers: Mike Riley, you sly sandbagger, you. Losing those games just to lull MSU to sleep and then…BOOM! Tommy Armstrong had a day. He threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns, but two picks as well. He also ran for two touchdowns. Imani Cross carried the ball 8 times for 98 yards and a touchdown.

Jordan Westercamp caught nine balls for 143 yards and a touchdown. But Brandon Reilly and Alonzo Moore were explosive. Reilly had catches of 22, 30, and 35 yards, including a touchdown. Moore had a 43-yard reception. Those big plays are shocking, in light of how good we all thought MSU’s defense was.

Nebraska’s defense did just enough. Jonathan Rose picked off Cook in the second quarter.

This was the upset of the week, no doubt about it. Nicely done Huskers.

Northwestern Wildcats: The Northwestern Wildcats came out and punched Penn State in the face on both offense and defense. Northwestern’s defense seemed to know the play calls better than the Lions’ players did. It wasn’t until the second quarter that the Nittany Lions finally scored…and then Solomon Vault took the kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown. It was 20 to 7 at halftime, but the momentum was all Cats.

Except for their kicker, Jack Mitchell, who shanked an extra point and missed two other fieldgoals to let the lions climb back into the game. But Northwestern patiently moved the ball down the field in the final minutes and let Mitchell line up to win the game…which he did on a 25 yard field goal.

The player of the game for Northwestern was running back Justin Jackson. He had 28 carries for 186 yards. Penn State had no answer for him, as he broke tackles on every run.

On defense, Nick VanHoose picked off a Hackenberg pass, his second interception for the year. In total, the ten tackles for loss, including two sacks, was the best performance for this defense since the Minnesota game.

Penn State Nittany Lions: There were few bright spots to talk about in a game that was dominated by Northwestern. Geno Lewis, a talented receiver, threw the best pass of the day for the lions. A 35 yard touchdown to DaeSean Hamilton. Saquon Barkley continues to run hard, racking up 120 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. Chris Godwin went over 100 yards receiving with 8 catches.

The defense wasn’t good, but Carl Nassib set the Penn State record for sacks in a single season with 15.5 through ten games. The record was 15, set in 1979 by NFL standout Larry Kubin and tied by NFL standout Michael Haynes in 2002.

In total, the Penn State defense sacked Northwestern quarterbacks six times in the game. That’s a solid outing…but they gave up too many yards to running backs and too many chunk plays for me to be happy.

Purdue Boilermakers: You guys…sheesh. I talk nice about you one time and you lay this kind of egg? Ugh. We’ll check in again next week. Damn.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights: You guys make it tough to give praise in a game like this. But I want to single out Janarion Grant. He’s a special teams guy who has really stepped up with Carroo on the sidelines. He had a 98-yard touchdown on a kickoff, a 67-yard punt return, and he caught a 22-yard pass. That was a hell of a day, way to ball Janarion.

Wisconsin Badgers: This was not the way Wisconsin wanted the game to go. Maryland scored a touchdown on its opening drive and the score was tied at the half. For the most part, the Terps had a plan for Wisconsin’s offense.

However, Wisconsin’s defense took the ball whenever the Maryland offense got generous…which has been often this year. Tanner McEvoy got two picks in the game and the defense got four sacks on the day.

For the most part, Maryland handled Dare Ogunbowale. But he had two pretty fancy touchdowns. He ran a ball in from 21 yards out for a score. He also sauntered out into the flat and caught a touchdown for a score.

And how’s this for some special teams play…Natrell Jamerson ran a kickoff back 98 yards for a score. Joel Schobert took a fake punt from his own 20 yard line and ran for 57…right down Maryland’s throat. Oof, that’s gotta hurt.

Ballers of the Week:

Offensive baller has to go to Tommy Armstrong of Nebraska. His four touchdowns fueled the upset of the year so far in the Big Ten Conference.

Defensive Baller goes to Wisconsin’s Tanner McEvoy, for his two interception game against Maryland. He’s having a career year for Wisconsin.

Special Teams Baller goes to Rutgers’ Janarion Grant. You have to admire a kid that just won’t quit, even with Michigan disrespectfully messing with them all through the game. I like that in a player. Just keep getting up Janarion, you’ll be playing on Sundays.

Now for the Beer!

This weekend I knocked back a few Old Brown Dog ales. This is an American style brown ale. Basically  hoppier than the English brown ale. Old Brown Dog is great for those cool afternoons. It is rich and sweet with a nice malty body. I really like it. If you like ales, grab a sixer and let me know what you think.

That’s it for this week…

Your Friend,                                                                                                                                                   

Townie