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Sunday Morning Coming Down // Week 5

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The Struggle Bus is Filling Up

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Ten B1G Things

  1. J.T. Barrett is now the all-time leader in passing touchdowns at Ohio State, surpassing Bobby Hoying...with only 21 starts.
  2. In honor of Chris Ash leaving OSU for Rutgers, Urban delivered the worst B1G beating the Knights have taken yet.
  3. Ohio State entered the game as the second-biggest favorite in B1G play since 1985
  4. Since announcing The New Contract Adventures of Old Kirk, Iowa has been outscored 68-66.
  5. Not sure what’s worse...that a 1-3 Northwestern team beat Iowa, or that this is the 8th time Kirk has lost to the Tarpkitties.
  6. Northwestern and Iowa are united in losses to FCS teams and a deep love for the Ferentz family.
  7. Two top ten teams battling to a 14-7 ending is the most B1G game possible.
  8. The Huskers are the kings of the 4th quarter, outscoring their opponents 78-6 in the final period this season.
  9. Illinois rushed for 1 yard in the fourth quarter.
  10. Maryland sacked David Blough six times, and those were actually some of his best plays.
  11. Are we thrilled that a fat kicker’s hamfisted antics were the highlight fodder of Penn State’s overtime victory? Or just a bit sad?
  12. Sandy Barbour swears Franklin’s job is not in jeopardy, which is the athletic director version of your girlfriend telling you that you “totally don’t need to worry about that guy, baby.”
  13. Indiana’s QB got so tired of other teams catching his passes that he decided to just go out and catch passes himself.
  14. Sparty fans probably didn’t expect to be two games behind Maryland in the conference race at any point this season, much less in Week 5.

The Rundown

Rutgers at Ohio State | Ohio State toys with their prey, 58-0

Ohio State’s defense has scored more points than they’ve allowed this season, and Rutgers is the latest team to feel the smothering weight of the Buckeyes. While J.T. Barrett was grabbing records with his four first half TD passes, the Ohio State defense welcomed their old boss back to town by making his Scarlet Knights punt on all ten possessions. The B1G’s best defense left Rutgers with a goose egg on the scoreboard and 116 yards of total offense. Ohio State continued their trend of scoring at least 45 points in every game this season, aided by Weber’s 140 yards rushing and Barrett’s heroic outing. Ohio State still looks like the team to beat.

ZuzuRU: Rutgers has a long way to go. That's the short and the long of it. I firmly believe that Ash is the coach to get us where we want to be though. Maybe not our Offensive Coordinator (though the talent he is working with is pretty meh), but Ash is the coach and I have faith.

OSU next up: Indiana | Rutgers next up: Michigan


Wisconsin at Michigan | Michigan kills the magic 14-7

The B1Ggest game of the season saw very little offense, some very stout defense, and enough good punting to make Jim Tressel shift around in his Dockers. The Badgers came into this showdown slightly hobbled, having lost star linebacker Vince Biegel to a foot injury. That may have been enough of a difference. Michigan looked about like they have all season, with Speight being the good-not-great passing threat backing up a capable but unpredictable running game. The big story of this matchup was freshman QB Alex Hornibrook falling apart in the face of a determined Michigan defense. The architect of the now somewhat diminished win over Michigan State fell to pieces against Michigan, going an abysmal 9 of 25 for only 88 yards and three INTs. Speight looked much better, connecting on 20 of his 32 attempts for 219 yards and a TD/INT pairing. Hornibrook’s last pick was a boneheaded but beautiful play by Jourdan Lewis that sealed the Badgers’ fate. Neither team could rush against the other to much effect, though Michigan nearly doubled up ground production on the Badgers with a whopping 130 total yards. A true B1G skirmish from the boring days of yore. The way Harbaugh lost his mind on the sidelines, you’d think something exciting had happened. Maybe he ran out of snacks.

Michigan next up: at Rutgers | Wisconsin next up: BYE


Purdue at Maryland | Maryland crushes Purdue 50-7

If Darrell Hazell didn’t think he was doomed before, this is pretty much sealed the deal for anyone with eyeballs. To wit, no back in the nation has ever gone over 200 yards on as few carries as Maryland’s Ty Johnson did today. The speedy Terp averaged 29.1 yards per carry—5.1 more than Melvin Gordon’s best effort. Purdue, as you may have guessed, looked utterly abysmal. David Blough was held to just 18 completions on 41 attempts, totaling 132 yards. He also fell to sacks six times. His counterpart Perry Hills had a pleasant outing, tossing two TDs and scampering for a third. The Terps now find themselves in a surprising 3rd place slot in the B1G East.

DJ Carver: Bahahahahaha wow Purdue is really fucking terrible. 400 yards rushing on 45 carries, 3 50+ yard rushes and an OBSCENE 7 rushes for 204 yards from Ty Johnson. This tells you nothing about Maryland other than they can run the ball. That's it, I don't even know if they're that good because the first four opponents are Lol terrible with the exception of UCF who might be decent

Maryland next up: at PSU | Purdue next up: at Illinois


Illinois at Nebraska | Nebraska avenges the past 31-16

After losing in what became a familiar soul-crushing fashion to the Illini last year, the Huskers looked for most of the game like they were doomed to make Illinois’ day again. When Ozigbo got hurt late in the third, things looked dire. Then Terrell Newby put the Huskers on his shoulders. Newby tallied 113 of his 140 yards in the fourth quarter, notching two TDs that took the Huskers from a six point deficit to a lead they never gave up. Tommy Armstrong did his part, throwing for a late TD and running for the game’s first score as part of an overall strong campaign. The Husker QB went 16 of 23 for 220 with one INT. The Huskers look to be a strong contender in the West, and Illinois looks to be the second-best B1G team in Illinois.

Thumpasaurus: I hate that Vaughn sucks now. I hate that Wes is just never gonna have the balls to make that throw. I hate that Lovie still feels like he can't use a timeout or take a chance until 5 minutes after the game ends. What do you have to lose? You're coaching Illinois. This is the end of the line as a big time head coach.

I hate more than anything that I got suckered into caring again for 3 hours and then the coaches raised the white flag.

Nebraska next up: BYE | Illinois next up: Purdue


Northwestern at Iowa | Let the LOLing continue, 38-31

Do we have any Iowa fans left? Not that we’ve noticed a 98% reduction in Iowa homerism...but we’ve noticed. Given that the Hawks are 1-2 since they announced they’d be giving long-maligned coach Kirk Ferentz a massive contract extension. The Wildcats made themselves at home in Iowa City, with Justin Jackson the Ball Carrier™ ripping off 171 yards on the ground and Clayton Thorson completing 18 of 30 passes—a third of them to Austin Carr, the B1G’s leading receiver. While Thorson tossed 3 TDs, the Long Legend himself managed only one, and paired it with a late INT that crushed any hope of a comeback. He can hardly be blamed, as he has faced relentless pressure this season—a trend which continued today as Iowa managed only 79 rushing yards. The big QB has been sacked 14 times thus far, which makes one wonder how bad it would be without Iowa’s world-class S&C program protecting him from further abuse. The loss of Vandeberg looms large in Iowa City, as an anemic offense just got weaker. All aboard the Struggle Bus!

MNWildcat: The only play of the game I saw was the interception of Beathard to seal it. I was at a gift-opening thing for the bride and groom of the wedding I was at yesterday, because the girlfriend was a bridesmaid and apparently it's mandatory that bridesmaids do that or some shit. [CC to brides out there: It's fucking dumb. Don't make people do it.

Going off the boxscore alone, man, Austin Carr is a fucking stud. Go look that dude up. He can catch a mean ball, he sings like a god, he wants to be president or some shit...man. What an afternoon for the young man tasked with shoring up what was an abysmal receiving corps.

I've learned, most importantly, what I need to do every. single. goddamn. time. Northwestern is double-digit dogs to Iowa on the road. It's not attend, it's not find a TV and tell everyone to fuck off -- it's be in Eau Claire, WI, hanging out with my high school friend Lindsey (the one who got married to a great guy), not watching the game and only following it by text updates and (now that I have a phone that's more than T9 Word text-capable) the occasional look at the ESPN app. It worked in 2009 (get fucked) and it worked in 2016.

From here, what do we learn about Northwestern? Probably not a ton. Iowa is, yet again, trash and in the midst of a meltdown. You can count the 'Cats schedule and see Michigan State, Indiana, wisconsin (lol it's at home i guess), Purdue, Minnesota, and Illinois. Fuck me, but any one of those looks winnable at this rate. And of course, any one of them, obviously, is eminently loseable. Time to buckle up, have the good booze nearby, and see where this goes.

Stewmonkey: There is probably going to be a lot of talk about the refs. Or maybe how good jNW looked. But make no mistake, Iowa is a terrible, horrible, no good, football team. jNW is still terrible. The refs were putrid, but whatever, they didn't determine the outcome. I'm not sure Iowa has run a single constraint play since Ferentz signed his contract. On defense Iowa just allowed the 125th best offense in the country to rack up over 350 yards and 38 points, they returned 9 players that started games last year. The offense got the ball, on average, at their 40 yard line, that is amazing average starting field position. They managed 31 points. The offense returned 9 players that started games last year (and that doesn't include Kittle). That's 18 out of 22 starters from a team that went 12-0 in the regular season (lost the last two games, yes, still). This is a complete meltdown.

CreightonM: Iowa is bad. Northwestern is less bad. The refs were worse than either. Good game, meowtarps. You put Iowa's season out of its misery early enough to lessen the pain somewhat. I'll be happy if we're bowl eligible this year.

AlNamiasIV: I'm struggling with what to say. If not for Desmond King and the return game, Iowa would have gotten throttled by a 1-win Northwestern. I agree with everything Creighton said except the bowl eligibility. The players deserve a bowl but I don't want these coaches to get the 8 percent raise a bowl game would mean for them. If that's petty of me then just call me Tom Petty. Repeatedly blaming the players for execution problems, when you're the one who teaches them how to execute, is deplorable. This team looks like a team in meltdown mode and that marks a Ferentz-coached meltdown team every other year from 2010 on.

Northwestern next up: BYE | Iowa next up: at Minnesota


Minnesota at Penn State | Penn State survives in OT 26-23

On the one hand, Trace McSorley had what was probably his best overall performance as the Lions’ QB. On the other hand, that kind of output results in an overtime win against Minnesota. Saquon Barkley had been bottled up and beaten back most of the game, having achieved 38 total yards on 19 carries—a surprising result against a Minnesota defense that couldn’t stop Colorado State from running at will. On the other side of the ball, Minnesota had found great luck in the ground game, with both Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks tallying more than a hundred each. With Leidner backing their efforts with a 24 of 40 campaign through the air, it would appear that Minnesota had all the weapons they needed. That’s where McSorley comes in. The first year starter connected on 19 passes for 335 yards, but more importantly he made great decisions with his arm and legs to avoid sacks and lost yardage. When overtime came, though, it was all Barkley. Down by a field goal, Penn State handed him the ball and watched as 25 yards evaporated beneath his churning legs. His TD scamper put Minnesota out of its misery and prevented PSU from going 0-2 in conference play. Franklin lives to clap another day.

87Townie: This team is starting to find its way. After an ugly first half...hell an ugly final two minutes of the first half. The team came out in the second half and played hard. That didn't always translate to playing well, but they played hard. Kevin Givens scraped down the line and made a great tackle Manny Bowens and Koa Farmer stepped up. Jordan Smith had a great game, including picking a Leidner pass in the endzone. On offense, you will hear a lot about Saquon Barkley, who put the dagger in with his touchdown run in overtime.

Our wideouts stepped up time after time...need a big play, we had Godwin, Hamilton, Thomkins, and Gesicki. Irvin Charles took one 80 yards and will get another one next game. But there is no question that the player of the game here was Trace McSorley. Our Offensive line still sucks. Last year, we would've given up four or five sacks. This year, McSorley got rid of the ball over and over. Trapped by a flood of maroon jerseys, he chucked the ball out of bounds just in the nick of time. He made good reads and great throws all game. He's improving every game. And folks, say what you want about Franklin. but this game is all about coaching. Rallying that team from a shitty first half, making adjustments on both sides of the ball, coming out and winning the game. That's huge. They never quit. I'll take it. Oh, and don't fuck with the Big Toe.

Editor’s Note: The Big Toe actually got the ham-blasting he had coming.

Aaron Yorke: So James Franklin was coaching for his job this week? That’s what many fans would have you believe, even after athletic director Sandy Barbour voiced confidence in the third-year coach earlier this week. That confidence makes sense when you consider that the juniors and seniors that Franklin is coaching were recruited during that period between 2012 and 2014 when Penn State wasn’t allowed to pull in a full class. But fans want wins now, not excuses; even when those “excuses” are a good reason to let Franklin continuing growing this program instead of putting pressure on him to make a Rose Bowl right away. Save that for next year or the year after that. For now, Penn State fans should try to enjoy a victory in which their team didn’t get totally embarrassed in run defense and their quarterback made some more clutch plays without throwing the game away this time. I know I’ll be enjoying it.

WhiteSpeedReceiver: I haven't been that disappointed in a Gophers performance in a while. The game was thoroughly in control after stopping PSU on their first drive in the 2nd half while up 13-3. The coaching staff made some stubborn mistakes, and it cost the team a win over a mediocre opponent.

Insertname: That loss is on Sawvel and the secondary. The defense couldn't prevent the big play the entire second half and it cost them the game. Stop any one of those 6 plays and they win. Is this what the Mason era was? Good run game, decent offense, and shit the bed with big plays defense? Gonna be a long season. Minnesota is thoroughly mediocre which will be good enough for second or third in the west and another #missedopportunity.

PSU next up: Maryland | Minnesota next up: Iowa


Michigan State at Indiana | Hoosiers pull the upset 24-21 in OT

The Struggle Bus makes a second trip, offering Sparty an ignominious ride home from the nearly-empty Memorial Stadium. This game was an utter disaster for MSU, right down to the highly dubious targeting call that will deny them Malik McDowell’s services for the first half of next week’s game versus BYU. Sparty jumped out to a 14 point lead and looked to be in control in the second half, having held Indiana largely in check. Then Lagow put Indiana on the board with a nifty throw-back trick pass from Mitchell Page, and tacked on two more TD passes in the 4th quarter to give the Hoosiers the lead. O’Connor and company battled back, overcoming a reversed TD run with a 2-yard pass to knot the game at 21. Then the wheels really came off the cart. In the overtime possession, O’Connor took two successive sacks that put MSU in a deep hole, forcing Geiger to attempt a 49-yard field goal. His kick had neither the length nor the aim. Indiana seemed to fare no better as Griffin Oakes—possibly the B1G’s worst kicker—whiffed on his third field goal of the game. A leaping penalty gave the Hoosiers new life, and Oakes finally found the uprights. It’s safe to say no one in East Lansing thought that after the second week of conference play, Sparty would be all but out of the title hunt.

Andrew Kraskapolishname: Well, now we know for sure. Until tonight it wasn't clear what the Notre Dame win and Wisconsin loss meant, but it is now: this is a Dantonio Floor season. Bowl eligibility would be the goal, and maybe MSU can stick a shiv in one of its division rivals who will be playing for something meaningful this year.

As for specifics, I'll say that I haven't been as infuriated with an MSU offensive game plan since Dan Roushar was the one creating them. Running up the middle on what feels like 80% of first downs doesn't work with a line that can't block without committing penalties. O'Connor and the receivers still aren't on the same page far, far too often, and when they are, he's still missing too many throws. Offensive skill players on this team have a mystifying tendency to voluntarily jog out of bounds instead of fighting for more yards, which may not make a difference but is still galling.

This staff has now spent a year and a third trying to figure out when to use which running back and still gets it mostly wrong. Gerald Holmes saved their bacon on the game-tying drive and then sat on the sideline and watched his fellows crap their collective pants in OT. And while we're talking about OT...I don't know what the hell happened there, but that's an unacceptable systemic failure. Calling a timeout and then only having 10 guys on the damn field is something I'd expect from Jim Caldwell, not Mark Dantonio in his 10th season.

The defense was fine, minus two and then three injured starters and then seeing their best player ejected on a laughably bad targeting call. They just couldn't hold Indiana's tempo offense down given the relentless short drives and shitty special teams play consistently putting them in difficult situations.

Congratulations to IU, but I still think calling this the biggest win in school history is a joke.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a hopeful little ditty about Dantonio making creative adjustments to his mentor's system to make it more effective. Nah, Notre Dame just sucks on defense.

Candystripes: Whatever people expected from this year's version of the Old Brass Spittoon game, this certainly wasn't it. A defensive struggle for the first half, missed kicks all over the place, and more trick plays than Indiana's shown all year thus far. And when the dust settled, for the first time since the Terry Hoeppner era (RIP Coach Hep), Indiana held the Spittoon. In the annals of IU football history, there might be bigger wins. Hell, there are "recent" wins over teams more highly ranked than this Michigan State squad. But if you looked at the team, at the fans, at the flood of tweets from IU fans and alums in the immediate aftermath, it would be hard to think of a more important win for the team. A couple of people on Twitter even went so far as to suggest that this might be the IUFB equivalent of the Wat Shot. Only time will tell, and I personally think that's a bit ambitious, but if this leads to a huge momentum swing for Indiana going forward, I'll be happy to be wrong. For now, I intend to enjoy this win as much as I can for the next week.

Indiana next up: at Ohio State | MSU next up: BYU