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Sunday Morning Coming Down // Week 2

Pitt Really Was It

Penn State v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Ten B1G Things

  1. You know it’s the non-con late when five B1G teams score more than 50 points.
  2. This season will stand as proof that there’s nothing Fitzgerald can do on the field to get fired. Nothing.
  3. Randy Edsall was apparently a millstone around the neck of an otherwise talented Perry Hills. That’s Maryland’s story and they’re sticking to it.
  4. That was the most points PSU has ever scored in a loss.
  5. Purdue and Cincinnati split possession time almost evenly, and were only 4 yards different in offensive production. Then there’s the issue of turnovers...
  6. Is there any acceptable reason to eat a booger? I’m sure MGoBlog is working on one.
  7. Wisconsin has held their last 10 non-con opponents to 6.0 ppg at Camp Randall.
  8. Iowa’s drubbing of Iowa State will result in only 4 or 5 articles about how little they cared anyway.
  9. Tracy Claeys went fishing in the JuCo pond and just may have caught a big fish.
  10. It rained in Columbus today and Tim Beck seemed to remember that you’re allowed to score points with a damp ball.
  11. I can’t think of anything great to say about Illinois so I’d like to point out that Larry Fedora looks like an actor who’d do a dramatization for Unsolved Mysteries. Also, the Illini play M.I.A. in their stadium, which is odd.
  12. Apparently all Kirk Ferentz needs to beat Iowa State is $45 million.
  13. This Mike Riley guy seems sort of hellbent on winning. That’s not very nice.
  14. Jesus, Rutgers. I don’t think Howard even gets a 14-point lead on themselves in their spring game.

The Nitty Gritty

Maryland at FIU | Maryland wins 41-14

For reasons known but to God and Jim D., two B1G teams in a row jetted down to Meee-ahhh-meee for a showdown with the Panthers of FIU. Come for the win, stay for the Zika. Blood-borne pathogens aside, Maryland looked good on the whole. No one looked better than Perry Hills. The Wrestler (did you know he wrestled?...he wrestled) threw impressively. He dropped passes into the breadbasket of receivers at full stride, but more important is the fact that he actually found the open receiver. That’s a big shift from the Days of Edsall, when the entire purpose of Hills at QB was to signal to defenses that Maryland was abandoning the pass. Perry the Grappler went 13/18 for 3 TDs and no interceptions.

Penn State at Pitt | Pitt wins 42-39

Yinz didn’t see that coming! Okay, you probably did. Penn State came into the game as five point dogs and then had to play without their starting middle linebacker Cobinda. When it rains, it pours (*OSU fan sob*). Pitt struck early and often, capitalizing on PSU’s poor tackling and turnovers. Narduzzi and staff looked like a different team than the one that played Villanova. Seven different Panthers carried the ball in the first half, flummoxing the depleted linebacking corps and simply outrunning the edge protection of the Nits. PSU battled back in the second half on the legs of Saquon Barkley, who notched five TDs in a performance that definitely caught the attention of DCs around the Big Ten. In the end, Trace McSorley was the Nits’ undoing. Down by three in the waning minutes, he took a page from the YOLOHack playbook and went for the endzone. His pass fell beautifully in the hands of a Pitt receiver. McSorely finished the day 24/35 for 332 with a single TD.

Howard at Rutgers | Rutgers wins 52-14 and looks bad doing it

Yes, you read that right. Despite eventually hanging half-a-hundred on one of the worst teams in the FCS, the Scarlet Knights managed to woefully underprepared and largely incompetent. I won’t belabor you with the hows and wherefores of the eventual victory—which boiled down to a big win for the same reason you could beat up your little brother as a kid. The takeaway is that despite hiring Chris Ash as the apparent savior of the program, Rutgers seems to have gone backwards in nearly every way. The only constant is that Janareon Grant still returns kicks for touchdowns on the regular.

UCF at Michigan | Michigan walks away 51-14

Michigan couldn’t run the ball worth beans against a determined UCF defense, so they just passed like maniacs instead. It obviously worked. Wilton Speight threw 4 TD passes as part of a 312-yard effort. There isn’t much to take away from this game, other than the Knights were totally outgunned. Michigan started slowly with a three-and-out. That’s about where the good news ended for UCF, though. The only notable highlight was this...

Indiana State at Minnesota | Minnesota wins 58-28

The Gophers turned in their best scoring performance since the 2014 drubbing of Iowa, posting an impressive 58 points. Future First Rounder™ Mitch Leidner lobbed four TD passes and workhorse Rod Smith logged 74 over the turf. The real surprise was junior running back Kobe McCrary, who led JuCo backs in TDs last year at Butler Community College. In his first big outing with the Gophers, he ripped of 176 yards and a pair of TDs. The Sycamores, as usual, had little to offer in the way of defense but did find the endzone four times.

Cincinnati at Purdue | Darrell Hazell’s Swan Song Begins 20-38

I don’t know how Purdue fans do it, because PU football remains Peee-Yewww. The Boilermakers trailed 21-7 at the half, enroute to trailing 31-7 in the fourth. At one point Purdue allowed Cincy to convert 12 straight third downs. Twelve. That’s a dozen and that’s terrible. The bright spots were few and far between for Purdue. To wit, QB David Blough connected on 32 passes for 401 yards! He also connected on five (5) interceptions. There isn’t much more to say about that. Cincy had no such trouble, posting 3 TDs through the air and zero turnovers on the day.

Illinois State at Northwestern | ISU wins 9-7 and makes NW miss M00N

Mah gawd, what the hell is happening in Evanston? I’m not up on exactly what NW fans expected this year, but I feel secure saying two losses—to a MAC team and an FCS also-ran—weren’t part of the dreamscape. Northwestern is reeling right now, and this game showed the depth of the crisis. Thorson completed only 17 of his 41 attempts. Justin Jackson The Ball Carrier carried 11 times for a whopping 39 yards. Neither team did anything worth writing about, but ISU’s Jake Kolbe also threw 41 times, completing 30 for almost a hundred yards more than his purple counterpart. The game ended in the most anemic way possible, with the ISU kicker doinking the ball through for a walk-off field goal. Woof, on several counts.

Ball State at Indiana | Hoosiers make Letterman sad 30-20

Lagow is no Sudfeld, but he’s serviceable as a passer. See his 266 yards and three TDs as evidence. The Hoosiers averaged nearly 10 yards per pass today, and their newfound defense clamped down hard. IU put the screws to Ball State early, holding them scoreless until the second half. Devine Redding helped keep the Hoosier offense moving. Redding eclipsed 100 yards once again and the Hoosiers ran for 187 collectively while the defense pitched its first first-half shutout in almost four years. The offense wasn’t perfect, but with a week off they should be able to handle Wake Forest.

Akron at Wisconsin | Bucky rolls 54-10

Bart Houston is here to kick ass and eat cheese curd, and the cheese curd won’t be ready until later. The Badger QB had a good day, tossing two touchdowns as part of a 231-yard performance. Corey Clement ran for 111 yards and Bradrick Shaw added another 74 to blow the Zips right out of Camp Randall. Now, if you’d kindly pass the cheese curds, Mr. Houston worked up quite the appetite defeating the Cradle of Cleveland Browns Quarterbacks*.

*Just one, but seriously WTF, Cleveland?

Wyoming at Nebraska | Mike RiWWey wins another 52-17

This was the worst kind of trap game: playing a backwater team with a history of making a mess of things. To that end, the Huskers led by only one score going into the 4th quarter before blowing the doors off Wyoming on account of 6 turnovers. Tommy Armstrong was his usual mix of good and bad, including back-foot heaves and the occasional arm-punt. But at the same time, he managed to throw for 377 yards and capture the school touchdown passing record in the process. You take the good, you take bad, something something and there you have the facts of life in Lincoln. The Huskers ripped off 28 fourth quarter points to seal the win, and former Husker Craig Bohl takes his Wyoming team back to...someplace in Wyoming (I’ll Google later, I promise) with an ugly loss.

Tulsa at Ohio State | Buckeyes surprisingly win in the rain 48-3

In keeping with the apparent theme of the week, Ohio State looked sluggish and disjointed for most of the first quarter against Tulsa. Fortunately, they carried the theme into the second quarter, too. Why not keep a bad thing going? The only real bright spots of the first half were the two pick-sixes by the OSU secondary. Following an hour-long weather delay, the Bucks faced their greatest nemesis in the form of wind and precipitation. By then, though, Tim Beck remembered that Barrett can do more than throw the ball laterally. OSU pushed Tulsa around for the entire second half, cruising to a 48-3 win. J.T. finished 14/22 for 149 and ran for 2 TDs. Mike Weber also notched his first collegiate TD. The offense that showed up today will not move the ball against Oklahoma next week, so here’s hoping Urban decides to chew some ass tomorrow.

UNC at Illinois | Tarheels cruise like they’re in class 48-23

This one looked good early and fell apart in short order. Illinois came out swinging and drew first blood, going up 7-0 early in the first. UNC battled back quickly, gaining a lead it would never relinquish. Thirteen penalties later, the Illini couldn’t keep up with the Tarheels. Wes Lunt looked good enough at times, tossing 2 TDs, but ended the night with only 127 yards on a paltry 3.6 yards per completion. UNC was no Murray State, and the Illini now have a better idea of how much work remains to be done in the dawn of the Lovie Smith era.

Iowa State at Iowa | Kirk proves he’s worth every penny 42-3

Iowa State stinks. Iowa totally doesn’t care about them at all (seriously, like, you don’t even know how little they care, youguyz). Kirk is rich. Vandeberg catches anything within his zip code. I refuse to write more, as doing so would make OTE more than 90% Iowa content this week and thereby trip the BHGP_autoconvert.bat file that lurks in Vox code.

#HOTTAEKS from Cool Heads

LPW: Fuck this shit. Fire McMccall. Fire the line coaches. Get a sports psychologist, conduct a seance, sacrifice a goat, summon the ghost of Otto Graham. DO SOMETHING!!!!!!

87Townie: It seems like each season, starting in 2012, holds an ugly surprise for Penn State. Like a rancid Easter Egg, hidden in the season. In 2012, we lost to Virginia. In 2013, we lost to Indiana (for the first time). In 2014, we lost to Maryland and Illinois. Last year, we lost to Temple. This year, we lost to Pitt. What we didn't do, was quit. There was no quit in this team. They didn't play particularly well...gave up 341 yards on the ground, committed four turnovers, and still nearly won the game. I'm okay with that.

It wasn't perfect...and I roared at the mistakes, cursing and throwing things. The dog only just now will come to me, tail low, waiting to see if I'm going to yell anymore. No one has seen one of the cats. She's timid, we might not see her again before Tuesday.

This game is one that the team can learn from.

The kids in the game are young. Penn State only has 12 seniors. And that Pitt game is going to sting. Those are kids that our guys went to camp with, played in high school against, and will see each year for the next three. We lost this one, and no matter what Franklin says, that stings. But I saw something here. Maybe you caught it too. Pitt's kids were fired up in the first half. They blew us off the line. They tackled like they were possessed. Hell the cancer kid ran the ball like a whirling dervish. We played flat. We lost a couple of key players. Nobody tackled. Hell the best hit by a PSU kid in the first half came against his own guy. Ugly football. But after the half, Pitt's emotional charge evaporated. Penn State scored 18 points in the fourth quarter and damn near won that game.

ZuzuRU: ugh. Rutgers shattered my heart in so many ways in the first half. However, they were kind enough to pick up the pieces and put them back together fairly whole again. Glad we won... It's not how you start, but how you finish, HOWEVER. We REALLY need to learn to tackle. Jay Niemann, our defensive coordinator called the tackling efforts "atrocious" in post game interviews and they absolutely were. Rutgers also desperately needs to pick up the speed and pressure in the defense at the snap. Watching some other games, I was amazed (and envious) at how fast other defensive lines were and how aggressively they rushed their opposing quarterbacks. In terms of offense, a quarterback adjustment may be in our future especially given how Giovanni Rescigno performed right out of the gate. I like Chris Laviano a lot, I really do.... but I like winning more. Overall on the offense, once they found their offensive rhythm it was definitely up tempo and high pressure, and it worked fine against Howard, but we failed to convert so many downs in a way that, if kept up, will really hurt us as the games get harder. All in all, YAY! a win for Rutgers and a win for the B1G.

Al Namias IV: Look Iowa State sucks--maybe the worst team on Iowa's schedule, which is saying a lot given Purdue, Rutgers and...ahem...Northwestern. However, Iowa has played plenty of sucky ISU teams and has failed to win let alone dominate. Furthermore, the one constant for most reasonably successful Iowa seasons under Ferentz (at least 8 wins) has been a win against Iowa State. Anyway, the defense shook off whatever ailed them against Miami (OH), CJ looked every bit the all-conference quarterback, the running backs are the most talented group of Hawkeye running backs since at least 2010, and there are at least four solid pass catchers, not including RB Akrum Wadley. And as it's the B1G, and specifically Iowa, how about Ron Caluzzi, the punter and kickoff specialist? He will be the difference in at least one game this year (looking at you Wisconsin). Still a little concerned about some pass protection issues against an average-at-best defensive line, but there was improvement from Week 1 and without the starting center. I won't hold my breath, but I'm really beginning to believe Iowa will meet expectations this year.

Candystripes: For having the best receiver on the team potentially lost for the season on the first offensive play, and for losing the heart and soul of the offensive line with a concussion just before halftime, Indiana didn't do too badly against Ball State. Forcing 3 turnovers is a very good thing, holding a couple of dangerous looking possessions to just field goals is pretty good, but giving up 20 straight points is not great, and certainly something the defense needs to work on during the bye week. However, the defense is still showing a bit more promise than the offense is at times, which is a weird thing to say about Indiana, but it's true. Richard Lagow is a fine QB, but something is not connecting between him and the receiving corps right now. When the passing game isn't on track, holes don't open up for Devine Redding and the running backs, and this year's crew doesn't have a big bruiser like Tevin Coleman or Jordan Howard who can easily bull for 4 ypc even without a ton of room to maneuver. It looks like this early bye might actually be a blessing for the Hoosiers, as it gives them some more time to figure out whatever's going wrong before the last non-con test against Wake Forest in 2 weeks.

Jesse Collins: I’ll be honest. I did not expect Nebraska to get past the cover this week. For all of the obvious reasons that Wyoming looked dangerous, I thought that this might come down to the last few possessions. And, for the better part of three quarters, my fears were not too far off from reality. Nebraska just did not put Wyoming away early and missed assignments, a really bad turnover, and penalties derailed an early blowout.

But, the nice thing is that Nebraska’s depth is significantly better than a year ago and five turnovers turned a close game into a laugher. The put up or shut up game is next weekend so we will see what Nebraska is really made of. I would not be surprised to see Nebraska squeak into the Top 25 this week so that we get a real Top 25 matchup in Lincoln. Here’s hoping Riley can get past his Oregon problem once and for all.

Thumpasaurus: Illinois. Oh man. I wish the game had gone their way. But I don't know what more the coaching staff could have done to put them in position to win. UNC simply had better players. We couldn't get any separation in the passing game; their corners really locked us down, and even when Wes dumped it into those tight windows, the DB's were just all over them to break it up. This great man coverage allowed them to key in on the run game, which they eventually stifled. Our DL was disruptive early, but our secondary couldn't keep up with their receivers all game.

Overall, though, I'm encouraged. The atmosphere was amazing. We sold it out. We made noise. We were a real college football crowd with a big tailgate and everything. I wish they'd won, but the fact that they stayed in it until the fourth quarter was more than I expected them to do.

CreightonM: How happy can I be about Iowa dismantling the worst team on their schedule? Pretty damn happy it turns out. I'm not sure how much we can learn from this game, but man is it nice to win this one easy for once. It feels good to put this game behind us and focus on the rest of the season. Sorry OTE fans, no more Iowa State articles for the rest of the year.

Aaron Yorke: I love Townie playing right into the #ArrogantPSU narrative by lumping Pitt into a bunch of teams that Penn State was favored heavily against. Penn State was six-point underdogs! And it covered the spread! This wasn't a disaster as much as it was a close game that the Lions had a chance to win and let it slip away. It's also a game that can start defensive coordinator Brent Pry on the John Donovan path of Penn State assistant who gets blamed for everything this year. Pry is working with an inexperienced defensive line (three starters last year are now in the NFL) and an injured linebacker corps, but it still would have been nice to see batter tackling and fewer wide open cutback lanes on Saturday. If Penn State can just get that run defense squared away, well... everything else looked pretty good. Trace McSorley has ball security issues, but he displayed poise and accuracy in leading the Lions to the almost-comeback. Saquon Barkley scored five touchdowns and proved to be a threat in the passing game, and the offensive line held its own against a tough Pitt front seven. The loss stinks, but maybe Penn State will be better prepared for Michigan now. Yeah, I'm totally looking past Temple, just like you all "know" that James Franklin is.

Tspeth: So Wisconsin did exactly what they were supposed to against Akron. I only saw bits and pieces while working but it seemed like Wisconsin played fairly well, but there is room for improvement. That being said, when you win by 44 that's not bad, not bad at all. It was good to see there was no letdown, and hopefully Clement is alright. It's good to be 2-0 when virtually no one thought we would be.

DJ Carver: Maryland did what they were supposed to against FIU, putting them away early in a game that was never in doubt. Given that Indiana needed the 4th quarter to beat FIU last week, it gives me just a sliver of confidence that Maryland might be ok this year. Walt Bell is keeping the gameplan within Perry Hills means and is using 4-5 RBs to move the pace of the game quickly and keep people fresh. DJ Moore at 147 yards receiving and 2 TDs, appearing to be the breakout star we thought he would be. Also, it's FIU, so grains of salt. Next up is UCF as the Terps finish off the noncon.

Stewmonkey: MOAR IOWA TAEKS! Iowa dismantled the cyclones. It was fun. Beathard is good. The defense showed up. LeShun Daniels and Akrum Wadley are a formidable backfield duo. Iowa State is really, really, really bad.

GoForThree: This game had the ominous feel of the 2015 outings where the offense struggled to find any rhythm or identity, couldn’t establish a push off the line of scrimmage, and rarely if ever challenged the secondary downfield passes. Perhaps it was hangover from last week, or perhaps the eyes are on Oklahoma. Whatever the cause, Ohio State looked sluggish and bewildered at times. The loss of Tracy Sprinkle looms larger now that we’ve seen his various replacements get manhandled inside by what is surely one of the more pedestrian offensive lines they’ll see all year. I’m not sounding the alarm just yet, but while OSU may have had a baker’s dozen worth of picks in the last two games, they’ve also shown where they’re vulnerable: right up the middle.