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Sunday Morning Coming Down

Does this win count?

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

Ten B1G Things

1. That escalated quickly.

2. We yearn for simpler times—like 2016, when a 30+ point win in the PSU/Michigan game absolutely did not mean anything.

3. What’s less dangerous, safety scissors or Indiana inside the opponents’ 10-yard line? Asking for Tom Allen.

4. Just think how mind-numbing that game would’ve been if Dantonio had any principles when it comes to multiple arrests.

5. Jonathan Taylor had a relatively unremarkable outing against Maryland, which means he only ran for 126 instead of his usual 200.

6. Wisconsin is quietly, steadily putting themselves in the perfect position to lose a third a CCG in 4 years.

7. Northwestern had an 80-yard punt. Let’s all just stop and smile about that for a moment.

8. Iowa is not good, and they pay an insane amount of money for the privilege. Also worthy of a smile.

9. Purdue managed 6.8 yards per carry and had zero negative yardage rushing plays. They ran for 279 yards. They scored 12 points.

10. That was Purdue’s best rushing day since tallying 298 yards against the Gophers in 2014. They scored 38 points then. They lost.

11. Minnesota is not content to let Indiana be alone in red zone futility, having turned two 1st-and-goal situations into a grand total of 3 points.

12. Red zone efficiency: not a real issue when you’re playing the Illini.

13. Michigan is now tied with Rutgers in the East. #rivals

14. It’s starting to feel a bit 2014 around here.

The Rundown

Meeechigan at Penn State | Nits return the favor 42-13

This was supposed to be an old-fashioned grudge match, with two B1G powerhouses churning turf into dust and beating one another into submission with rock-solid defenses. That memo didn’t make it around, it would seem. Michigan looked flustered all night on the shoulders of John Of Korn, who could only put together an anemic 166 yards passing. McSorley and Barkley each scored three touchdowns against a Michigan defense that turned out to be a lot less menacing once they played an actual offense.

Aaron Yorke: If I’m starting to believe that this Penn State team is great, can you imagine what the lunatics must think? Saquon Barkley didn’t do much in the running game after the first five minutes, but he later caught a touchdown pass to further his Heisman campaign after two mediocre weeks. The defense allowed Michigan back in the game in the second quarter, but then it locked the game up in the third and fourth. Everyone played pretty great tonight so I guess I’ll just have to be mad at FOX for snatching next week’s clash with Ohio State, which makes it a 3:30 game due to the World Series being played past everyone’s bedtime. If the Nittany Lions can pull that one off, you should probably just log off all your devices, because the Penn State love will be abundant.

Maryland at Wisconsin | The Best in the West rolls 38-13

Another contest where everyone but the most preternaturally optimistic Old Bay fans knew the outcome before the coin toss. Wisconsin stuck to their old plan of being polite and running for gobs of yardage. Maryland didn’t look all that bad, per se, but like the Wu Tang Clan, the Badger defense ain’t nothing to f*** with. Marx Bottlestopper and his offensive pals couldn’t get much of anything going, especially when Wisconsin’s T.J. Edwards took a Maryland pass 54 yards the other way for the game’s first score. It was, as they say, all downhill from there—which seems to always be the direction Taylor is running.

DJ: Good News for Maryland: they recruited 3 DLs last year coming in at 6'2 310+. Further, in 2018 there is similar help coming.

Bad News for Maryland: They're currently playing 4 DEs across the line in terms of stature and get demolished in the run game, which is what happened today. We know the passing game will struggle with the QB situation but the defense doesn't really give the offense a chance when anyone can run on the Maryland DL.

GF3: Worse news for Maryland: OSU will take those commits if they’re any good.

Indiana at Michigan State | Sparty wins contest of wills & ineptitude 17-9

Indiana cannot finish. Michigan State managed to score points in spite of themselves. The dog was the most interesting part of this entire affair. Points for effort go to the commentators who did their level best to cast Lewerke as the heir to some Sparty QB fortune which frequent, honeyed invocations of Connor Cook and Kirk Cousins. Meanwhile Lewerke was leading his team to 274 yards of total offense against the Hoosiers. Bad game, predictable result.

Antonio Krapshootski: Because they won and are still technically atop the division (with company), I bet I'm still going to hear discussion of how 'anything is possible' for this MSU team. Sure it is, in the sense I could still become King of Prussia, but the list of things that would have to happen should guide me in more realistic directions.

The defense, to be sure, was studly for most of the game against an offense that can be hard to deal with at times, and IU really only had 2 sustained drives, both of which fizzled for field goals. Jake Hartbarger uncorked a few more excellent punts, though he will be rightfully overshadowed by Niswander on this day.

The offense...I dunno, man. First, yes, MSU should have suspended Scott. Even if the license thing is already resolved, that's a pattern of judgment which, unchecked, is a big part of why MSU found itself where it was for the last year.

But even with him, MSU sputtered against Indiana for most of the night. It's still a very disjointed group altogether; when Lewerke is on point, the playcalling makes you tear your hair out. When the call is good and the throw is there, the receiver drops it or screws up the route. And the run blocking is really just not there yet. Still, somehow, they broke through eventually, with big contributions in vital moments from true freshmen Cody White and Hunter Rison.

One more winnable game against a similarly frustrating team in Northwestern, then the hammer drops two weeks in a row.

Candystripes: I refuse to offer any commentary this week, as I've just been flagged for a non-existent pass interference call against a Spartan wide receiver. (Also, I only watched the second half.)

Iowa at NU | Go Iowa LOLsome! Cats triumph in hilarious fashion 17-10 (OT)

You had one job, Noah Fant. One. Job. After Jackson’s crazy legs and Thorson’s finishing touches carried the Cats to an OT lead, Iowa got the ball and had a chance to push the game into a second overtime. Instead, Fant dropped what was perhaps the easiest pass in history on 4th and 3, dooming the Hawkeyes. It’s so bad you have to watch it here.

Classic B1G West football. The mysterious forward pass strikes again.

LPW: After a very sluggish start on both sides, Northwestern went after Iowa with an uptempo attack and got points on the board. With the game tied at ten with a minute remaining, Fitzy, to the considerable chagrin of everyone in the stadium, decided to try and win it in overtime because the wind would be at his back with a short field. It worked.

This game was sloppy, but a win. If you love a lot of punts, this was your game. I was getting worried in the first half because Iowa was dominating in the time of possession and I thought the Cats defense would get worn out.

It was pretty damn cool to see members of the 1962 Northwestern team coached by Ara Parseghian (which hit #1 in the rankings for a week) get honored at halftime

Stew: What a traveshamockery of a game. Iowa and jNW both refused to play any semblance of coherent offense. And while Iowa dominated large stretches of the first half, they came away empty until the half was almost over. The second half was just outside zone after outside zone as jNW crashed, cheating too the zone side add Iowa refused to run any counters. Meanwhile, the anointed one came up with a passing gameplan straight from Greg Davis. What a fucking awful game.

Purdue at Rutgers | Who at What? Guys in red win 14-12

This is just bad. After years of everyone lambasting Rutgers as a football joke, two B1G West teams in a row have conspired to give Rutgers their first back-to-back B1G wins in history.* You should all be ashamed. Elijah Sindelar is just not good enough (at least yet) to run an offense at the FBS level. Purdue’s defense offered little assistance, gifting Rutgers a 74-yard TD run on the second play from scrimmage. The Scarlet Knights stiffened against a late flurry of Purdue scoring (their lone TD), preventing the 2-pt conversion and cementing the Boilermakers’ ignominy.

*Since 2014 but history sounded better.


Illinois at Minnesota | Gophers win 24-17

The headline for this game expresses a level of excitement equal to the game itself. I don’t know how Illinois still fields a team. I don’t know how Lovie Smith is in any way related to that team. I don’t know how Jeff George Jr. starting at QB is a thing that’s happening. Long story short, the Gophers ran for 333 yards to overcome two picks by Demry Croft. The Illini were never in a spot to win this one, adding their final score in garbage time.

Thump: Minnesota is really really really bad. There's one thing that Illinois does well, and that's force fumbles on defense. Minnesota kept us in this game, but we couldn't take advantage because we can't run the ball and we can't stop the run. Our next Big Ten win is still not coming until at least 2019, but it was closer than I expected. Of course, I really do think this is because Minnesota sucks. Remember, they came closer than anyone to losing to Rutgers last year. They couldn't stop fucking up even as they ran all over us. Lost in all the hype over how badly our offense performs is how terrible our defense is. I was originally going to say "run defense" but I can't really evaluate the pass defense because nobody ever NEEDS to pass against us. 5.8 yards per play means we don't often force so much as a third down. I really think it's possible that we never win another Big Ten game.

WSR: 15 passing attempts in a game is some Jerry Kill-style shit. And like the last opponent we tried that against, it can be successful against Group-of-Five talent. I don't like Fleck doing a Milton Berle impression and taking out just enough to win. The depth issues are causing major problems and will make the rest of the season interesting, but for today we got the win. Good times.

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