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Sunday Morning Coming Down

Franklin Fiddles While State College Burns

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Ten B1G Things

  1. PSU and blowing 4th Quarter leads: name a more iconic duo. I’ll wait.*
  2. PSU should definitely keep scheduling OSU and MSU in back to back weeks, because that seems to be a very sustainable strategy.
  3. Catching interceptions turns out to be pretty important. Not catching them is even more important from the perspective of a Michigan State offense that’s otherwise pretty trash.
  4. “We’ve espoused to the theory that improvement will lead to success.” -Brain Droppings from James Harbaugh.
  5. Greg Schiano would rather drown holding an anvil named “press man” than survive with a life preserver called “Cover 2.” Because that’s a what a man does, goddammit.
  6. Tuf Borland is not that tough and may not even be a Borland for all we know.
  7. Ohio State is moving to fill the void in the Super Good But Also Shitty space created when Mark Richt left Georgia. The universe demands it.
  8. Rutgers should not be a football program, and probably not even a school when you get right down to it.
  9. Wisconsin is who we thought they were.
  10. Michigan might be who we feared they were...finally. After almost 4 years of hearing about it.
  11. Iowa is probably the best team in the West and they aren’t going to win the division. That’s some quality ROI, Kirk.
  12. Nebraska led by 10 points in the fourth quarter. Nebraska led by 7 points with under two minutes left in the game and pinned the ball on the NW 1 yard line. Nebraska lost the game.
  13. Purdue would like someone to check on Thump, please.
  14. This league is a disaster, so it’s probably good that Bama is unbeatable anyway.

The Rundown

Minnesota at Ohio State | The Dwayne Train leads the Hot Trash Express, 30-14

Minnesota is a bad team with a walk-on freshman QB and Ohio State made them look like a competent American Football unit. OSU’s defense was—wait for it—complete garbage again. Bad angles. Terrible coverage. Zero pressure on Annexstad. But at least the OSU offense ground out a whopping 90 yards rushing on the checks...(checks stats)...38th best rushing defense in the country. Slow clap. Haskins managed to throw for 400+ for the second week in a row, which is nice. Credit to Minnesota to coming into this contest with zero fear and giving it to OSU with both barrels all game long. Ohio State is a two-loss team, and the next few weeks will bear that out. The run game hasn’t been this bad since 2004. The defense hasn’t been this bad since...I can’t even recall.

WSR: I have no idea what to think about this game. I’m not sure if a good chunk of Ohio State decided not to show up, or if we’re actually getting better and can expect to be able to dominate other teams up front for the rest of the season. The new OL with Faalele was able to open huge gaps for Mo Ibrahim and others to run through, and the DL was able to control the Buckeyes and keep them under 100 rushing. I think the thing that says the most for me is that I’m actually a bit mad after that loss in spite of having zero expectations for that game. The referees absolutely gifted the Buckeyes the ball twice, and while that’s frustrating, they did execute big plays afterwards both times for touchdowns. The big plays killed us, and Annexstad’s maddening inconsistency as a true freshman also had a big role in an outcome against a much more talented opponent. Oh well, onward and upward. The most important thing is that we came out reasonably healthy for the easy part of our B1G schedule.

Iowa at Indiana | The Stanley Steamer rolls through Bloomington 42-16

Imagine playing Indiana and not letting them just piss-pound your defense all game? A bold tactic, I know, but Kirk Ferentz loves a new idea. Indiana’s defense looked like a joke yesterday because, well, it basically is. Iowa’s Nate Stanley dropped six (6!) TD passes into the waiting arms of his receivers—one of whom was actually a wide receiver. Indiana threw a lot more passes, and caught a lot more passes, and scored a lot fewer touchdowns with them. Five fewer, if we’re counting. Iowa is the best team in the West and that might ultimately mean nothing.

C4B: I heard very little and watched none of this game. But, like Indiana does, rather than maybe finally actually turning the corner, we regressed, to the point where 4-8 would shock me less than 6-6. #iufblife

Creighton: Years of Greg Davis made me forget that it can actually be fun when your team has the ball. Iowa has improved offensively since last year, and made progress with each week this season. The defense is holding its own considering it’s being held together with duct tape, true freshmen, and elbow grease, though when your defensive line is that good you can hide a lot of weaknesses pretty easily. Stat of the day: only one of Stanley’s 6 touchdown passes went to a wide receiver. three of them went to tight ends, and one went to a backup fullback.

Stew: Iowa looked pretty damn good. Not like you’d expect a Ferentz team to blow someone out. Not some boring 20-10 affair with all the fun sucked out of the room. Nate Stanley looked incredible with 6 TD passes. Iowa has the two best tight ends in the conference, if not the country. Both Noah Fant and TJ Hockenson had over 100 yards receiving and TDs. The run game was working. The play calling was aggressive. The DL was in the Indiana backfield all game. The back 7, injury riddled though they may be, were competent. It was fun.

Michigan State at Penn State | Mack D’Artoni smiles briefly, 21-17

Penn State put on a master class in how to give your opponent every chance to win. First was the insistence on running the ball against the best rushing defense in the conference, despite a passing game getting 5-15 yard chunks all second half. Then there was the 3rd & goal penalty that got MSU into the endzone instead of settling for a FG. Then there were the three dropped INTs—one on the game-winning drive. MSU isn’t good, but they aren’t that bad and if you give them enough opportunities, they’ll beat you. That’s basically been the story of every big win for Dantonio since 2014—the other team giving Sparty enough chances until they almost can’t lose it. Trace McSorley produced 190 yards through the air (or .4 Haskins Productivity Units, to use another scale). Felton Davis was the hero of the battle, with 100 yards receiving and the game-sealing TD on an underthrown ball. Ugly game, uglier result (see the comments section for proof).

Applejack Kristofferson: Oh, you thought Northwestern coming back from 10 down inside of 2 minutes would be the dumbest, craziest thing you would see today?


This offense is still broken, schematically and physically. Lewerke looked like crap for most of the day and has only the butterfingered Penn State secondary to thank for not putting up a Sitkowskian stat line. So, so many plays run to the short side, where it looked like they might have worked if not for, you know, running out of space. But they made just enough plays to put just enough points up.

Defensively, outside of two Miles Sanders highlight reel plays, Penn State had nothing going. In fact, those two runs may have been a detriment, as they seemed to motivate PSU to use a run-heavy game plan even though MSU had a lid on it. When they went to the air, it worked, just like it has for everyone MSU has played. But they didn’t, and I wonder if it was because they hit a couple big plays on the ground.

My team upset a top-ten opponent on the road and I hated 90% of the game. Man this sport is dumb sometimes. Fuck Michigan.

87townie: On homecoming night, we must’ve had John effing Donovan back calling plays. I said to my dad, “if we run a jet sweep, I’m leaving.”

They had two weeks to prepare...and we got that turd of a game. McSorley looked flat. There were no half-time adjustments.

You know how Northwestern beat Sparty? throwing downfield. The handful of times we threw downfield, they looked like mistakes. It was a debacle of a game.

Penn State looked unprepared. They were outcoached. They were out hustled. They were beaten. Everybody in the stadium knew Sparty faked special teams plays, except apparently the Penn State players. Even the second fake, they had 99 open. He just dropped the ball. Shoot me.

That said, Sparty sucks. They needed all kinds of help to eke out that win.

Here’s what I know: If Penn State can’t field a better effort than that, we’re fourth in the east, at best. Fuck elite, I’d take just plain ol’ great right now. But this effort? It was shit. Total shit. Maryland will beat this team, if this is the best effort thay can produce.

Aaron Yorke: he problem with this high-tempo, big-play Penn State offense is that when it comes time to milk the clock and grind out a win, it doesn’t know what to do with itself. The issue reared its ugly head again against Michigan State after Garrett Taylor broke up a fake field goal play and allowed the Lions to maintain their 17-14 lead late into the fourth quarter. Penn State then went 15 yards in four plays, punted it back to Sparty, got a huge stop when Robert Windsor sacked Brian Lewerke, got the ball back again, went seven yards and three plays, and punted back to Michigan State for the last time. In order to get to elite status, James Franklin has got to figure out how to get big first downs late in games the way Penn State did in last season’s Fiesta Bowl.

Rutgers at Maryland | Trampled by Turtles 34-7

Not much to say here. Maryland didn’t play very well, to be honest. They still won by four TDs. Maryland and Rutgers aren’t even in the same stratum. Frankly, I’m sort of glad the B1G added Maryland. Good basketball program and they’ve taken Texas to the woodshed twice. That’s more than Minnesota or Nebraska have done for us, to be honest. In the eyes of this reporters, it is now more clear than ever that this should be Chris Ash’s last head coaching job. Not every good officer can be a good general. On the plus side, maybe he can come back to OSU and re-implement the quarters coverage that beat Alabama and Oregon.

DJ Carver: Rutgers is worse than Kansas at their worst. Maryland managed to beat Rutgers into submission in the first half, forcing four interceptions from Art Sitkowski, who managed only two completions, prior to him being pulled. Maryland threw all of their backups and true freshmen onto the field in the second half for game experience and Rutgers still only managed seven points. They are so unbelievably bad.

Purdue at Illinois | Purdue deactivates the deadman switch, rockets through Illinois 46-7

Stop beating them, they’re already dead. This was their homecoming for God’s sake! Have you no sense of decency, coach? At long last, have you left no sense of decency? Purdue scored 46 unanswered points. On 611 yards of offense. Illinois managed only 250 yards of offense—77 of which came on the first possession. This was bad. This was mean. This was uncalled for. It was utterly perfect.

Boilerman31: That was a beatdown. Plain and simple. After allowing a score on the opening drive, Purdue bent but never allowed another score. Meanwhile, Purdue’s offense continued to click and scored pretty much at will in the first half. David Blough continued to do good things throwing for 3 TDs and catching one himself. When Rondale Moore and Isaac Zico weren’t breaking out with awesome catches DJ Knox was bowling over people to the tune of 150 yards. The Purdue Cannon stays home and the series is now tied. Bring on the Buckeyes and the night kickoff.

Thump: Illinois spent all game trying to prove they could pass the ball. They cannot pass the ball. The defense did exactly what I expected, which was allow over 42 points and over 600 yards. It’s bad, but there’s nothing we can really do about it. I’m not upset about the defense, but I can’t believe Epstein didn’t touch the ball in the first half. No attempt was ever made to run the ball. Still, three wins. It’s all down to next year

Nebraska at Northwestern | Cats retain the exclusive rights to be NU, 34-31 (OT)

Nebraska looked like a football team. They made plenty of mistakes and didn’t dominate the game in any notable way, but ultimately executed in ways they hadn’t so far this season. The result was a 10-point fourth quarter lead with 5:41 on the clock. Despite a failed onside by NW that gave Nebraska the ball near midfield. They stalled quickly, but pinned the Cats at their own 1. With 2:02 left. A roughing penalty moved the ball to the 16, and Clayton Thorson took care of the remaining 84 yards. A Nebraska INT in OT after electing not to kick on 4th down gave NW the chance to kick for the win—which they happily did.

Dead_Read: Nebraska continues to plumb the depths of football stupidity. I think people can see that this team should be better than this. One stat: 9-89 versus 1-5 in penalties. Nebraska is an artist, and its medium is losing.

Hey’re welcome.

BigRedTwice: I think this is just going to be a character-building season, it would appear. We endure, we do not enjoy. The proper approach is probably to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sheer variety this team offers in terms of finding new ways to lose.

I do feel for the players though. They are certainly not as bad as 0-6 might indicate, and persevering through that has to be tough. To their credit, they seem to have hung in there thus far--here’s hoping they can do it another week and take another stab at the “winning” thing next week.

MNW: I hate fall weddings. I love weddings themselves, though, and today was no exception: the expression of romantic, timeless love is a great thing, and I was so happy to witness two great people get married. For as much as we (OK, I) bitch about fall weddings, an objectively terrible thing, seeing two people stand in front of God and their families and friends and profess their love is something I really cherish.

I wanted to get the niceties out of the way. Because as for Northwestern? Hey, they can’t run! They can’t stop running quarterbacks! Drew Luckenbaugh was briefly in the running for worst NU kicker ever! huge shout-out to Nebraska, who should’ve won this game easy and now earns the title of “best 0-6 team ever.” They are a better team than their record indicates, and they’re gonna surprise someone this year. Look out for Nebraska; they’ll sneak up on you.

(Don’t let that snark usually reserved for Purdue and Indiana fool you; they should’ve won, and Northwestern is not a good football team. After a third fruitless Solomon Vault run in the first half, I requested that my friend boo the team off the field. No idea if PUREWildcat obliged.)

Either way, end of tonight, Northwestern is the objective best in the B1G West (first place, idiotssssss). And that’s how fucking stupid this conference is. Go ‘Cats.


Wisconsin at Michigan | Michigan blows Wisconsin off the tracks, 38-13

What if Michigan is actually good? What if Wisconsin is actually not that good? These can simultaneously be true, and would explain last night’s result. After a close game for much of the first half, Michigan’s defense clamped down and put the hurt on the Badgers. Excluding garbage time, Hornibrook completed just three passes. Karan Higdon notched his fifth 100+ yard game in a row with a 105-yard performance. Shea Patterson was only mediocre through the air with 124 yards, but his 90 yards on the ground and his ability to keep plays alive kept Wisconsin flummoxed all night. Couple that with two INTs from Hornibrook, and you’ve got a recipe for Michigan to suddenly enter the national conversation for real. Barf.