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Sunday Morning Coming Down // Week 6

The Written-On-A-Phone-From-Mykonos Edition

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Ten B1G Things

  1. Chris Ash, we hardly knew ye
  2. Rutgers has to just be making up names at this point
  3. James Franklin would like to introduce you to his championship-level defense (please clap)
  4. According to BLS, Purdue QB has surpassed crab fishing as America’s most hazardous occupation
  5. Jonathan Taylor set a new career high for TDs with 5
  6. Wisconsin is off to their second 5-0 start in 3 years, setting up another crushing Indy loss
  7. Just wait until Harbaugh gets his guys in there
  8. Iowa produced three times as many points as total rushing yards
  9. With this victory, Nebraska earns the right to be called UN-L because the Big 8 was dumb.
  10. You really can’t blame Northwestern students for being so interested in their phones
  11. Illinois’ best performance is somehow still catching 1/10 the shade aimed at Rutgers and Maryland
  12. PJ Fleck is has mastered the Gopher tradition of beating every team he should and none of the ones he shouldn’t
  13. After years of no 1000-yd rushers under Meyer, JK Dobbins has 826 yards through 6 games.
  14. MSU scored a touchdown this year. That makes one in the last three games against OSU.

The Rundown

Maryland at Rutgers l Crab trumps Frutti Di Mare, 48-7

What can I say about this game that hasn’t already been said about Afghanistan?

Purdue at PSU | Championship defense stymies second-string offense, 35-7

PSU sacked stand-in QB Jack Plummer 10 times and held Purdue’s decimated offense to 109 total yards (-19 on the ground). Basketball season can’t come soon enough in West Lafayette.

pkloa: Franklin and OC Rahne have plenty of choices for motivating the Nittany Lions this week. Ignore the first quarter, the important part is the offense sleepwalking through 30 minutes in the middle of the game. That won’t cut it against the better teams on the schedule, starting with Kinnick at Night this Saturday.

Special teams miscues also get a special shoutout. A punt from the opponent’s 36 is bad. Said punt sailing 5 yards into the endzone is dreadful. As is muffing a punt (tweaking an ankle in the process), or losing yards on multiple punt returns, or having a punt land on your helmet (causing a 15 yard kick catch interference penalty), or having a punt land on your knee causing a turnover. Punting is fuckin’ winning, and the defense was the main reason the team didn’t up up losing.

Iowa at Michigan | Wolverines win a snoozer, 10-3

Big Blue scored 10 points in the opening period and never moved the scoreboard again, which isn’t doing much for Gattis’ stock in Ann Arbor. The defense sacked Iowa 8 times and forced four turnovers in what can only be summed up as three truly B1G hours of football.

Creighton: Michigan spent 4 quarters desperately trying to hand the game to Iowa, and not once did Iowa feel like taking advantage. They moved the ball ok, but couldn’t do anything with it. Honestly the turnovers are whatever, but the penalties and the sacks were absolute drive killers. Iowa’s guards played terrible and the Ferentzes refused to make any adjustments to the playcalling, resulting in 8-ish (not looking up the exact number) sacks that cost the team 65 yards (I already looked that one up). The refs had 3 or 4 very questionable non-calls on defensive holding and pass interference go against Iowa, but I don’t think it made any difference other than to annoy me more.

Defense: you guys were great. Keep up the good work.

Stew: Welp, that was not great. Michigan is not terribly good. Why they don’t heave the ball down field to their giant receivers every other play is beyond me. They can’t run the ball for shit.

Iowa’s defense fought admirably giving Iowa the chance to win. Unfortunately, Iowa’s offense was tasked with scoring points, which it absolutely failed to do, at a rate not often seen in college football. Nate Stanley was bad, throwing his first 3 ints of the season, and being completely inept at knowing what to do against Michigan’s relentless blitzing. Of course, Iowa’s playing calling didn’t help him much there. For a team that preaches, dogmatically, about being balanced, Iowa called twice as many pass plays as running plays. The Ferentzii refused to make any adjustments to account for the Michigan blitzes.

Kent State at Wisconsin | You guessed it, 48-0

5 TDs from Jonathan Taylor, and an opposing coach (*cough former Badger) claiming you’re the best team in the country. Hard to ask for more than that.

MC: What is there to say? Jonathan Taylor scored 5 goddamn touchdowns, a below average team did nothing of note, and just like everyone predicted, Wisconsin closes out the non-conference season with a combined score of 158-0. Not much to see here unless you like watching Taylor make people look silly, and I do! Michigan State is likely to bring a slightly different vibe to town next week.

Illinois at Minnesota | Gophers run rampant 40-17

Rodney Smith saw Shannon Brooks’ 111 yards and raised him 211. Tanner Morgan pitched a 50-yarder to keep the defense honest—for however much that needed to happen.

WSR: That was a goddamn snuff film. 40-17 doesn’t even begin to cover just how ugly that was and how bad Illinois is. The Gopher offense was responsible for all but 3 of the points today thanks to Tanner Morgan throwing a pick-6 and falling victim to another strip sack TD. We outgained them 479-234, and they were under 200 yards until the last series of the game. I can’t even begin to describe how putrid the Illini are without stammering while at a loss of words. We are 5-0 and it feels nice to actually have an easy win for once.

Thump: I hate this fucking sport. I was very happy until I found out about this game at the end of the 3rd quarter. Football avoidance is my new strategy for happiness.

Northwestern at Nebraska | Nebby begrudgingly outscores reigning B1GW champion.

Over 9 games since 2011, the total separation between these two teams is 24 points. Now UN-L owns the series lead 5-4 over NU, thanks to a last-second field goal by Lane Mccallum. Northwestern tried hard to force a third overtime game in as many years by icing the kicker thrice, but to no avail. Another heart-pounding matchup between the top and bottom ranked institutions in our fair conference.

BRT: That was an underwhelming show of force from both teams. What a stinker of a game. Anyone who has watched either of these teams this season knew what was likely to happen in this one was not the stuff of dreams, at least not good ones. Even when both teams are better than their current iterations, this game has a propensity to get weird. Today’s flavor of weirdness was an apparent steadfast desire on the part of both teams to... not win?

As DeadRead mentions, Nebraska has much to concern them, between yet more proof that they’re really not very good, and the injuries to J.D. Spielman and Adrian Martinez, which are both monumental losses if they persist past this game. However, they are 4-2, and they really could be much, much worse than that, so I won’t carp too much about the messiness of the win. This is the kind of lucky break sort of shit that has not gone Nebraska’s way for a couple of seasons, and in particular, last season. While I wish the improved outcomes were based on an improving team rather than a lucky break, I’m also not so foolish as to be ungrateful for dumb luck.

I’m really happy for Lane McCallum though. A walk-on safety who has been a part of Nebraska’s unreliable kicking game this season due to the injury of starter Barrett Pickering, not too many people believed that final shot was going to go through. It did though, and seeing his celebration, him getting carted around the field by his teammates, and him still glowing as he walked back into the locker room is the sort of thing we all watch this stupid game for. Also props to him for claiming in post-game that each subsequent time out called by Pat Fitzgerald only calmed him more, and slowed things down for him. As fans, pretty much everyone hates icing the kicker, and there’s not-great evidence that it works. And when it doesn’t, especially in a dramatic situation like this, it only makes the whole “strategy” look more silly.

Anyway, 4-2 and on to Minny, which should be another B1G West Mess Fest.

Dead_Read: The good news: The defense got a late turnover and a backup quarterback led a two minute drill that culminated in a walk-off field goad. The walk-on backup safety who is doing Nebby’s kicking got carried off the field on his teammates’ shoulders - which is neat in a particularly college football way. The bad news: Both the starting quarterback and starting receiver sustained injuries - the severity of which are not yet known. Also, a disproportionate amount of offensive production was provided by a true freshman. What could go wrong? The offense is not great, the defense is not great, and the special teams are definitely...not great. But hey, Nebraska has lost a lot of close games over the last three years, so it is nice to be on the winning side. The Huskers are two wins from bowl eligibility. I’ll take it.

MNW: CC NU defense: We love you, keep it up.

Northwestern should have won this game. More enterprising Northwestern and Nebraska fans will have read past that headline, because they’re not idiots. The Huskers put together a drive that did juuuuust enough, and Pat Fitzgerald has already tossed the DB who missed that coverage to set up the winning UNL FG under the bus, so there’s not much more to say on that. Aiden Smith finished 19/32 with 4.25 YPA, and if that’s good enough for you, you can fuck right off. This is a Northwestern team that does not know how to put together winning plays and, with Fitz and Mick McCall running the show in Evanston, will not put its players in positions to win games.

Through ZERO fault of Mike Hankwitz, this team should finish 4-8. Que sera, sera.

LPW: Well shit. This series has been entertaining. The ‘Cats won’t be bowling this year at this rate. Pass the Malört.

Michigan State at Ohio State | OSU blacks out MSU 34-10

Go green? Go white? Go black! After tallying 16 yards in 16 plays to open the game, OSU finally uncorked things in the second quarter with a beautiful rollout throw to Ben Victor, who took it all the way to the endzone. JK Dobbins cracked the century mark as OSU rushed for 323 yards against a defense that had been allowing 55 per game. Fields finally got pressured. By all measures, he rose to the moment.

Angry Kouldashouldawouldaski: Well, thanks largely to the defense’s heroism early, Michigan State at least made Ohio State play 4 quarters. I had a fatalist view of this game going in, but coming out of it, it’s a different kind of regret, because with a slightly sharper performance on just a handful of plays, this game could actually have turned out differently. So it’s simultaneous encouragement and frustration. Fumbling inside your own 40 on 2 of your first 4 plays, only to have your defense restrict the damage to 3 points? Driving repeatedly, only for the drive to sputter after an off-target throw to an open receiver or awful drop after a good throw? Settling for 2 close-range field goals against this opponent, when you had to know scoring opportunities would be in short supply, AND that holding OSU off the board forever was an impossible ask? Those limits are just what MSU is this year, and it’s not good enough to keep it close against a team as good as OSU. Make no mistake, if anyone in this conference beats them this season, it’s a colossal upset, much more so than the last few years. Now, the hope is just that MSU didn’t burn their whole tank trying to make a game of this ahead of the trip to Madison and motherfuck as I type this there’s yet another drop, has there been a game this year where we’ve had less than 5?