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Sunday Morning Coming Down // Week 5

A bonafide snoozer

Syndication: Journal-Courier Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Ten B1G Things

  1. For those not tracking, Michigan’s road opener came in this, the 5th week of the season
  2. In fairness, it probably felt like an early season road game with a kickoff temp around 95º
  3. Nebraska entered the game as the nation’s *statistically* second-best rush defense, having allowed no more than 58 yds per game. Michigan ran for 249.
  4. Nebraska finally scored with just over 4 minutes left, preserving a scoring streak that goes back 344 games to 1996.
  5. That was probably one of the worst halves of offense PSU has played under Franklin, enroute to Drew Allar notching a total QBR of 40.
  6. Penn State needed this gritty win over Northwestern to build momentum for a tough two weeks ahead against a bye and UMass.
  7. Minnesota managed to run for 200 yards by committee in the absence of Darius Taylor, who ran for 200 yards alone in last week’s collapse against Northwestern.
  8. The Gophers comeback win preserved an unblemished streak against the Sun Belt Conference, improving them to 12-0 all-time.
  9. Tagovailoa threw five touchdown passes against Indiana, coming up one short of the Maryland record set by comeback specialist Frank Reich in a comeback over Miami in 1984.
  10. Maryland is 5-0 for the first time since 2001. September had 5 saturdays this year. Ipso facto, September Maryland is real.
  11. Illinois tried everything to stop Purdue’s offense, including a “scoreboard failure” in the first half
  12. Not even that can help when your starting QB turns in a QBR performance of...14.
  13. Michigan State tallied 349 yards of total offense and scored just 9 points.
  14. Do punt returns count toward the Ferentz line? If not, we’re looking a whopping 19 this week.

The Rundown

Michigan at Nebraska | Maize shucks the corn kids, 45-7

Brian Gillis: In what was probably its best overall performance of the season, Michigan steamrolled Nebraska in Lincoln. The Wolverines rolled to a 28-0 halftime lead and from there coasted to a 45-7 victory. Efficient, if not overwhelming on the stat sheet, the Wolverines held a nearly 2:1 edge in time of possession and controlled the game throughout. Next up: Minnesota.

RMB: I’ll augment on Brian’s comment: It was unquestionably Michigan’s best performance of the season. 249 rushing yards against one of the nation’s best run defenses coming into the game. Nebraska’s only points game with a few minutes to go in garbage time. It was an absolutely dominant win that even I can’t complain about.

BigRedTwice: Let’s roll the tape:”I don’t even want to watch this. It will end terribly for Nebraska - my main hope is that no one gets badly injured, but I have a really bad feeling about that. This feels like a “lose by 50 and lose your starting QB for the rest of the year” kind of game. So... yeah.”

Always listen to BRT, babes, she knows of what she speaks. I peaced out of this one at halftime, but to my knowledge, the QB is fine, so that’s good. I was about right on that score though, and on the general futility of the game.

The Huskers have heart, and I like them, but the poor things just have so few tools on offense that it’s going to be a very long season in Lincoln. No big surprise on today’s result, and I’m just happy to have a “never gonna win that” off the schedule. The only other good thing was that a certain ignominious a** in attendance got to see such a rotter of a game. Definitely the least he deserves, but still.

deadread: This was a stinker of a game for the Huskers. The outcome was predictable, and Michigan’s dominance was pronounced. On Friday, Illinois and Nebraska will face off. The winner can continue to at least fantasize about a postseason game. The loser realistically cannot. The Big Red has a lot of work to do.

Jesse Collins: I... I don’t think Nebraska is very good.

Penn State at Northwestern | Nits pull it together in the end, 41-13

misdreavus79: Penn State went out and struggled in the first half, on the road, in an 11 AM local time kickoff. Again. For the second time in three weeks, the Lions have found themselves in a battle, only to make the score not look as close as the game was. That is testament to the teams talent level, as compared to previous years. Both Illinois and Northwestern are either close to the wire, or outright losses, in previous iterations of this team. As a result, it becomes easy to view this team through that lens, and expect this outfit to crumble at some point in the year.

The difference is, however, that Penn State’s offense committed its first turnover on the season in game 5. The were the last remaining team to have yet to commit a turnover. Drew Allar, for as pedestrian a stat line he put up on Saturday, has yet to throw an interception. He and Cam Ward are the only two quarterbacks in the country who can say that. And lastly, by my count, five catchable balls were dropped by his receivers. 18 of 33 for 189 yards may not sound like much, but 23 of 33 for over 200 yards looks a lot better. All that to say, Allar will continue to get better, and that improvement will be perceived more evidently if the receivers, outside of KeAndre Lambert-Smith, step up to the plate. Tre Wallace can’t come back soon enough!

The other difference, the defense, is the best we’ve seen since at least 2014, if not 2011. And those defenses had to do everything they could to carry their respective anemic offenses on their backs. This one doesn’t.

MNW: Here was my prediction for this game:

MNW: Unlike Minnesota, Penn State will put the foot on the throat and cruise. I’m hoping to see a little bounce from the ‘Cats—make the Nittany Lions work for it into halftime and keep it a game as long as you can. Don’t give them the game like Illinois did.

That feels like it starts with the Wildcats’ defensive front being efficient against the run and the back seven keeping the ball in front of them—turn it into a game of short gains, bend but don’t break, and we’ll see.

(It won’t end well. Nittany Lions, 41-10.)

Northwestern went into the half tied 10-10 thanks to a gifted short field and one good drive, and the Penn State defense kept them on their heels all game: that’s one hell of a pass rush. (I leave unimpressed with Penn State, including Drew Allar, but that’s a conversation for another day.) The Nittany Lions won the third quarter 17-0, and this game was more or less over.

But a funny thing happened along the way: the ‘Cats didn’t fold despite a heartbreaking review-aided failure on 4th and short and a fake punt that fell agonizingly short. (Those were both the right decisions, by the way.) All game, the David Braun-led defense continued to fight, coming up with a couple stops and forcing Penn State to keep the starters on the field until the final drive. It’s weird to be content with a 41-13 loss, but I’m not unhappy about it, and that’s a credit to David Braun.

I looked at my wife at one point during the first half and said “This guy’s gonna get the full-time job.” I don’t know if that’s true, given the need to clean house at the Northwestern athletics department, but the interim man is sure going a long way toward deserving it.

Who’s NOT going a long way? Fuck you, Mike Bajakian. Fuck your slow-developing plays, your needlessly complex play calling that leads to drive-killing delays of game, your inability to scheme against the Penn State blitz until the game was well out of hand. It led to the slow start to the second half and got Ben Bryant knocked out of the game, and I cannot wait to see you go the way of equally-worthless Jim O’Neil, you Adam Silver wannabe-looking-ass penis in a turtleneck.

LPW: The Cats came out of the gate, scoring first and playing on a huge hit of confidence after beating Minnesota. It was incredible we were having a rock fight with a highly ranked team. Alas, I knew PSU would adjust and we’d lose, but I’m proud of the players.

Louisiana at Minnesota | Gophers avoid another collapse, 35-24

WSR: Minnesota was perfectly meh. Zach Evans was pretty damn good in his first appearance of the season, the defense had some huge turnovers and stops to go along with all of their big plays allowed, the special teams still confounds me with heir ineptitude, and the playcalling oscillates between wonderful and woeful. But we won, and I’ll enjoy that since I’m not feeling good about Michigan next weekend at all.

Indiana at Maryland | Trampled by Turtles, 44-17

Larry31: So, Indiana has a pretty good pass defense [statistically speaking]. Apparently, the Indiana coaching staff felt it was good enough to totally sell out to stop Maryland’s rushing attack. It worked! Maryland couldn’t get shit going on the ground. But, Taulia absolutely torched Indiana’s pass defense. How bad? Glad you asked. Maryland was up 21-3 in the first quarter. All three Maryland touchdowns came on Taulia scores, two passing and one rushing. Maryland used a total of 1:26 to score their first three touchdowns. Yowza. It’s one of the few times time of possession becomes meaningless. that is some lightning quick scoring.

Of course, Maryland was aided by excellent field possession, But, the first TD went for 75 yards, 3 plays in just 25 seconds. Offensively, Walt Bell’s play calling was questionable...and most Indiana fans will probably feel that description is kind. Indiana was having moderate success running up the middle. Yet, Walt Bell insisted on spreading Indiana’s offense and do rushing plays on the edge. Maryland’s defense was just too fast for this nonsense. It seemed every one of these outside rushes was either for no gain or a loss, and were drive killers, the same way holding calls are drive killers.

I hope I don’t get banned for admitting this, but, as a “writer” I actually watched both Maryland games very closely the last two weeks [@MSU and IU]. The eye test tells me Sparty is clearly better than Indiana. I really thought Indiana was looking ahead to Maryland when they sqeaked by Akron last week, and would come out really feisty for this game. And I was concerned Maryland would be looking ahead to Ohio State. I was very wrong on both counts, which is why I don’t gamble. I’m wrong a lot. Next week: Maryland at Ohio State. The battle of two undefeated teams! Stop it! It will be October. September Maryland will be officially Dead and Gone, sing it TI and Justin Timberlake! Maryland simply hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt that they can compete with one of the Big Three, especially at the Horseshoe. Keep the top-25 ranking on ice. If they cover the spread, then that will be genuine progress.

Oh. Forgot to mention. Can anyone provide any insight as to why the hell Taulia was still on the field for Maryland’s final touchdown drive to go up 44-10 in the middle of the fourth quarter?

BuffKomodo: I’m doing this at halftime because I’ve got the time and because I just want to get this out of the way. This is the worst an Indiana football program has looked since 2011, and perhaps the second worst it’s looked since Gerry DiNardo. This is awful. If nobody is fired by Monday morning, then it’s a display that Indiana University cares not for its football program.

There is but one person to pin all the blame on, and that’s Tom Allen. If they continue to employ him and Walt Bell, they’re asking for an apathetic program with fans who will ask “when’s basketball start” for not only this season, but next season.

Meaning that at the earliest, you’re not getting any momentum until 2026 at the earliest.

That, friends, is depressing and sad. I so badly want to join my OTE counterparts in having fun. The close games. The enjoyable content. But alas, I cannot keep this shit up. It emotionally hurts. With the amount of drinking required to stomach this garbage, it physically hurts as well.

Indiana may win one more game this season, but it doesn’t look likely. And perhaps worse than 2021, it doesn’t look bad because players have quit. It looks bad because of incompetent leadership.

This week, someone came up during Tom Allen’s weekly show and said something to the effect of, “it’s a business” and eluded to why was Walt Bell still employed. But STRESSED him and his friends loved Tom Allen. At this point, I don’t know how you’re out on Bell and not Allen. Good for you, but I’d love to know what you see AS A FOOTBALL COACH. The situation saddens me by the day.

Illinois at Purdue | Boilermakers put Illinois on the pain train, 44-19

BoilerUp89: CANNON! Purdue keeps their bowl hopes alive and despite being 2-3 with games against OSU and Michigan remaining, they aren’t as slim as you might think if you don’t consider that they play in the best division ever. Path is pretty simple. Beat IU, Northwestern, and Minnesota to get to 5. Split with Iowa and Nebraska to get to 6 wins. As for the game, the big difference was 3rd downs as Illinois went 2/13 while the Boilers went 7/11. Purdue also benefitted from some short fields, Illini penalties, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Thumpasaurus: God is extremely fucking mad at me, and you know what? It’s clearly of such a magnitude that at 34, I don’t really have time to figure out why and fix it.

I prayed to Saint Jude and our lady of Antwerp during the third quarter and I am in no way exaggerating. I have nothing left.

AlmaOtter: My wedding was lovely. I didn’t watch a minute of the Cannon. That was also lovely.

Wagner at Rutgers | Rutgers trounces very real school called Wager, 52-3

RUReady4Brazil: Rutgers played almost perfect and somehow covered a 48 point spread. What they have done to earn a 4-1 has been great, but their season is riding on the next three weeks. They need to win two of three or at least one of them (Ind, MSU, Wisconsin) to make the brutal final stretch interesting.

Michigan State at Iowa | Hawkeyes prove slightly less inept on offense, 26-16

GF3: Have we not officially reached “Iowa is a team that exists” stage of whatever is happening in Iowa City? What a mess. Cade McNamara wasn’t good at Michigan. But somehow the Iowa offense has assimilated him like the Borg, turning a once somewhat serviceable QB into a befuddled skipper sailing the a ship of damned through calm seas, reliably floundering when not foundering.

Michigan State is just limping along until this season ends. There’s no way to polish up this turd of a year for the Spartans.