In this edition of Around the Big Ten, we’re going to spend a solid chunk of words talking about the Penn State/Ohio State game because that was the only interesting non-Northwestern Big Ten game this week. Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Maryland were all on bye this week, leaving us with total misery and Ohio State’s blockbuster trip to Penn State.
Ohio State 27, Penn State 26
Alright, can we stop complaining about Northwestern’s offensive coaching staff and laugh at whatever the heck James Franklin and Co. ran on fourth-and-five last night?
After Northwestern put its fans through torture, there wasn’t much to do but laugh hysterically at this fascinating decision to run a second consecutive zone read on fourth-and-five with the game on the line. Of course, Penn State burned two of its timeouts before this play even happened, which surely tops any complaining about Fitzian clock management. Ohio State also called a timeout, meaning that Penn State had a full complement of timeouts to decide to run that play. I mean, from a football perspective, you can see what’s wrong. For one, Trace McSorley had thrown for 286 yards and rushed for 175 yards on the day. Penn State’s offense averaged 6.5 yards per play and had only failed to seal the game because of other missed opportunities early in the game.
The game was ultimately decided by a compounding series of critical mistakes from Penn State. Penn State allowing a 47-yard touchdown on a simple midfield catch was not great. Penn State failing to put Ohio State in a 20-point hole early was not ideal. Penn State still found itself up 26-14 with 8:37 left, but when Ohio State does Ohio State things, not cashing in on those early opportunities will put you in bad situations.
This leaves Ohio State with a much clearer path to the College Football Playoff and Penn State on the outside looking in. Michigan and Ohio State are now atop the Big Ten East.
Purdue 42, Nebraska 24
Purdue seems to have shaken off its 0-3 start with two commanding wins over Boston College and Nebraska. Scott Frost’s defense was basically nonexistent as Purdue shredded the Huskers for 42 points and 516 yards. Nebraska’s offense looked okay and actually out-gained Purdue overall, but a pick and three failed fourth down conversions gave the Boilermakers an early lead that they would not relinquish. Nebraska is 0-4!
Indiana 24, Rutgers 17
Rutgers played well! Indiana failed to score in the second half after going up 24-7 at the interval, but Rutgers failed to complete the comeback because the offense is just so, so bad. This was a terrible football game.
Michigan State 31, Central Michigan 20
Michigan State went up 31-3 and completely stepped off the gas pedal, likely to prepare for a key game next week against Northwestern. I didn’t watch this game, but from the numbers, Michigan State’s defense is going to be a serious problem for Northwestern’s offense next week, considering the Wildcats haven’t played to a MAC level this season on that side of the ball.