Week Five marked the first time that the majority of Big Ten teams played conference opponents. Suffice to say, most of the games that kicked off the heart of the conference season weren’t pretty. Here’s your rundown on this past weekend in the heartland’s favorite conference:
A Penn State stripe-out, and a rout... need I say more?
In college football there’s truly nothing like a Penn State white-out, but a stripe-out at Beaver Stadium might be the next best thing. The fans brought the energy, and it was clear that the team fed off the home crowd. The classic “WE ARE PENN STATE” chant was in full effect.
But let’s give Indiana some credit: for a school that has its D1 sports largely associated with a 1986 basketball film about a high school team — the football team didn’t start out too poorly. They made a couple of strong stops to start the game and kept PSU scoreless for the first ten minutes — no small feat against the fourth-ranked team in the country.
The Hoosiers made a solid third down stop on their own 35-yard line with around six minutes left in the first. PSU coach James Franklin then made a bold call and went for it on 4th and 7, igniting both the student section and the offense. The conversion was successful and led to a touchdown soon thereafter.
However, Tom Allen’s team was not intimidated by the bold offense, and, rather, was inspired by it. On PSU’s next offensive possession, Indiana DB Raheem Layne intercepted the ball and returned it to within the opposing 15-yard line — deep into Nittany Lion territory. Penn State wound up stopping Indiana’s offense short of the end zone, though, and, when faced with a do-or-die decision on fourth down, Allen kept his offense on the field. With six points at stake, the Penn State defense showed up and stuffed RB Stephen Carr at its own 4-yard line.
The PSU defense would be the hallmark of the team’s conclusive win over Indiana. The lockdown squad forced two turnovers, blocked a field goal and forced nearly 10 punts in the shutout. On the upside for Indiana fans, their football team’s subpar performance is beginning to offer some consistency in these uncertain times (but who are we to judge).
Ohio State vs. Rutgers falls fall short of the close contest some had hoped for
The seventh-ranked Buckeyes wasted no time in asserting their dominance in this game. On their first drive, QB CJ Stroud connected with Trayvon Henderson, who ran through the entire defense virtually untouched en route to a 44-yard touchdown. At the midway break, OSU was up 45-6.
The Buckeye offense would slow, but the end result wouldn’t change much after the second half. OSU did allow a touchdown in the fourth quarter — the only bright spot of the day for the Scarlet Knights’ offense, as QB Noah Vedral was picked off thrice.
All game long, Stroud was the ultimate force to be reckoned with, throwing for five touchdowns and 330 yards. Is he a possible Heisman candidate? Stroud would be the first Buckeye to win the trophy since 2006, and his odds aren’t terrible (+1500 according to Wynn Bet).
The real question: Can Ohio State win the Big Ten Championship for another year in a row? Well, we won’t be getting a showdown between the the Buckeyes and likely-West Division champ Iowa to give us the data we really want. However, there are still some dang good matchups to look forward to. OSU still plays three unbeaten teams — including No. 4 Penn State in Week 8 and No. 11 Michigan State in Week 11 — but what looks to be the most anticipated matchup of its season is the finale against Michigan on November 27. If we can be certain of one thing, it’s that one of the two involved fanbases will be shattered the Saturday after Thanksgiving. But until then, keep an eye out for CJ Stroud and his offense full of weapons.
Injuries and interceptions the story of Maryland’s 51-14 blowout loss to Iowa
What could have been a “you forgot we exist but we are pretty damn good” game for Maryland turned into a dismal Friday for the Terrapins. QB Taulia Tagovailoa entered the game as the Big Ten leader in yards passing. He finished the game with five interceptions, exhibiting the dominance of Kirk Ferentz’s defense once again. Like many of the B1G blowouts this week, the winning team set the tone early.
At halftime, Iowa led 34-7. Iowa QB Spencer Petras threw for 259 yards and 3 TDs. The Hawkeye defense forced seven turnovers overall, maximizing opportunities for the offense to strike. If the final score of 51-14 wasn’t enough of a beatdown for Maryland fans, an added punch to the gut was the loss of their star receiver Dontay Demus. Demus came into the game leading the Big Ten in yards receiving, but was carted off the field after a kick return in the second quarter after a brutal injury (watch if you dare).
As Demus left the field he was optimistic, yelling, “I’m coming back!” to his teammates. On Tuesday morning, he was ruled out for the season with a knee injury, but the Terps need all the optimism they can get. While not at the bottom of the Big Ten, the loss was a crushing blow to the Terrapins. Tagovailoa and the offense will need to make serious adjustments if they want to avoid another year of mediocrity in conference play.
Michigan finally the ones Jumping Around in Camp Randall Stadium in 17-38 victory
These are exciting times for Michigan fans.
Not only did the Wolverines continue their undefeated season, but they won at Camp Randall Stadium for the first time since 2001. That’s got to be immensely satisfying — especially considering the most recent UW-U of M matchups haven’t been close, with Michigan losing 49-11 to Wisconsin last year.
The game was somewhat tight to begin with. Michigan led by a modest 10-0 through the first quarter. But after Wisconsin’s QB Graham Mertz left due to a chest injury, the team’s play and spirits plummeted.
Michigan fed off Wisco’s frustration and used it to their advantage. The Badgers entered the game with a rushing defense that led the nation. But the Blue continually took risks that paid off — going four-for-five on fourth-down conversions.
Michigan starting QB Cade McNamara threw for 197 yards and 2 touchdowns. J.J. McCarthy, a freshman QB, entered the game late and threw a TD of his own. The defense showed up too, snagging an interception, forcing three fumbles and combining for six sacks.
This was a big win for Michigan, and the team continues to soar in an upward trajectory. The Wolverines will have relatively easy games against Nebraska and Northwestern before heading into a Week 8 rivalry matchup against No. 11 Michigan State. That’s when the true chemistry (or lack thereof) should appear, and we can finally crown an unofficial or very official (depending on your outlook) champion in the state of Michigan.
Minnesota 20, Purdue 13
Nebraska 56, Northwestern 7
No. 11 Michigan State 48, Western Kentucky 31