Four games, only one good one. And the good one turned into something considerably less than good once overtime started. And continued. And continued.
The Hlog’s weekly Big Ten ranking is for Saturday only. It’s measured by performance, strength of opponent, and whatever else the author wants. On with Week 7′s ranking:
1. Wisconsin, W 35-6 vs. Northwestern. The Wildcats entered the ranked team. The Badgers will take their spot.
They outgained Northwestern, 527 yards to 241. They outrushed the ‘Cats, 286 yards to 44. They had the ball for over 38 minutes.
This was not an unfamiliar result in Madison, but it still felt good.
Melvin Gordon had a 71-yard touchdown run for Wisconsin. It was the team’s fifth rushing TD this season of 70-plus yards. In six games, Gordon has 90 carries for 870 yards. That’s 9.7 yards per carry. That’s different.
The Badgers sacked Northwestern quarterbacks seven times.
“I thought they blitzed with an attitude,” said UW Coach Gary Andersen.
2. Penn State, W 43-40 vs. Michigan (4 OT). Last week, Penn State Coach Bill O’Brien refused to take questions about his team’s 44-24 loss at Indiana the previous Saturday.
“We’ve moved on from Indiana,” O’Brien said at his weekly Tuesday press conference. “We’re focused on Michigan.”
At his weekly Thursday night radio show at a State College restaurant, fans in attendance were asked not to ask questions about the Indiana game.
That seems goofy. But it’s all forgotten now, because Penn State got back off the carpet and got a good win.
Down 40-37 in the fourth overtime, the Nittany Lions had fourth-and-a foot. Rather than kick a field goal to force yet another overtime period, O’Brien went for it. Tailback Bill Belton gained two yards for a first-down, and the Lions finished off the drive with six points and the win.
“I try to be as decisive as I can,” O’Brien said. Whether that means making a brave call, or being a question-censor, it all came out a victory in the wash.
Nothing should amaze you,” O’Brien said. “There’s going to be twists and turns. These are tough kids. They love Penn State. They love playing for each other.”
3. Michigan State, W 42-28 vs. Indiana. That’s two good offensive efforts in a row for the Spartans, who are tied with Nebraska for the Legends lead at 2-0.
MSU rushed for 238 yards, threw for 235. That’s kind of balanced.
“It’s almost more fun to see them succeed as it is the defense the past couple of weeks,” Spartans linebacker Max Bullough told the Detroit Free Press. “They’ve grown up so much with some young players and they’ve done so well with accepting the coaching. They took the abuse early on in the year. They really took hold of it and took ownership of that offense.”
4. Nebraska, W 44-7 at Purdue. The Cornhuskers are finding Big Ten life is better when you’re playing Illinois and Purdue instead of Ohio State and Wisconsin, which they did in 2011 and 2012. Keeping in mind they did beat OSU in ’11 and the Badgers in ’12.
The Huskers doubled the yardage against the Boilermakers, 435-216. It was played before a crowd that was almost half Nebraska fans, even though West Lafayette is a 10-hour drive from Lincoln.
That’s the good news. The bad news is Nebraska standout offensive guard Spencer Long suffered a knee injury that could spell the end of his college career. Long is perhaps the best guard in college football.
““I feel for him,” Huskers Coach Bo Pelini said. “He’s a great kid and he’s meant so much to this program.”
Football is an entertaining game, but wow. Week after week, some of the warriors endure some awful injuries.
5. Michigan, L 43-40 at Penn State (4 OT). Four overtimes, no touchdowns for Michigan. Three missed field goal tries in five attempts over the end of regulation and the overtimes.
It was a terrific back-and-forth game in regulation. In overtime, it wasn’t so good.
Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint gained 27 yards in 27 carries.
Wolverines star offensive tackle Taylor Lewan suffered an apparent head injury in the first half and didn’t return to the game after halftime. See the last paragraph of the Nebraska portion of this post.
“He should be all right,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said after the game.
Lewan could easily have gone to the NFL after last season.
6 through 9. Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio State. Idle.
10. Indiana L 28-42 at Michigan State. It was the Big Ten’s top offense (statistically) against the nation’s top defense (statistically). The defense won.
Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star summed things up with this excerpt from his column from the game.
Still, you wait and wait and wait — and wait — for the game changer, the program changer, the where-did-that-come-from upset, especially on the road, and you just keep waiting.
Because it’s IU. Because they don’t win games like this. Not yet, anyway.
In the end, this was the same, tired story we’ve read hundreds of times before. Lack of communication. Lack of tackling. Lack of defensive talent. They recruit for defense, they work on tackling, they coach to get players in the right spots, but it doesn’t happen, week after frustrating week.
11. Purdue, L 44-7 vs. Nebraska. Purdue isn’t good. Its last three games have been losses by 31, 31, and now 37 points.
“We’re not in a great spot right now. That’s the reality of it,” Boilermakers Coach Darrell Hazell said. “We don’t feel great about it, nor should we. I know our football team. They’ll work to get out of this hole and do everything they have to do to keep clawing, scratching to get better.”
Purdue is at Michigan State this Saturday. The Boilermakers couldn’t move the ball against a mediocre Nebraska defense. They were shut out for 59 minutes and 21 seconds. Look for a full 60 minutes of zero at East Lansing.
12. Northwestern, L 35-6 at Wisconsin. This isn’t how a Top 25 team performs. This isn’t how you bounce back from a draining loss to Ohio State the week before.
“A comedy of errors,” Wildcats Coach Pat Fitzgerald said.
Key Wildcat offensive players Kain Colter and Venric Mark had ankle injuries. Football.
The good news in Wildcat Country is twofold. One, the Cats host lowly Minnesota Saturday.
“We don’t recruit quitters,” Northwestern linebacker Damien Proby said. “We’re going to look to attack this week.”
Two, it will be Peanut Free Day.
“We’re excited to host our first Peanut Free Day at Ryan Field,” said Fitzgerald in a press release Northwestern issued last week. “Nut allergies affect a sizable segment of the population and those people have to be very conscious of it at all times, in environments outside their control. This special day will give many people that may never have attended a live sporting event the opportunity to experience Chicago’s Big Ten Team for the first time. Our entire football family is thrilled to be part of such a great initiative.”
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