BIG TEN Week 8
Small week but lots of excitement….
October 24, 2015
Only a handful of games this week, and while there were some surprises on the national front, everything went about as expected within the BIG Ten.
Michigan State 52, Indiana 26
Things didn’t start out well for the Hoosiers Saturday in East Lansing as senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld was picked off by Spartan safety Grayson Miller on the first play of the game. Sudfeld would settle down and put together a nice game against a banged-up Michigan State secondary, but it just wasn’t enough in the end. After being down just 21-20 at the half, the Hoosiers weren’t able to keep up in the final quarter.
The Sparty ground game struggled through much of the game but was able to get things going late in the second half. True freshman L.J. Scott continued to do L.J. Scott things, finding the endzone for the fourth week in a row. The Hubbard, Ohio native ended the day with eleven carries for 68 yards and the touchdown.
Senior quarterback Connor Cook had a career day as he completed 30 of 52 passes for 398 yards and four touchdowns. Wide receiver Aaron Burbridge continues to be Cook’s go-to guy; the senior hauled in eight passes for 128 yards and a score which was especially confusing to ESPN’s Mike Patrick.
Sudfeld ended with 308 yards through the air and a trio of touchdowns. Wideout Simmie Cobbs Jr. caught five passes for 108 yards and a score. Junior running back Jordan Howard added 78 yards rushing and and found the endzone once.
Ohio State 49, Rutgers 7
It was finally time for what many of us thought would happen from the start of the season — J.T. Barrett would lead the Ohio State (8-0, 4-0) offense out onto the field to start the game. Barrett got a lot of help from his teammates, but it was easily the Buckeyes’ most dominating performance of the season.
Rutgers entered the game riding high on the back of a huge road comeback win at Indiana in Kyle Flood’s return from suspension. The Scarlet Knights even had stud wide receiver Leonte Carroo back from an ankle injury (for a while). So they took the field with maximum swag on national television, after Flood proclaimed that it would be the country’s best atmosphere at kickoff.
But despite an early fumble, Barrett was brilliant, completing 14 of 18 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns without an interception, and ran for 101 yards and two scores on 13 carries. Rutgers was just 2/12 on third down before Urban Meyer trotted all the backups out there. There was no trap. The line started slowly but got rolling as the game wore on.
Urban Meyer praised J.T. after the game: “J.T. is a great leader, a great player and he made those around him better today.”
The Buckeyes have an open date next week and will return to action on Nov. 7 at the Horseshoe against Minnesota.
Penn State 31, Maryland 30
Penn State’s game plan against the Terps seemed to revolve around Christian Hackenberg throwing the ball downfield. The junior threw for 315 yards despite only completing thirteen passes on the day. Chris Godwin and DaeSean Hamilton led the Nittany Lion pass-catchers; Godwin caught four passes for 135 yards and a score while Hamilton added five catches for 96 yards and a touchdown of his own. Junior wideout Geno Lewis only had one catch on the day, but it was a nifty 27-yard score that gave Penn State the lead in the fourth quarter.
True freshman tailback Saquon Barkley came back down to earth on Saturday, rushing for just 65 yards and a score on 20 carries. The Penn State running game could only manage 48 yards on the day thanks to a number of negative plays.
Turnovers were the story of the day for new interim head coach Mike Locksley and the Terps. Junior quarterback Perry Hills notched 349 yards of total offense with a pair of touchdowns, but also had five turnovers on the day; three interceptions and two fumbles.
Northwestern 30, Nebraska 28
The Wildcats were able to bounce back in Lincoln after back-to-back losses to Michigan and Iowa. Mike Riley’s fourth-quarter struggles continued as the Huskers were unable to hold Northwestern’s offense late in the game.
Freshman quarterback Clayton Thorson led the way for Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats, putting up 303 yards of total offense and a pair of touchdowns. Tailback Justin Jackson added 40 yards on 14 carries and 55 yards receiving. Senior wideout Dan Vitale caught five passes for 55 yards including a 37-yard touchdown.
Tommy Armstrong led the Husker offense with 291 yards passing and a touchdown, but also threw a bad pick-six in the second quarter. Running back Terrell Newby struggled on the day, totaling just 52 yards on 16 carries. Jordan Westerkamp and Brandon Reilly led the way in the passing game with 92 and 83 yards respectively.
Riley has now lost five games in his inaugural season at Nebraska. In his seven seasons in Lincoln, Bo Pelini never lost more than four. The Wildcats are now bowl-eligible.
Wisconsin 24, Illinois 13
Senior quarterback Joel Stave exited with concussion-like symptoms after being sacked in the first quarter, but the Badgers were still able to fend off the Illini. Junior Bart Houston—who had only thrown four passes in his first two seasons—filled in for Stave and completed 22 of 33 passes for 232 yards and two scores. Wideout Alex Erickson led the Badger rushing attack with 81 yards on just four carries while also accounting for 96 receiving yards and a score.
The Illini once again elected to go with their hideous “Ghost Gray” alternate uniforms to pay homage to Red Grange. The Galloping Ghost certainly would have been disgusted with the Illinois offense on Saturday as they could only manage 55 yards on the ground. Running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn was the lone ball-carrier for the banged-up Illini; the bulk of those 55 yards coming on a 36-yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter.
So it was a pretty ho-hum week within the conference. Some of the Top 25 did go down so one would think some Big Ten teams could get a bit of a bump. Not much of a change in my conference power rankings. What about yours?
The Buckeyes and Spartans both have a bye next week. Bye weeks are pretty awful for the fans, but definitely a good opportunity for some guys to get healthy. Week nine will see Penn State hosting Illinois, Iowa taking on the Terps, and the Wolverines traveling to Minnesota.
By the way, how awesome would it be to party with these fellas?
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