Illinois (3-2, 0-1 B1G)
Lost @ Nebraska 39-19
The Illini have shown improvement this season, and my hope was they would display it here and give the Cornhuskers a game, if even only for a half. Instead, Illinois limped out the gate, falling behind 30-5 before showing any real fight, and even that’s a stretch. The defense was gashed by Ameer Abdullah and the Cornhusker running attack, which allowed the rookie Armstrong/Kellogg combo to take shots at their leisure. On offense, the running game was decent, in particular Josh Ferguson, and was the reason for the success of the Illini’s scoring drives. The big disappointment was Scheelhaase’s play, as he struggled against Nebraska’s previously porous secondary. He threw for just 135 yards and an interception, as the Cornhuskers harassed him all day.
Hero of the Hour: RB Josh Ferguson – Rushing 19-114-1, Receiving 8-82-0.
Next Up: Wisconsin (Oct 19th)
Indiana (3-2, 1-0 B1G)
Beat Penn State 44-24
Prior to Saturday, the Hoosiers have never beaten Penn State in 16 attempts. That streak has now come to an end. Not only did Indiana get the Nittany monkey off their back, they did it in emphatic style, breaking open a tight game with a huge 4th quarter as they ran up 23 points to Penn State’s 7. Tevin Coleman had a nice game with 92 yards and a score on 20 carries, including a nice 44-yard scoring run. Cody Latimer had another big game, with 9 receptions for 140 yards, but the real star on offense was Nate Sudfeld, who kept the Indy offense ticking over all game. The defense was tough against the run, keeping the Nittany Lions from pounding them, and despite Christian Hackenberg’s 340 yards and 3 TDs, the D broke up an incredible 12 passes, and prevented him from picking them apart. A great performance all round.
Hero of the Hour: QB Nate Sudfeld – Passing 38-23-321-2-1, Rushing 22-83-0.
Next Up: @ Michigan State
Ohio State (6-0, 2-0 B1G)
Won @ Northwestern 40-30
Don’t buy the 10-point scoreline, a late score on a recovered lateral bumped that up. In one of the Buckeyes most trying games on their schedule, Northwestern dreamed of beating mighty OSU, and nearly realized it. Ohio State struggled against the feisty Wildcats i the early going, as 3 turnovers helped Northwestern take a 23-13 lead. But Ohio State kept pounding away with Carlos Hyde and their big offensive line, and it was evident down the stretch that the Wildcats were beginning to tire. Braxton Miller had a combined 271 yards, but turned the ball over twice, while Philly Brown chipped in with 6 receptions for 127 yards, including a key 38-yard reception in the 4th quarter. The defense was abused by QBs Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian all day, but a late interception really hurt the Wildcats. The special teams blocked a punt for a TD.
Hero of the Hour: RB Carlos Hyde – Rushing 26-168-3, Receiving 4-38-0.
Next Up: Iowa (Oct 19th)
Penn State (3-2, 0-1 B1G)
Lost @ Indiana 44-24
The Lions should have known they were in for a battle when Indiana stuffed their first two drives on downs, then forced them to punt on the next three. Christian Hackenberg may have passed for 340 yards and 3 TDs, but he struggled against a Hoosier secondary which kept a tight rein on his receivers. Except Allen Robinson. Zach Zwinak had a solid 72 yards, but the running game never really got untracked, leaving it up to their freshman QB to win the game. The defense sure didn’t help, allowing the Hoosiers to make some nice plays on the ground, while Nate Sudfeld outshone his rival. This could be a costly loss for a PSU team that may have had designs on winning the Leaders. Opponents may be putting together a blueprint for success against the Lions too. Next week’s contest looms large.
Hero of the Hour: WR Allen Robinson – Receiving 12-173-2.
Next Up: Michigan
Had the week off.
Next Up: Nebraska
Had the week off.
Next Up: Northwestern
Iowa (4-2, 1-1 B1G)
Lost to Michigan State 26-14
The Hawkeyes, much like Penn State, needed to establish their running game to click to help take the pressure off their young QB. The Hawkeyes, much like Penn State, failed. With just 23 yards on the ground, Iowa needed Jake Rudock to be at the top of his game, and dissecting the stiff Spartan defense was too tall an order. Even so, in the second quarter Rudock could do no wrong, and it looked like the Hawkeyes were ready to explode. However, some timely half-time adjustments put Sparty’s defense back in the ascendancy and that was as good as it got for the Hawkeyes. Rudock threw for 246 yards and 2 scores, but he was interested twice, including one late in the fourth that essentially ended the game.
Hero of the Hour: LB James Morris – 12 Tackles, 1 Interception.
Next Up: @ Ohio State (Oct 19th)
Michigan (5-0, 1-0 B1G)
Beat Minnesota 42-13
After a couple of lucky wins against vastly inferior opponents, Michigan really needed a statement game to silence the critics. While the Golden Gophers aren’t exactly a top 25 team, they are significantly better than Akron or UConn. The Wolverines planned to protect Devin Gardner, who had looked flaky in the previous games, and ran the ball often, and effectively. With the Wolverines constantly in 3rd and short situations, they converted 10 of 13 as Gardner was able to pick his targets without being too concerned with a heavy pass rush. He was extremely efficient, completing 13 of 17 passes for 235 yards and a score, and added 17 yards and a TD on the ground. The defense was great, apart from the first TD drive, and allowed just 281 yards. But the defensive highlight was Blake Countess’ 72-yard pick-six that put the icing on the cake.
Hero of the Hour: TE Devin Funchess – Receiving 7-151-1.
Next Up: @ Penn State
Michigan State (4-1, 1-0 B1G)
Won @ Iowa 26-14
The Spartan offense has been less than impressive so far this season, so it looked like the odds were stacked against them when they faced a tough Iowa team at home. As Han Solo used to say – “never tell me the odds”. The defense was its usual self, holding the Hawkeyes to a mere 23 yards rushing and keeping Jake Rudock mostly under wraps, but the offense was…above average. Connor Cook played very well, passing for 277 yards and 2 TDs (1 Int), and leading a couple of decent drives. MacGarrett Kings Junior and Bennie Fowler combined for 14 receptions, 184 yards and a pair of scores, making Cook’s life that little easier. Kicker Michael Geiger deserves a mention for hitting 4 of 5 field goals, including a 49-yarder, and helping putting the game out of reach in the second half.
Hero of the Hour: CB Darqueze Dennard – 8 Tackles, 2 Interceptions.
Next Up: Indiana
Minnesota (4-2, 0-2 B1G)
Lost @ Michigan 42-13
The day didn’t get off to the best of starts when it was discovered that had coach Jerry Kill wouldn’t make the game due to another seizure. The game didn’t exactly start in ideal circumstances either, as QB Mitch Leidner, making his second start, fumbled on the third play. Michigan punished the freshman for his mistake, driving for a quick score, but the Gophers marched right back down the field to score. An efficient 16-play drive led to a 7-yard pass to Maxx Williams, but after forcing the Wolverines to punt a couple of times, Minnesota were swallowed by a sea of blue the rest of the game. The Gophers tried to establish the run, mainly with Leidner, but struggled to make much headway against Michigan’s speedy front seven. With two losses in conference play already, and the schedule not getting any easier, a bowl may be out of the Gophers reach.
Hero of the Hour: QB Mitch Leidner – Passing 21-14-145-1-1, Rushing 18-66-0.
Next Up: @ Northwestern (Oct 19th)
Nebraska (3-1, 1-0 B1G)
Beat Illinois 39-19
With Taylor Martinez still out, the Cornhuskers came out and manhandled Illinois in a game that wasn’t as close as the score suggests. Nebraska rolled to a 30-5 lead before taking their foot off the gas a little. Using a steady diet of Ameer Abdullah and Imani Cross (15-76-1) to pound the Illini into submission, Big Red ran for a total of 335 yards. With that kind of production on the ground, Tommy Armstrong and Ron Kellogg were able to pass at their leisure. The defense harassed Nate Scheelhaase all night, sacking him 3 times, but keeping him on edge with a solid pass rush, while the secondary prevented any big gains. In fact, Josh Ferguson was Scheelhaase’s top receiver, catching 8 of his 16 completions. The run defense gave up 195 yards, but 2 turnovers and strong third down play (4/15 converted) kept the Illini from maintaining drives.
Hero of the Hour: RB Ameer Abdullah – Rushing 20-225-2, Receiving 1-15-0.
Next Up: Illinois
Northwestern (4-1, 0-1 B1G)
Lost to Ohio State 40-30
The Wildcats were excited about this game, and came ready to play against their more talented league foes. From the start they traded blows with the Buckeyes, and even took a 23-13 lead at one stage, but their inability to score TDs in the redzone ultimately hurt the Wildcats. The combination of Trevor Siemian and Kain Colter passed for 343 yards and 2 TDs, while Colter added a score on the ground. The lack of a running attack really hurt Northwestern in the redzone, and if they’d scored TDs instead of field goals, this game could have been over early in the 3rd quarter. Instead, the Buckeyes stayed close and their superior depth and strength showed late in the game as Northwestern failed to stop the Buckeye running attack. A wasted opportunity.
Next Up: @Wisconsin
Topics: Allen Robinson, Carlos Hyde, Darqueze Dennard, Devin Funchess, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, James Morris, Josh Ferguson, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mitch Leidner, Nate Sudfeld, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Northwestern Wildcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions, Purdue Boilermakers, Wisconsin Badgers