Written by: TJ Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
The first full week of Big Ten play is complete and we have your full recap.
Army - 14 at Penn State - 20
Penn State (4-1) foiled a late drive from Army to hold on for the 20-14 over the Army Black Knights (1-4) in soggy State College, PA. The Nittany Lions played without running backs Akeel Lynch and Saquon Barkley and the running game suffered as a result. Despite Nick Scott’s first career rushing touchdown, PSU could only muster 108 rushing yards (3.2 yards per carry). Christian Hackenberg was only 10/19 for 156 yards and the offensive line struggled to keep him upright for much of the day. Army was forced to play with their backup quarterback and their option offense churned out 261 yards rushing. However, they only attempted one pass all game and turned the ball over three times. Those mistakes cost them what would have been a stunning upset victory.
Penn State’s defense continues to impress but their offense has been putrid for much of the 2015 season and Saturday was no exception. If Akeel Lynch and/or Saquon Barkley are unable to go next Saturday, IU’s defense might be able to contain the Nittany Lion offense enough to give IU a chance at their first victory ever in Beaver Stadium.
Purdue – 21 at (2) Michigan State – 24
Michigan State (5-0) rolled to a 21-point halftime lead and appeared to be well on their way to a much-needed convincing victory. However, the Purdue Boilermakers (1-4) fought back to within three before seeing a last-minute drive falter as the Spartans hung on for the 24-21 win. The weather was miserable in East Lansing and a pair of running backs carried the offenses of both teams. For Michigan State, it was LJ Scott. Scott carried the ball 18 times for 146 yards and a pair of scores. Markell Jones was the guy for the Boilers. The freshman tailback had 22 carries for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Neither team’s passing game was able to get going (neither quarterback was over 140 yards) and neither team could produce a whole lot of explosive plays but it was Purdue’s turnovers (again) that proved to be a fatal problem. Purdue lost a pair of fumbles and David Blough threw one interception.
Michigan State will be concerned at the continued struggle they are having with lesser opponents but they survived and remain a candidate for the College Football Playoff.
Minnesota – 0 at (16) Northwestern - 28
If you stripped away preseason expectations and preconceived bias about which programs should achieve great things during the 2015 season, Northwestern would probably be ranked in the Top 5 in every poll. That’s not the way things work though so people remain a bit skeptical about whether or not the Wildcats are “for real”. On Saturday in Evanston, the Cats took another step towards proving they are a definite contender in the B1G as they hammered the wounded Minnesota Golden Gophers, 28-0. Justin Jackson ran the ball 20 times for 120 yards and Clayton Thorson added in 128 through the air but it was the defense that once again dominated for Northwestern. Minnesota could only muster 173 yards of total offense and they turned the ball over twice. The Gophers, known for being a physical team, only managed 2.2 yards per carry against Northwestern’s outstanding defensive front.
The victory sets up a massive clash next Saturday as Northwestern travels to the Big House to take on red-hot Michigan. Meanwhile, Minnesota remains on the road as they travel to Purdue. At the moment, it’s hard to expect Minnesota’s injured offense to beat just about anyone remaining on their schedule.
Iowa - 10 at Wisconsin – 6
If this game were a character from “Arrested Development”, it would be Buster after he’s “attacked” by a seal. If you listen, you can almost hear the shrieks coming from Camp Randall, “I’m a MONSTER!” Of course, this game is not a hilarious television show. It was merely a terribly ugly football game with a very significant result as the Iowa Hawkeyes (5-0) survived the Wisconsin Badgers (3-2) and stole a massive victory on the road, 10-6. Badgers quarterback Joel Stave threw for 234 yards but he threw two critical interceptions and fumbled two times. Despite a yardage advantage of 320-221, Wisconsin fell at home.
Iowa was led by Jordan Canzeri’s 125 yards but it was their opportunistic and perhaps underrated defense. Many, including myself, have focused on Iowa’s more open offense and the progression of C.J. Beathard but Iowa’s defense has been quite good and they won this game for the Hawkeyes on Saturday. Wisconsin only managed 2.5 yards per carry and 86 yards rushing. If you want some great defense, come to the B1G this season. A debate for another day could be, which B1G defense is best? Is it the talented Ohio State Buckeyes? Or maybe it’s Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin or even Iowa? Time will tell.
Nebraska – 13 at Illinois – 14
I would say I feel sorry for Nebraska fans but this is an IU football site and there’s no reason to feel sorry for anyone else! Still, the Huskers have had a rough go of it in 2015 as the Mike Riley era is off to a very rocky start. Nebraska (2-3) led this game 10-0 at halftime and appeared to be on their way to a comfortable, if unconvincing, road win. However, Illinois (4-1) was able to notch a pair of fourth-quarter passing touchdowns (including the game-winner with 10 seconds remaining) to steal the win and begin conference play with a victory.
Wes Lunt threw 23 of 45 for 251 yards and two touchdowns while Ke’Shawn Vaughn led the ground game with 98 rushing yards. Tommy Armstrong struggled for the Huskers, going only 10 for 31 for 105 yards. Nebraska fired Bo Pelini because of his grating temper and sideline demeanor and lack of results they felt were good enough (meaning nine wins isn’t good enough). The absolute best Mike Riley can now manage in his first season? You guessed it, nine victories.
(1)Ohio State -34 at Indiana – 27
Hoosier Huddle has a lot of great content on this thrilling game. Despite the Hoosiers first defeat of the season, IU has to feel good about their ability to hang with the defending national champions and they’ll hope to heal up and build on the performance moving forward. Keep checking Hoosier Huddle for more recap articles and a recap podcast (coming on Monday night).
(22) Michigan – 28 at Maryland - 0
The anticipation of inclement weather caused officials to move this game from primetime to a noon start. Despite the change of time, this game was just about what everyone expected as Michigan (4-1) smothered the Maryland Terrapins (2-3), 28-0. The shutout was the second straight for the Wolverines, the first time they have accomplished back-to-back shutouts since 2000. Caleb Rowe started the game at quarterback for the Terps and he struggled once again, throwing three interceptions and being benched (again) for Daxx Garman. Michigan held Maryland to only 105 yards and a stunning 1 for 18 on third down conversions.
The Wolverines will hope to get leading rusher De’Veon Smith back from a foot injury that kept him out of this blowout victory as they host the undefeated Northwestern Wildcats next Saturday afternoon. As for Maryland, Randy Edsall wouldn’t commit to naming a new starting quarterback but he had this to say after the game, “We’ll be making a change. What direction we go in, we’ll wait and see what happens there.” What direction they go in? Well, the Terps were blasted by West Virginia, shutout by Michigan and now travel to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes. I don’t think the direction they are going in is up.