Buckeyes obliterate Scarlet Knights, 49-7
Welcome back to the J.T. Barrett Show! After playing second fiddle to Cardale Jones for most of the season, Barrett exploded in his first start since last year's iteration of The Game: 13 of 18 passing for 223 yards and three touchdowns coupled with 13 carries for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Needless to say, Ohio dominated this game as Rutgers only had two drives over 44 yards in length. The first - a 12-play, 64-yard drive - opened the game and ended with a missed field goal. The second came on the Scarlet Knights final drive, down 49-0. With Ohio sitting its starters, Rutgers found the endzone after driving 90 yards due to defensive indifference.
Aside from Barrett, Ezekiel Elliott continues to light it up on the ground, rushing for 142 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. In fact, Elliott outran all of Rutgers by 38 yards as the Scarlet Knights struggled to a meager 104 rushing yards on 29 carries. The entire Rutgers offense failed to create anything against the Buckeyes one week removed from hanging 55 on the Hoosiers. Starting quarterback Chris Laviano tossed 117 yards on 10 of 20 passing with one interception, and standout wide receiver Leonte Carroo left the game early after catching just three passes for 55 yards. Overall, Ohio outgained Rutgers on offense 528 yards to 293 - 90 coming on the Scarlet Knights final, meaningless drive - committed zero penalties to Rutgers seven for 55 yards, and basically controlled every aspect of the game.
Note: This game illustrates the meaning of a blowout. Keep that in mind as we move into the next game summary.
Summary in Two Gifs:
Michigan State piles it on late, tops Indiana 52-26
Spartan fans might consider this a "blowout," and on the surface, it appears to be. But with just under five minutes remaining, the score sat at 31-26 Michigan State, albeit with the Spartans having possession at Indiana's 10-yard line. Less than four minutes later, the Spartans had scored three touchdowns to put this one out of reach. So, whatever you want to call this game, it definitely wasn't an easy victory or "blowout" (until the final minutes).
Through the first three frames, each team matched the other's quarterly touchdown output: one each in the first, two in the second, and one in the third. However, Hoosiers kicker Griffen Oakes decided to take a day off, missing two extra points and a field goal in that span. This meant that Michigan State led 28-26 heading into the fourth quarter rather than potentially trailing by a field goal. The Spartans opened the final quarter by capping off a massive time-suck drive - 15 plays, 73 yards, 6:44 - with a field goal to gain a narrow, 31-26 lead. From there, Indiana did nothing but waste almost three and a half minutes with six plays, punted, surrendered a 71-yard touchdown drive that spanned over four minutes, turned the ball over on downs four plays later, gave up another quick touchdown, fumbled the ensuing kickoff, gave up another quick touchdown, and that's the game. Shame, Hoosiers.
For the Spartans, Connor Cook continued to shine, throwing for 398 yards and four touchdowns on 30 of 52 passing. He tore apart the Hoosiers in the fourth quarter, ensuring victory for his Spartans. Love him or hate him, he's a dynamite quarterback and only has two(!) interceptions this season. On the other side, Nate Sudfeld led the charge for Indiana, almost matching Cook with 308 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception on 23 of 37 passing.
Spoils for Sparty: Old Brass Spittoon
Badgers step by Illini, 24-13
Down two running backs and starting quarterback Joel Stave after he suffered a concussion early in the first quarter, Wisconsin seemed ripe for an upset in Champaign on Saturday. Illinois opened the scoring with a field goal after both teams traded punts on the first four drives of the game. Stave left the game on Wisconsin's ensuing drive, but backup Bart Houston took over to cap the drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass. The Badgers added a field goal on their next drive, the Illini countered with the same, and Houston tossed an interception to essentially end the first half.
After trading punts yet again to start the second half, Illini running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn found some daylight, running 36 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. But the Badgers scored on their next two drives, going up 24-13 in the process, and forced turnovers on two of the Illini's final three drives to secure the win.
Fun Fact: Wisconsin held the ball more than two times longer than Illinois (40:09 to 19:51)
Northwestern joins "Eat Your Heart Out Nebraska" Club, wins 30-28
The Wildcats entered this game following back-to-back blowout losses after starting the season 5-0, while the Cornhuskers held a 3-4 record with all four losses coming on their opponent's final offensive play by a combined 11 points. This game didn't end in quite as dramatic fashion, but nevertheless the pain continues to pile up in Nebraska.
The story of the game on offense for Northwestern was doing enough to win. Clayton Thorson's numbers weren't flashy, but like I said, they got the job done: 13 of 28 passing for 177 yards and one touchdown, nine carries for 126 yards and one touchdown. Perhaps most importantly, Thorson and the rest of Northwestern's offense failed to turn the ball over. On the other sideline, Nebraska's offense failed to find consistency behind Tommy Armstrong Jr, even though he accounted for all three Nebraska touchdowns. Armstrong tallied horrible per attempt averages through both the air and on the ground: 6.06 yards per throw and 1.08 yards per carry for a total of 291 yards passing and 13 rushing. However, his biggest error on the day came on this horrific throw that the Wildcats returned 72 yards for a touchdown:
Awful decision here from Nebraska's Tommy Armstrong results in a 72-yard pick six for Northwestern's Nick VanHoose. pic.twitter.com/F9bvhkAIBG— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) October 24, 2015
Even so, the Cornhuskers had a chance to tie the game on a two-point conversion attempt with 4:23 remaining. But the Wildcats tipped Armstrong's pass and proceeded to run out the clock.
Football Lessons with Northwestern:
Don't down the ball at your own three-yard line:
This might happen on the next play (ignore the 4th down graphic):
Nittany Lions hold off the Terps, 31-30
I'm surprised either team held on to the ball long enough to score one touchdown let alone 61 combined points. This
football game ugly comedy of errors featured eight turnovers between Penn State and Maryland. The Terps lived and died - emphasis on died - by the hands of Perry Hillis as Maryland's quarterback accounted for 349 of their 466 offensive yards, two of three touchdowns, and all five of their turnovers. The same can be said for the Nittany Lions. Christian Hackenberg did most of the work for PSU on Saturday, throwing for 315 yards on 13(!) of 29 passing with three touchdowns and no interceptions. That's over 24 yards per completion. That is insane. However, he did fumble the ball near the end of the third quarter, giving the Terps possession in Nittany Lions territory. They proceeded to turn it over on downs.
Aside from both quarterbacks and all the fumbles, the biggest note of the day would be that Maryland bottled up freshman standout Saquon Barkley. Barkley managed just 65 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries after rushing for nearly 200 yards on 26 carries last week against the Buckeyes. Furthermore, adding in sacks and other ball carriers, Penn State rushed for a grand total of 48 yards on 31 carries. This against a Maryland defense giving up somewhere around 175 rushing yards per game. Expect Penn State to rely heavily on Hackenberg when we come to town in a few weeks.
Illinois at Penn State
On the heels of their close victory over Maryland, Penn State will be looking to gain some steam - perhaps by not turning the ball over in bunches - against the mediocre Illini before entering a brutal stretch to finish the season: at Northwestern, Michigan, at Michigan State. As for Illinois, they'll be aiming to inch closer to bowl eligibility after dropping their last two.
Nebraska at Purdue
It wouldn't surprise me if Purdue gets their second win, and first in the B1G, of the season against a hapless Nebraska squad. But I expect the Cornhuskers to take this one in preparation of finding two wins in their final three games - Michigan State, at Rutgers, and Iowa - to go bowling (please beat State).
Rutgers at Wisconsin
Who plays and who does not could have a big impact on this game. Leonte Carroo left early for Rutgers last week, but I think he's expected to play against the Badgers. As for Wisconsin, they lost their starting center for the season last week, and quarterback Joel Stave is still going through concussion protocol. They are pretty banged up overall, but even so, they should be talented enough to top the Scarlet Knights at home.
Maryland at Iowa
Good luck Maryland.