Michigan didn’t play on Saturday, neither did Ohio State, but there were a few Big Ten games that could impact the Wolverines at some point this season.
Let’s get to the takeaways from a weird Saturday of football.
Northwestern can bring it, Wisconsin is fading
There were a lot of annoying takes after Michigan narrowly beat the Wildcats in Evanston, coming from behind to win 20-17 after trailing 17-0.
Northwestern beat Purdue to start out the season, they then dropped three games, and have now rattled off four wins in a row, they haven’t lost since Michigan came to town.
The Wildcats beat Michigan State 29-19 at the beginning of October, and dominated Wisconsin yesterday 31-17.
Sitting atop the Big Ten West with a 5-1 conference record, the Wildcats are now surprising the masses and their Big Ten Championship Game hopes can transpire if they beat Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois to finish of the year.
Making Northwestern’s season even more interesting is their upcoming matchup vs Notre Dame. If they somehow beat the Fighting Irish, NW will find themselves in the Top 25.
Head coach Pat Fitzgerald usually has his team playing hard, prepared, and ready to overachieve and surprise any team on a given week.
Penn State is one dimensional, Iowa let them off the hook
The Penn State offense is all about QB Trace McSorley.
McSorley was just 11-of-25 for 167 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. He was also the leading rusher for PSU with 63 yards and 1 TD.
Penn State probably should have lost this game, but the downright atrocious QB play from Nate Stanley spoiled things for Iowa. Stanley had a chance in the waning minutes of the game with goal to go but threw an interception on first and goal on a pass that his tight end wasn’t prepared to receive. Stanley was 18-of-49 for 205 yards and 2 INT’s.
When the final whistle sounded, Penn State won a sloppy game in the rain 30-24.
Penn State’s offensive line looks vulnerable, and McSorley has been erratic when pressured. On the year, McSorley is completing just 54% of his throw, but has only thrown 3 interceptions thus far this season. There aren’t enough quality options at wideout for PSU, which isn’t helping McSoreley’s completion percentage any.
RB Miles Sanders leads PSU with 772 yards rushing, but McSorley isn’t far behind him with 554 yards.
If you stop McSorley and don’t commit turnovers on offense, you should win the game.
Penn State isn’t elite, but they’re good, the thing is they just don’t have enough talent as a whole to duplicate the success of 2016 and 2017. Losing Saquon Barkley and DaSean Hamilton, as well as their offensive coordinator were all big blows.
Purdue vs MSU made things confusing
Michigan destroyed MSU last week.
Purdue annihilated Ohio State last week.
Purdue and MSU proceeded to have a dog fight of a game in East Lansing that ended with Sparty winning 23-13.
MSU QB Rocky Lombardi had a solid first start filling in for the injured Brian Lewerke, going 26-of-46 for 318 yards and 2 TD’s.
Purdue QB David Blough didn’t have a good day, tossing three interceptions.
The Boilermakers passed 49 times and rushed only 10 times in what was a close game until the last couple minutes of the 4th quarter. The gameplan didn’t work out for Purdue.
It was a good bounce back win for MSU, it wasn’t a surprising outcome, but it was equally surprising that Purdue’s offense played bad considering how great they fared against the Buckeyes.
OSU will regroup for the stretch run or they’ll give up on the season
Make no mistake, losing to Purdue 49-20 was embarrassing for the Buckeyes.
All week there have been takes saying they feel this will be Urban Meyer’s last season at OSU. Don’t underestimate how outside noise can impact a season. Players aren’t immune from the negative chatter, and it’s fair to raise the thought that the off-field controversies that got Meyer suspended for part of the season have alienated him from a chunk of the locker room.
The Buckeyes had a bye on Saturday, but the rest of their schedule includes Nebraska, Michigan State, Maryland, and Michigan.
The loss to Purdue may have been a minor speed-bump, or it may have exposed OSU. We are going to find out shortly.