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Conference Corner: Stumbling Saturday

Several Big Ten teams experienced misfortune, some brought it upon themselves,

Big Ten Football Media Days

Several Big Ten teams ran into difficulty this past weekend, partly due to better competition and partly due to self-inflicted mistakes. All in all, it was an eventful weekend for Big Ten teams, when it really should have been a quiet slate of games presenting one last tuneup before the conference schedule starts.

No. 6 Ohio State vs Indiana. This matchup between the Indiana Hoosiers and Ohio State Buckeyes looked close for the first 20 minutes, and then Ohio State remembered how to play football at a high level. The Buckeyes outscored Indiana 23-7 in the second quarter and 21-0 in the third quarter. Josh Fields threw for 3 TDs and ran for another, while both J.K. Dobbins and Master Teague broke 100 yards on the ground and scored TDs. In the end, Ohio State walked away with a 51-10 victory.

No. 21 Maryland vs Temple. In last Thursday’s Weekend Game Guide, I highlighted this Maryland game as one to watch, saying, “After Maryland’s trouncing of Syracuse last week, this game against Temple will offer another data point to help gauge exactly how good Maryland really is this year.” With the Terrapins’ 20-17 loss to Temple, Maryland has some work left to do. Of particular need is their passing game. Josh Jackson went 15-38 (39.5%) for 183 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. That has to be better when the Terps play Penn State next weekend.

Eastern Michigan vs Illinois. While Brandon Peters has looked good to start the season for the Illini, Eastern Michigan’s Mike Glass was the better quarterback in this game. Glass threw for 316 yards and 3 TDs en route to a 34-31 Eastern Michigan win. Illinois fought back from being down 31-17 with 11:24 to tie it up with 1:52 left. But Lovie Smith’s team left too much time on the clock, as Eastern Michigan drove down the field and kicked a short game-winning FG with :03 seconds left on the clock.

Pittsburgh vs No. 13 Penn State. The Pittsburgh Panthers have caused trouble for the Penn State Nittany Lions in recent years, and this was almost another one of those games. Penn State’s offense struggled for much of this game, relying on the defense to salt the game away after the Nittany Lions scored for the final time with 5:55 left in the third quarter. Notably, Penn State’s defense front held Pittsburgh to just 26 yards rushing on 24 carries. In the end, the Nittany Lions walked away with a 17-10 victory.

Georgia Southern vs Minnesota. P.J. Fleck and the Minnesota Golden Gophers need to row the boat a lot harder after this near disaster against the I-had-to-Google-to-make-sure-they-are-FBS Georgia Southern Eagles. The pass game was uninspiring, the run game was awful (1.94 ypc), and they needed a TD with :17 seconds left to salvage a 35-32 win in this game. Minnesota has a bye week before facing Purdue, and they are going to need it.

UNLV vs Northwestern. The Wildcats were a little rusty coming off their bye week, but still did enough to earn a 30-14 win over UNLV. Hunter Johnson turned in a middling performance, going 12-25 for 165 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. Johnson’s redemption was on the ground, where he added 55 yards and another TD. Drake Anderson was a bright spot for Northwestern on offense, rushing for 141 yards and a TD. Northwestern will look to give Michigan State their second loss of the season next week.

Arizona State vs No. 18 Michigan State. The Michigan State Spartans lost to Arizona State, and they lost ugly. Michigan State’s offensive struggles reappeared on Saturday as Brian Lewerke failed to throw a TD pass and the Spartan run game managed just over 3 yards per carry. When they had a chance to force overtime late in the fourth quarter, the Spartans had a field goal taken off the board because they had 12 players on the field. On the attempt after the penalty, Michigan State’s kicker yanked it so hard that he missed by at least the full width of the goal posts. The Spartans lost at home, 10-7.

No. 19 Iowa vs Iowa State. Much like Pittsburgh and Penn State, Iowa and Iowa State is almost always a weird game that ends up being very close—and this was one of those games. Neither team led this game by more than one score, and after a lot of field goals the Hawkeyes came away victorious 18-17.

TCU vs Purdue. On Thursday, I previewed this game between the Purdue Boilermakers and TCU Horned Frogs by saying, “if the Boilermakers can get Elijah Sindelar going, perhaps Purdue can piece together enough defensive stops to pull out a win. If not, things could get ugly for Purdue.” Well, things got ugly for Purdue. The Boilermakers did not get Elijah Sindelar going, in large part because Sindelar did not play. A gametime decision due to a concussion sustained last week, Jeff Brohm held him out and played Jack Plummer instead. Plummer threw 2 INTs en route to a 34-13 loss.

Northern Illinois vs Nebraska. After the close loss to Colorado last week, the Nebraska Cornhuskers had some demons to exercise—and exercise them they did against the Northern Illinois Huskies. Nebraska charged out to a 30-5 halftime lead, and ultimately a 44-8 victory. Adrian Martinez threw for 257 yards and 2 TDs for Nebraska, and added another TD on the ground. Dedrick Mills ran for 116 yards and a TD as well.