Posted on: October 10, 2011 5:30 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 5:41 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Illinois scored six touchdowns in its 41-20 victory over Indiana last week, and the math majors among us know that typically, six TDs is 42 points. But Illinois didn't biff an extra point; it went for two with a 20-13 lead, and the attempt failed. We predicted at the time that Ron Zook's decision to go for two would be "scrutinized," which is really just code for "elicit swear-word filled Tweets from bewildered Illini fans," and that's what happened.
Zook was asked about the conversion attempt, and his response was certainly honest, because it's never the type of response you'd want to make up: according to the Chicago Sun-Times, Zook plain lost track of the score.
"We were down five, right? Up five, I mean," Zook said. "It was 20-13? Up seven? Maybe I didn’t know what the score was. That’s happened to me before. It’s usually when we’re behind. [This will] give you something to pound us about.’’
First of all: WHAT.
Second of all: Okay, the score was 14-13 before Illinois scored its touchdown, so perhaps Zook had a momentary fit of senility and thought his team had been the one with 13 points. That happens, even to very smart people. Except, here's the thing: Zook also has an entire staff of assistant coaches, and unless they were all mistaken about the score, those guys missed two opportunities to tell him the Illini were up by seven, not five.
After Illinois scored its touchdown, Indiana coach Kevin Wilson sent out his kick block team, because, well, duh. So when Zook trotted out his offense, Wilson was forced to call his last timeout of the half. It seemed like a brilliant ploy by Zook to get Indiana out of timeouts before the end of the half even came into play. And yet, on went that two-point team again, after the timeout when everybody on the Illinois sideline could reevaluate the situation -- or, at the very least, glance at the scoreboard.
Anyway, the conversion attempt obviously failed* and Illinois had only a seven-point lead. That didn't end up affecting the endgame, but if it did, hoo boy; mental errors are a great way for a coach to get right back on the hot seat.
*I'd love to see data on how often two-point conversions succeed in the first three quarters as opposed to the fourth. My hypothesis is that they're wildly unsuccessful early in the game, but that's just a guess. Get on that data right away, SCIENCE.
Posted on: October 10, 2011 3:19 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 5:20 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Each week, the CBSSports.com college football staff offer their choice for the week's Expert Picks. But before we make our selections for Week 7, we spin the wheel o' games to select a handful of contests we want your take on. You can see the results of the voting each Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on Inside College Football, which airs on CBS Sports Network.
We've got eight pretty interesting games for you to choose from this week, including Texas having to rebound from its loss against Oklahoma with a game against Oklahoma State. There's also the battle for the state of Michigan between the Spartans and the Wolverines, Arizona State looking to make a major statement against Oregon, and Florida facing what could be a must-win against Auburn.
So, dear readers, who do you like?
Posted on: October 10, 2011 2:51 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 2:54 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Big Ten fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.
This is right where I've got the Badgers, both in terms of resume and power. I'm more of a power guy when it comes to these rankings -- I think squabbling over the minutiae of Team X's non-conference opponents and Team Y's non-conference opponents and how those other teams have fared over the course of the season is of secondary importance to whether Team X can beat Team Y straight up -- but in terms of resume strength, Wisconsin's win over Nebraska is looking better and better than Oklahoma dispatching Florida State. Also I'm head over heels for Russell Wilson. But! I still think Oklahoma would beat Wisconsin, which is what matters, so let's keep the Badgers at 4 here and nobody has a valid gripe.
The Wolverines passed their first road test with a 42-24 comeback win over Northwestern. Denard Robinson threw for over 300 yards and ran 25 times for over 100 more, but he also had to miss some time after taking a big hit. Robinson also threw three picks in the first half (though, to be fair, none in the second). Both of those could be troubling indicators for the rest of the season, considering the problems Robinson has had with both turnovers and injuries over his career. At any rate, I still don't have Michigan this high, but if UM goes to Michigan State and picks up a win there, it'll have earned a Top 10 spot. This should be a great game to watch this week.
On one hand: that was an impressive comeback win for the Cornhuskers over Ohio State. On the other hand: still no victories over ranked opponents, and the comeback probably doesn't happen if Joe Bauserman doesn't go all JOE BAUSERMANNNNN on the unsuspecting Nebraska fans eight rows up on every pass play. So I'm still not sold on Nebraska, but once you get past the Top 10 or so, college football is such a mess that it's all right if Nebraska's ranked here. I suppose.
But if we're really being honest, it's probably Illinois and not Nebraska who deserves that spot at No. 14, because not only are the Illini undefeated, they've got the best win of the two teams with a comeback victory against Arizona State (currently ranked 18th or 20th, depending on which poll you trust, and if you trust the coaches poll I hate you). We'll have our first good point of comparison to make between the Illini and Huskers this week, as Ohio State comes to Champaign. If Illinois handles OSU with any measure of ease, it'll be time to start giving them a real push up the polls, and that ought to include jumping Nebraska.
23/19. Michigan State
I haven't found any stats on it, but Michigan State must have crushed Brigham Young East last week (I assume that's what the "BYE" on the Spartans' schedule stands for), because MSU made a nice little jump in both polls this week. I'm not high on MSU and haven't been since Notre Dame swallowed up that vaunted rushing attack back in Week 3. Redemption could come on Saturday when Michigan visits Spartan Stadium, and if Michigan State picks up the win, it'll probably deserve a spot in the rankings, right around here.
NR/25. Penn State
In this week's edition of The Coaches Poll Needs To Be Dumped In That Woodchipper From Fargo, we have Penn State being ranked 25th in the coaches poll. 24th in that poll? Baylor. Baylor! Baylor would destroy Penn State. Nobody who's participating in the coaches poll actually watches Penn State, clearly, they just see a Big Ten team at 5-1 and figure it's time to rank that team. No no no no. PSU had a nice win last Saturday beating Iowa 13-3, but that wasn't a Top 25 performance by any stretch, and nothing from the rest of Penn State's season (including squeakers against Temple and Indiana) indicates otherwise. In the AP poll, where the voters actually watch the games, Penn State is 30th. That's not even close! Why can't the world just ignore the coaches poll and why does the BCS have to factor it into its rankings argggghhhhhh
Also receiving votes:
Penn State (22 AP votes)
Posted on: October 10, 2011 9:36 am
Edited on: October 10, 2011 4:44 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
There wasn't a particularly appetizing slate of college football games this week. Sure there was the Red River Shootout Beatdown Blowout Rivalry and a few other entertaining match ups but there truly was not a must watch game from kickoff to the final whistle most of the day. AP Top 25 teams in week 6 won by an average of 24.8 points, with Florida State being the lone upset to an unranked team.
It was another good week of college football, don't get me wrong, but the drama was a bit lacking until late Saturday night when Ohio State-Nebraska took the stage down in Lincoln. The game itself was nothing to write home about in terms of style points but it made up for it in second half theatrics. Taylor Martinez helped lead the storied program's biggest comeback ever, from down 21 points, with three scores, 102 yards rushing and an efficient 191 yards on 16 of 22 passing.
When I watched OSU against Miami, I saw a team that was half a step slower than the Hurricanes and looked like they were going through their first spring practice execution-wise. They were a solid Big Ten team but one who just couldn't execute like previous years. It was much different from when my colleague Gregg Doyel watched the Buckeyes in their opener in early September. There was a sense of relief then after a tumultuous offseason and, just as important to the OSU faithful, hope that they would be ok until most of the 'Buckeye Five' returned from their suspensions. Luke Fickell was a coach to believe in and this was a team that still had seemed to have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, according to Doyel:
It was Akron, so who really can say, but what the heck -- I'll go ahead and say it:Well, that was Akron and things certainly have changed since Doyel wrote that column (one he'd love to have back, I'm sure), including the step up in competition with Nebraska. Granted this isn't your father's Cornhuskers team. They're 46th in total offense and, even more surprising with the Pelini brothers patrolling the sidelines, 59th in total defense. They got whacked by Wisconsin and have flirted with several close games before putting inferior opponents away late. They are no Akron but they're not a top 10 team either.
The Buckeyes looked like they were on their way to a win Saturday by a surprising margin, ruining the Big Ten debut of Memorial Stadium. Things weren't going great but they were at least good. Freshman Braxton Miller looked comfortable running the offense, making plays with his feet and doing plenty to stake the team to a 27-6 lead in the 3rd. After the offense had looked pitiful against Miami and Michigan State the previous two weeks, there were signs of life for the scarlet and gray. With about five minutes left in the third quarter, Ohio State led 27-13 and had rolled up 312 yards of offense.
Then Miller sprained his ankle and all hell seemed to break lose.
"I'd like to say no," tight end Reid Fragel told the Cleveland Plain Dealer when asked if Miller's absence affected the whole team, "but it's one of those things at the back of everybody's mind. I'd like to say no, but at the same time, everybody cares about our quarterback and was kind of worried about him."
Senior Joe Bauserman came on to replace him and went 1 of 10 for 13 yards while the team as a whole had just 39 yards of offense the rest of the game. The Buckeyes went from grabbing an uplifting win on the road to a devastating loss; from a good team to mediocre to bad in a span of about 20 minutes of game time. There were mistakes in every phase of the game and at every level. Execution was lacking and any playmakers on the team seemed to be sitting on the bench drinking Gatorade.
Who deserves blame for it? Well there's plenty to go around. Bauserman, certainly, for the interception and stagnant offense. The defense too, for allowing Nebraska to rush for nearly 200 yards in the second half after holding them to just 37 in the first half. Many OSU fans are quick to blame offensive coordinator Jim Bollman and he rightfully deserves the lion's share for one reason: he didn't have a game plan for Bauserman. At all. He bet big on Miller and when it came time for Bauserman to take over at a key point in the game, Bollman seemed to panic and out-think himself.
What makes it interesting is that Bauserman was at one time the starter and he's played in every game this year. You'd think they would adjust the play calling so that he could nurse the lead and allow the senior to manage the game. Following Miller's injury, there were eight rushes and 10 passes, one of which was intercepted.
"No, Joe is not as mobile," Fickell said after the game. "We have to do a better job of putting him in situations he can handle a little better."
"The floodgates kind of opened and we started to panic a little bit and we never got ourselves back on track."
Those are not the words of a head coach. Jim Tressel - despite his compliance issues - was a terrific head coach because he had everybody buy in to what he was doing. More importantly, he knew what he was doing.
Fickell, a Buckeye through and through, seems to be in over his head and the inexperience really came through Saturday. There are plenty of people rooting for him to succeed but there's a reason why so many other names have been mentioned as the head coach of the team in 2012. Fickell has been thrown into the fire, a very hot one, and is doing the best that he can. Knowing how to manage a program, especially one like this, is not something many know how to do. It takes time and it takes a very good coach, one who is in control of everything and knows just what button to push at the right time. At this point in the season, it's hard to say Fickell has total control nor knows what to do. It's unfortunate but it's also life.
Ohio State's 3-3 with six games left, four of which they'll likely be decided underdogs. A bowl game is probably still likely but the program seems like it's adrift and capable of falling off the cliff if the staff isn't careful.
"You've got to rely on some guys," Fickell said. "And it's about leadership. But I don't know. That's what we're going to have to really look back at."
The leadership has to come from Fickell and the upperclassmen on the team, it shouldn't be 'I don't know' coming from the head coach or something that they'll 'have to look at.' There will be a lot of soul-searching going on in Columbus this week as well as some growing up for Fickell and company.
Stat of the week
According to the Associated Press, the state of Florida has been shut out of the AP poll for the first time since December 6, 1982. Not just the big three of Florida, Florida State and Miami, the entire state. There's just one California team (7. Stanford) and four from the state of Texas (20. Baylor, 21. Texas A&M, 22. Texas, 25. Houston).
Stats of the week
- Florida's loss to LSU was the worst loss for the program since 1996.
- Texas A&M is ranked in the top 25 but feature the nation's worst pass defense at 347.6 yards per game. They're behind Kansas and UNLV who have three wins between them.
- There were five SEC conference games and the winning quarterbacks had a combined 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
- Mark Richt earned his 100th win at Georgia and has a 100-36 overall record with the program.
- 27 players across the country are averaging over 100 yards rushing per game. Last year, just 19 finished with an average over the century mark.
- Arizona's Nick Foles leads the country in completions per game, is third in yards per game, second in total yards, fourth in total offense and has a 5-1 touchdown to interception ratio. Yet his team is 1-5 because the defense is 115th in total defense, 117th in scoring defense and second to last in the country in sacks.
- With a touchdown catch against Texas, Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles is the active leader in career receiving touchdowns with 10 more than the next guy, Notre Dame's Michael Floyd.
- Surprisingly Illinois is tied for the nation's third longest winning streak at seven games. Stanford has the longest (13) followed by Oklahoma (10). Alabama and LSU both have seven game streaks as well but obviously will play each other in November. New Mexico and Florida Atlantic have the longest losing streaks at eight games, while Memphis has lost 15 straight in conference.
- The Pac-12 leads the country in passing and has 31 more passing touchdowns than any other conference (153 total). The Big Ten leads the country in rushing and has 11 more rushing touchdowns than any other conference.
- UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel improved to 9-0 against Washington State at three different schools (Colorado, Washington, UCLA). One of the wins came as a non-conference win while at Colorado. With eight wins in conference play, that would mean 25% of Neuheisel's Pac-12 conference victories have come at the expense of the Cougars.
- According to the Big Ten Network, every time Michigan has started 6-0, they've gone to the Rose Bowl.
- There was plenty of Boomer Sooner at the Cotton Bowl this weekend, enough to cause Bevo to turn away from the field of play so he didn't have to see anymore of the Longhorns. Most saw Texas as overrated, moving into the top 10 largely because they hadn't lost and because they're, well, Texas. They had some momentum coming into the game and thought they had a solid backfield that would be able to make a few plays in Bryan Harsin's offense. Nope. The story of the game wasn't Oklahoma's potent offense, but its spectacular defense that had a coming out party and reminding everyone that though they might not be Alabama or LSU's, they are still pretty good. The Sooners set six defensive school records against the Horns, including eight sacks. Final score: Oklahoma's offense 34, Oklahoma defense 21, Texas 17.
- It really didn't matter what true freshman quarterback took snaps under center for Florida, they were getting fed to the wolves. Or at least one Honey Badger, who picked off starter Jacoby Brissett's deep pass in the third quarter. It's rare for LSU to have the advantage at the quarterback position but it was pretty clear they had the advantage at just about every position in their 41-11 rout at home. The Gators have issues but they're still a solid football that's just trying to find some footing. The Tigers, meanwhile, look like they used the weekend to tune up every phase of their game, controlling throughout and limiting their opponent to 2 of 11 on third down and 213 total yards. The lasting images of the game might have come from a punter and a back up quarterback. Much-maligned quarterback Jordan Jefferson threw a touchdown pass in a manner Florida fans are quite familiar with - a jump pass near the goal line. Brad Wing became an overnight sensation after faking a punt and taking it 52 yards to the house late in the first. Wing, however, raised his arms slightly before crossing the goal line and drew an unsportsmanlike conduct flag that took the points off the board. That was about the only thing that went wrong all day for Les Miles' crew.
"We showed everybody that we are capable of some special things against a really good Florida team," said Tigers defensive end Sam Montgomery. "I want more. I want a National Championship. I want to play the best ever."
- Virginia Tech just doesn't lose back-to-back games at home under Frank Beamer. Perhaps it's the 'Enter Sandman' music the PA announcer puts on late in games but there's not much you can do to stop the Hokies. Miami thought they did thanks to Lamar Miller, who broke off several big runs in the fourth quarter before catching a throwback pass for a touchdown to pull the Hurricanes to within three. He gave them the lead with a 30 yard run late in the game before Tech quarterback Logan Thomas said 'Sorry, I'll take that' on an option on fourth-and-one to scamper 19 yards for the game-winning score. The comeback by Thomas capped an overall great day for him, going 23 of 25 for 310 yards and three touchdowns.
- Staying in the ACC, the surprise team in the league might be Georgia Tech, not Clemson. The 6-0 Yellow Jackets held off a late charge from Maryland after building a 21-3 lead going into the fourth. "They whipped our tail pretty good in the end," Tech coach Bobby Johnson said. Still, his squad is undefeated and among the top 10 in a good number of offensive categories. The passing game wasn't there against the Terrapins like it was in previous games but they still managed to eek out a victory. By the way, it's ok if you missed watching this game on account of Maryland's uniform combination, which featured mustard yellow pants.
- Arizona State has finally started to live up to expectations while Utah hasn't even come close to them. The Sun Devils defense forced three straight turnovers at one point in the third quarter, quick enough that quarterback Brock Osweiler couldn't even get his jersey cleaned in time. "They were cleaning it one second and the next second it was, 'Hey, you got to go,"' he said. "But that's a credit to our defense. They were staying focused, playing with a lot of intensity, creating turnovers." As sharp as the defense has looked the past few games, the offense has shown off an explosive side as well, scoring 18 straight points in four minutes. Dennis Erickson's squad also won a road game, big because they have a showdown and possible championship game preview with Oregon this week. For the Utes, we all worried about the grind of a BCS conference and it does seem like they're wearing down in the second half of games after starting relativly strong. Of course, it helps to have a healthy quarterback but they just haven't had one as Jordan Wynn missed yet another game. They've lost six of their last 10 and need to do something against the back half of their conference schedule to make a bowl.
- Remember when Florida State was fifth in the country and everybody was whispering they were back? Me neither. The only ranked team to lose to an unranked foe, the Seminoles had their issues with Wake Forest. After a previously injured E.J. Manuel returned in the second quarter to replace starter Clint Trickett, he threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Greene and many expected FSU to start moving from there. Wake running back Josh Harris had other ideas, breaking off big run after big run on his way to 136 yards and an upset. The Demon Deacons have now won four straight and are undefeated in ACC play even if they are flying under most people's radar. Wake has only five wins against Florida State all-time but have won four of them since 2006 and four of the last six.
- On one hand, it was Kentucky. On the other hand, it was an impressive showing by South Carolina. Steve Spurrier made a change at quarterback and Connor Shaw paid off as the Gamecocks had more yards on offense since the Old Ball Coach started calling plays in Columbia. The 54-3 win was also South Carolina's biggest victory since joining the SEC, thanks in large part to the sharp play of Shaw, who went 26 of 39 for 311 yards and four touchdowns. About the only one who didn't score was running back Marcus Lattimore.
"That #11 ranking was such a farce. If Texas had Complete Scouting Services they wouldn't lose to OU so bad."
- Infamous recruiting scout Willie Lyles.
Like the AP poll, my top 10 does not change.
4. Boise State
7. Oklahoma State
10. Georgia Tech
Where we'll be this week
Mr. College Football Tony Barnhart will see if Connor Shaw is the real deal as South Carolina heads to Starkvegas to play Mississippi State. Dennis Dodd will take in the sights and sounds of Knoxville as LSU plays Tennessee. Brett McMurphy will see if Texas shows any improvement as they host Oklahoma State while Bruce Feldman will head to the Pacific Northwest to see a possible Pac-12 Championship Game preview with Arizona State and Oregon.
Leaning this way
Michigan at Michigan State
Anything can happen in rivalry games and it would certainly make the Spartans' season if they pulled off an upset of Big Blue and a top 10 team. Mark Dantonio has had a bye week to help prepare to stop Denard Robinson but Michigan's improved defense will be enough to help squeak by in a close game in East Lansing.
Oklahoma State at Texas
Those 55 points Oklahoma scored? Oklahoma State had that by halftime last week. The young Texas defense will have their hands full again this week with what might be an even better passing offense. The defense for the Cowboys is nothing special so the Horns should be able to put up some points of their own but there's just too many weapons for Brandon Weeden to keep it close.
Arizona State at Oregon
Dennis Erickson's squad got a road win and have been playing as well as anyone on defense the past couple of weeks. They've been forcing turnovers left and right and will need to continue that if they're to have a shot against the Ducks. LaMichael James won't play but the offense is still potent with Kenjon Barner and DeAnthony Thomas coming out of the backfield. This could be a championship game preview and Oregon wins thanks to another big second half.
Tags: ACC, Akron, Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Bobby Johnson, Boise State, Brandon Weeden, Braxton Miller, Brett McMurphy, Brock Osweiler, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, Buckeye Five, Celmson, Clint Trickett, Colorado, Connor Shaw, Cotton Bowl, DeAnthony Thomas, Denard Robinson, Dennis Dodd, Dennis Erickson, E.J. Manuel, FAU, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Gregg Doyel, Houston, Illinois, Jacoby Brissett, Jim Bollman, Jim Tressel, Joe Bauserman, Jordan Jefferson, Jordan Wynn, Josh Harris, Kansas, Kenjon Barner, Kentucky, Lamar Miller, LaMichael James, LSU, Luke Fickell, Marcus Lattimore, Mark Dantonio, Mark Richt, Maryland, Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Miami, Michael Floyd, Michigan, Mississippi State, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nick Foles, Non-BCS, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-12, Rashad Greene, Red River Rivalry, Reid Fragel, Rick Neuheisel, Rose Bowl, Ryan Broyles, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Steve Spurrier, Taylor Martinez, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Oklahoma, Tony Barnhart, UCLA, UNLV, Utah, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Washington, Washington STate, Willie Lyles, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 9, 2011 11:15 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 2:35 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
How bad was Joe Bauserman's evening in Ohio State's choke job at Nebraska? So bad that I saw this possibly facetious "Joe Bauserman Passing Chart" tweeted by OSU partisans @ElevenWarriors...
...and the biggest gripe I had was, "come on, don't try to act like he actually completed three passes."
Yep, Bauserman was 1-10 for 13 yards, and as this chart hilariously overemphasizes, he put a lot of balls in the seats whenever his first read wasn't open. Sure, that's the safe play -- and that's also a great way to blow a double-digit lead, which is exactly what Ohio State did once Bauserman was forced into action.
There's still no word on the status of Braxton Miller's ankle, so Bauserman may have to start at No. 16 Illinois this week. If that happens, here's to hoping Bauserman keeps more of his pass attempts at least in the field of play.
Posted on: October 9, 2011 5:00 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.
WINNER: Nebraska's season
Ignore the fact that 4-2, all things considered, isn't a terrible record; for No. 14 Nebraska, dropping the Ohio State game would have been a backbreaker for a season that started with realistic Rose Bowl aspirations -- especially with OSU looking like an unusually easy victory coming into Saturday. Instead, the Buckeyes opened up a 27-6 lead and seemed to be putting the final nail in the coffin of Nebraska's reputation as a Big Ten contender before the Huskers pulled off their largest comeback in program history on the back of Rex Burkhead (pictured above, finding plenty of comfort in the middle of OSU's rush defense). Now the Huskers are 5-1, and more importantly, only have one loss on their Big Ten slate instead of starting out 0-2. This season still might not end up in the Rose Bowl -- in fact it probably won't -- but sheerly by dodging the bullet on Saturday, Nebraska was a big, big winner.
LOSER: Joe Bauserman, yet again
It's not entirely fair to pin Ohio State's collapse on Joe Bauserman; the backup QB came into the game in the second half cold, and Nebraska had already begun its fight back at that point. And yet, the score was 27-13 OSU when Bauserman came in for an injured Braxton Miller on a 3rd and 8, and the score was 34-27 Nebraska by the time Bauserman put the finishing touches on his 1-10, 17-yard, 1 INT magnum opus. In the last four weeks -- the only games in which OSU has faced BCS conference competition this season -- Bauserman's stats are a terrifying 12-40, 144 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. That's a 63.49 passer rating, which is reprehensible. Oh, and not only is Bauserman going to play for as long as Braxton Miller's hurt, he's also the quarterback Luke Fickell tabbed to start the season for the Buckeyes. Enjoy, OSU!
WINNER: Do-everything QBs in the Big Ten
Nathan Scheelhaase, Taylor Martinez, and Denard Robinson may all be vying for the Second Team All-Big Ten role behind Wisconsin dreamboat Russell Wilson, but all three QBs put on an absolute show on Saturday. Scheelhaase had 210 yards passing, 88 yards rushing, and 4 combined TDs for Illinois in a win at Indiana. Martinez had his best passing performance of the year against a tough Ohio State defense, going 16-22 for 192 yards passing and rushing for 102 more yards; he accounted for three of Nebraska's four TDs. Robinson's numbers were the gaudiest: 325 yards passing, 117 yards on 25 rushes, and four total TDs in Michigan's 42-24 win over Northwestern. Even Braxton Miller had 95 yards passing and 91 yards rushing before he was forced to leave the game. Conference play will sort out this hierarchy, but it's fantastic to see such a breadth of dynamic talent at QB.
LOSER: Timid 4th down playcallers
Indiana kicked a field goal on 4th and goal from the 3 with a 4-point deficit. Iowa punted from Penn State's 33-yard line down 6-3. Ohio State punted from Nebraska's 32-yard line with a late 27-20 lead. What do all these decisions have in common? They were all unnecessarily conservative, and they all backfired. Indiana immediately gave up a touchdown drive, Iowa's punt led to a 90-yard Penn State drive that mercifully ended in an end zone interception (but still wore down the Iowa defense), and Ohio State would never see its lead again after Nebraska responded with a touchdown drive. Yes, the field position is important, but the points battle is the real one that matters, and all three of these teams did themselves a disservice by not even attempting to maximize their opportunities.
WINNER: Penn State's defense
In a stat that will undoubtedly become a trivial relic by the end of the season, Iowa came into this week's game against Penn State with the Big Ten's most prolific passing attack, averaging 281 yards a game under QB James Vandenberg. Penn State bottled that attack up beautifully, limiting Vandenberg to 169 yards on 17/34 passing with two interceptions and a lost fumble on a sack. More importantly, the Nittany Lions allowed only a field goal in a 13-3 victory. delighting a partisan PSU crowd that was hungry for a Penn State win over the nemesis Hawkeyes.
LOSER: Rob Bolden Fan Club president Joe Paterno
There is truly no reason for Rob Bolden to be starting anymore, yet start he does, week in and week out. Bolden's passer efficiency is out of the NCAA's top 100; Matt McGloin's was 42nd nationwide coming into the game. McGloin was far better against Iowa, hitting pass after pass in tight windows while Bolden's best gains came on tipped balls -- his biggest completion ricocheted off of an unsuspecting referee's leg, for crying out loud. Nobody at Penn State outside of the coaching staff knows why Bolden plays so much, yet he does, and he's probably going to ride his 3/7, 31 yard performance to another starting week unless Joe Paterno puts an end to this farce of a quarterback battle and just gives the job to McGloin already.
WINNER: Ron Zook's mojo
Imagine, if you will: Team X is ranked and undefeated, and playing at outmatched-but-feisty Team Y. Team Y takes the opening kick to the house, then makes a stop and turns it into a field goal for a 10-0 lead. At this point, one would assume that if Team X had a good coach, he would have his charges weather this storm and not panic, and if Team X's coach was a raving lunatic, then this was an upset in the making. Well, Team X is obviously Illinois, Team Y is obviously Indiana, the Team X head coach is obviously Ron Zook, and his team responded admirably to the adversity by turning the game into a 41-20 rout. Illinois is now 6-0. It could be 9-0 heading into the Michigan game. Ron Zook is doing all this. This is the reality you must accept.
LOSER: Whoever had to watch Minnesota-Purdue
One Husker blogger tabbed this matchup "the game that fun forgot" on Saturday morning, and while that's not a fair assessment of a game that ends up featuing 62 points scored, it's not quite that far off from this game either. Now. Purdue is not good at football. Not even in a young and sneaky and what if they put it all together sense. Just not good. Purdue also opened up a 45-3 lead on Minnesota en route to a 45-17 win, and we're left to wonder just what level of football the Gophers actually belong in (hint: not FBS!). And yet, there were still only 589 total yards combined in this game; even the PSU-Iowa eye-clawer, by comparison, had 648 total yards from scrimmage. Purdue and Minnesota can't even put on a blowout correctly! Just a mess all the way through here, and there are probably plenty more such messes that await fans of both these teams this season.
Tags: Adam Jacobi, Big Ten, Braxton Miller, Denard Robinson, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, James Vandenberg, Joe Bauserman, Joe Paterno, Luke Fickell, Matt McGloin, Michigan, Minnesota, Nathan Scheelhaase, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rex Burkhead, Rob Bolden, Ron Zook, Russell Wilson, Taylor Martinez, Taylor Martinez, Week 6, What I Learned, Winners and Losers, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 8, 2011 6:14 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 6:16 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
ILLINOIS WON. 19th-ranked Illinois spotted Indiana an early 10-0 lead, then overpowered the Hoosiers en route to an easy 41-20 victory.
WHY ILLINOIS WON: Indiana has a crippling dearth of talent on the defensive side of the ball, and that was evident today as Illinois racked up 523 yards of offense in a balanced attack, overwhelming the Hoosiers over the course of the game. Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns in the winning effort, and he also rushed for 88 yards and another score. Indiana simply had no answer for Scheelhaase on Saturday.
WHEN ILLINOIS WON: On a 4th and goal from the 3 yard line and having just seen its lead turn into a 14-10 deficit, Indiana trotted out kicker Mitch Ewald for the chip shot field goal. It was good, Illinois maintained its lead, and the Hoosiers were never heard from again.
WHAT ILLINOIS WON: The Illini are now bowl eligible, running their record to 6-0 on the season heading into a key matchup with Ohio State next week. It also has a claim on the best QB-WR combo in the conference with the Nathan Scheelhaase-A.J. Jenkins tandem running wild on the competition. And the defense? Not too shabby. Yep, Ron Zook's having a two-thumbs-up season all around, and he's not afraid to tell the world about it.
WHAT INDIANA LOST: This wasn't really a winnable game for Indiana, all things considered; the Hoosiers just don't have that kind of talent yet. At the very least, though, it got to experience life with a lead in Big Ten play -- and to see what kind of effort it takes to maintain that lead against an offensive attack like the Illini's. So this was more of a "teaching moment" than a moral victory -- as if such a thing could exist in a 21-point loss.
THAT WAS CRAZY: Scheelhaase completed 12 passes: six to Jenkins, six to the rest of the team. Jenkins' six catches were for 182 yards and two scores; the rest of the team managed 28 yards and one score. A.J. Jenkins IS the Illinois downfield attack, and he's awfully good at his job.
Posted on: October 8, 2011 11:48 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The sun is out, the leaves are brilliant, the wind is crisp, the days are warm, and the nights are cool. You can call it "autumn," but it's really football season. Mild weather and sunshine abound today, so by all means enjoy; this might be the best weekend of weather all year. All times are eastern.
Maryland at No. 12 Georgia Tech, 12:00, Atlanta, GA: Mid 70s, clear
Connecticut at No. 16 West Virginia, 12:00, Morgantown, WV: Lower 70s, clear
No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 11 Texas, 12:00, Dallas, TX (Cotton Bowl): Lower 80s, partly cloudy, storms
Kentucky at No. 18 South Carolina, 12:20, Columbia, SC: Mid 70s, clear
No. 23 Florida State at Wake Forest, 12:30, Winston-Salem, NC: Upper 60s, clear
No. 19 Illinois at Indiana, 2:30, Bloomington, IN: Low 80s, clear
Boston College at No. 8 Clemson, 3:00, Clemson, SC: Upper 70s, clear
Miami at No. 21 Virginia Tech, 3:30, Blacksburg, VA: Low 70s, clear
Missouri at No. 20 Kansas State, 3:30, Manhattan, KS: Mid 80s, partly cloudy, storms
Kansas at No. 6 Oklahoma State, 3:30, Stillwater, OK: Low 80s, partly cloudy, storms
No. 22 Arizona State at Utah, 3:30, Salt Lake City, UT: Low 50s, mostly cloudy
No. 17 Florida at No. 1 LSU, 7:00, Baton Rouge, LA: Upper 70s, partly cloudy
Vanderbilt at No. 2 Alabama, 7:00, Tuscaloosa, AL: Mid 70s, clear
No. 15 Auburn at No. 10 Arkansas, 7:00, Fayetteville, AR: Mid 70s, clear
Iowa State at No. 25 Baylor, 7:00, Waco, TX: Mid 80s, cloudy, storms
No. 12 Michigan at Northwestern, 7:00, Evanston, IL: Upper 60s, clear
No. 24 Texas A&M at Texas Tech, 7:00, Lubbock, TX: Low 70s, cloudy, storms
No. 7 Stanford at Colorado, 7:30, Boulder, CO: Low 40s, cloudy, rain
Ohio State at No. 14 Nebraska, 8:00, Lincoln, NE: Mid 70s, cloudy, storms
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