10 things I’m absolutely overreacting to in the Big Ten after Week 5
It’s easy when you’re overreacting to things to push the envelope a bit on a few topics, but Week 5 in the Big Ten gave us plenty to go nuts over.
Heck, just one game did.
Saturday’s night showdown at Penn State was what college football is all about, and the fact that No. 4 Ohio State snuck out with a 27-26 victory over the No. 9-ranked Nittany Lions completely tipped the balance of power in the Big Ten back to the Buckeyes. Their path to the playoffs is much clearer now, and it shouldn’t have been. Penn State let one slip away, big-time.
Here are 10 things that I am absolutely overreacting to after Week 5:
1. Ohio State was not the best team on the field Saturday night …
There, I said it. Penn State’s Trace McSorley was the better quarterback and the Nittany Lions’ game plan, especially on defense, was spot on early. In a crazed home environment, Penn State was in a position to blow the game open in the first half, and they looked great doing it. And then, they let it get away.
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2. … But the Buckeyes were the most resilient
Where Ohio State gets the most credit is for hanging in there and making the better adjustments. There’s no question that Urban Meyer got the best of James Franklin here. When Ohio State adjusted to a quicker passing game, Penn State was slow to answer and they let the Buckeyes back in the game. It all came down to who would make a big play at the end, and it was Ohio State that did. Franklin overthought that final fourth-down play and it cost them. How he couldn’t let his senior quarterback not make a play there is mind-boggling to me.
3. Penn State QB Trace McSorley deserved a better fate
The kid is something special. He played his heart out Saturday night and should have been able to walk home with a victory. He passed for 286 yards against a great Ohio State defense and ran for 175 yards on 25 carries. Do the math, folks. That’s 461 yards total. It should have been enough for Penn State to win.
4.Going from ‘great’ to ‘elite’ isn’t easy
James Franklin can go a little overboard in press conferences sometimes, but he was exactly right Saturday night. It is very hard to go from great to elite, but the problem here is that Penn State had the chance to do that Saturday night and Franklin didn’t get it done. He’s been great at Penn State — winners of 24 of its past 28 games, and those four losses by a combined eight points — but he’ll have to live with getting outcoached Saturday night. That was a golden opportunity he let slip away.
5. That 13-0 lead should have been 20 or more
Penn State will be kicking themselves for months — or maybe even years — that they didn’t do more with all their opportunities in the first half. Sure, they had a 13-0 lead, but it should have been much, much more. They were inside Ohio State’s 40-yard line four times on their first six drives but only had a 6-0 lead show for it. That gave the Buckeyes hope that they were still in the game. What if it had been 20-o, or even 27-0, in the second quarter? Maybe the Buckeyes pack it in then. Being able to finish drives has to get done better.
6. Michigan’s slow starts are way too frustrating …
It’s bad enough to fall behind 17-0 on the road at Northwestern, but what was even more frustrating was the way it happened for Michigan. Michigan’s defense, allegedly elite, gave up points on three straight possessions to start the game. It was Notre Dame all over again, and this just has to stop. Northwestern started out touchdown, field goal, touchdown on drives of six plays for 56 yards, 10 plays for 37 yards and nine plays for 52 yards. I’m sorry, but elite defenses just don’t let them happen against an inferior opponent.
7. … But their comebacks are impressive
Give Michigan credit for strapping on the chin strap and doing something about it. Michigan’s offense finally got rolling and the defense, smarting a bit, never allowed another point. Give credit to running back Karan Higdon, who got worked hard with his 115 yards on 30 carries, and even more credit to quarterback Shea Patterson, who guided the Wolverines downfield for the winning points in the 20-17 win. The 11-play drive included three completions in three throws by Patterson, and a key 9-yard run by Patterson on third-and-6 to keep the drive alive. Survive and advance, I suppose.
8. Nebraska’s offense did enough to win
Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez is fast becoming one of my favorite freshmen in the Big Ten, because the teenager is one tough kid. Nebraska still hasn’t won a game yet after losing 42-28 to Purdue. but Martinez did his part. He was 25 of 42 passing for 323 yards and ran for another 91 yards. Nebraska needs time to rebuild, but at least they know they have their quarterback for the next couple of years.
9. Purdue is the second-best team in the Big Ten West
Three early losses — by a total of only eight points, by the way — sucked a lot of the emotion out of the Purdue football program, but the Boilers have recovered well and have looked good doing it. To go on the road to Nebraska and win, despite the Cornhuskers’ issues, is a big deal. After Wisconsin, who’s better in the Big Ten West? Iowa might have an argument, but we’ll find out about that soon enough on Nov. 3.
10. Michigan State still isn’t where it needs to be
Sure it was a win, but it really wasn’t all that impressive, beating Central Michigan 31-20. The big four in the Big Ten East? To me, the Spartans are the clear No. 4 right now. They were a preseason No. 11, but we still haven’t seen that out of the Spartans yet. When will it start?