B1G stock report: Turns out Michigan can pass and Indiana cannot
It may be Sunday, but the stock market is open at Saturday Tradition.
This is your weekly recap of the Big Ten’s biggest movers in either direction each given week.
And since we want you to become informed investors, we won’t just recap the obvious — we’ll tell you whether this movement will be permanent, or just a temporary illusion.
1. Iowa’s defense
This is just getting silly.
When Friday’s game started, 105 FBS players had more interceptions than Taulia Tagovailoa (1).
With 12:20 left in the fourth quarter, no FBS players have more interceptions than Taulia Tagovailoa (6).
— Jason Starrett (@starrettjason) October 2, 2021
Buy or sell: Never stop buying.
I thought, quite incorrectly, that Maryland had an explosive enough offense to make things happen against the Hawkeyes. Not exploit them, per se, but create enough big plays to pull off the upset.
It is difficult to figure out which opponent remaining on Iowa’s schedule is capable of doing such a thing. The Hawkeyes are like Robin Hood’s Merry Men — they’ll never stop stealing. Iowa leads the nation with 16 takeaways and it’s going to take an incredibly well-executed game plan to keep the ball away from the Hawkeyes.
2. Cade McNamara
The least-used quarterback in FBS finally got his own number called Saturday, and responded in respectable fashion.
With his team facing a defense capable of taking the teeth out of Michigan’s running game, Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh finally trusted his offense to move the ball through the air. McNamara looked just fine, completing 17 of 28 passes for 197 yards and 2 touchdowns.
— 1st & Goal Podcast 🎙 (@goal_1st) October 2, 2021
Harbaugh also sprinkled in some packages for backup J.J. McCarthy, who completed his only pass for 56 yards.
Buy or sell: Hold.
Michigan was averaging 16.3 pass attempts per game, and no doubt Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard prepared for more of the same.
Now that there is some video of Michigan using a balanced offense, opposing defenses will be ready to see it again. I’m not ready to anoint this as a complete offense until I see how it does against someone who prepared for it. But at least we know Michigan wasn’t keeping McNamara under wraps because he can’t get the ball downfield.
3. Ohio State’s defense
The Buckeye defense has been much maligned this season, and for good reason. They’ve stunk. Ohio State came into the week in the bottom 30 nationally in plays allowed of 10 yards or more as well as red zone touchdown percentage.
A dominant showing at Rutgers provides some hope that the tide might be turning. Rutgers had only turned the ball over once all season heading into Saturday’s game, but OSU picked off Scarlet Knights quarterback Noah Vedral 3 times on Saturday.
Denzel Burke’s first career interception goes for six. pic.twitter.com/5nIhwN8wap
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) October 2, 2021
Buy or sell: Hold until next week.
I think the most likely outcome is that Ohio State’s defense has gained the necessary swag it lacked with consecutive strong showings against Akron and Rutgers. But there’s also a chance it is a bit of an illusion given the quality of those offenses.
We should have a better answer next week, when the Buckeyes face an explosive Maryland offense that is also coming off a turnover-fueled nightmare against Iowa. If they’re truly rebounded, the Bucks will make it two straight ugly weeks for the Terps.
4. Chase Brown
You have to dig beyond the past decade to find most of them, but there have been some truly great players in Illinois football history — particularly at running back.
So it actually means something for sophomore Chase Brown to have the fourth-best rushing performance in Fighting Illini history. Brown rushed for 257 yards and 2 touchdowns to help Illinois snap its 4-game losing streak with a 24-14 win over Charlotte.
— Illinois on BTN (@IllinoisOnBTN) October 2, 2021
Buy or sell: Buy a Chase Brown future.
Brown’s performance seemingly came out of nowhere, as he entered the day 29th in the Big Ten in rushing. But that has more to do with his health than his talent, as he missed games against UTSA and Purdue.
Brown has had some flashes before, gaining 110 yards against Nebraska and 131 against Rutgers in back-to-back games last season.
However, there aren’t any more Charlottes on the Illinois schedule this season. And the pass offense continues to show next to nothing with quarterback Brandon Peters, so opponents will be able to load up the box.
But based on how Bret Bielema likes to build his teams, I’m optimistic that Brown could put together an all-conference season with some better pieces around him next year.
Best way to shake off back-t0-back heartbreaking losses?
Beating the tar out of the next team you see. Nebraska did so Saturday, pounding Northwestern 56-7 — the kind of score you would expect to see if these programs met in the 1970s, but not since they’ve been Big Ten roommates.
— Nebraska Football (@HuskerFBNation) October 3, 2021
Buy or sell: Buy.
If you look around the Big Ten West, Nebraska is a pretty clear No. 2 behind Iowa.
Nebraska’s narrow losses at Oklahoma and Michigan State had potential to define the program for good or bad depending on how the Cornhuskers responded. It took long enough, but I think coach Scott Frost is finally turning a corner, and might turn down the heat underneath his seat.
6. Purdue’s cheerleaders
Play of the year in the Big Ten?
This is INCREDIBLE 😂 pic.twitter.com/SQd41ZPBvN
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 2, 2021
Buy or sell: Buy.
Every bit as fearless as crossing the middle and getting decked by a linebacker. At least receivers have a helmet and pads.
That’s not a swimming pool. That landing is still mostly ground, and the ground hurts. Also: I can promise you that water is not clean. At all. There was 4 minutes of game time left when this happened, so it’s not like she was getting clean any time soon.
I’m all-in on the Purdue cheerleading squad — unless it’s revealed that Purdue Pete is actually a creepy cult leader making them belly-flop into puddles. Which… is possible.
7. Paul Chryst
Every once in awhile, you need to be reminded that Paul Chryst came up through the ranks as an offensive coordinator. And still is an offensive coordinator. That’s not good.
Last year’s 3-3 regular season for Wisconsin was written off by most as a weird combination of COVID-19 and injuries that should not be viewed with a wide-angle lens.
But now the Badgers, a near-universal pick to win the Big Ten West, are 1-3 for the first time since 1990. That’s a somewhat ironic factoid — this weekend Wisconsin announced it will name the field at Camp Randall Stadium after Barry Alvarez, and this is their worst start since his first season.
Buy or sell: Sell.
It’s not yet time for a full-fledged coaching change in Madison, but Chryst can no longer wear all of the hats. He’s also Wisconsin’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and the Badgers have an abysmal offense driven by poor quarterback play.
If he doesn’t agree to make those changes, he needs a pink slip.
8. Northwestern’s defense
The Wildcats rode a top-tier defense all the way to the Big Ten championship game last season. That feels like a long time ago.
Nebraska ripped Northwestern to shreds on Saturday, gaining 657 yards. The Huskers were so efficient in their destruction that they only faced 9 third downs, and converted 5 of them.
The loss matched the largest margin of defeat in Pat Fitzgerald’s 16-year Northwestern tenure.
Buy or sell: Sell.
This program is built in Fitzgerald’s image, and if the Cats can’t defend, they can’t do anything. The season finale with Illinois is the most realistic remaining chance for a win on Northwestern’s schedule.
9. Indiana’s offense
Indiana’s football program is frequently bad, but even in those circumstances, the Hoosiers are rarely shut out. Until Saturday.
IU’s 24-0 loss at Penn State marked the first time the Hoosiers were blanked since a 58-0 humiliation at Michigan on Oct. 14, 2000. That’s the Cam Cameron era if you’re keeping track.
Welcome back to rock bottom.
Buy or sell: Sell.
That aforementioned 2000 team rebounded the next week with a 51-43 win over No. 22 Minnesota. It’s difficult to foresee a similar outcome when the Hoosiers face Michigan State following next week’s open date.
IU’s offense is a full-fledged mess.
10. Taulia Tagovailoa
As noted at the beginning of this piece, things fell apart quickly for the player who had been the best quarterback in the Big Ten in September.
Panic set in as soon as Tagovailoa realized he would need to play the rest of the game without top target Dontay Demus, who was carted off the field with a nasty leg injury with Maryland trailing 10-7 early in the second quarter. Demus also fumbled on that agonizing kickoff return, setting Iowa up in prime position to extend its lead to 17-7.
Once that happened, it looked like Tagovailoa thought he should try to throw a touchdown on every play. He only came close to doing so for the Hawkeyes.
Buy or sell: Buy, but beware.
Tagovailoa got punched in the mouth and kept staggering his way back into Iowa’s fists. The Hawkeyes have a way of doing that to people this season.
Should Tagovailoa still be considered the top passer in the B1G? Penn State’s Sean Clifford, Michigan State’s Payton Thorne and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud may leapfrog him by October’s end, but I don’t think he’s going to fall into the abyss.
Terps fans should worry his numbers will take a significant dip without Demus to throw to, however.