Week 10 B1G Grades
On the surface, it might seem a little weird.
One team controls the line of scrimmage and wins by 14 points, yet it receives a worse grade than the losing team. How does that make any sense?
Well, perspective is everything, especially with grades.
Ohio State did not play to its maximum capabilities. You could argue that Minnesota did. Therefore, the Gophers — while not perfect — performed at a higher level with what they had to work with. It’s tough to look good in a loss, but the Gophers have each of the last two weeks.
Not everybody else could say the same in Week 10.
So apparently the Illini look a lot different when Josh Ferguson is on the field. Imagine that. Yes, it was against Purdue, but Illinois showed signs of life on both sides of the ball that it had lacked in the last month.
The Hoosiers were a sneaky upset pick against the “unproven” Iowa defense. Well, all Saturday proved was that the Hawkeyes are a whole lot better against the pass than people give them credit for. Few teams contain Nate Sudfeld like that. If not for Jordan Howard’s early dominance, it could’ve gotten ugly in Bloomington.
The Iowa run game was the biggest matchup problem for IU, as evidenced on Akrum Wadley’s 65-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage. The running attack set up C.J. Beathard to convert huge third downs in crucial moments. And in case you missed it, Desmond King is still haunting quarterbacks.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Maryland doesn’t run the ball NEARLY enough to be successful. I don’t care if they’re trailing the entire game. Throwing the ball isn’t working. The Terps shoot themselves in the foot far too often to pick teams apart with the passing game. Credit the Terps defense for keeping them alive against a Wisconsin team that’s gained a lot of momentum since the start of B1G play.
Complete and total domination, it was. The most impressive stat of Michigan’s destruction of Rutgers? The Wolverines tripled the Scarlet Knights’ passing yards. Perhaps that’s why Michigan tripled Rutgers on the scoreboard.
Michigan State: D+
When you play with fire, eventually you’re going to get burned. That’s what happened to the Spartans, which got too conservative on both sides of the ball down the stretch. Controversial play or not, MSU should’ve put that one away so that the game didn’t come down to that.
Make that two straight weeks in which Tracy Claeys has led his team to an impressive loss. That won’t necessarily make Gopher fans thrilled about the present, but the Gophers pushed the defending champs to the end. And don’t look now but Mitch Leidner is looking like a B1G quarterback.
I kept saying that Michigan State covering a 5.5-point spread against Nebraska was my “lock of the week.” That shows you how much confidence I had in the Huskers following the loss at Purdue. Credit Mike Riley’s squad for fighting pregame and in-game adversity and finally pulling off a clutch play to win it. By the way, Riley beat a top-10 B1G team, which Bo Pelini never did at Nebraska. Just saying.
A game-winning kick capped off a very Northwestern-like effort against a rolling Penn State team. Justin Jackson got downhill in the running game and the defense harassed Christian Hackenberg all afternoon. To beat a team like Penn State with a backup quarterback was no small feat.
Ohio State: C+
The biggest surprise of the night wasn’t that Cardale Jones looked very mediocre throwing the football. It was that the nation’s second-ranked pass defense allowed nearly 300 yards at home to Mitch Leidner. That was more concerning than the offense’s lowest output since the Northern Illinois game.
Penn State: B-
I was actually really impressed with the Lions’ ability to rally back on the road and put themselves in position to win. If that last kick goes wide right, we’re probably talking about Penn State as a top-25 team with a legitimate chance to get double-digit wins. But it just took too long to get the offense rolling and the defense struggled to stop the run.
If there was ever a prime opportunity for the Boilers to get on a winning streak, it was Saturday. Instead, they couldn’t do anything to stop Illinois’ running back tandem and David Blough didn’t look like the guy that torched Nebraska the week before. An unfortunate setback, it was.
Maybe I’m missing something. Robert Martin broke off a 54-yard run on his second carry of the game and only got eight touches after that? Without Leonte Carroo, Rutgers is desperate for playmakers, and it appears they don’t even know how to use the ones they have left.
The Badgers are simply not going to look like a dominant offensive force without Corey Clement on the field. Having said that, I thought Joel Stave made some big throws to Alex Erickson in the second half. The Badger defense wasn’t at its best but still got two interceptions from Tanner McEvoy to close the door on the Terps. Their fifth straight win wasn’t the most memorable, but it got the job done amid some unideal circumstances.