Week 5 B1G report card: Ohio State passes major test while struggles continue for Nebraska, Northwestern
This might’ve actually been one week when we didn’t learn too much about the B1G.
Sure, we learned that Dwayne Haskins has the clutch gene and Ohio State is now in the driver’s seat in the East, which is a pretty big deal, but outside of that, there wasn’t much to notice.
There were some closer-than-expected results, but in the end, all the games played out how we had anticipated. So, without much more delay, let’s dive into the Week 5 report card.
Ohio State: A
The Buckeyes looked dead in the water with eight minutes to go in the final quarter. That’s when Ohio State’s pure talent took over. Binjimen Victor, K.J. Hill, J.K. Dobbins and Dwayne Haskins all took over and ended Penn State’s hopes of notching another signature win over the B1G’s premier program. There may not be another challenger on OSU’s schedule until the end of the season vs. Michigan.
Penn State: A-
Had James Franklin not made the decision to run Miles Sanders up the gut on a 4th-and-5 with less than 1:30 left in the game, the Nittany Lions might have received the highest grade of the week. That’s not how it played out. Penn State blew two, double-digit leads Saturday night, so fault can’t be attributed entirely to the coaching staff. Even in a loss, the Lions put up an incredible fight.
Not the best effort from Jim Harbaugh and Co., but give Northwestern some credit. The Wildcats are a little better than their 1-3 record indicates. Michigan’s defense held Northwestern under 100 yards in the final three quarters and the offense pieced together a late game-winning drive, led by Shea Patterson. It wasn’t pretty, but there were some things to like about this game. Oh, and Chase Winovich was a monster.
Michigan State: C+
Coming off a tough road win against Indiana, you would’ve expected the Spartans to have a little more juice. But Michigan State started and ended Saturday’s game against Central Michigan very poorly. The defense finally kickstarted some things with a few key turnovers in the second quarter. But the offense struggled again and the Spartans failed to close out another opponent. Still a lot of room for improvement.
Improvement! Yes, despite the loss Rutgers gets the higher grade than Indiana. Why? Despite the talent differential and the slop the Scarlet Knights have produced the last three weeks, they climbed back from a three-score deficit and had the Hoosiers on the ropes. Rutgers clearly wasn’t the better team, but it looked like a team hungrier for the win — not to get too cliché.
Speaking of not closing out games, Indiana had multiple opportunities to bury Rutgers this weekend but just couldn’t do it. A 24-7 lead entering the fourth quarter was cut to a one-possession game. Indiana had absolutely nothing going offensively in the second half and looked like it was simply going through the motions. It almost cost the Hoosiers a significant loss.
The Terrapins enjoyed a bye week. They’ll take on Michigan next Saturday.
It was another big day for David Blough and the Boilermaker offense, racking up over 500 total yards and hanging 42 points on the Memorial Stadium scoreboard. But as good as Purdue’s offense was, the defense was spotty. Adrian Martinez took advantage of holes all afternoon with his arm and his legs. A nice road win for Purdue but the defense has got to be better moving forward.
As mentioned above, it was a big day for Martinez and the offense. Unfortunately, there were just too many mistakes. 11 penalties for 136 yards and an interception late in the game were too much to overcome. But the Huskers were able to hang with a high-powered Purdue offense, despite those inconsistencies. Maybe that’s a step in the right direction? Kind of?
Nobody expected Northwestern to hang with Michigan. And yet, the Wildcats jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first half. But the couldn’t maintain that lead and surrendered a late-game touchdown to fall 20-17. Pat Fitzgerald’s defense was tough but the offense needed to be much, much better. Pretty much the story of the season so far.
The Illini enjoyed a bye week. They travel to Rutgers next Saturday.
The Hawkeyes enjoyed a bye week. They’ll battle Minnesota for Floyd of Rosedale on Saturday.
The Gophers enjoyed a bye week. They’ll battle Iowa for Floyd of Rosedale on Saturday.
The Badgers enjoyed a bye week. They’ll battle Nebraska next Saturday.
Michigan defense: After allowing 17 points early in the game, the Wolverines stifled the Northwestern offense, surrendering less than 100 yards the rest of the way. That’s pretty darn good, even for a Don Brown coached defense.
Northwestern defense: Let’s give the Wildcats some credit, too. Michigan had to scratch and claw for every yard they earned Saturday. Northwestern just gave up one too many plays at the end. It was still a solid effort, especially considering how explosive the Wolverines offense looked recently.
Ohio State offense: Just watch the final two drives for Ohio State on Saturday night and that’s all you’ll need to know. The Buckeye playmakers did their thing and erased a two-touchdown deficit to improve to 5-0 on the year. Impressive stuff.
Purdue offense: This unit has been so good since David Blough has taken over under center. Another 500-plus yards of offense, getting just about everyone involved. Another great outing, even against a bad Huskers defense.
Indiana offense: Couldn’t score a single second half point against Rutgers? That’s a problem. And a big one. Maybe the Hoosiers just mailed it in, but their schedule is too rigid to have those kind of issues looming.
Northwestern offense: As good as the defense was all game, the offense was just a putrid in the second half. The Wildcats couldn’t move the football much after the first quarter and it cost them a huge win.
Michigan State offense: Zero points in the first quarter. Zero points in the fourth quarter. Yes, the Spartans did score 31 points in those middle two periods, but it needed some turnovers from the defense to get things going. The offensive line still needs serious help.
Nebraska defense: Another huge offensive performance permitted at the hands of Nebraska’s defense. If the Huskers couldn’t slow down a 1-3 Purdue team, who can they slow down?
Penn State defense: Allowing Ohio State’s offense to score just 27 points is pretty good. But you know what isn’t very good? Failing to make tackles and defending a screen pass. That’s primarily why the Nittany Lions are 4-1 and not 5-0.