Its a fairly quiet B1G Week 6 Review with only 5 fixtures involving Big Ten teams, but one of those was a seismic collision between #3 and #4.
The heavyweight fight of the college football weekend took place at Kinnick Stadium and was the defensive slugfest we thought it would be. After some high scoring, end-to-end games elsewhere in the early window we settled down for some gritty, ‘earn every yard’ football in a raucous atmosphere.
The crowd were absolutely rocking at kickoff and, after pinning Penn State on their own 2 yard line, the Iowa defense gave the fans what they were baying for. Sean Clifford was pressured and tried to throw the ball away to avoid a safety. He couldn’t get the ball out of bounds and hit Jestin Jacobs right in the chest for an interception. A really bad start on the Nittany Lions first offensive play of the game. Their defense held strong though, forcing a field goal, and Penn State made up for it on their next drive as Noah Cain capped off a 75 yard touchdown drive, punching the ball in from 2 yards out.
Both teams then traded interceptions and Penn State capitalised, stretching their lead to 14-3 and then tacking on 3 more with a field goal on their next drive. At this point Iowa were really struggling to move the ball on offense and a 14 point lead looked like it might be enough! The Hawkeyes needed a response and they duly provided it, Charlie Jones catching a touchdown from Petras to make it 17-10. There was then some surprise as Sean Clifford wasn’t trotting out to lead the Penn State offense. He picked up an injury that ruled him out of the game, and the Nittany Lions offense took a sharp downturn.
Clifford is the key going forward
Backup QB Ta’Quan Roberson looked way out of his depth against the formidable Hawkeye defense. The fans in the stadium forced false start after false start to back Penn State up again and again. Meanwhile Iowa crept closer on the scoreboard with a couple of field goals. Eventually cracking into the endzone to take a lead they wouldn’t surrender. Iowa’s defense made sure Roberson couldn’t pull off the comeback. In all honesty, as soon as Clifford went out of the game it didn’t look good.
Iowa march on with a huge result. Although Penn State will be wondering what could have been if Clifford had stayed in the game. They were the better offense until then and both sides played fantastic defense. Classic Big Ten football – and Iowa managed to land the knockout blow.
Michigan fended off a stubborn Nebraska to keep their winning run going. Thanks to a late field goal they remain unbeaten at 6-0. The Wolverines defense restricted Nebraska in the opening 30 minutes. Holding out on a goal line stand. Picking off Adrian Martinez and conceding zero points. The Cornhuskers also put in a strong defensive effort of their own. Michigan were only able to get going on their final drive of the second quarter, but they did cash that one in for 7.
The second half opened up and the lead changed hands 4 times in an exciting end to the game. Nebraska had 7 possessions in the second half and those resulted in 4 touchdowns, 2 fumbles and a turnover on downs at the end of the game. It rather epitomised the up and down nature of this offense!
Scott Frost’s men played Michigan hard and nearly pulled off the upset. However, a fumble from Adrian Martinez – slightly controversial in nature – handed the Wolverines the ball with 1:45 left and scores tied. Michigan hit the field goal to take a 3 point lead, but Martinez looked to have a first down and forward progress halted before the ball was dislodged. Nebraska did get the ball back and the chance to win the game but failed to convert on 4th down at mid-field.
Ohio State enter their bye week on the back of 2 big wins. Looking much improved all round from the week 2 defeat to Oregon. The week off for CJ Stroud’s shoulder looks to have been a brilliant decision as he has racked up fantastic stats since. More importantly looks more composed, decisive and confident leading this Buckeye offense. It helps when you can spread the ball out to Olave, Wilson, Smith-Njigba and co. Stroud threw for over 400 yards 5 touchdowns against Maryland and the Terps were sent back into their shells pretty early on. Ohio State scored on 9 straight possessions to emphatically put their stamp on the contest.
TreVeyon Henderson continued to shine, having claimed the starting RB role. He totalled 169 yards and 3 TDs before sitting out the majority of the second half. Maryland were just outmatched across the field. The Terrapins couldn’t keep up and with Ohio State’s defense having clearly worked on their early-season issues it became one-sided very quickly.
Jalen Nailor is a big play machine! Whether on kick return or streaking down the field on offense, he just keeps coming up with highlight moments. Against Rutgers he reeled in 3 touchdowns, all of them over 60 yard scores!
Michigan State and Rutgers played a close first half that included 4 touchdowns and 34 points. However Sparty stretched away in the second as the Scarlet Knights ran out of steam. Rutgers have had a tough run of games losing 3 on the trot to Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State. They will be determined to not let their season be derailed and have continued move the ball well – they should get back to a winning record soon enough.
Sorry if you are bored, but I can’t go a week without mentioning Kenneth Walker III! He is impressing every time he steps on the field and set a school record with the longest offensive play in Michigan State history on Saturday. It’s well worth watching as he ran 94 yards for a touchdown and evaded defenders with skill and speed. Walker ended the day with 232 rushing yards and is within touching distance of a 1000 yard season already with 912 in just 5 games!
Wisconsin got back to what they do best against Illinois – running the ball and solid defense. Chez Mellusi and Braelon Allen both went to work on the ground. Punishing Illinois who just couldn’t wrap up the Wisconsin running backs. Graham Mertz was able to play mistake-free football and that’s the blueprint the Badgers want to work from.
Chase Brown had a career day last week against Charlotte but this Wisconsin defense is a different animal. They rank 3rd in the nation for total defense, allowing only 249 yards per game and they limited Brown to 40 yards and Illinois overall to just 93 yards all game! Illinois were absolutely bullied into submission and never got a foothold in the game.
Written by Jack@JackCDCTT