“November is for champions”. Guess what, folks… it’s champions time.
For the first time this season, the memorable games from The Week That Were found themselves coming from B1G Country. And, if I’m completely honest, the top two made my weekend pretty fantastic.
First, let’s go to the “What’s NU With You?” battle, as Nebraska and Northwestern squared off in a battle of the walking wounded. Taylor Martinez and his magnificent aerial attack was on the sidelines again, while Northwestern’s Venric Mark missed yet another game… and more Wildcats would go down as the game transpired. If Ohio State hadn’t already broken Northwestern, Nebraska certainly would have.
And yet the Wildcats were leading by three, in Lincoln, as time was winding down.It certainly looked like it was going to be a bad weekend to be a Pelini.
The Huskers brought in their version of the Pillsbury Throwboy, who led the team to the memorable last second finish that you see gif-ing there on the right. Best “Fat Guy Touchdown” ever?
For full coverage and reaction, let’s turn to my wife’s play by play from the moment:
Yeah, it was that kind of moment… Buckeye fans know the feeling, and Coach Fitzpatrick certainly could find a Bert to talk to as well.
Several people pointed out that, in the mayhem that followed, Coach Pelini looked stunned and no one chose to celebrate with him. That could just be his normal demeanor, though… although it might also point to his having “lost” his team. A word of warning to Tommie Frazier and all of the others looking to make a change… be very very careful what you wish for.
So now a Cornhusker team that has a huge emotional win to build on travels to Ann Arbor to face a Michigan squad that’s coming off what may be one of the worst beatings that they’ve encountered in a long time.
While it’s been well documented that Coach Hoke can’t win on the road, to lose yet another game to “Little Brother” never feels good- particularly when you end the game with negative 48 yards rushing. That’s why Wolverine running backs should keep their mouths shut… although, this should have already been perfectly clear to anyone who pays attention.
Huge kudos to Coach Dantonio and our favorite Spartan, Coach Harley- not only did the defense rise up and make Devin Gardner look like the wide receiver playing QB that he is, they also managed to put points on the board for the second straight week. Granted Michigan’s defense has some holes (as Indiana and Penn State showed), but to see MSU’s offensive evolution over the season is impressive.
So now, barring some huge “Sparty NO!” moment, Michigan State and their number one ranked defense have the inside track to Indianapolis and a showdown with Ohio State. Strength against strength, for a trip to Pasadena… the way the conference should be. If only the Spartans hadn’t dropped that game to Notre Dame, we’d have the possibility of 2006 all over again. As it is, I can’t for the life of me understand how a one loss MSU team isn’t ranked higher than they are… Oh, wait. They’re in the B1G. Nevermind.
Saturday also helped the rest of the nation see what we in the conference have known for a while: Michigan’s Taylor Lewan is a tool. We’ve called out MSU’s William Gholston in the past for his “extracurricular activity” in these rivalry games, but I think that our Michigan Man may have managed to stoop to his level:
If only there had been some sort of previous indicator that he had a propensity for this type of behavior… I’m sure that Coach Hoke will deal with this appropriately.
Elsewhere in the B1G- Minnesota continues to roll following a botched final play by the Hoosiers, and Illinois fell to Penn State in Happy Valley. We Are! Not Coming To Games, Still Calling Ourselves The Conference’s Best Fanbase!
Wisconsin pulled away from Iowa late in Iowa City… some correctly identified this as the best B1G game of the year, if only for this great Hawkeye formation:
It’s quite possible that there’s another member of the punt team just off camera there at the bottom of the screen, but… Punting from your own 35? The Vest would be so proud. The matchup also included a Fat Guy Interception and something called a “Heartland Trophy”. Proud.
In this week’s ACC “Clash of Teams That Struggled Against North Carolina And Wake Forest But Hey, Let’s Not Talk About That”, Florida State continued to show that they deserve to be in the conversation as one of the top teams in the country. Miami was undefeated, on the road, with a QB with hampered mobility, and lost their running back for the season with a broken leg… but I’m not sure that any of that would have really mattered. Or that Jameis would have seen it anyway.
The Seminoles have a well balanced running and passing attack, and also boast a swarming defense- other than Ohio State, they are the only team with offense and defense ranked in the top ten nationally. In this week’s tBBC Top Ten, I’ve got them third… their success would depend on the matchup they faced in January. Again, not a slight- I see four top teams that could each win on “any given Saturday”.
Funny thing, though… pollsters seem to have other ideas. Alabama is on a bye, and picks up votes. Baylor is on a bye, and picks up votes. Ohio State drills Purdue and plays the 2nd string starting at halftime… loses votes. Narrative.
Over in the SEC, what used to be a classic Eastern Division clash (remember when Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee dominated the conference? Good times, good times…) and was a MASH unit on Saturday ended up being an interesting battle. In the end, Mark Richt’s Bulldogs held off Florida, in spite of all of the “Taylor Lewan-ing” that was going on.
South Carolina hosted Mississippi State, and tried their version of the Fat Guy Touchdown with disastrous results. Arkansas’ “Karma” continued, as the ‘Hawgs continued to lose games- they’ve not won since Bert’s wife’s fantastic tweet at the expense of Wisconsin. In game play, Bert was about to attempt the “swinging gate” extra point play when Auburn got a bit of the dropsy:
Remember, current Auburn coach Gus Malzahn was to be the heir apparent in Fayetteville until the Houston Nutt fiasco… so, yeah. It’s chippy in the southland.
The “Frightened Irish” won’t join a conference so they can continue their legacy of playing service academies… so when they barely beat Navy, it makes me smile almost as much as when I remember that they struggled against Purdue. Air Force beat Army… I’m just as surprised as you are.
In the B12, Kansas State opened a can of “Wow” on Iowa State, and won this year’s version of “Farmageddon”. Kansas was the latest victim of Texas’ resurgence, while West Virginia continued to “welcome” Horned Frogs into the conference.
Last week’s B12 “flavor of the month” has now dropped their second straight contest; Saturday saw TBPU out score Texas Tech at home. Again, this seems to be the “defense optional” league… either that, or this QB has got mad wheels.
Hey! Akron won! Go Zips!
In the Pac12, the Trojans are resurgent, and reasserted their dominance over an Oregon State team that hoped to play spoiler again this season. Cal managed a solid game against the Fighting Rodriguez’ Family, but found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard again. Not really helping us out there, Coach Dykes. UCLA pounded Colorado, and all was right in the world.
Over in Huntington, it seems that Marshall has found it’s mojo, hanging 61 on Southern Mississippi. The Herd is certainly Thundering… consider yourself warned.
This week is a great week for the Buckeyes to be on a BYE, as there are a lot of great games that will possibly define the post-season possibilities for the team should they win out. Thursday ain’t just for MACtion anymore (have we had any this year?); this week it finds the top games of the season in the B12 and PAC, as #10 Oklahoma’s passing defense travels to #6 Baylor and the #3 Oregon Ducks travel to #5 Stanford. The Cardinal played spoiler last year- can they do it again? And we all know about “Big Game Bob” and his struggles in, well, big games- they won’t get any bigger than this one.
Saturday, LSU and Alabama meet up in what could be the Tide’s only real challenge until the Iron Bowl. Greater still, all six of these teams will be coming off of bye weeks, so be ready for some exciting pigskin action!
Wisconsin hosts BYU; Coach Anderson may have a bit of an edge here, having coached down the road at Utah State before coming over to Madison. And, as we mentioned at the top of the review, Nebraska travels to Ann Arbor. Go Big Red.
We close with the play of the week, from our favorite place in the world… small college football.