2015 Week 8 Big Ten Roundup

JT Barrett was named starter earlier this week and the Ohio State offense looked great under his guidance. (Rich Schultz/Getty Images North America)
JT Barrett was named starter earlier this week and the Ohio State offense looked great under his guidance. (Rich Schultz/Getty Images North America)

2015 Week 8 Big Ten Roundup

There were five Big Ten Conference games in Week 8 with Michigan, Iowa, Purdue, and Minnesota all on a bye week. Below is a look at each game.

Northwestern Wildcats at Nebraska Cornhuskers

Result: Northwestern Win 30-28 (Saturday, October 24)

Northwestern’s offense came to life against Nebraska, but their defense continued to struggle. Meanwhile, Nebraska lost another close game to drop them to 3-5 on the year.

Clayton Thorson went 13 of 28 for 177 yards and a touchdown, but it was his legs that led the Wildcats in the first half. He had two big runs to propel him to 126 yards and a touchdown on 9 carries. Justin Jackson struggled in the first half and finished the game running for 40 yards on 14 carries. Jackson made his presence felt in the passing game with 2 catches for 55 yards. Dan Vitale also had a nice game with 5 catches for 55 yards and a touchdown.

The offense had 333 yards total and went 5 of 13 on third down. Nick VanHoose had a 72 yard interception returned for a touchdown midway through the second quarter to give Northwestern a 14-5 lead, but the defense had their issues in the second half giving up 16 points.

Tommy Armstrong had an inaccurate game going 24 of 49 for 291 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also ran for two touchdowns while Terrell Newby led the team with 52 yards on 16 carries. Jordan Westerkamp had 5 catches for 92 yards while Brandon Reilly caught 4 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. The Huskers finished with 373 yards of offense and were 9 of 20 on third down. They also held the ball for almost 39 minutes compared to 21 for Northwestern.

Northwestern (6-2, 2-2) has reached bowl eligibility for the first time since 2012. They face Penn State on November 7 after a bye next week.

Nebraska (3-5, 1-3) has lost their 5 games by a combined 13 points. They will face Purdue next week on the road.

Wisconsin Badgers at Illinois Fighting Illini

Result: Wisconsin Win 24-13 (Saturday, October 24)

Wisconsin put together a solid offensive performance despite losing quarterback Joel Stave very early in the game.

Stave went 3 of 7 for 49 yards, but was knocked out due to a head injury. He was replaced by Bart Houston, who did well at times, but also made some poor throws. Houston went 22 of 33 for 232 yards with 2 touchdowns, but also threw two picks. Those two interceptions were thrown in the end zone taking the chance for more points away. The offense finished 9 of 16 on third down, but racked up 419 yards.

Alex Erickson, normally the leading receiver, led the team in rushing with 81 yards on 4 carries. Dare Ogunbowale had 16 carries for 42 yards while Alec Ingold had the lone rushing touchdown to go along with 26 yards on the ground. Erickson did lead the team in receiving as well with 10 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. He was a big target for Houston to move the chains with Ogunbowale catching 5 passes for 63 yards. Troy Fumagalli had 5 catches for 52 yards while Robert Wheelwright had 3 catches for 47 yards and a touchdown that was pure determination on his part.

Illinois was stymied at times on offense with Wes Lunt going 22 of 43 for 278 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. Ke’Shawn Vaughn was the only player to record a carry with 13 attempts for 55 yards and a touchdown. Geronimo Allison had 8 catches for 99 yards while Malik Turner caught 4 passes for 80 yards. Illinois finished with 333 yards on offense, but managed just 3 of 12 on third down conversions and also went 0 for 2 on fourth down.

Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1) will go back home to face Rutgers next week with an uncertain situation at quarterback. Even if Stave cannot play, Houston looked capable of picking up the slack while the defense will probably be its usual stout self.

Illinois (4-3, 1-2) still sits two games from bowl eligibility and next week’s road contest at Penn State will not be easy.

Penn State Nittany Lions at Maryland Terrapins

Result: Penn State Win 31-30 (Saturday, October 24)

Penn State’s offense came to the rescue this week to secure a big 31-30 road win over Maryland.

Christian Hackenberg went only 13 of 29, but threw for 315 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. He found Chris Godwin 4 times for 135 yards and a touchdown while also hitting DaeSean Hamilton with 5 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. Saquon Barkley was not as effective this week with 65 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Penn State was an awful 3 for 12 on third down including a terrible third down throw in the final 90 seconds clinging to a one point lead. They finished with 363 yards of offense despite having the ball only 24 minutes.

Perry Hills went 19 of 28 for Maryland with 225 yards, a touchdown, and three interceptions. He also had a nice game on the ground with 26 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown. He was giving the Penn State defense fits throughout the entire game. Levern Jacobs led the team with 5 catches for 93 yards and Malcolm Culmer had 3 catches for 65 yards. Maryland was barely better than Penn State on third down with a 4 of 13 tally. The Terps finished with 470 yards of offense, but will rue the fact they settled for 4 field goals (converted 3 of them) and had 5 turnovers that yielded a touchdown, but also caused them to miss out on potential points on three occasions.

Penn State (6-2, 3-1) takes on Illinois at home next week. Maryland (2-5, 0-3) faces a tough task next week on the road against Iowa, the leaders of the Big 10 West Division.

Indiana Hoosiers at #7 Michigan State Spartans

Result: Michigan State Win 52-26 (Saturday, October 24)

The final score of this game is far from indicative of how close this contest was until late in the fourth quarter. Indiana kept it close, but the Spartans pulled away late.

Nate Sudfeld went 23 of 37 for 308 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception. Jordan Howard returned to the lineup and went for 78 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Simmie Cobbs had 5 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown while Mitchell Paige had 8 catches for 99 yards. The offense put up 389 yards of offense and went 5 of 11 on third down.

Connor Cook nearly had a record day passing for the Spartans with 398 yards and 4 touchdowns on 30 of 52 passing. The running game was bolstered with the game in hand late. LJ Scott ran for 68 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries while Gerald Holmes had 10 rushes for 39 yards and a touchdown. Aaron Burbridge finished with 8 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown, R.J. Shelton had 6 catches for 76 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Macgarrett Kings had 7 receptions for 69 yards. The Spartans were dominant on offense with 570 yards, holding the ball for 39 minutes, and 13 of 20 on third down.

Indiana (4-4, 0-4) still need two wins to reach bowl eligibility after losing four games in a row. They have a bye next week before taking on Iowa at home on November 7.

Michigan State (8-0, 4-0) also have a bye next week and face Nebraska on the road November 7.

#1 Ohio State Buckeyes at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Result: Ohio State Win 49-7 (Saturday, October 24)

Ohio State looked well oiled on offense with JT Barrett behind center as they crushed Rutgers on the road.

Barrett finished the game going 14 of 18 for 223 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for 101 yards and 2 touchdowns on 13 carries. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 142 yards and 2 touchdowns on 19 carries while Michael Thomas had 5 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown receiving. Braxton Miller had 2 catches for 55 yards, as the offense racked up 528 yards. They went 5 of 10 on third down and 2 of 3 on fourth down.

Rutgers struggled for much of the night with Chris Laviano going 10 of 20 for 117 yards and an interception. Hayden Rettig went 3 of 7 for 72 yards and a touchdown in garbage time to give Rutgers their only points. Paul James ran for 56 yards on 10 carries while Robert Martin had 6 rushes for 43 yards. Carlton Agudosi had 2 catches for 76 yards and Leonte Carroo had 3 grabs for 55 yards.

Rutgers finished the game with 293 yards of offense and went 5 of 15 on third down. They managed just 12 first downs for the game.

Ohio State (8-0, 4-0) have a bye next week before a home date against Minnesota on November 7. Rutgers (3-4, 1-3) will travel to face Wisconsin next week.

Check back next Sunday for a recap of the ninth week of Big Ten action.

2015 Week 7 Big Ten Roundup

Michigan State celebrates after their improbable win against Michigan. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America))
Michigan State celebrates after their improbable win against Michigan. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America))

2015 Week 7 Big Ten Roundup

Week seven of the college football season saw six Big Ten Conference games. Sitting idle were the Maryland Terrapins and Illinois Fighting Illini.

#17 Iowa Hawkeyes at #20 Northwestern Wildcats

Result: Iowa Win 40-10 (Saturday, October 17)

Iowa put forth a dominant win over Northwestern on the road to put a virtual hammerlock on the Big Ten West Division midway through October. There was a loss in the form of running back Jordan Canzeri, but they did just fine with his replacements.

Iowa raced out to a 16-0 lead before a 10-0 run by the Wildcats made it 16-10 at the half. It was all Iowa after that with the final 24 points. C.J. Beathard had a pedestrian game with 15 of 25 passing for 176 yards with no touchdowns and an interception, but this was all about Iowa’s rushing attack.

Canzeri went down early with an injury and was seen in a walking boot a short time later. Akrum Wadley stepped right in and made it seem like Canzeri never left. Wadley ran for 204 yards and 4 touchdowns on 26 carries. Derrick Mitchell Jr. had 79 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries as well. Iowa finished with 492 yards of offense and went 9 of 18 on third down. Matt VandeBerg had 8 catches for 78 yards.

Northwestern’s offense struggled once again. Clayton Thorson went 17 of 35 for 125 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also had 11 carries for just 10 yards. Even Justin Jackson was stymied with only 30 yards rushing on 10 carries. The Wildcats saw 10 different receivers catch a pass and six of them had at least two catches.

Northwestern had only 198 yards of total offense and went 8 of 19 on third down. For Iowa, Desmond King recorded his sixth interception this season and continues to be a one-man turnover machine.

Iowa (7-0, 3-0) will welcome the bye next weekend before a home game against Maryland on Halloween. Northwestern (5-2, 1-2) have lost back-to-back games and face a road test at Nebraska next week.

Purdue Boilermakers at Wisconsin Badgers

Result: Wisconsin Win 24-7 (Saturday, October 17)

Wisconsin waited until late in the third quarter to put some breathing space between them and Purdue in a lackluster performance by the offense.

Joel Stave went 30 of 39 for 322 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. His interception was an overthrown ball with a big return that eventually led to a touchdown for Purdue. The running game was handled by Dare Ogunbowale with Taiwan Deal out with an injury. Corey Clement was dressed for the game but did not play. Alec Ingold had 9 rushes for 19 yards, but had the first and last touchdowns of the game.

The passing game for Wisconsin was made up of mostly the short variety of passes. Alex Erickson had 9 catches for 86 yards while Robert Wheelwright had 6 catches for 61 yards. Dare Ogunbowlae also had 6 catches, but for 51 yards. The Badgers racked up 418 yards of offense and went 7 of 14 on third down.

Rafael Gaglianone missed a field goal late in the first half, which marks sixth game this year that he has missed a field goal. He is 10 for 17 on the season.

David Blough could not get any rhythm as he finished 15 of 26 for 136 yards. Markell Jones ran for 46 yards on 12 carries and D.J. Knox had 10 carries for 24 yards. Purdue had 191 yards of offense and went a paltry 4 of 13 on third down. The Boilermakers held the ball for only 22 minutes and 14 seconds during the game.

Purdue (1-6, 0-3) has a bye next week and will play at home against Nebraska on October 31. Wisconsin (5-2, 2-1) faces Illinois on the road next week. The Illini are coming off a bye.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Indiana Hoosiers

Result: Rutgers Win 55-52 (Saturday, October 17)

This game was about offense and only a touch of defense. It was also about Indiana blowing a 52-27 lead in final 18 minutes of the game.

As one can imagine with a 55-52 score line, the quarterbacks had pretty good games. Chris Laviano went 28 of 42 for 386 yards with 3 touchdowns and a pick. His top target was none other than Leonte Carroo who had another massive game. Carroo had 7 catches for 157 yards and 3 touchdowns, but left in the third quarter after an injury and did not return.

Robert Martin ran for 124 yards and 3 touchdowns on 17 carries while Paul James added 42 yards and a touchdown on 6 carries. Rutgers rushed for 210 yards as a team. Rutgers did pretty well on third down going 12 of 20 and amassed 596 yards of offense.

Indiana was glad to see Nate Sudfeld back and he had a big game going 32 of 42 for 464 yards with 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Jordan Howard was still out, but Devine Redding was able to rush for 99 yards and 2 touchdowns including a 66 yard touchdown run in the third quarter to make it 52-27.

Three different Hoosiers finished with at least 100 yards receiving. Mitchell Paige had 8 catches for 126 yards, Ricky Jones had 6 grabs for 119 yards and a touchdown, and Simmie Cobbs Jr. had 7 catches for 107 yards. Jordan Fuchs had just two catches for 9 yards, but both went for touchdowns.

Indiana had 627 yards of offense, but struggled on both third and fourth down. The Hoosiers went a combined 3 of 14 on those two downs.

After Redding’s touchdown run made it 52-27, a series of miscues allowed Rutgers to tie the game. A 26 yard fumble return by Kemoko Turay made it 52-39 while the two interceptions by Sudfeld were turned into touchdowns as well.

Rutgers (3-3, 1-2) faces Ohio State next week at home. Indiana (4-3, 0-3) saw one of their better opportunities for a win fade away in the final quarter and have to play Michigan State next week in East Lansing.

#7 Michigan State Spartans at #12 Michigan Wolverines

Result: Michigan State Win 27-23 (Saturday, October 17)

Of the craziest finishes to a college football game in history, this ranks up there near the top. The Spartans pulled off a shocking final play to win 27-23.

Connor Cook was not very accurate going 18 of 39, but threw for 328 yards with a touchdown. The rushing game for both teams was stuffed all game long. The Spartans finished with 58 yards on 33 carries with Gerald Holmes leading the team with 8 carries for 33 yards. LJ Scott had two touchdown rushes on 8 carries for 16 yards.

Aaron Burbridge had a big game with 9 catches for 132 yards. Macgarrett Kings had 3 catches for 57 yards and a touchdown, but also had a few big drops. The Spartans had 386 yards of total offense, went 3 of 12 on third down, and 0 for 4 on fourth down.

Michigan was led by a decent performance from Jake Rudock. He went 15 of 25 for 168 yards with no touchdowns, but did not commit a turnover. The rushing game did only slightly better than Michigan State with 33 rushes for 62 yards. De’Veon Smith led the team with 46 yards on 19 carries while Sione Houma had 3 rushes for 30 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Jehu Chesson had 4 catches for 58 yards and Amara Darboh had 3 catches for 52 yards. Michigan had only 230 yards of offense and converted 4 of 15 on third down.

There was just one turnover in the game and it came on the last play. A bobbled punt by Blake O’Neill was returned by Michigan State’s Jalen Watts-Jackson for the win in a truly incredible finish.

Michigan State (7-0, 3-0) faces Indiana next week at home. Michigan (5-2, 2-1) has a bye week and faces Minnesota on the road October 31.

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Minnesota Golden Gophers

Result: Nebraska Win 48-25 (Saturday, October 17)

Nebraska played a good game on offense and did not have to worry about another heartbreaking loss this week. In fact, it was the defense that made sure there would not be another late loss.

Tommy Armstrong went 18 of 26 for 261 yards with 3 touchdowns while also rushing for 38 yards. Terrell Newby had a nice game on the ground with 116 yards and 2 touchdowns on 13 carries. Alonzo Moore had 4 catches for 84 yards and a score while Jordan Westerkamp made 6 grabs for 76 yards. Nebraska had 464 yards of offense and went 7 of 13 on third down.

With under three minutes to play, Minnesota was mounting one last challenge down 16 points before a 41 yard pick six by Joshua Kalu. Just to be safe, Nate Gerry intercepted Minnesota on the next drive to truly end the game.

Minnesota got a rare big game passing from Mitch Leidner. He went 26 of 40 for 301 yards with a touchdown and the two aforementioned picks. The rushing game was held in check with only 65 yards on 26 carries. Shannon Brooks had 25 yards, KJ Maye had 21 yards and a touchdown, and Rodney Smith had 20 yards.

Maye also had 11 catches for 94 yards while Eric Carter caught 4 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown. Minnesota had 366 of offense and went 6 of 15 on third down.

Nebraska (3-4, 1-2) faces Northwestern next week at home. Minnesota (4-3, 1-2) will play Michigan on October 31 after a bye next week.

Penn State Nittany Lions at #1 Ohio State Buckeyes

Result: Ohio State Win 38-10 (Saturday, October 17)

It was a slow start for the Ohio State offense, but a 21 point stretch on three straight touchdown drives gave them more than enough points.

Cardale Jones had poor numbers going 9 of 15 for only 84 yards and was substituted in or near the red zone by J.T. Barrett. Barrett went 4 for 4 with 30 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air, but was most effective with his legs. He ran for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns on 11 carries and really helped spark the offense.

Ezekiel Elliott had his usual good game with 153 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. Braxton Miller had some rushes finishing with 4 carries for 30 yards. Miller lead the team with 4 catches and was second with 33 yards along with a touchdown catch. Michael Thomas had 3 catches for 34 yards and a touchdown as well. The offense had 429 yards while going 5 of 11 on third down.

Penn State had a rough time passing the ball with Christian Hackenberg going 7 of 13 for 120 yards and a touchdown. Penn State had success on the ground thanks to Saquon Barkley’s 194 yards on 26 carries. Chris Godwin had 3 catches for 103 yards and a big 56 yarder. Penn State had 315 yards of offense, but struggled mightily on third down with only 1 conversion on 12 attempts.

Penn State (5-2, 2-1) will face Maryland next week at home looking to secure bowl eligibility. Ohio State (7-0, 3-0) will travel to play Rutgers next weekend.

Check back next Sunday for the Week 8 edition of the Big Ten Roundup.

2015 Week 6 Big Ten Roundup

Michigan continues to trend up in the Big Ten with their third straight shut out. (Leon Halip/Getty Images North America)
Michigan continues to trend up in the Big Ten with their third straight shut out. (Leon Halip/Getty Images North America)

2015 Week 6 Big Ten Roundup

The sixth week of the college football team saw all 14 Big Ten teams playing in conference clashes. Some teams performed well while others did not. Let’s take a look at each game.

Maryland Terrapins at #1 Ohio State Buckeyes

Result: Ohio State Win 49-28 (Saturday, October 10)

Ohio State may be the top ranked team, but they have not played like the team was saw last year.

Cardale Jones started the game, but J.T. Barrett saw plenty of action as well. The offense had a pretty good performance overall with almost 500 yards, but the defense gave up 21 points to a previously hapless Maryland offense.

Jones went 21 of 28 for 291 yards and 2 touchdowns while Barrett had 3 rushing touchdowns along with 62 yards rushing on 12 carries. Ezekiel Elliott was held in check compared to last week, but still finished with 106 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. Michael Thomas had 7 catches for 107 yards while Braxton Miller was electric again with 5 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown.

For Maryland, they opted to go with Perry Hills and it appears to have paid early dividends even if they still lost by 3 touchdowns. They key here is the offense found something that was not there previously. Hills was a terrible 10 of 27 for 133 yards with a touchdown and 2 interceptions, but was a menace running the ball. He had 25 carries for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns to give the Buckeyes fits.

Ohio State gave up 386 total yards and allowed 6 of 16 on third and fourth down conversions. They struggled early against a team that also had their coach relieved earlier this week. It is a troubling pattern for a team that is ranked number one.

Maryland (2-4, 0-2) has a bye next week before facing Penn State at home on October 24. Ohio State (6-0, 2-0) will get Penn State next week at home.

Illinois Fighting Illini at #22 Iowa Hawkeyes

Result: Iowa Win 29-20 (Saturday, October 10)

Iowa’s offense looked better at home one week after struggling on the road at Wisconsin. This week was against Illinois.

C.J. Beathard went a paltry 15 of 31 through the air, but had 200 yards and 2 touchdowns in a secondary performance to the running back. Jordan Canzeri ran wild for Iowa on offense with 256 yards and a touchdown on 43 carries. Jerminic Smith had a big game with 4 catches for 118 yards including a few nice grabs. The offense had 478 yards of total offense with no turnovers.

One of the only knocks on the offense was they ended up settling for 3 field goals with all three converted by Marshall Koehn. Koehn did miss an extra point early in the game that nearly had consequences late in the fourth quarter, but was good outside of that miss. Another knock was that they converted just 4 of 16 third downs.

Illinois seemed to have trouble finding consistency in the first half with only 7 points that came on their second drive. Part of the issue may have been due to the absence of Josh Ferguson, who missed the game due to a shoulder injury. Illinois’ touchdown drive went for 67 yards while their other six drives totaled 49 yards combined.

The second half was better for Illinois with some up-tempo offense. Wes Lunt looked better throwing the ball and he combined with Geronimo Allison for several big plays. Lunt finished 25 of 42 for 317 yards and a touchdown while Allison caught 8 passes for 148 yards and a score. Ke’Shawn Vaughn had 67 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.

Illinois will need to be better on defense as noted by the 256 rushing yards allowed to Canzeri. They will also need to force more turnovers to give their offense a chance to build a lead.

Illinois (4-2, 1-1) has a bye next week and will face Wisconsin at home on October 24. Iowa (6-0, 2-0) play Northwestern on the road next week with a chance to put a hammerlock on the Big Ten West division with a win.

Indiana Hoosiers at Penn State Nittany Lions

Result: Penn State Win 29-7 (Saturday, October 10)

Indiana struggled on offense this week while Penn State was decent on offense and very good on defense to lead them to yet another win.

Zander Diamont got the start with Nate Sudfeld out. He suffered an injury of his own in the third quarter and was replaced by Danny Cameron. Diamont led Indiana to a touchdown early, but the offense did not do much after that. Diamont finished the game going 9 of 17 for 90 yards passing as well as 11 rushes for 38 yards and a touchdown.

Cameron was 6 of 16 with 65 yards and an interception. Devine Redding had 13 carries for 32 yards with Jordan Howard not playing. It was not pretty for Indiana outside their touchdown drive. For the game, Indiana went 3 of 16 on third down and finished with 234 yards of total offense.

Penn State did not have any issues on offense as Christian Hackenberg went 21 of 39 for 262 yards and 2 touchdowns. On top of that, he also had 9 rushes for 21 yards and 2 touchdowns thanks to two short runs near the Indiana goal line.

The Nittany Lions continued to be without their top two rushers. Nick Scott got 8 carries for 57 yards while Mark Allen also had 8 carries and 45 yards. Penn State had 420 yards of total offense and held a nearly 36-24 minute lead in time of possession.

Penn State’s defense was led by Carl Nassib, who had two forced fumbles and two sacks. The entire defense had a very good game and continue to look good.

Indiana (4-2, 0-2) will face Rutgers at home hoping to see Nate Sudfeld and Jordan Howard play. Penn State (5-1, 2-0) have a big test on the road at the Horseshoe against Ohio State.

#13 Northwestern Wildcats at #18 Michigan Wolverines

Result: Michigan Win 38-0 (Saturday, October 10)

Michigan continued their incredible defensive streak by posting a third straight shut out. All phases of the game got in on the act as well.

Jake Rudock had a quiet, but efficient game going 17 of 23 for 179 yards. De’Veon Smith had 8 carries for 59 yards while Derrick Green had 47 yards and a touchdown on 12 rushes. The offense finished with 380 yards of offense and went 7 of 14 on third downs. Northwestern had only allowed 35 points in the first five games prior to this contest.

The Michigan defense was superb. Justin Jackson had only 25 yards on 12 carries. Clayton Thorson went 13 of 27 for 106 yards with an interception. Northwestern totaled 168 yards of offense and went a putrid 2 of 13 on third downs. A lot of that is due to the Michigan defense, which got a pick six from Jourdan Lewis, who ripped the ball out of the receiver’s arms and sprinted down the sideline for a 37 yard return.

Michigan’s special teams started the day with a 96 yard kickoff return by Jehu Chesson and it was all Wolverines after that.

Northwestern (5-1, 1-1) faces Iowa next week at home in a massive Big Ten West game. Michigan will take on Michigan State at home next week in a huge game of their own.

Wisconsin Badgers at Nebraska Cornhuskers

Result: Wisconsin Win 23-21 (Saturday, October 10)

Stop if you have heard this one before: Nebraska lost a heartbreaker. It was their fourth loss of the season, all in close fashion.

Wisconsin had a tough time getting their running game involved early on. It was not until the fourth quarter when the Badgers were able to run the ball. Dare Ogunbowale finished with 18 carries for 117 yards while Taiwan Deal managed just 4 carries for 8 yards and left early due to an ankle injury. Alec Ingold was the third string running back and finished with 14 yards and a touchdown on 8 carries.

Joel Stave went to the air quite a bit due to the poor rushing attack. He went 24 of 50 for 322 yards with a touchdown. He found two of his favorite targets in Alex Erickson (7 catches for 113 yards) and Robert Wheelwright (5 catches for 81 yards). With Austin Traylor out at tight end, Troy Fumagalli stepped up to finish with 6 catches for 60 yards and a touchdown. The offense struggled on third down again going just 5 of 16, but racked up 469 yards of offense.

Nebraska ha issues moving the ball at times against Wisconsin. Tommy Armstrong went 11 of 28 for 129 yards and a touchdown through the air, but was dangerous running the ball with 50 yards and a touchdown on 8 carries. Andy Janovich and Terrell Newby both had 59 yards rushing while Janovich had a nice 55 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to give the Huskers a slim lead. Nebraska had 325 yards of offense and went 8 of 18 on third downs.

The defenses were both solid for much of the game. In the fourth quarter, the offenses came to life to provide an excellent game. Wisconsin was lucky to get the win thanks to Rafael Gaglianone, but he went 3 of 5. Nebraska kicker Drew Brown missed his only field goal attempt in another play that could be looked back on as a what if moment.

Wisconsin (4-2, 1-1) faces Purdue at home next weekend. Nebraska (2-4, 0-2) has another tough game with Minnesota next week on the road.

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Purdue Boilermakers

Result: Minnesota Win 41-13 (Saturday, October 10)

A potentially dangerous game for Minnesota turned into a rout with a big 28 point third quarter for the Gophers.

Minnesota’s passing game was hardly featured, but it was not needed often. Mitch Leidner went 8 for 12 for 59 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. Brandon Lingen caught both of those touchdowns and had 3 catches for 22 yards total. Shannon Brooks had a great game rushing with 176 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries while Rodney Smith had 52 yards on 13 carries. The Gophers ran for 326 yards and 2 touchdowns on 48 carries as a team.

Purdue struggled on offense. David Blough went 21 of 49 for 207 with a touchdown, but also threw 3 interceptions. D.J. Knox had 13 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown with Purdue managing just 275 yards of total offense. One of the interceptions was returned for a touchdown by Minnesota’s Jalen Myrick. Purdue went 3 of 17 on third down and the turnovers hurt them immensely.

Minnesota (4-2, 1-1) faces Nebraska next week at home. Purdue (1-5, 0-2) has the tough task of going into Madison and playing Wisconsin next weekend.

#4 Michigan State Spartans at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Result: Michigan State Win 31-24 (Saturday, October 10)

Michigan State was able to escape their road game at Rutgers thanks to a blunder by the Scarlet Knights on a night that featured both quarterbacks.

Connor Cook had a good game going 23 of 38 for 357 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. His top target once again was Aaron Burbridge, who had 9 catches for 146 yards. The Spartans struggled to run the ball at times with LJ Scott led the team with 9 carries for 42 yards and 2 scores.

Michigan State seemed as if they had no trouble converting on third down and they finished 11 of 17 on that important down. Rutgers was led by Chris Laviano going 15 of 24 for 208 yards and 3 touchdowns, but most importantly did not throw an interception. Leonte Carroo had his second three touchdown receiving game of the year with 7 catches for 134 yards and 3 scores. Paul James had only 2 carries, but that was good enough for 74 yards thanks to his long 72 yard run. Robert Martin had 61 yards on 13 carries as well.

Rutgers was the opposite going 3 of 12 on third down and 2 of 3 on fourth down. Neither defense played terribly, but neither was outstanding. Laviano spiked the ball with seconds remaining on fourth down after a sack, which caused Rutgers to lose. It was fourth and 20 at midfield so the chances were not great, but it became zero with the spike.

Michigan State (6-0, 2-0) will face in-state arch-rival Michigan on the road next week. Rutgers (2-3, 0-2) plays Indiana on the road next weekend.

Check back next Sunday for the Week 7 edition of the Big Ten Round Up.

2015 Week 5 Big Ten Roundup

Illinois celebrates their victory, as Nebraska suffers another crushing last-minute loss. ( Michael Hickey/Getty Images North America)
Illinois celebrates their victory, as Nebraska suffers another crushing last-minute loss. ( Michael Hickey/Getty Images North America)

2015 Week 5 Big Ten Roundup

The Big Ten started conference play in Week 5 with six conference games. Only Penn State (at home versus Army) and Rutgers (idle) did not play a conference game. A look at each game is below.

Purdue Boilermakers at #2 Michigan State Spartans

Result: Michigan State Win 24-21 (Saturday, October 3)

In a theme across the Big Ten, it was a day of concern for some teams and that includes the second ranked Michigan State Spartans.

The Spartans looked well on their way to an easy win with their rushing game leading them to a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. That was the score at halftime, but the offense sputtered to just 3 points the final 40 minutes of the game. The offense lost one fumble and missed a field goal on back-to-back possessions that led to 14 points for Purdue.

Connor Cook had a pedestrian game going 13 of 19 for 139 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 48 yards on just 5 carries. LJ Scott had a big game, particularly in the first half with 146 yards and 2 touchdowns on 18 carries. Madre London got his share of playing time with 17 carries for 97 yards.

The Michigan State defense forced three turnovers in the first half, but did not force any in the second half. One drive did begin right outside the red zone, which was not the fault of the defense. They were susceptible to the big play at times as well.

Purdue could not get anything going on offense in the first half due largely to their turnovers. The second half saw the narrative completely flip and the offense looked much more comfortable. Two of their touchdown drives went for 79 and 80 yards while Markell Jones had a big day including a long touchdown on one of those. He rushed for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns on 22 carries while David Blough looked okay going 15 of 31 for 136 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 pick.

If Purdue’s defense can play each game like they did in the second half, they will be a tough opponent for the rest of the season.

Purdue faces Minnesota next week at home while Michigan State takes their perfect record on the road to face Rutgers.

Minnesota Golden Gophers at #16 Northwestern Wildcats

Result: Northwestern Win 27-0 (Saturday, October 3)

This game was all about defense, specifically Northwestern’s defense.

The Northwestern defense stymied Minnesota at every turn. The Gophers could only managed 173 yards of offense the entire game with 99 through the air and 74 on the ground. Minnesota converted only 4 of 16 third downs and were 0 of 4 on fourth down. It was a dominating performance from Northwestern on defense.

Mitch Leidner was ineffective going 10 of 21 for 72 yards with an interception. Shannon Brooks mustered just 33 yards rushing on 10 carries while Rodney Smith had just 32 yards on 11 carries.

Northwestern’s offense was not out of this world, but they were effective. Clayton Thorson looked better this week going 14 of 19 for 128 yards. He also had 2 rushing touchdowns and was once again aided by Justin Jackson’s running attack. Jackson had 120 yards on 20 carries.

Anthony Walker was responsible for a 13 yard fumble recovery that he returned for a touchdown to put the exclamation point on the defense dominance Northwestern showed.

Minnesota will face Purdue next week on the road in a game that will need to see the offense have some sort of spark. Northwestern will go to Ann Arbor to face Michigan in what is setting up to be a classic Big Ten defensive struggle.

Iowa Hawkeyes at #19 Wisconsin Badgers

Result: Iowa Win 10-6 (Saturday, October 3)

If you are a fan of defense, this was the game for you. That is in large part due to the inept offenses that both Iowa and Wisconsin provided in this contest.

Wisconsin never seemed comfortable at any point in this game on offense. They were able to get a field goal on their opening drive, but only were able to get 3 points the rest of the way. Joel Stave had 234 yards passing on 21 of 38 attempts, but had two interceptions and lost two fumbles including one at the Iowa one yard line.

The rushing attack was virtually non-existent for Wisconsin. They had 86 yards on 34 carries as a team and Taiwan Deal was the top back with only 59 yards on 15 carries.

The one positive for Wisconsin was their defense and Joe Schobert shined. He made tackles, constantly was in the backfield, had two forced fumbles, and also recovered one of those forced fumbles. He was in full beast mode, but unfortunately his performance was wasted in the loss.

As bad as Wisconsin was on offense, Iowa was worse and still managed to win this game. C.J. Beathard had only 77 yards passing on 9 of 21 passing. He had a touchdown pass late in the second quarter, but also threw a pick that was intercepted by Michael Caputo. Jordan Canzeri was a workhorse with 125 yards rushing on 26 carries.

The Iowa defense gave up 320 yards of offense, but they stood tall when put up against their backs. They forced four turnovers including several that kept points off the board. They also held the Badgers to 3 field goal attempts with them going 2 of 3 on those kicks. Desmond King had the two interceptions and he was impressive in coverage.

Iowa improved to 5-0 with this win and they will continue their Big Ten schedule with Illinois at home next week. Wisconsin has a tough road trip to Nebraska in another crucial Big Ten West matchup.

#22 Michigan Wolverines at Maryland Terrapins

Result: Michigan Win 28-0 (Saturday, October 3)

Michigan’s defense continues to look impressive this year with another shutout performance.

The Michigan offense was okay, but they did not have to do much with their defense continuing to shut down the opponents. Jake Rudock went 16 of 32 for 180 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Drake Johnson was the main running back with 13 carries for 68 yards and a score, but a plethora of others got a chance to run the ball. Jehu Chesson had a wonderful 66 yard touchdown run for his only rushing attempt of the game.

The story, though, is about the defense and the Maryland offense. Maryland put up a total of 105 yards of offense for the entire game! They were an awful 1 of 18 on third down. The quarterbacks combined to go 10 of 36 passing for 76 yards with 3 interceptions. Brandon Ross had 44 yards on 14 rushes, but the rest of the team was so bad they finished with 29 yards rushing on 26 attempts as a team. All of those stats are a combination of Michigan’s defense and Maryland’s offense.

Michigan has a big defensive battle next week at home against Northwestern. Maryland has to face Ohio State at home with the hope that they can get something, anything positive going.

Army Black Knights at Penn State Nittany Lions

Result: Penn State Win 20-14 (Saturday, October 3)

Penn State was the only Big Ten team in action to not play another conference member. They took on Army in an offensive struggle for them again. To be fair, the Nittany Lions were without their top two running backs.

Christian Hackenberg went 10 of 19 for 156 yards and a touchdown through the air. Nick Scott led the rushing attack with 12 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown. Chris Godwin was the top received easily with 4 catches for 66 yards. The offense only converted on 5 of 15 third downs, but did not turn the ball over.

The defense had some issues against the triple-option, but played well in the first half. They recovered three fumbles that the offense was able to convert into 10 points. The second half is when they struggled against the option giving up two touchdown drives of 75 yards or longer. Perhaps they were beginning to wear down against the run, as Army had 55 rushing attempts and only 1 passing attempt for the entire game.

Penn State faces Indiana at home next week in their second Big Ten game. They beat Rutgers two weeks ago 28-3 in their conference opener.

#1 Ohio State Buckeyes at Indiana Hoosiers

Result: Ohio State Win 34-27 (Saturday, October 3)

The Big Ten opener for both Ohio State and Indiana showed both teams quite a bit on both sides of the ball.

For Ohio State, the offense continued to look disheveled at times, but they did get back to one tenant that made them so good in 2014: pound the rock with Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott was explosive against Indiana with 274 yards and 3 touchdowns on 3 touchdowns. Elliott’s touchdown runs were from 55, 65, and 75 yards and helped to repel the upset bid of Indiana.

Cardale Jones went 18 of 27 for 245 yards with 1 touchdown and a pick, but also looked bad at times. He will have to play way better for Ohio State to repeat this year. Jalin Marshall had 6 catches for 110 yards, but also lost 2 fumbles.

The defense was not great against Indiana, but they got the job done. They held the Hoosiers to 17 of 36 passing (226 yards) and also allowed only 176 yards on 55 carries (3.2 average). They did not force a turnover, but held Indiana to only 7 of 22 on third downs. This is another part of the team that will need to improve from this game.

For Indiana, this was actually a solid game. They were ultimately hurt by injuries that may have prevented them from the upset, but that is part of the game.

Nate Sudfeld left the game with an ankle injury, but went 10 of 21 for 134 yards and did not have a turnover. Star running back Jordan Howard ran for only 34 yards on 14 carries before he too suffered an ankle injury.

Zander Diamont had a solid game in place of Sudfeld going 6 of 14 for 76 yards. He was also elusive when running the ball with 7 carries for 98 yards and a score. That touchdown run was a 79 yarder that made the game 34-27 with 10 minutes left to play. Devine Redding carried a bulk of the load with Howard gone. He had 30 carries for only 45 yards, but two went for touchdowns.

Ultimately, it was the defense that struggled for Indiana and cost them the game with those long runs by Elliott. It is a common theme for the Hoosiers, but if they can improve slightly over the course of the final 7 games, they could win 7 or 8 games and improve their bowl slot.

Ohio State will have a chance to remedy some of their issues next week against Maryland at home. Indiana will face Penn State on the road next week.

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Illinois Fighting Illini

Result: Illinois Win 14-13 (Saturday, October 3)

Nebraska suffered another heartbreaking loss in a theme that has been all too common for the Husker faithful this year.

Let’s start with Illinois on offense, which had opportunity after opportunity to score early in the game. A muffed punt gave them a chance to get points, but they missed a field goal. They were stopped on fourth and one at the Nebraska 10 and missed another field goal on the next two drives.

The Illini finally broke through early in the fourth quarter with a 22 yard touchdown pass from Wes Lunt to Marchie Murdock. Lunt also threw a touchdown pass on fourth down to Geronimo Allison with seconds left to tie the game before the extra point gave them the win. Lunt finished the game going 23 of 45 for 251 yards with those two touchdown passes.

The Illini were hurt on offense when Josh Ferguson left in the first quarter due to injury. He had 4 carries for 50 yards prior to that. Ke’Shawn Vaughn ended up getting most of the carries the rest of the way finishing with 98 yards on 24 rushes.

Nebraska will rue the loss, but there is plenty of blame to go around. Tommy Armstrong went a putrid 10 of 31 for 105 yards with an interception. He also had 8 rushes for 38 yards while Devine Ozigbo had 7 rushes for 70 yards and a score. The offense went 4 of 17 on third down and also had 2 turnovers with neither coming back to haunt them.

Nebraska falls to 2-3 and has a good game next week against Wisconsin at home. Illinois moved to 4-1 and has to go to Iowa in another Big Ten West clash that could determine the winner by season’s end.

The Week 6 edition will be up next Sunday so be sure to check back for thoughts on the game’s from next weekend.

Riker Wires Grey Stakes Field

Riker Wires Grey Stakes Field

The even money favorite in Riker was able to take his competition gate-to-wire in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes. He was aided by a scratch of Ultraflame earlier in the day and that would have been his company on the lead had he entered.

Riker went straight to the lead from the start as he built an early 4 lengths lead over Kasseopia. Ruck sat third, Tizzarunner was fourth, and Van Damme was fifth about 8 1/2 lengths off the lead.

Riker lead the field through comfortable fractions of 24.18 for the first quarter and 48.92 for the opening half-mile. As they rounded the far turn, Riker was asked to pick it up slightly and Kasseopia loomed the biggest threat with Tizzarunner on the inside and the duo of Van Damme and Ruck not threatening to make an impact.

Down the stretch, Riker was able to keep Kasseopia at bay and win by 1 1/2 lengths. Tizzarunner was third by three lengths, Van Damme finished fourth, and Ruck was last in the field of five. The entire chart can be found here via Equibase.

A video replay can be found on Blood-Horse by clicking here.

Riker is by Include out of the Unreal Zeal mare Desviacion. He paid $4.00 to win and $2.30 to place in a race that did not allow show wagering. He ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.31, was ridden by Jesse Campbell, and trained by Nicholas Gonzalez.

For the victory, Riker also earned 10 points towards the Kentucky Derby Points Leaderboard. Kasseopia earned 4 points, Tizzarunner earned 2 points, and Van Damme earned 1 point.

The next race coming up in the Road to the Kentucky Derby is the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland on October 31.

Gamble’s Ghost Finds Room To Win Mazarine Stakes

Gamble’s Ghost Finds Room To Win Mazarine Stakes

Heavily favored Gamble’s Ghost provided some worries for her backers, but she ultimately got the job done by winning the Grade 3 Mazarine Stakes at Woodbine for 2 year old fillies.

Audacious Bear went straight to the lead from her rail draw and established a clear advantage over Allwehaveisnow. Swoop and Strike was all alone in third by 3 1/2 lengths, with Gamble’s Ghost, Garavogue Colleen, and Conquest Soprano the final three running close together.

On the backstretch, the field start to compact tightly. Audacious Bear continued to lead, but her margin was closing quickly with Allwehaveisnow pressuring her more as well as Swoop and Strike and Conquest Soprano drawing within two lengths. Gamble’s Ghost was fifth by 2 lengths and Garavogue Colleen was far behind as 2 1/2 lengths covered the field.

The pace began to quicken on the far turn and entering the stretch as Audacious Bear led the field. She was soon tackled by Swoop and Strike with Garavogue Colleen loom large in third. Gamble’s Ghost continued to be urged and she eventually hit her best stride between horses and was much the best despite her jockey losing the whip.

Gamble’s Ghost was able to draw clear by three-quarters of a length over Swoop and Strike in second and Garavogue Colleen, who could not close on the top duo. Audacious Bear faded to fourth, Conquest Soprano finished fifth, and Allwehaveisnow finished sixth. The full chart can be found here courtesy of Equibase.

Gamble’s Ghost paid $2.90 to win and $2.10 to place in a race that did not allow show wagering. She is by Ghostzapper out of the Secret Claim mare Gambling Girl. She was ridden by Luis Contreras and trained by Josie Carroll. She covered the 1 1/16 miles on synthetic in 1:45.62.

A replay of the Mazarine Stakes can be found here on Blood-Horse.

In addition to the winner’s share of the $150,000 purse, Gamble’s Ghost earned 10 points towards the Kentucky Oaks Points Leaderboard. Swoop and Strike earned 4 points, Garavogue Colleen earned 2 points, and Audacious Bear earned 1 point.

The next race on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks will be October 31 at Keeneland with the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

2015 Grey Stakes Preview

2015 Grey Stakes Preview

The final stop in this weekend’s Road to the 2016 Kentucky Derby is at Woodbine with the Grade 3 Grey Stakes. A field of six is entered for this Grade 3 race at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

The purse for the Grey Stakes is $150,000 while there is another perk for winning this race. The top four finisher will receive points towards the Kentucky Derby Points Leaderboard. First place will receive 10 points, second place will receive 4 points, third place will receive 2 points, and fourth place will receive 1 point.

Post time for the Grade 3 Grey Stakes is scheduled for 4:25 PM Eastern Time and is carded as the eighth race of a 10 race card at Woodbine. Free past performances can be found here by going to Sunday, October 4, 2015 and going to Woodbine – Race 8. Entries have also been provided in the table below.

Post PositionHorseJockeyTrainerMorning Line Odds
1TizzarunnerPatrick HusbandsMark Casse3-1
2Van DammeT.D. HoughtonRobert Gorham20-1
3RuckJames McAleneyReade Baker8-1
4RikerJesse CampbellNicholas Gonzalez4-5
5UltraflameGary BoulangerJohn Ross10-1
6KasseopiaAlan GarciaCharlie Fellowes6-1

1. Tizzarunner – He debuted on July 25 going six furlongs here at Woodbine in the Colin Stakes. He stalked the pace from a few lengths behind, but could not rally in the stretch. He was third by 3 3/4 lengths behind Riker before dropping down to the maiden ranks. His second start was at 7 furlongs and he employed the same tactics. This time, he was able to rally and got up to win by a nose. His latest start was in the Swynford at 7 furlongs again. He stalked the pace yet again and once more, he could not get by Riker, who shows up here as well. The blinkers are taken off for this race and he is the main threat to the overwhelming favorite.

2. Van Damme – His first two races were at Indiana Grand (3rd place) and Thistledown (4th place) before a switch to synthetic tracks. His third start came at Presque Isle going a mile and he responded with a rally to win by a length. He was then sent to Arlington for the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity. He came off the pace to grab second by 2 1/2 lengths. He exits the Swynford Stakes here at Woodbine where he stalked the pace and failed to rally in the stretch, finishing fourth by 7 1/4 lengths. He will need to step up to compete here.

3. Ruck – He debuted on August 9 going five furlongs in an open maiden special weight race. He had a poor break and was forced to settle near the rear of the field. He had some run in the stretch, but was no match for the top three with a fourth place finish by 7 1/4 lengths. His second start came at a mile and 70 yards and he had a better break that allowed him to sit closer to the pace. He had a wide trip in that race, but was still able to hold the lead on the turn. He continued on, but could not catch the winner and finished second by a length. A trip closer to the rail could be more beneficial, but he will have to be even better to threaten the top two.

4. Riker – His debut was on July 5 going five furlongs where he pressed the pace and was able to edge in front at the wire to win by a half-length. His second race was in the Colin where he had a similar race of battling for the lead and he hung on to win by a half-length once more. His latest race was a bit easier as he set a clear lead and was able to win by 2 1/2 lengths. He will be in front again and they will have to catch him if they want to beat him. The solid choice here.

5. Ultraflame – He debuted in the Clarendon Stakes, but had a slow break and was left with a lot of running. He rallied to finish fifth by 4 1/4 lengths and joined the maiden ranks in his second start. In that race, he went straight to the lead and ran the field of their feet to win by 7 1/4 lengths. He stepped back up to stakes company in his latest start where he tried to duel for the lead. It eventually cost him as he finish third by 5 3/4 lengths. If he goes to the lead, he will have to contend with Riker, who simply does not lose. Tough to like him if he wants to try and wire this field.

6. Kasseopia – He has ran in only Great Britain prior to this race. He debuted going 7 furlongs at Doncaster, but did not have any rally finishing sixth by 8 1/4 lengths. A move over to the synthetic track saw him finish second by six lengths before a crushing maiden victory by 9 lengths last time out. There are concerns about the trip across the Atlantic and the class level, but he is intriguing nonetheless.

Selections

This race will go through #4 Riker on the front end. He has yet to lose a race and it will take a big effort to do it again in this spot. #1 Tizzarunner has not been able to pass #4 Riker in two of his three starts, but could end up with a great trip if a speed duel occurs. He is the top threat to the favorite. #6 Kasseopia is the ultimate wild card worth a chance underneath.

Top selection – #4 Riker

2nd selection – #1 Tizzarunner

3rd selection – #6 Kasseopia

Check back on Sunday night for a recap of the Grade 3 Grey Stakes.