The Notorious B1G – Week Four Review
Each week, after all the Big Ten games are through, Phil Harrison recaps the action in the weekly, off-the-wall Notorious B1G. Time to look at week four.
What a week in the Big Ten. The classic in Iowa City was clearly the story of the week, but that’s not all that’s worth reflecting upon. It’s the last week before everyone gets into conference games, so let’s get rolling on recapping the action in week four.
Airing of B1G Grievances
I’m going to get plenty of people calling me crazy here but stay with me. Iowa, you made a huge mistake at the end of the desperate bid for an upset of Penn State.
Down by two with under two minutes, Akrum Wadley found a hole on the left side of the Penn State defense and raced through it 35 yards all the way for the go ahead score.
I was sitting right next to an Iowa fan of all people, and in the midst of their frenzied celebration, I calmly said, “Iowa just lost the game. It left too much time on the clock.” The time read 1:42. An eternity for an offense with as much firepower as Penn State.
Sure it could have gone either way, especially considering Trace McSorley’s pass with just :04 seconds was a fingertip away from being deflected — potentially ending the game.
But it didn’t, and it was because Trace McSorley, Mike Gesicki and apparently Superman wearing No. 26 marched down the field to finish the script a lot of us saw coming.
I know it goes against everything that your taught, and I know there could have been second guessing if it failed, but the Hawkeyes had a better chance of winning had Wadley posessed the wherewithal to stop short of the end zone so that more time could be run off the clock.
A field goal would have won it, and all that was needed would have been a chip shot with just seconds left. Down the ball, milk it and kick a field goal with the sands of the hourglass running out like the Hawkeyes have done before against top five opponents.
B1G Man on Campus
Saquon Barkley, Penn State RB – The stats were there anyway, but even if we simply try and measure up who had the best numbers day, that doesn’t tell the story.
If you watched the same game I did taking place amongst the corn fields in Iowa City, you can’t possibly convince me there’s a better player in college football.
So, let’s just throw the numbers out first and foremost. Barkley had 211 rushing yards on 28 carries (7.5 avg) with one TD. He also had 12 catches for 94 yards, and he also chipped in 53 yards in the kick return game. Do the math, and that’s a total of 358 all-purpose yards — a Penn State record.
Numbers aside though, there are about five amazing clips that I could show you that go beyond what any human being should be able to do. But I’ll just leave you with this one that converted a key, key first down late in the game:
Are you kidding me with this? Not only does Barkley hurdle a defender, he get hit in mid-air, absorbs it and keeps his balance to get beyond the marker.
The kid is unreal and Penn State fans should relish every moment left in his career in Happy Valley.
B1G Defender of the Week
Josey Jewell, Iowa LB – I’ll stay in the same game for the defender of the week. Jewell is no stranger to player of the week awards, but he was all over the field again against the Nittany Lions.
Without him, I’d have just as much of a chance at pulling the upset sitting on the couch by myself eating Cheetos and downing a few Diet Cokes as Iowa would. With him, the Hawkeyes nearly pulled off another shocker.
For the game, No. 43 had 16 tackles (3 for loss), 1 INT, and 2 passes defended. More than that, he was tasked with shadowing Barkley more often than not, but was able to move off of that assignment to get in on a bunch of plays and big moments.
He was a beast again.
B1G Team of the Week
Michigan Wolverines – Purdue had looked fantastic to start the season. It’s lone loss was to a fairly talented Louisville squad at a neutral site where it put a big scare in Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals.
So, who could blame all the national media when picking the Wolverines to stumble on the road in West Lafayette became trendy?
For a while anyway, that looked like a possibility — especially with quarterback Wilton Speight out of the game with an injury and down at halftime 10-7.
Undaunted, the Wolverine defense stiffened, and backup QB John O’Korn showed his affinity for khakis too by throwing for 270 yards and 1 TD on 18 of 26 attempts.
In the end, it was about as expected with the Wolverines pulling away for a 28-10 victory in what could only be considered their stiffest test to date.
There will be more challenges going forward, but it has to be encouraging to see the rebuilt Michigan defense hold down a very good offensive ball-club, and to see O’Korn step in and provide a spark.
The only question that remains now is who gets the nod at quarterback for Michigan going forward once Speight is cleared to play?
B1G gest Surprise
I expected much more from the Maryland Terrapins against UCF. I know the football gods struck the program again when quarterback Kasim Hill was lost to injury early on, but that shouldn’t have affected the game to the extent that it did.
The ‘Terps could only muster 197 yards of total offense, and shot themselves in the foot with a couple of key turnovers, one an interception taken back for a pick-six.
This had looked like a turn-the page year for Maryland under D.J. Durkin, but with the injuries and lack of ability to overcome adversity, you have to wonder what’s in store the rest of the year.
B1G gest Disappointment
What has happened to the Michigan State rushing attack? Heading into this week, the team’s leading rusher was … wait for it, quarterback Brian Lewerke. And that’s without the offense being geared towards an option-spread attack that features a so-called dual-threat quarterback.
Well guess what? After this week, Lewerke still leads the team in rushing. He did finish just behind running back L.J. Scott Saturday (61 yards to 56), but that’s not the point.
I keep waiting for Scott to break out and take the running back duties by the horn, but it’s just not happening. The offensive line isn’t helping out, and neither is the whole running back by committee approach. Running for only 93 total yards on the ground between a trio of running backs is not very Spartan like.
That has to change.
B1G gest Clunker
We’ll stay in East Lansing here. I had been trumpeting the Michigan State Spartans’ return to relevancy after an abysmal year in 2016. That won’t happen any longer after a poor showing against Notre Dame on Saturday that resulted in a 38-18 loss.
Quarterback Brian Lewerke was asked to put the ball in the air 51 times because of early mistakes that put the Spartans down big early and he did his job by throwing for 340 yards and a TD. But we all know that Michigan State isn’t Michigan State without a stifling defense and the aforementioned punishing ground game.
Cutting down on the trend of turnovers and mistakes wouldn’t hurt either.
Those things aren’t happening like they should, and it clearly didn’t occur today against a quality opponent. The bad news? The Spartans have plenty of quality opponents still left to deal with.
B1G Play of the Week
Could it be anything other than the game winning 7 yard TD pass from Trace McSorley to Juwan Johnson for the walk-off winner? Teams that win championships have these moments that they have to scrape by, and Penn State was able to find a way to get it done in Iowa City.
B1G gest Mistake
There were many times in which the Iowa Hawkeyes were backed up deep in its own territory. In one such occasion however, Iowa started on its own 1 yard-line.
After a QB sneak provided room to operate, the coaching staff decided to call a pitch to the narrow side of the field, five yards deep in the end zone against a Nittany Lion defense that had been firing towards the ball carrier on runs all night long.
A curious play call to say the least, and one that unfortunately ended up as a safety that gave the Nittany Lions two points and an additional possession. The final score, as we all know at this point, was 21-19.
Most Bizarre Moment
It’s quite comical that this even has to happen, but as a bit of background, ESPN’s College GameDay had a Penn State grad on today — actor/comedian Keegan-Michael Key — who just happens to look an awful lot like James Franklin. Here’s the spot:
And … here’s James Franklin feeling the need to clarify that it was NOT him on the set of College GameDay because of “about a hundred nasty messages” he apparently received. This at the very end of the post-game presser vs. Iowa.
The resemblance is a little uncanny, but c’mon folks. Use your noggin’ here.
If you are one of those folks that actually believed James Franklin had the ability to get to New York and back to Iowa City all while shucking his coaching duties please, please go sit in the corner and stay there until you decide to live in reality.
We’ll do it all again next week on the Notorious B1G.
Phil Harrison is the lead Big Ten writer for College Football News. Get his opinion and analysis all year long. Follow him on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFB