Big Ten Quick Thoughts, Takes On Every Game: Week 8

Big Ten Quick Thoughts, Takes On Every Game: Week 8

Big Ten

Big Ten Quick Thoughts, Takes On Every Game: Week 8

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Minnesota 42, Rutgers 7

Minnesota did exactly what it was supposed to do. It took a little while to truly breathe easily, and the running game didn’t rumble like it did in the previous few games, but Rodney Smith ran for 111 yards and two scores, and Tanner Morgan had a solid 245-yard, two touchdown day. Tyler Johnson went off for 130 yards and a score on six catches.

Rutgers at least came up with more than the one passing yard it netted last week against Maryland – it got 48. The ground game wasn’t totally miserable – there was one nice dash and 141 yards overall – but there’s just nothing happening right now with the attack. The effort is there, but the team doesn’t have the guys. It gets Liberty up next – that’s the last likely chance to be slightly competitive, much less win one.

Minnesota gets one more relative layup – Maryland comes to Minneapolis next week – and then it’s the Penn State showdown. This is hardly a perfect team, but there’s still a big 0 in the loss column in the middle of October. Now, with Wisconsin losing to Illinois, this really gets fun when it comes to dreaming about being in the hunt for the West.

Penn State 28, Michigan 21

The Nittany Lions held on, and they’re still unbeaten. They did what they needed to early on to get up, they did what they needed to late to be in a position to hold on, and they did what they needed to when all the momentum was on the other side of the field. The offense that struggled a bit in the bigger games against he better teams opened it up, and just when it seemed like everything was about to cave in … boom. Sean Clifford hit KJ Hamler for the 53-yard pass that turned out to be the game-winner.

Michigan outgained Penn State by almost 140 yards, it held the ball for almost 38 minutes, and it took full control of the game as the second half wore on. But in the nasty conditions against a jacked up Nittany Lion team in front of a jacked up crowd, it took way too much to fight back.

The Wolverines found a running game, with Zach Charbonnet taking off for 81 tough yards and two scores, Shea Patterson overcame getting beaten up to hang around an keep fighting, and it turned into a great game with tremendous heart on both sides, but …

Ronnie Bell had a great night – four catches for 71 yards – but the fourth down drop in the end zone will unfortunately overshadow everything else. It was a bad break and a missed opportunity, but he played a big role in getting the team to that point.

Micah Parsons continues to show why he’s one of the best young defensive players in college football. The Nittany Lions do-it-all star came up with 14 tackles and seemingly got in on everything. The pass rush overall didn’t close enough on Patterson, but it made him work for everything – he never got comfortable.

Michigan has to shake this off in a big, big hurry with Notre Dame coming to town next week. This was okay – it was a tough loss in a brutal environment against a fantastic team. But to lose a third game this year against a top team – and at home – will be crushing fodder for the Harbaugh haters. There’s still plenty of time to get right back in the Big Ten title chase by winning out – obviously a WHOLE lot easier said than done – but …

Penn State still has to go to Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State. The team is still a work in progress – it has to be more consistent for a full 60 minutes – but it got by the win at Iowa, and it got by Michigan in a fight. It’s 7-0, and it’s right there in the mix for the Big Ten East title. More than that, this is a fantastic young team that James Franklin is building. This seems like just the beginning for this group that keeps getting better and better.

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