Dienhart: Snap reactions to afternoon games
Northwestern 38, South Dakota 7
1. The Wildcats maintained their hot start by smashing an overmatched South Dakota team from the FCS ranks. Offense, defense, special teams … it all worked for Northwestern. The Wildcats had 408 yard and allowed only 240. Take a bow, Willie.
2. Venric Mark is an uber exciting player. The diminutive back is a blur. And the coaching staff does a great job getting Mark in space where he can use his speed in one-on-one situations. On this day, Mark ran 16 times for 117 yards and three touchdowns.
3. That is 18 games in a row with a takeaway for Northwestern, which is the third-longest such streak in the nation. Another sign of how well this defense is playing, especially the front seven against the run. South Dakota had 23 rushes for 51 yards.
Michigan State 23, Eastern Michigan 7
1. The offensive issues persist for the Spartans. Yes, Le’Veon Bell had a great game, running 36 times for a career-high 253 yards and a touchdown. But the Spartans can’t count on riding him to victory week after week in the Big Ten. Help is needed.
2. The defense played well—again–allowing a mere 183 yards. EMU ran 29 times for 46 yards (1.6 ypc). But the one area the unit can still improve at is big plays. The sacks, the tackles for loss, the turnovers. Those all are areas that Michigan State needs to get better at as the competition amps up.
3. This team has to be filled with some doubt coming off consecutive uneven outings. The final score of this game wasn’t as indicitive of how close it was. MSU led just 9-7 after three quarters. And this Saturday, Ohio State comes to East Lansing. When adversity strikes—and it does in every game for every team—how will the Spartans react?
Penn State 24, Temple 13
1. Matt McGloin continues to impress. Is he Dan Marino? No, but McGloin has developed into a solid, quality quarterback and gutty leader for an offense that continues to rely on the passing game. The senior hit 24-of-36 passes for 318 yards with a touchdown and pick. Nice work.
2. The Nittany Lions just may get to .500. And that would be an impressive feat after Penn State opened with two tough losses vs. Ohio and Virginia. There certainly are still four winnable games left on the schedule. Up next: a trip to Illinois, which recruited Penn State players with more gusto than any other Big Ten school.
3. The defense of Ted Roof is doing well. Today, the Nittany Lion defense yielded a mere 237 yards vs. the Owls. Penn State allowed only 124 yards passing on 13-of-26 attempts. Oh, and it was good to see Sam Ficken boot a field goal late in the game to give the kid some confidence. The team may need him to hit a big kick down the stretch.
Nebraska 73, Idaho State 7
1. Rex Burkhead looked good in his first action since the season opener vs. Southern Miss, running eight times for 119 yards and two scores. That comes out to 14.9 yards per carry. The Huskers will need a vintage Burkhead to make a run at the Legends Division crown, as Big Ten play begins next week.
2. Did this defense REALLY give up 653 yards to UCLA? That almost seems like 100 years ago. Yes, the competition the last two weeks hasn’t been killer (Arkansas State and Idaho State), but at least Nebraska dominated like it needed to. In this game, the Huskers allowed only 210 yards in a 73-7 game that wasn’t really that close. And how often can you say that about a 73-7 game?
3. Taylor Martinez continues to impress, hitting 9-of-13 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns. His dual-threat skills are on par with any quarterback in the Big Ten—though he didn’t need to run much today (15 yards)–for an offense that continues to improve under coordinator Tim Beck.
|BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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