Get Tom Dienhart’s best of Week 4 in the Big Ten
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Week 4 taught us a few things: Wisconsin is really good, Michigan State has work to do, Nebraska is lurking and Michigan is rolling.
Here is a look at a busy Saturday.
Biggest surprise: Most figured No. 11 Wisconsin had a chance to win at Michigan State. But no one envisioned the Badgers waltzing into East Lansing and blowing out the No. 8 Spartans, 30-6. It was complete and total domination by Wisconsin, which is now 4-0 and thinking big as it heads to No. 4 Michigan next week. This was Michigan State’s most lopsided defeat at Spartan Stadium since falling 42-14 to Penn State in 2009.
Biggest disappointment: Indiana falling at home, 33-28, to Wake Forest hurts. And IU fell despite having 611 yards. It was the Hoosiers’ first loss of the season. QB Richard Lagow entered the day with no interceptions; he tossed five vs. the Demon Deacons. And Big Ten rushing leader Devine Redding had just 68 yards rushing, breaking a string of five consecutive 100-yard rushing games.
Play this again: No real barn-burners. But Purdue’s 24-14 win vs. Nevada was fun. The Boilermakers fell behind, 14-3, but they rallied behind a great effort by the defense to score what many felt was a must-win game.
Never play this again: No. 4 Michigan dominated Penn State from start to finish, taking a 49-10 decision that wasn’t really that close. The Wolverines led 28-0 at the half and never looked back.
Best play: Michigan State running back LJ Scott got hit hard, losing the ball early in the third quarter. And Wisconsin safety Leo Musso scooped up the loose ball and raced 66 yards for a touchdown to give UW a 20-6 lead in a 30-6 blowout of the Spartans.
Best moment: Seeing the tribute Michigan State paid to punter Mike Sadler, whose No. 3 was emblazoned on the field. Sadler perished in a car crash over the summer along with Nebraska punter Sam Foltz. BTN’s Michelle McMahon also had this terrific tribute to Sadler.
Did you see this? Minnesota freshman DE Tai’yon Devers crushed Colorado State QB Collin Hill so hard that it knocked his helmet off and jarred the ball loose. Minnesota recovered the fumble. Devers has forced a fumble on all three of his sacks just 2 1/2 games into his college career.
Did you see this, Part 2? Joey Julius strikes again. Yes, Penn State got drilled at Michigan, but its large kicker (5-10, 258 pounds) leveled another returner. The hit was so big, it left both players shaken up.
Best wishes: It was hard to watch dynamic Rutgers return man/wideout Janarion Grant get helped off the field in a home loss to Iowa. Hawkeyes cornerback Desmond King stepped on Grant’s right leg at the end of a play. If Grant is out for an extended time, it will really hurt the Scarlet Knights—who got a great defensive effort on Saturday but lost, 14-7, to Iowa.
WEEK 4 GRADES
Michigan State: F
Penn State: D
WEEK 4 SUPERLATIVES
Offensive Player of the Week: Let’s go with two guys. Purdue QB David Blough hit 21-of-30 passes for 300 yards with two touchdowns and a pick after tossing five interceptions in his previous game. Best of all, Blough led the Boilermakers to a 24-14 win vs. Nevada, hitting a game-clinching TD pass of 51 yards to tight end Brycen Hopkins late in the fourth quarter with Purdue leading by just three. Also have to tip the hat to Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong, who hit 18-of-29 passes for 246 yards with a TD and ran 13 times for a team-high 132 yards in a 24-13 win at Northwestern. He had 378 total yards. Not bad.
Defensive Player of the Week: Wisconsin’s Leo Musso. Musso had, perhaps, the biggest play of the week, picking up an LJ Scott fumble and returning it 66 yards for a touchdown, to turn a seven-point lead into a 20-6 advantage. He also added five solo tackles. Musso’s teammate, T.J. Watt, was pretty good, too, registering six tackles and 2.5 sacks, a performance that caught the attention of his older brother.
Wisconsin. The Badgers have now beaten two Top-10 teams in the same season for the first time since 1962. They opened by dumping No. 5 LSU and took care of No. 8 Michigan State. Is UW the best team in the West?
Michigan. This club continues to look dominating, as it whipped Penn State, 49-10. The Wolverines have scored 45 or more points in each game. Michigan had issues with its rush game entering the day, ranking No. 9 in the Big Ten. But the Wolverines ran for 326 yards on 49 carries vs. the Nittany Lions with six rush TDs. PSU had just 70 yards rushing on 28 totes, as the Nits were sacked five times.
Nebraska. The Cornhuskers remain among the dwindling ranks of the unbeatens with a 24-13 win at Northwestern. This team’s confidence grows with each passing week.
Purdue. Wins have been few and far between for Darrell Hazell. So, when he gets one, it needs to be celebrated. The Boilers won, 24-14, vs. Nevada despite committing four turnovers and trailing 14-3. Good to see the defense step up (no points allowed in the final 35:56 with five sacks) to complement David Blough’s 300 yards on 21-of-30 passing with two TDs and one pick after tossing five interceptions in the last game.
Michigan State. That 36-28 win at Notre Dame seems like years ago after the Spartans got dominated at home by Wisconsin, 30-6. Now, what? Next week’s game at Indiana looks scary for the defending Big Ten champ.
Penn State. The Nittany Lions entered their game at Michigan with a defense ripped by injury and struggling to stop the run. A blowout was feared … and PSU’s fears came true in a 49-10 loss. The Nittany Lions had just 50 yards in the first half, trailing 28-0. QB Trace McSorley got sacked five times and a defense playing without its starting linebacking trio (out with injury) and a top reserve (tossed for targeting early on) got shredded for 326 yards rushing.
Indiana. The Hoosiers fell from the ranks of the unbeaten by getting beat at home by Wake Forest, 33-28. Having stud tackle Dimitric Camiel and guard Dan Feeney out with injury hurt the run game.
Northwestern. The Wildcats got their first win of 2016 last week by dumping Duke after opening with home losses to Western Michigan and Illinois State. But NU fell at home to Nebraska, 24-13. And up next are games at Iowa and at Michigan State.
556, yards for Nebraska in its win at Northwestern. The Huskers had 310 yards rushing.
124, yards rushing for Purdue’s Markell Jones on 22 carries with a TD. But he did fumble twice.
243, yards rushing for Minnesota in a 31-24 win vs. Colorado State. Rodney Smith had 99 yards rushing with two TDs and Shannon Brooks had 85 on 13 carries with a TD in his first action of the season after suffering a broken foot in camp.
9, regular-season Big Ten wins in a row for Iowa, which has also won seven conference road games in succession.
496, yards passing for Indiana’s Richard Lagow, who hit 28-of-47 passes with three TDs. But he also had five picks in a 33-28 loss to Wake Forest. Ricky Jones had eight catches for 208 yards. Nick Westbrook had six receptions for 129 yards and two scores.
107, yards rushing for Michigan’s De’Veon Smith on 12 carries with a TD.
6, rushing touchdowns for Michigan vs. Penn State.
4, turnovers generated by Wisconsin in its win at Michigan State. The Badgers also allowed just 75 yards rushing on 27 carries (2.8 ypc).
3, sacks and forced fumbles for Minnesota freshman DE Tai’yon Devers in his first 2.5 games, this after registering a highlight sack-fumble vs. Colorado State.
2, fumbles out of the end zone resulting in touchback for Nebraska. Both in the first half, no less. Still, the Huskers beat Northwestern.
109, yards receiving for Northwestern’s Austin Carr on eight catches with a TD.