Best of Week 9: Grades, individual honors, stock watch & numbers
The Penn State at Ohio State contest lived up to its “game of the year” billing, as the Buckeyes scored a huge win to stake their claim as the best team in the Big Ten. Meanwhile, Wisconsin just keeps on winning.
Here is the Best of Week 9.
Biggest surprise: Nebraska. No huge surprises, but give the Huskers credit for showing fight and rallying from being down 24-12 in the fourth quarter to win at Purdue, 25-24. Nebraska marched 70 yards in a little over a minute to score the winning TD in the waning seconds. Gotta be happy for Mike Riley.
Biggest disappointment: Indiana. Really thought the Hoosiers would have found a way to win at Maryland, which had lost three in a row, was struggling on defense and is using a QB who began the year No. 3 on the depth chart. But the Hoosiers lost, 42-39, and remain winless in the Big Ten. IU must win three of its last four to become bowl eligible. Wisconsin is next.
Play this again: Penn State at Ohio State. You can make a case for Northwestern’s 39-31 triple OT win over No. 16 Michigan State. But let’s go with the Buckeyes’ heart-stopping 39-38 triumph vs. No. 2 and 7-0 Penn State. Ohio State trailed, 35-20, as the fourth quarter began and rallied for 19 points to win the game, dominating PSU by outgaining it 529-283.
Never play this again: Wisconsin at Illinois. The Badgers’ 24-10 win at Illinois was a sleepy affair. Wisconsin did not live up to its No. 5 ranking but still grinded out a win by outgaining the Illini, 303-286. Iowa’s 17-10 win vs. Minnesota also was a snoozer. Each team converted just 15 first downs and committed three turnovers as the teams combined for 596 yards.
Best play: So many options in a wild week, but I have to go with the biggest play in the season’s biggest game. That, of course, would be J.T. Barrett’s go-ahead and eventual game-winning touchdown pass to Marcus Baugh with 1:48 left. Have to mention Saquon Barkley’s kickoff return touchdown to open the game, the second time he’s done that this season.
Best tweet: Denzel Ward thought he had an interception – it was ruled an interception on the field, after all – but the call was overturned and ruled a touchdown. Earlier this season, Ward was ejected for a questionable targeting penalty, prompting him to tweet the following after the Buckeyes’ thrilling comeback win. Honorable mention goes to @NUFBFamily throwing some shade.
Best debut: Michigan QB Brandon Peters. People have been calling for the freshman for weeks, and he didn’t disappoint in his debut. Peters completed 10 of 14 passes for one touchdown to give the struggling Michigan offense a spark en route to a victory vs. Rutgers. The Wolverines scored a touchdown on Peters’ first three possessions.
Did you see this? Wisconsin’s 6-6, 328-pound offensive lineman Michael Deiter took a lateral and (what else?) rumbled four yards for a TD to give the Badgers a 24-3 lead in the fourth quarter.
Did you see this, Part II? Four of the seven Week 9 Big Ten games ended in thrilling fashion, with three transpiring at the same time. The victors had some celebrating to do, and it made for some fun viewing.
WEEK 9 GRADES
Michigan State: B
Ohio State: A-
Penn State: B-
WEEK 9 SUPERLATIVES
Offensive Player of the Week: Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett. He vaulted himself into the Heisman race by hitting 33-of-39 passes for 328 yards with four TDs while also leading the team with 95 yards rushing on 17 carries in a huge comeback win vs. No. 2 Penn State.
Defensive Player of the Week: Northwestern LB Paddy Fisher. He had 17 tackles (14 solo) in a 39-31 triple OT win vs. Michigan State. Also have to mention Maryland’s Darnell Savage (4 tackles, including the game-sealer on 4th down, and an interception) and Wisconsin’s Chris Orr (8 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble).
Co-Special Teams Player of the Week: Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. The do-it-all star ran back the opening kickoff 97 yards for a TD at Ohio State, his second TD return for a TD this year. Maryland Darnell Savage. He blocked a punt, picked up in stride and returned it for a score in Maryland’s comeback win vs. Indiana.
Ohio State. The Buckeyes couldn’t have afforded another loss if they wanted to keep their playoff hopes alive. And Ohio State delivered with one of the best games the old Horseshoe has seen in years in taking a 39-38 decision vs. No. 2 Penn State.
Michigan. Don’t look now, but the Wolverines may have found an elixir for their ailing offense in QB Brandon Peters, who took over for an ineffective John O’Korn (3-of-6 for 13 yards with a pick) and sparked Michigan to a 35-14 win vs. Rutgers. The redshirt freshman hit 10-of-14 passes for 124 yards and a TD, giving the Wolverines a needed win (and hope) after losing two of three.
Northwestern. After opening Big Ten play 0-2, the Wildcats have won three in a row. The last two have been in OT, with the latest being a 39-31 triple OT win vs. Michigan State. Looking ahead, it’s not crazy to think NU could win its last four games: at Nebraska; Purdue; Minnesota; at Illinois.
Maryland. The Terps snapped a three-game losing skid with a 42-39 win vs. Indiana after trailing 33-28 as the fourth quarter began.
Penn State. The air has been let out of the Nittany Lions’ season with the 39-38 loss at Ohio State. Penn State blew a 35-20 fourth-quarter lead and saw its unbeaten season end … with perhaps its Big Ten and playoff dreams, too. The Lions had just 283 yards after entering the game averaging 463.3 ypg.
Michigan State. The four-game winning streak is toast after a 39-31 triple OT loss at Northwestern, as MSU had 540 yards and lost. Things get no easier for the Spartans with Penn State and Ohio State up next.
Purdue. Cinderella has turned into a pumpkin. The Boilermakers were favored in their last two games … and lost: 14-12 at Rutgers and 25-24 to Nebraska, allowing the Huskers to score the winning TD with 14 seconds left after blowing a 24-12 fourth quarter lead. Bowl game? Forget it. Purdue will be lucky to win another game.
WEEK 9 NUMBERS
2, 100-yard rushers for Michigan, which ran for 334 yards: Karan Higdon (158 yards and two TDs) and Ty Isaac (109).
431, passing yards for Nebraska’s Tanner Lee, who hit 32-of-50 passes with two TDs.
15, consecutive games with at least one touchdown for Penn State’s Saquon Barkley.
91, career TD passes for OSU’s J.T. Barrett, which passes Drew Brees to make him No. 1 all-time in the Big Ten.
529, yards for Ohio State vs. Penn State, which was allowing 282.9 yards per game.
410, yards in the air for IU on 43-of-62 passing with five TDs and a pick.
44, rushing yards Ohio State held Penn State’s Saquon Barkley to, as OSU allowed just 91 yards on the ground.
286, yards Wisconsin allowed at Illinois, which hit just 9-of-31 passes with two interceptions.
8, wins in a row for Iowa vs. Minnesota in Iowa City. The Gophers’ last win in Kinnick was in 1999.
356, yards passing for Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson, who hit 33-of-48 passes with two TDs.
3, Indiana players with double-digit catches. Simmie Cobbs had 10 grabs from 138 yards and two TDs; Whop Philyor had 13 for 127 and a TD; Luke Timian had 13 for 91 and a score.
445, yards passing for Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke, a school single-game record. He hit 39 passes, also a program record, with four TDs and a pick.
165, yards receiving for Michigan State’s Cody White with two TDs.
102, yards receiving for Ohio State’s K.J. Hill on 12 catches.
2, Nebraska players with over 100 yards receiving: Stanley Morgan had 112 yards on six grabs with a TD, and Tyler Hoppes had five grabs for 105 yards and a score.