Wha Happened? Week Eight

There were other games before STANZITOMCNUTTTOUCHDOWNIOWAOHMYGOD?  Yes.  Yes, there were.  They sucked, by and large.  But let's do this anyway.  So... Wha Happened?

Chong Li thinks your kung fu is WEAK, Michigan.

Penn State 35, Michigan 10
Michigan took the opening kickoff, drove 70 yards on 11 plays, and punched in a touchdown to go up 7-0.  If only football games were just four minutes long... sadly, they're a bit longer than that and it was all downhill for Michigan after that touchdown.  Penn State rattled off 19 unanswered points before Michigan got a field goal late in the second quarter to temporarily stop the bleeding at 19-10, but Penn State responded with 16 points in the second half to fully drive the stake through Michigan and send them careening to 1-3 in the Big Ten (even Minnesota has more Big Ten wins than the mighty Wolverines right now).  After a magical September, young wunderkind Tate Forcier has found October to be much tougher sledding as the competition has stiffened and the weather has gotten colder; against PSU, he went 13/30 for 140 yards, zero touchdowns, one interception, and was sacked five times.  Forcier hasn't thrown a touchdown since the Oct. 3 comeback loss to Michigan State and in his last two full games he's gone 21/49 for 234 yards, zero touchdowns, and two interceptions.  At least he gets Illinois next. 

Meanwhile, Daryl Clark continues to absolutely terrorize any Big Ten defense not featuring Tyler Motherfucking Sash and Adrian Clayborn; he went 16/27 for 230 yards and four touchdowns against the Downy-soft Wolverine secondary and in the four games since getting bitchmade by the Iowa defense, Clark has gone 67/103 for 926 yards, eight touchdowns, and just one interception.  Not too shabby, sir.  Oh, and KNEEL BEFORE ZUG!: five catches, 59 yards, three touchdowns.

Indiana: not so good at this football thing.

justNorthwestern 29, Indiana 28
Oh, Indiana.  It's not every day that a team can build a 25-point lead midway through the second quarter, get three second half interceptions (and finish the day +3 in turnover margin), and still manage to lose the game.  Indiana football: where amazing happens.  The key play of the game may have been Indiana's decision to go for it on 4th-and-goal from the jNWU one yard line when they were up 28-19; they were stuffed, and the Wildcats scored a touchdown on the ensuing 98-yard drive to pull within 28-26.  Considering that the Hoosiers lost by a mere point, those three points they tossed away at the goalline may have come in handy later on.  From the jNWU perspective, it wasn't pretty (anytime you dig yourself a 25-point deficit and throw three second-half interceptions, any win you manage to get is virtually guaranteed to be of the ugly variety), but, hell, a win's a win, right?  Especially when you're fighting to avoid the Ro-Tel Queso Bowl

Not so worried about Minnesota or New Mexico State, apparently.

Ohio State 38, Minnesota 7
It was a good news/bad news day for our favorite garden pests on Saturday. 
Good news: they actually scored points, a week after being embarrassingly shutout in Happy Valley. 
Bad news: they only scored seven points and racked up 286 yards of total offense, which isn't going to help their standing in those statistical categories any (10th in scoring offense, 11th in total offense), and much of that production came long after the game was decided.  As fans of an 8-0 team that doesn't rank that much better in those same offensive categories, we can confidently say that you can win with an offense like that... but not if you also give up over 500 yards of offense and 38 points to a previously suspect OSU offense and finish -3 in turnover margin. 
Good news: highly-touted freshman QB MarQueis Gray went 5/6 for 51 yards and a touchdown and rushed 81 yards on 11 carries. 
Bad news: much of that yardage came in the aforementioned garbage time and, anyway, a potential quarterback controversy is hardly what the Gophers need at this stage of the season. 
Good news: Eric Decker, by far their most dangerous and consistent offensive weapon, had more than one catch.  Bad news: he left the game in the first quarter with a recurring ankle injury. 
Good news: despite two back-to-back blowout losses, a bowl remains a distinct possibility for Minnesota, as they have home games remaining against South Dakota State and Illinois. 
Bad news: I hope they like Pizza!  Pizza! 

As for Ohio State... Terrelle Pryor responded to a week's worth of fiery criticism by exploding for 343 yards of total offense and accounting for three touchdowns (though he still wasn't a paragon of passing efficiency, going 13/25 and throwing yet another interception).  It must have been LeBron

Happier days for the Illinois football program: J Leman, Kool Aid, and 555-ZOOK

Purdue 24, Illinois 14
Another week, another loss for the Fightin' Zookers.  Frankly, even from a schadenfreude standpoint, the Illini's continuing decline is starting to lose its luster.  If you're going to lose (and lose, and lose...), at least have the decency to lose in an interesting fashion.  This was just a ho-hum loss and their eighth consecutive loss to BCS competition by ten or more points.  Illinois jumped out to a 7-0 lead, gave up the tying score not even two minutes later and then proceeded to give up another pair of touchdowns to really dig a deep hole for themselves.  Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the game from an Illinois standpoint was that they tried their third different quarterback of the season; this week's lucky contestant sacrificial lamb was Jacob Charest, a redshirt freshman who had never previously seen game action at Illinois.  His numbers were middling (4/8, 52 yards), but not particularly different from those of Juice Williams (9/18, 77 yards, 1 INT).  At least Zook got a vote of confidence from his athletic director; that always works out well, right?   On the Purdue side of the equation, the Boilermakers did most of their damage on the ground (39 carries for 220 yards and three touchdowns), but the most important stat of the day was zero, as in the number of turnovers given up by Purdue.  After conceding 12 takeaways in their first three conference games, their ability to actually hang onto the ball on Saturday made securing a win far easier.  The win also kept alive their faint bowl hopes; their margin of error is pretty tiny at 3-5, but beating a bottom-feeder like Illinois was vital for them to have any hope at all.

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