Week Eight: Barrett in Charge, MSU Closers, Hoosiers Come Close, Backup Badgers
J.T. Barrett led a Buckeye assault on the Rutgers, ratting off 49 points before surrending any. Michigan State got all it could handle through three quarters from an Indiana team that is constantly improving before closing out the Hoosiers. The Badgers lose another starter, but manage to top the Illini.
Barrett in Control
Barrett came into this game determined to show he was not a fluke. He succeeded. Granted, the game was not against a top-tier defense, but he excelled regardless. Combining for 324 yards (223 passing, 101 rushing) and five touchdowns (three passing, two rushing). He completed 14 of 18 passes and proved himself every bit the maestro he had shown last year. After looking questionable at times this season, the Buckeyes look to gearing up to full throttle with Barrett in the backfield.
Sparty Closes Out
After a close game against Michigan, the Spartans wanted to make a statement. It may have taken them until the last quarter against Indiana, but at least they made it. Going into the fourth quarter with a slim 28-26 lead, Michigan State ripped off 24 unanswered points to bury the hopeful Hoosiers. Conor Cook nearly topped 400 yards to go with his four touchdowns, while the running game performed well as well. If the Spartans can carry over that momentum, they should be stout competition for Ohio State in three weeks.
Indiana Comes Close… Again
The Hoosiers have gone from moribund program to offensive juggernaut and competitive team. They kept close to Ohio State in the first weekend of October, falling just seven points shy, and they battled Michigan State to a closer game than expected. With Jordan Howard providing balance for the Nate Sudfield-led aerial assault, Indiana has now nearly toppled the two premier teams in the conference. While Sudfield is a senior, Howard is a junior, who should help further this program next season as well.
Badgers Backups Give Hope
It has been a season of injuries for the Badgers, who lost Corey Clement week one and have dealt with ailments along the offensive line as well. Then, Joel Stave suffered a concussion early in their game against Illinois. What happened? The next-man-up mentality took hold and Bart Houston saved the day. With the running game struggling (outside of wide receiver Alex Erickson’s four carries for 81 yards) much was thrust onto Houston’s inexperienced shoulders. The formerly heralded prospect connected on the 22 of his 33 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions. Though he still made mistakes, he showed himself capable of leading the offense. The job is still Stave’s, but Badger fans know they have a capable backup should something happen.
One to Watch: #15 Michigan at Minnesota
Minnesota has proved fools gold after a quality start to the season. Michigan has proven exactly the opposite. However, this game should be interesting to watch to see how these teams come out after last week’s happenings. Michigan lost a heartbreaker, and will have to get themselves back up if they want to avoid the trap game. Minnesota lost their courageous head coach, who was the heart of the team, who had to retire due to medical concerns. It will be important to see how these teams deal with their adversity, as it could set the tone for how they finish out the season.
Players of the Week
Offense: Connor Cook, Sr. Quarterback, Michigan State
Cook raised his draft stock after surpassing the 300-yard mark for the third straight game and adding four touchdowns through the air. In addition to his 398 passing yards, Cook put up 18 rushing yards, setting a school record with 416 total yards.
Offense: J.T. Barrett, So. Quarterback, Ohio State
We noted Barrett earlier, but there was no doubt he would be mentioned here as well. He made the most of his opportunity, and effectively put the quarterback controversy to rest in Ohio State. At least for now.
Defense: Dean Lowry, Sr. Defensive End, Northwestern
With a school-record six tackles for loss, two of which were sacks, Lowry was a clear candidate for this honor. He helped the Wildcat defense hold Nebraska to a measly 82 yards rushing.
Freshman: Clayton Thorson, Quarterback, Northwestern
Clayton has been up and down for the Wildcats this season. The dual threat has been a quality runner, but remains raw as a passer. Against Nebraska, he totaled 303 yards and two touchdowns (26 yards and one touchdown on the ground). It is the second time this season that he has won the award.
#1 Ohio State 49, Rutgers 7
#7 Michigan State 52, Indiana 26
Wisconsin 24, Illinois 13
Northwestern 30, Nebraska 28
Penn State 31, Maryland 30
#1 Ohio State: no change
#6 Michigan State: up one
#10 Iowa: up two
#15 Michigan: no change