Every Sunday after the B1G slate of games end, I will be bringing you some BIG thoughts on everything that happened! This will include analysis, stats, key players, moments and maybe a joke or two. Can’t wait to bring you some BIG thoughts week in and week out! Be sure to check out the I-70 Football Show for more in-depth analysis and to preview the next week of B1G games.
Michigan displays toughness
We’re 10 games into this season, and it feels like we’re going to end with the Jim Harbaugh special — a 10-2 season with losses to their rivals and a potential New Years Six bowl appearance. The only thing we don’t know is if they’ll win a bowl game. Yet, for some reason this season feels different, and in my opinion its largely because his team has shown toughness and resolve. That is not typical when it comes to a Harbaugh team.
That toughness showed up this weekend when, after really being dominated all game, Michigan goes on an immaculate drive to take a 21-17 lead against Penn State. After that, the defense did their job and Michigan got a win over a tough opponent. It feels like the last few years this is the type of game Michigan would lose. I don’t know if Michigan fans are accepting of 10-2 seasons, but I can say without a doubt that Harbaugh has done a better job this season than ever before.
Is Wisconsin Back?
We all left Wisconsin for dead, as we should have…. but I am here to announce they are back. Sure, it was Northwestern, but this looks like the Wisconsin of old. For some people that would be very exciting, but for me that is kind of frustrating. I was hoping this season would be different, but it seems we’re destined for Ohio State vs. Wisconsin for the 100th time. Wisconsin has found its running game, its quarterback is not making costly mistakes and the defense is back to dominating its opponents.
With two games left in the season, I am all but expecting Wisconsin to continue to roll. It’s what I predicted to begin the season… just without the three losses.
Bell Cow Located
Wisconsin is on a six-game win streak. It is most likely not a coincidence that those wins are coinciding with the emergence of Braelon Allen. Allen is a 6-foot-2, 238-pound true freshman who came out of nowhere and is racing into the record books. Allen has played in eight of 10 games, but already has 834 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s also averaging 7.1 yards per carry. The most amazing thing about his emergence is that he has rushed for over 100 yards in each of the team’s last six games.
Wisconsin is best when it has a bell cow running back, and it has found that in Allen. The Chez Mellusi experiment didn’t go great, and they also released last year’s leading rusher in Jalen Berger. Without a bell cow, Wisconsin has no identity. They have it now, and he’s a freshman, which should strike fear in the hearts of the Big Ten. He may no be Jonathan Taylor, but he’s set up to have a great career for the Badgers.
Garrett Wilson went Super Saiyan
Last week, Ohio State’s star wide receiver Garrett Wilson was sidelined with an undisclosed injury. This week, he made his return to the field with a splash. Wilson finished the game with 10 catches for 126 yards and three touchdowns. He also had one carry for 51 yards and a rushing touchdown. He’s the first Ohio State wide receiver to have three receiving touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in a game. It’s almost like he watched Jaxson Smith-Njigba have a career day last week and said hold my beer. JSN’s time is coming, but Wilson had to show him and everyone who the real star is on this roster.
TreVeyon Henderson makes history
At this point you all know how I feel about TreVeyon Henderson. It’s probably safe to say he’s the most talented running back in Ohio State history, and has the potential to end up with one of the best careers. With at least two games left this season, he has already eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards. That makes him only the fourth freshman in Ohio State history to rush for 1,000 yards. The other three were Rod Smith, Maurice Clarett, and J.K. Dobbins. That’s a special group to be etched in history with. We all know how those careers ended, and thankfully we have at least two more seasons with Henderson as the lead back!
Greatest trio of all time?
Going into this season, we expected that Ohio State to have two of the best wide receivers in the country in Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. Both players have already had amazing careers and were almost locks to be All-Americans and first round NFL Draft picks. Despite having two topflight wide receivers, the Buckeyes don’t play with only two receivers on the field, which led to the relatively unknown Jaxon Smith-Njigba getting his chance to play and make a name for himself. Somehow, JSN has had a better season than Olave and Wilson, and that should solidify this group as the greatest wide receiver trio in college football history.
After 10 games, with Olave and Wilson both missing one game apiece, here are the current stats for the trio:
- Smith-Njigba: 59 catches for 1,027 yards and five touchdowns
- Wilson: 53 catches for 813 yards and nine touchdowns
- Olave: 51 catches for 708 yards and 11 touchdowns.
With a minimum two games remaining, OSU could end the season with three receivers amassing over 1k yards. Two of them will have double-digit touchdowns. The third… well, he might just break Ohio State’s single season record for yards in a season currently held by David Boston with 1,435. Before this season, there were only five players to record 1k yards in a season as a Buckeye. Now, Zone Six is about to produce three in one season. This output is unheard of and something we may never see again.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen
Okay, so I admit it may be poor taste to consider Indiana the “mighty” but it’s still important to talk about how far they’ve fallen. After challenging for a berth in the Big Ten East last year and with Tom Allen’s ‘Love on each other’ making waves throughout college football, most people assumed Indiana was a team on the rise. Well, that is not the case this year after losing 38-3 to Rutgers. This game was for a spot as the worst team in the East this season, and Indiana got its doors blown off.
Everything that could go wrong for IU has gone wrong, and Allen will have to spend this offseason trying to right the ship, or he will find himself as a very sought-after defensive coordinator. Maybe he’ll join Kevin Wilson on the Ohio State staff?
Scott Frost to return
Nebraska has decided to bring back Scott Frost for another year on a reduced contract. They have also agreed to lessen his buyout in case that he can’t turn this around. Currently, Frost has a buyout of $20 million, and if finance is your thing it might make sense to you not to spend $20 million to fire your coach. Yet, your coach is in his fourth season and hasn’t had a single winning record, nor has he reached 6-6 or led his team to a bowl game. Aside from money, there is no reason for Nebraska to extend Frost. Ehen you’re in the Big Ten money should not be an issue. You can not keep a coach who in four seasons has failed to reach a bowl game.
What positives can you spin from a potential 3-9 season? Playing close games with top 10 ranked opponents is not nearly enough. This is the same Nebraska that has fired multiple coaches for daring to go a measly 9-3, but somehow Frost has done enough to earn another season. To me that is absolutely cowardly decision making, and I truly think Nebraska is going to regret it. You can’t compare the situation to Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh has had multiple 9+ win seasons in his tenure. He’s almost always made it to a bowl game too. Harbaugh’s issue is he can’t win the big games, whereas Frost can’t win any game. This is unacceptable in my opinion, and I feel sorry for fans who must watch another season with Frost at the helm.
Where does Minnesota go from here?
P.J. Fleck is a good coach. Minnesota decided to extend Fleck for an additional seven years, which aside from announcing it right after losing to Illinois was probably the right decision. With all the head coaching vacancies in college football, there is a good chance that Fleck would be a finalist for a few, and so keeping him is important. In his time at Minnesota, the Gophers have gone 5-7, 7-6, 11-2, 3-4, and should finish this season with a 7-5 record. The issue is that, similarly to Harbaugh, Fleck struggles to win the big game.
This season they lost to Bowling Green and Illinois, but were still in control of their destiny. After losing to Iowa in a must-win game, Minnesota is no longer at the wheel, and still must play Wisconsin in a game they’ll most likely lose. Fleck has taken Minnesota to heights they haven’t expected. He’s almost guaranteed to win six games and take them to a bowl game. Yet, is that acceptable, or at some point will it become frustrating to constantly lose the big games? I don’t know the answer to this question — no one really does — but it will be interesting to follow in the next few years.
Ohio State vs. Michigan State
We officially have two weeks left in the regular season and the Big Ten East is still up for grabs. Ohio State must play Michigan State and Michigan. Michigan still must beat Ohio State and not get upset by Maryland. Michigan State must play Ohio State and Penn State. With all three teams only having one loss and everyone having tough games left, it is realistic that any of those three teams can win the East. All three would most likely be favored against the West champ, and the Big Ten champ is all but guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. That makes these two weeks as interesting as any season has been in recent memory.
Ohio State and Michigan State play next Saturday in a game that is necessary to win the East. With a win against Michigan, a Michigan State win almost guarantees them the East championship. An Ohio State win gives them a winner-take-all game against Michigan. I don’t know any Ohio State fan that is scared to play Michigan in a game seeing that the Buckeyes have dominated the rivalry. You could argue that the Spartans playing the Buckeyes in Columbus is the biggest game of the season, and it should be appointment viewing for everyone!