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B1G Thoughts: The state of Michigan survives close games and will the good QBs please stand up?

Minnesota gets upset, Wisconsin looks rough, and Ohio State gains some confidence.

NCAA Football: Villanova at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Every Sunday after the Big Ten slate of games, I will be bringing you some B1G thoughts on everything that happened! This will include analysis, stats, key players, moments and maybe a joke or two. Be sure to check out the I-70 Football Show in the Land-Grant Holy Land podcast feed for more in-depth analysis and to preview the next week of B1G games.

College Football Anonymous

Me: Hi, my name is Jordan, and I am addicted to college football.

You all: Hi Jordan.

Me: Thank you for welcoming me into CFB Anonymous, this week was my breaking point. I pulled up three screens so that I could watch a miserable slate of Big Ten Games. While most people went about their lives, left the house, or played golf, I sat in front of my TV from 12 noon ET to 2 a.m. ET watching football, recorded a podcast about Ohio State football, and am now writing this article about football. I need help.

All jokes aside, this is one of the worst slates of Big Ten games I’ve seen in a long time. They didn’t even try to give us a good game this week; and don’t you dare say Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame was supposed to be a good game.

We all knew it would be miserable to watch, and somehow it was even worse than expected until late in the fourth. I appreciate some teams — talking to you Michigan, Michigan State and Iowa — trying to make it interesting by refusing to dominate overmatched teams, but this was not great.

Here’s hoping next week is better. It should be, but barely.

Minnesota Upset!

Losing your star player and not meeting expectations throughout the season is not the worst thing that can happen to a program; especially for a program like Minnesota who usually only has a few top-level players, and rarely has the depth to recover from that sort of loss.

In this case, Minnesota lost a top-three running back in all of college football when Mohamed Ibrahim got hurt against Ohio State. Some missteps are to be expected, but losing to Bowling Green is not a misstep; it is entirely unacceptable. Especially when you consider that head coach P.J. Fleck is getting mentioned for much larger job openings.

A Mid-American Conference school has beat a Big Ten school at least once every season for the past few years. So, there are certainly some MAC schools that are “acceptable” — or at least “forgivable” — to lose too, such as when Fleck was the coach of Western Michigan; however, Bowling Green is not one of the acceptable loses.

Tanner Morgan looked really bad, and threw two interceptions in clutch time to hand BG the win. I honestly don’t know where Minnesota goes from here, but they weren’t rowing the boat this week; they crashed headfirst into some rocks, and now the boat has a hole in it. It’s sink or swim time for the Gophers. Let’s see how they move going forward.

What happened to Wisconsin?

Dante, my co-host on LGHL’s “I-70 Football Show,” and I both picked Wisconsin to win the Big Ten West this year. Both of us had them going 12-0 and ultimately losing to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. A month ago, it seemed that this would just be another typical year in the Big Ten.

Instead, Wisconsin is sitting at 1-2 with really bad losses to Penn State and Notre Dame, the same Notre Dame who barely beat Florida State. The Badgers, for what feels like the first time in forever, does not have a good offensive line, nor a good running back. I legitimately have no idea what to even think about that, because it seemed unfathomable that Wisconsin would not be good in those two areas.

I’ll give my thoughts on the quarterback next, but the Badgers were never led by a star QB. Maybe they thought Graham Mertz would be that, but they were very, very wrong. No idea where Wisconsin goes from here. Perhaps this would all be explainable if there was a dip in recruiting and talent, but this team has always out punched its weight class, and they’ve finally started recruiting better in recent years under Paul Chryst, yet it’s not translating to the field just yet.

Battle of the Wisconsin QBs

College football loves a good storyline and there is maybe none better then “Player A loses job to Player B. Player A transfers and then gets to play his old team now quarterbacked by Player B.”

In this case Jack Coan was Player A. After not being spectacular at Wisconsin and getting injured, he eventually lost his job to four-star teammate Mertz. In most cases, no one blames you for sticking with the highly ranked younger player when he gets in the game and does new things.

It happened at USC with Kedon Slovis, and no one is banging down USC’s door saying that they made a mistake. However, this season, Wisconsin with Mertz is 1-2, while Notre Dame with Coan is 4-0. It’s easy to look at that and say Wisconsin made the mistake, but I’m here to tell you, it’s hard to pick the best of two bad quarterbacks, and both of these guys are bad.

Mertz has not lived up to his ranking and it’s fair to say that he was overhyped after his performance at the beginning of last season. Mertz won the duel of who can hurt his team the most finishing the game 18-for-41, with 240 yards, 1 touchdown, and 4 interceptions.

Wisconsin was leading this game 13-10 in the fourth quarter and just fell apart. Notre Dame survived another game, but it wasn’t due to Coan who went 15-for-29 for 158 yards and 1 touchdown.

This game was two teams who have no offensive identity trying to force mediocre quarterbacks to be stars. I don’t know if Wisconsin made the right decision, but I know that their next QB needs to be significantly better than their last two.

No good QBs in the B1G

I’m going to keep this short. There are no good quarterbacks in the Big Ten. The best quarterback is most likely Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud — who is dealing with a shoulder injury and has faced some expected struggles for a young QB. The second best is quite possibly Stroud’s back-up in Kyle McCord, who is a true freshman and only has a little more than half a game of experience.

You could call me a homer, but look at the Big Ten and tell me which quarterback is good? Cade McNamara? Peyton Thorne? Surely, it’s not Michael Penix Jr. Do we believe in Spencer Petras of Iowa? Taulia Tagovailoa has the buzz after his brother was a star at Alabama, but are you pushing your chips all-in for him? Maybe you believe that Sean Clifford has turned the page and is now a good QB?

All these teams want to beat Ohio State, they want to get to the mountain top and get a taste of the playoffs. Yet there seems to be an inability to recruit a good quarterback for most of them, and it is significantly holding back all of these teams. I’ve mentioned it before, but the Big Ten is FULL of amazing running backs, if only there were some quarterbacks to make this conference even more interesting.

OSU rests Stroud

Ohio State starting quarterback C.J. Stroud did not practice last week and didn’t play against Akron. This is not a major story; I don’t expect there to suddenly be a QB controversy in Columbus.

Even though it was just Akron, you never want to be in a position where you are having to rest your starter so early in his first season, when he really needs to get all the snaps that he can.

But following the win over the Zips, head coach Ryan Day said that he would sit down and talk to Stroud this week to see how he feels, and they’ll determine together if he can play next week against Rutgers. While I don’t expect any controversy if Stroud misses back-to-back games, it will be interesting to see how Day handles the QB position for the rest of the season.

OSU dominates Akron

I need to preface that this happened against Akron, one of the worst times in all of college football. Yet it’s still important to recognize that Ohio State finally put together a complete game and dominated a weaker opponent. If this was two years ago, this game wouldn’t be a second thought, but with the way that OSU has played thus far, especially on defense, it was not a guarantee that they would like good in this game.

All they did was hold Akron to seven points, accumulate nine sacks, and 12 tackles for loss. They also had two interceptions, one of which turned into a pick-six. I’m not ready to say that the Buckeyes are back, but it’s okay to celebrate the little victories, especially when the main contributors were members from the 2020 and 2021 classes.

Ohio State had four true freshman starters in this game, I’m not sure how this season will end for the Buckeyes, but I can say that the future is bright.

Rutgers hangs with Michigan

Michigan is 4-0. That’s about the only positive to say about this game. Rutgers under Greg Schiano serves as a great barometer for team success. While they’re not a top team in the Big Ten, how you play against Rutgers, Maryland and Purdue typically can tell you a lot about yourself, and I’m not sure that Michigan liked what they learned on Saturday.

A win is a win, but after a hot start, Michigan was held to 112 yards rushing on 38 carries good for 2.9 yards per carry. A lot of people, myself included, wondered if Michigan could pass when necessary, and against Rutgers the answer was no.

TTUN quarterback Cade McNamara finished the game 9-for-16 for 163 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. That performance was enough to beat Rutgers 20-13, but it won’t be enough to win the Big Ten or beat Ohio State. Michigan will face another team next week in Wisconsin who can stop the run, so we should find out a lot about this team then.

MSU stays undefeated, but shows flaws

Michigan State, after upsetting Miami, had a slight let down against Nebraska winning 23-20 in overtime. It’s understandable to have an emotional swing after such a big game, and really all that matters is getting the win.

The Spartans are essentially playing with house money right now and, aside from their fans and players, no one would be upset if they regressed slightly. Going into the year, most people probably would’ve picked Nebraska as the better team, so MSU is still showing a lot for a young team in the middle of a rebuild.

Still, with the way that they’ve played so far, this outcome was surprising, especially with running back Kenneth Walker III being held to 61 yards on 19 carries.

Jahan Dotson is really good

When the conversation of the best wide receivers in the conference comes up, we typically start and end the chat with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. It’s understandable seeing that they’re both very talented and play for the flagship program in the Big Ten.

Well, I’m here to tell you that there are more than two great wide receivers in the B1G. Penn State’s Jahan Dotson is an amazing player and will be playing on Sundays. He currently leads the Big Ten in receptions (27), touchdowns (4), and is fourth in yards (362).

All this after leading the Big Ten in yards and touchdowns in 2020 as well. If you have not being paying attention to Dotson it’s not too late, the train is leaving the station!