Every Monday after the Big Ten slate of games, I will bring 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.
Goodbye Scott Frost
The Scott Frost era ended the only way it could — with a disappointing loss in a one-score game. It is a fitting end to a miserable coaching tenure that saw Frost go 16-31 in four-plus years. Nebraska, under Frost, has gone 5-22 in one-score games, including 12 of their last 13 losses coming by one score or less. The only loss with a margin larger than eight points was a nine-point loss to Ohio State. Nebraska is 4-11 in their last 15 games going back to last season.
Trev Alberts tried to give Frost a chance to prove that things could change, allowing him to fire and replace coaches while bringing in 20-plus transfers. As I’ve said before, nothing could fix the true issue, which was simply the fact that Scott Frost was the head coach.
After an undefeated season at UCF, Frost was deemed one of the best coaches in the country. He spurned multiple job offers to come home and return Nebraska to the glory of the 90s, but instead he broke the program. Frost will collect his $15 million buy-out as Alberts decided that waiting three weeks for the buy-out to be cut in half was too long. After firing Frank Solich and Bo Pelini for “only” winning nine games, the Cornhuskers will be on the search hoping to find a coach who can at minimum get this team to bowl eligibility after not reaching one since 2016.
Statement from Vice Chancellor, Director of Athletics - Trev Alberts. pic.twitter.com/weczB1ghoB— Nebraska Huskers (@Huskers) September 11, 2022
Mickey Joseph and the elusive first
After the firing of Frost, a former Nebraska quarterback, Trev Alberts tapped Mickey Joseph, another former Nebraska quarterback, as interim head coach. Joseph, who joined the staff this year after serving as LSU’s wide receivers coach, is the first black coach at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. To clarify, he is not the first black football coach, he is the first black coach period.
I’m happy for Joseph, but it’s ridiculous that in the year 2022 Nebraska has never employed a black head coach for any sport. It gets sadder when you realize that Joseph is only an interim head coach and will most likely be replaced by whichever white coach has the name, recognition and desire that will impress the fanbase. Here’s hoping Joseph is given a legitimate chance to keep this job, but Nebraska needs to take a look at its history and hiring practices when it comes to athletics.
Braelon Allen: Under 100 yards = loss
Wisconsin was upset by Washinton State 17-14 on Saturday in an embarrassing showing. There were many reasons Wisconsin lost this game, starting with three turnovers — two fumbles, and an interception. Couple that with 11 penalties for 106 yards and it’s hard to win a game against anyone. Add in the fact that the Wisconsin kicker missed two field goals, and the Badgers were doomed to lose this game against a Washinton State team that prides itself on its defense under head coach Jake Dickert.
Despite all of this, Wisconsin should have won this game, but since star running back Braelon Allen stepped foot on campus, the Badgers have lost every game in which he runs for less than 100 yards. Allen ran for 98 yards on Saturday, and it’s hard to say that two more yards would have led to a win, but this is a trend that can’t be ignored. Allen is the engine for this program. If he doesn’t get loose then expect a long day and most likely a loss.
Iowa, please end our suffering
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Iowa’s offense is a disgrace, Brian Ferentz should be out of a job, and Spencer Petras didn’t throw a touchdown in this game. Iowa’s offense once again didn’t show up, and it’s fair to question if they even have an offense. At this point, I would just let the defensive players play both ways and let the defensive coordinator call plays, because this is ugly.
Iowa lost to their in-state rivals Iowa State, 10-7, marking the first time Matt Campbell has won this game in his six years at Iowa State. Petras, in his last eight games, has thrown one touchdown and nine interceptions, yet Ferentz has stubbornly stuck by him while seemingly not considering a chance at quarterback. It’s time for Kirk Ferentz to be shown the door. His loyalty to Spencer Petras and his son Brian has sent Iowa into a downward spiral that he is not capable of recovering from.
Iowa now has 316 yards of total offense in TWO games. If 316 yards was their per-game average, it would still put them 105th in the nation in total offense.— Tony Gerdeman (@TonyGerdeman) September 10, 2022
Heartbreak in the Windy City
Let’s face it, Northwestern is not a good team. Their win against Nebraska was more of a statement about Nebraska and less a sign of things to come for the Wildcats. Enter Duke, a program that has been the dregs of college football for years but is trying to turn it around under new head coach Mike Elko.
Duke got out to a big lead early, but Northwestern fought back and had a chance to win the game twice. Both times, Elko’s team came up with back-breaking takeaways helping to secure the victory. It is going to be a long season for Northwestern. A win here would have provided confidence towards conference play. Instead, the Wildcats must find a way to regroup after a heartbreaking loss.
The Blue Devils secured the win with these takeaways late:
This ending @DukeFOOTBALL | #ACCFootball pic.twitter.com/ldnNCtXwYO— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) September 10, 2022
Ohio State’s receiver depth is scary
Ohio State entered this season with one known commodity and a bunch of high four and five-star wide receivers after losing two first-round draft picks in Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. If that wasn’t bad enough, star wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba left early in the first game of the season with a lower leg injury, and former five-star receiver Julian Fleming couldn’t suit up due to injury. By my count thats four wide receivers who would start at any school in the country who are not able to play. Oh well. No problem, because here comes the next wave of five-star receivers in Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr.
After a slow start against Notre Dame, Egbuka and Harrison Jr. broke out against Arkansas State to the tune of 11 combined catches for 302 yards and four touchdowns. Route Man Marv showcased his route running ability on his way to 187 yards and three touchdowns, with a fourth inaccurately taken away by a bad decision by the review crew. The Ohio State receiving corp is the most dangerous group in America, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba hasn’t played more than two quarters this season. RIP to any secondary that has to face these three studs and the next wave of players waiting for their turn.
Check out Marvin Harrison Jr. three touchdowns:
Prepare to relive all three of Marvin Harrison Jr.'s touchdowns against Arkansas State.pic.twitter.com/bFe5qNSCIb— Eleven Warriors (@11W) September 10, 2022
A Silver Bullets sighting
After holding Notre Dame to 10 points, Jim Knowles’s defense held Arkansas State to 12 points, once again stiffening on multiple red zone trips and forcing field goals instead of touchdowns. Despite multiple stupid penalties and a few bad plays from the corners, the defense dominated in the trenches and made big plays when needed. They held their opponent to 54 rushing yards on 34 carries — a measly 1.6 yards per attempt.
Knowles’ defense racked up 12 tackles for loss, two sacks and three quarterback hurries. After two games, Ohio State is 19th in 3rd down conversions, allowing eight first downs on 33 attempts. They’re also tied for 14th in tackles for loss and 23rd in total defense. The cornerback group needs to get better, but under Knowles, this defense has the chance to be special and remind Buckeye Nation of the Silver Bullets of old.
Welcome to the McCarthy era
Jim Harbaugh has ended his quarterback charade by announcing J.J. McCarthy as the starting quarterback moving forward after choosing not to announce a starter before the season. Instead, he continued the sham competition by starting Cade McNamara in Week 1 against Colorado State and J.J. McCarthy in Week 2 against Hawaii.
After going 11-for-12, including a wide receiver drop, for 229 yards and two touchdowns, it is abundantly clear that McCarthy has a much higher ceiling and has the best chance of leading Michigan past Ohio State and back into the playoffs. It’s easy to look good with Michigan’s easy out-of-conference slate, and I fully expect McCarthy to make mistakes due to his high-risk high-reward style of play. But for Michigan to reach its ceiling, they need McCarthy under center.
The Chase for the Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year award
Chase Brown is chasing the Big Ten running back of the year award — pun intended. Brown ran past Virginia en route to a 24-3 Illinois victory to the tune of 146 yards on 20 carries. That’s good for 7.3 yards per attempt. After three games, Brown has 496 yards and two touchdowns on 75 rushing attempts. There are a lot of big names in the Big Ten collective running back room, but Brown is staking his claim as the best of the best. Illinois should be 3-0 on the season, but even at 2-1 with the way Brown is running, I expect the Illini to grind out a few Big Ten wins and reach a bowl game in Bret Bielema’s second season.
Multiple goose eggs + 50-point victories
After four Big Ten teams were upset, a win is a win. But Michigan State and Purdue left no doubt in their victories on Saturday. Michigan State beat Akron 52-0, while Purdue put up 56 points against Indiana State in another shutout. Both teams played severely overmatched opponents, but a shutout is always noticeable, especially in a season where three Sun Belt teams upset three Power 5 opponents on the same day. Not sure these wins mean anything in the big picture, but MSU and Purdue deserve some acknowledgment at the bare minimum.