Every week 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. With the Big Ten expanding from 14 teams to 18 teams in 2024 this article will also include the newest members, Oregon, UCLA, USC, and Washington. Check out the I-80 Football Show for more in-depth analysis and to preview the next week of B1G games.
Illinois, I was rooting for you!
I’ll keep this short, I predicted Illinois to go 10-2 this season, it is one of the worst predictions I’ve ever made. I can tell you that I thought the West would be bad, and that their defense line would carry them. I could also say that I thought Josh McCray would return to form and be one of the best backs in the conference if not the country. Ultimately, none of that matters as Illinois looks like one of the worst teams in the conference, having just been blown out by Purdue — another of one of the worst teams in the conference. Luckily I’m not famous or I’d be blasted by Freezing Cold Takes.
Finally a dominant performance
Well, Michigan, it took five games but you finally did it you dominated a weaker opponent. Don’t get me wrong, Michigan has won all their games handily but they haven’t been dominant. They haven’t looked like the Michigan program of the last two seasons and they haven’t looked like the Michigan team that is supposed to be the most dominant team Jim Harbaugh has ever had. A team, according to Harbaugh, that could break the draft record for most players drafted in a single year. Instead, they have played with their food like when J.J. McCarthy threw three interceptions against Bowling Green.
Michigan is still struggling a little in the run game, namely, Donovan Edwards hasn’t been effective this season but their defense is challenging Penn State for the best defense in the country although they have played one of the easiest schedules in the country so far. Michigan doesn’t play anyone who matters until November, they should easily walk through this schedule but they need more performances like this one to warrant their hype as one of the best teams in the country.
Against Nebraska, they looked like that, despite another underwhelming performance by the running backs. It’s going to be another month before a Michigan game matters but they need to keep the engine running or else they may not be able to get it started when their season starts against Penn State on November 11th.
Penn State, all defense no offense
Penn State beat Northwestern 41-13 this weekend which the score was not indicative of the actual game. Penn State went into the half, tied 10-10 with a pretty bad Northwestern team and struggled to do anything right offensively. Those struggles continued in the second half but they were aided by a special defense.
In the second half, Penn State had touchdown drives of 34, 40, and 30 yards due to a turnover on downs, a shanked punt, and an interception. They also kicked a field goal after gaining two yards in three plays after getting the ball in Northwestern territory by forcing a turnover on downs. In the second half, Penn State’s average starting field position was the Northwestern 47-yard line. It’s easy to score when you’re always in plus territory.
Penn State’s defense will travel and should cause fits for every team they face including Ohio State and Penn State but if they don’t figure out their offense they’re going to be in trouble.
So far this season Drew Allar is completing 64.6% of his passes but only has an average of 6.9 yards per attempt which ranks 77th in the country. Despite entering the season with what many people considered one of the best offensive lines in the country their running game hasn’t clicked yet. Nick Singleton only has 283 rushing yards on 74 carries averaging 3.8 yards per carry. Kaytron Allen has 307 yards on 69 carries and is averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Those numbers are objectively bad and the defenses they’re going to face are only going to get better.
Penn State was supposed to be a legitimate playoff contender, but unless their defense can continue to put up special numbers like the seven sacks, twelve tackles for loss, and an interception they put up against Northwestern Penn State may find themselves at 10-2 again at the end of the season.
An undefeated Maryland? I’m intrigued.
Maryland is undefeated so far this season at 5-0 and has been one of the more impressive-looking teams so far. Granted, they have played no one with wins over Towson, Charlotte, Virginia, Michigan State and Indiana. Despite not having the toughest competition Maryland is doing what good teams should do winning each game by an average score of 38-13. When you don’t play good teams having an average margin of victory being 25 points is about the best you can ask for.
Maryland was snubbed this week by not being ranked in the top 25 but it doesn’t change the enormity of the showdown between the Terrapins and the Buckeyes. If Maryland is ever going to beat Ohio State this is the year, Maryland has the most experienced quarterback in the conference and no. 11 in stop rate and scoring defense. Maryland also ranks second in the country with a plus-nine turnover margin.
Ohio State still has one of the most talented rosters in the country and Kyle McCord is coming into his own as Ohio State quarterback but the Buckeyes have not fully rounded into form. Despite the fact Maryland probably loses this game this season is Maryland’s best chance to knock off one of the big three in the East.
This won’t be a wasted season if they lose to Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan again because Maryland still has a chance to win nine games and secure a quality bowl game. Nine wins would be the highest win total Maryland has had since 2010 when they were still in the ACC. That would be a major success if it were to end up that way.
A career half! Take a bow, Tai Felton
Maryland’s offense has been hitting on all cylinders this season with experienced quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa leading them. After losing Rakim Jarret and Dontay Demus Jr. we all wondered who Taulia would throw to this season and junior wide receiver Tai Felton showed up. Felton had a career day with seven catches for 134 yards and three touchdowns. M
aryland is looking to continue its best start under Locksley but must face Ohio State and its top-five defense this coming week. If Maryland has any chance to upset the Buckeyes they will need Felton to have another career night in Columbus on the biggest stage.
Have a day, Tai Felton. pic.twitter.com/lFn59RL2BT— Big Ten Football (@B1Gfootball) September 30, 2023
Goodbye Walt Bell, Tom Allen you’re next
After a 44-17 loss to Maryland Indiana head coach Tom Allen fires offensive coordinator Walt Bell. Bell has led one of the worst offenses in college football the last two seasons. After finishing 99th in the country in scoring offense Indiana currently ranks 113th. Indiana has a top 60 defense in most defensive categories including stop rate, scoring defense, and total defense.
Their defense has been trying to keep them in games but their offense is one of the worst in the country. Allen is trying to do everything he can to save his job including hiring a new co-defensive coordinator before this season. Ultimately, none of this is going to be enough to save Allen’s job. Allen is a great person, his players seem to enjoy playing for him but that is not enough in college football. Indiana needs to cut its losses after this season, Allen has a $20 million buyout if he is fired before December 2024 but this situation isn’t tenable and Indiana needs to find a new coach while their job is still attractive.
Indiana has the money to fire Allen and honestly, this is the penance they need to pay for giving him an unearned extension after the pandemic season. Indiana needs to start over, Allen is on his way to the best job in America, a fired football coach with a massive buyout.
Cooper DeJean, you deserve better!
Cooper DeJean is one of the best players in the country. Iowa’s defense has taken a small step back this season but one of the reasons it hasn’t imploded is the play of DeJean. DeJean is no doubt a first-round draft pick. He proved that again, saving Iowa from an embarrassing upset to Michigan State by taking the game into his own hands. With the game tied at 16 late in the fourth quarter, DeJean took a punt back 70 yards for a walk-off touchdown.
Iowa kicked a field goal later in the game but without this touchdown, they very easily could lose this game after losing starting quarterback Cade McNamara earlier in the game. DeJean finished the game with six tackles and added an interception. I have no idea where Iowa would be without DeJean, and his loyalty is nice but it would be so much better if he would’ve pulled a Charlie Jones and entered the transfer portal.
DeJean would probably start on defense for every single team in the national championship picture instead he is stuck on an Iowa team that will be lucky to win seven games with the number of injuries they’ve sustained and Brian Ferentz as their offensive coordinator.
Iowa, you already rid yourself of the Gary Barta problem by accepting (forcing?) his retirement after being hit with another scandal. Maybe Barta just decided his time was up, or maybe he got the nudge to call it quits, either way, he no longer heads your athletic department. It is time for you to nudge Kirk and force him to step down. I know most of this season has focused on Brian Ferentz and the climb to 325 but Ferentz has not received enough flack for hiring and keeping his son as his offensive coordinator.
People say we should accept this because Iowa still wins a lot of games but when Georgia and Michigan have dominated the sports with dominant defenses what could Iowa be if they had a competent offense? Why should Iowa settle for eight or nine wins and a blowout to the East division power when they have a national championship defense?
No one expects Iowa to compete for a national championship so I know that this isn’t a common refrain but it’s worth considering what their ceiling could be if Ferentz even prepared to care about offense. This is not to mention the betting and racism scandal of the past five years. What value is either Ferentz bringing to this program? It’s time to cut bait and run, Brian needs to be fired and Kirk needs to be retired. I don’t care how you do it, build the statue, give him the cushy administration job, let him teach a class on leadership, whatever the case may be Iowa needs a new direction immediately.
This has gone on for way too long and it’s unfair to their fanbase. The Big Ten is changing, it’s time for Iowa to change with it.
Congrats Rutgers, you’re going bowling.
After five games Rutgers is 4-1 with their only loss to Michigan, one of the best teams in the entire sport. They have three wins over FBS programs, two of which are in the Power Five. They also have one of the top twenty defenses in the country. They still have some offensive issues to figure out but with their remaining schedules, I see no way they won’t win two out of their remaining seven games.
They still have to play Ohio State, Penn State, and Maryland which are probably all losses, but they could easily beat Wisconsin, Michigan State, Indiana, and Iowa without their starting quarterback. At this point in the season, Rutgers’ floor is 6-6 and their ceiling is 8-4. That was not the expectation coming in and some of this is bolstered by some Big Ten teams punting on the season with bad quarterbacks and worse coaching. Michigan State is the worst team in the conference and Indiana just fired their offensive coordinator.
Greg Schiano should be proud, in the last year before the conference gets tougher he seems to have his best team yet and the Scarlet Knights, barring a major collapse, should be a bowl team at the end of the year.
Michigan State head coach, Mike Dickert-Leipold
So I am not a coaching guru, although I make a hypothetical living trying to get coaches fired for gross incompetence but I have an idea of who Michigan State’s next coach should be. There are only three names that I would consider and they are all of the same cloth. If I was Michigan State my search would go no further than Duke Head Coach Mike Elko, Kansas Head Coach Lance Liepold, or Washington State head coach Jake Dickert.
All three coaches have done massive turnarounds at historically bad and disadvantaged schools, they are real deal no-nonsense ball coaches and would immediately make Michigan State a competent program again. This is so much more important with the future of the Big Ten because they’ll have to play USC, Oregon, and Washington who are all top ten teams this year for the foreseeable future.
Michigan State can not risk messing this up; they need a coach who will take them back to their roots. Develop players, play with a chip, and punch up against better programs. Michigan State needs to live in a world where they always beat the teams lesser than them and have a fighting chance anytime they play one of the top programs. With the right coach in the right year, this is still a program that can make a 12-team playoff.
This next hire will determine the next ten years and the long-term ceiling of this program. If they don’t fix it now they may never reach the top again. If I were the Michigan State administration I would go to all three of them, offer a blank check and whatever facility upgrades they want and just see who says yes first. Otherwise, this could get ugly and stay ugly for a long time.
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