Dumb Games: Northwestern Takes Control, Purdue Gets Robbed, and a Three-Overtime Thriller in Piscataway

By Andrew Ellis on November 22, 2020 at 7:05 am
Pat Fitzgerald has taken control of the Big Ten's West Division.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Is the Indy stage already set?

It wasn't the prettiest of performances for the Buckeyes yesterday. But in a weird season filled with all sorts of craziness, sometimes you just have to be happy with a win over a top-10 opponent and hope that the problems can be fixed. Those problems obviously start with a defensive backfield that got absolutely shredded by Michael Penix Jr. and the Hoosier passing attack. 

Then there's the obvious good news. Ohio State is sitting at 4-0 on the season and has complete control of the East Division. Ryan Day still has one of the country's best offenses even though it was far from flawless against the Hoosiers. 

Elsewhere around the country, Alabama did its usual thing against an inferior SEC opponent, Luke Fickell continued his stellar season, and another Big Ten program now looks to be the clear favorite in the West. 

Minnesota 34, Purdue 31

Friday night kicked things off with a fun one in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, an officiating blunder probably cost Purdue a win. Jeff Brohm's squad was down three with under a minute left when Jack Plummer connected with tight end Payne Durham for what should have been a go-ahead 19-yard touchdown strike. The officiating crew had other plans, however, as Durham was flagged for what may have been the worst offensive pass interference call I've ever seen. Plummer was picked off on the very next play to end the game. 

Tanner Morgan connected on 15 of 22 passes for 264 yards, but it was the Gopher ground game that did all of the scoring. Mohamed Ibrahim rushed for 102 yards and three scores while Cam Wiley and Seth Green also found the end zone. Chris Autman-Bell was the game's leading receiver with 129 yards on five receptions. 

I find college football to be far more enjoyable when Rondale Moore is a part of it. The Boilermaker superstar recorded 40 yards on his first drive of the season and capped things off with a rushing touchdown. He caught 15 passes for 116 yards and added another 20 rushing with the score on the ground. Plummer had an excellent showing as he hit on 35 of 42 passes for 367 yards, three touchdowns, and the interception that shouldn't have been. David Bell caught eight passes for 104 yards and a pair of scores.

I give major props to Jeff Brohm for the way he handled the postgame media session. He acknowledged that he didn't like the call but did so with class. Personally? I would have still been throwing a temper tantrum at the time. 

No. 19 Northwestern 17, No. 10 Wisconsin 7

Pat Fitzgerald and the Wildcats now appear to be on a collision course with the Buckeyes. Behind a defense that forced five turnovers, Northwestern took down the Badgers in a game for West Division supremacy. 

The ground attack did next to nothing, but Peyton Ramsey and the passing game was good enough to at least put up a pair of touchdowns. Ramsey threw for just 203 yards with the two scores while Wildcat rushers totaled just 24 yards on 23 attempts against a solid Badger defense. Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman was the game's leading receiving with four catches for 95 yards and a score. Redshirt freshman safety Brandon Joseph recorded a pair of interceptions. 

Grahem Mertz has come back down to earth after his near-perfect debut against Illinois. Mertz hit on just 23 of 41 passes for 230 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. He also coughed up the football on a strip sack. True freshman tailback Jalen Berger was solid again with 93 yards on 15 carries. Fellow 2020 signee Chimere Dike was on the receiving end of a 49-yard scoring strike

Michigan 48, Rutgers 42 (3OT)

It was a triple-overtime thriller in Piscataway last night as the Wolverines managed to squeak by the Knights. The kickers each missed in the first overtime, both teams scored touchdowns in the second, and then finally it was Michigan coming out on top with a touchdown in the game's third overtime. Rutgers failed to answer as a Noah Vedral pass was intercepted in the end zone.

I have no idea why this was the case, but Joe Milton started once again for the Wolverines last night. It was 17-0 Rutgers in the second quarter when Cade McNamara finally took over, and things went better for Michigan after that. McNamara went 27 of 36 for 260 yards with five total touchdowns. Hassan Haskins led all backs with 112 yards and a score. Cornelius Johnson hauled in five passes for 105 and two touchdowns. Giles Jackson helped to turn things around with a 95-yard kick return score to start the second half.

Rutgers put up nearly 500 yards against Michigan with 381 of those yards coming through the air. Vedral threw for three touchdowns and an interception. Shameen Jones and Bo Melton topped the century mark against a porous UM secondary. Jones ended the night with seven catches for 127 yards. Melton recorded seven for 109 and a score. Schiano continues to be the master of trickeration as Rutgers once again used several of those to its advantage

This was a fun one to watch even if the final Scarlet Knight drive turned out to be a dud. It's also not going to restore any of the fanbase's faith in the Jim Harbaugh regime. Some are now inquiring about Charlie Weis as the next head guy in Ann Arbor. Yikes. 

Iowa 41, Penn State 21

James Franklin's team is now sitting at 0-5 and has all sorts of problems. Neither one of Penn State's quarterbacks is any good, but they seem to be the only threat in the running game at the moment. And now the defense just gave up 40+ points to Iowa. Props to Kirk Ferentz and his squad for getting it done in Happy Valley

Spencer Petras threw for 186 yards and really didn't need to do a whole lot. The ground game found the end zone four times and touchdown No. 5 came courtesy of 305-pound tackle Daviyon Nixon pick-sixing Sean Clifford (71 yards!). Mekhi Sargent was the game's leading rusher with 101 yards and a pair of scores. The Hawkeye defense forced four turnovers on the afternoon. 

Will Levis got the start under center and actually led Penn State to a touchdown on its second drive. Levis threw for 106 and ran for 34 before ultimately being pulled in favor of Clifford. Entering the game late in the third, Clifford provided a spark as he connected with Brenton Strange and Jahan Dotson for scores to bring the game to 31-21. He also threw a pair of interceptions which helped the Hawkeyes put this one out of reach. Nittany Lion running backs ran for a putrid 15 yards on 14 carries.

OHIO STATE 4-0 1 1
INDIANA 4-1 3 2
PURDUE 2-2 5 5
IOWA 3-2 6 7
MARYLAND 2-1 7 6
MICHIGAN 2-3 9 9
MINNESOTA 2-3 10 11
ILLINOIS 2-3 11 13
RUTGERS 1-4 12 14
NEBRASKA 1-3 13 10
PENN STATE 0-5 14 12

No. 1 Alabama 63, Kentucky 3

We'll keep this one short and sweet. Nick Saban annihilated Kentucky in Tuscaloosa yesterday. Saban's defense was stout as the Wildcats finished with just 179 yards. Mac Jones threw for 230 yards and two scores before the Tide pulled its starters. The Bama ground game ran for 226 yards and five touchdowns while averaging close to six per attempt.

Najee Harris did his thing with 83 yards and two scores. A pair of touted true freshmen also made an impact. Quarterback Bryce Young threw his first career touchdown pass and Jase McClellan was the game's leading rusher with 99 yards and a score. Remember when Jordan Battle was committed to Ohio State? He added a nifty 45-yard pick six to help the Tide pull away in the third quarter. 

No. 18 Oklahoma 41, No. 14 Oklahoma State 13

Bedlam doesn't compare to The Game or the Iron Bowl, but it's a rivalry that I usually enjoy. This year's edition wasn't particularly close as Mike Gundy and the Cowboys couldn't do a whole lot in Norman. In fact, the Sooners doubled up their rival's yardage output 492 to 246. Not a great showing for the country's No. 14 team.

When I turned this one on, it was already 21-0 in the first quarter. Spencer Rattler ended the day 17 of 24 for 301 yards and four touchdowns. Rhamondre Stevenson was the game''s leading rusher with 141 yards on 26 carries while Rattler added another score with his legs. Theo Wease was on the receiving end of two touchdown strikes.

The Cowboy offense hasn't been as good as what we're used to seeing (No. 51 nationally), but this was a rather troubling performance. Spencer Sanders threw for just 97 yards with an interception. Chuba Hubbard couldn't get much going with 44 yards on eight carries. Star wideout Tylan Wallace was also held in check with just 68 yards on four catches.

No. 7 Cincinnati 36, UCF 33

Plenty of folks had the Bearcats on upset alert in Orlando. The Knights came into this one with the nation's No. 1 offense while Cincinnati checked in at No. 10 in total defense. Luke Fickell held UCF to 359 yards which is 260 fewer than its season average. Desmond Ridder and the offense continued to get it done as well as the Bearcats moved to 8-0.

Ridder accounted for 395 yards and four touchdowns against the Knights. Josh Whyle caught five passes for 81 yards and a score. Springfield tight end Leonard Taylor hauled in six for 76 and a touchdown of his own. Cole Smith added to the scoring with three field goals. The Bearcats trailed 14-3 early in the second quarter before storming back.

UCF was led by quarterback Dillon Gabriel and his 243 passing yards and three scores. Marlon Williams was his favorite target with eight catches for 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Jaylon Robinson added a 10-yard touchdown grab late in the fourth when the Knights were in comeback mode. 

So, what else went down this weekend?

The No. 7 Gators got a bit of an early scare but were able to take down Vanderbilt by a score of 38-17. Kyle Trask remains in the thick of the Heisman race with another 383 yards and three scores. No. 13 Georgia beat Mississippi State in Athens and may have finally found a quarterback. JT Daniels threw for over 400 yards with four touchdowns in the 31-24 win. I'm not entirely sure why it took so long for the USC transfer to get his shot.

No. 11 Oregon survived a close one at home against a UCLA team that was without starting quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Tyler Shough threw for 334 yards with three scores while Devon Williams caught six for 123 and a touchdown. UCLA's Demetric Felton was the game's leading rusher with 167 yards and two scores on 34 carries. 

No. 8 BYU and No. 15 Coastal Carolina both remain unbeaten. The Cougars had no problems as they moved to 9-0 after annihilating North Alabama by a score of 66-14. The Chanticleers were victorious 34-23 over a good Appalachian State team. The same cannot be said for Hugh Freeze's Flames. No. 21 Liberty lost its first game yesterday on the road at NC State. The Wolfpack moved to 6-3 with a 15-14 home win.

  • Week's Best:  Michael Penix Jr., Northwestern & Bama defenses, Spencer Rattler, JT Daniels
  • Week's Worst: PSU quarterbacks, Big Ten officiating, Graham Mertz, Ohio State's pass defense
  • Week's Weirdest: If Ohio State faces Northwestern in Indy, it would be wise to bring a few extra towels.

What's the outlook for next week? Ohio State travels to Illinois and all eyes will be on Kerry Coombs in that one. Indiana is set to host Maryland assuming the Terps are allowed to finally play. Northwestern hits the road to East Lansing and the Wolverines will welcome the Nittany Lions. It's crazy to think the Michigan/PSU matchup will feature two teams that are a combined 2-8 on the season. 

If you're looking nationally, there are a few good ones to be on the lookout for. It feels somewhat weird that the Iron Bowl is already happening, but that's probably just because The Game still seems so far away. The Longhorns are set to host the Cyclones, Ed Orgeron heads to Aggieland, and Notre Dame will travel to Chapel Hill.

Are the Irish on upset watch against UNC? Sam Howell did put up nearly 600 yards of offense and seven scores in his last game against Wake Forest. This may be Brian Kelly's last real test before a rematch with Clemson. 

Who do you got at the bottom of the Big Ten? Penn State is the only answer, right?

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