Here's a stat for you: Through 55 minutes of football this afternoon, the Michigan State defense had held the Michigan offense to a total offensive output of 88 yards.
Now, in the final 5 minutes of football, plus 5 untimed plays, Tate Forcier and company managed to nearly double that output, accumulating 166 yards on 3 possessions. Mr. Forcier was directly responsible for all but 1 of those yards, picking up 49 yards on 6 rushing attempts and throwing for 114 yards on 7-13 passing. The man (the 19-year old, 188-pound man) simply makes football plays when the situation calls for it.
He's only a freshman.
Funny. We've said that so many times over the last month in so many different intonations that it seems to have twenty different meanings. Tate Forcier is something of a revelation for Michigan fans a year removed from the purgatory of a 3-8 season, but he's only a freshman. He's only a freshman starting behind an offensive line that lost its best starter to a foot injury; a defense that seems to regard yardage against as a Christmas present to the opposition; and a squad teeming with inexperience. He's only a freshman starting his first college away game.
Northwestern 27, Purdue 21: Purdue has one comfortable win and has been competitive in all four other games, but has lost all four. The Boilermakers have lost in nearly every way imaginable, but on Saturday it was the turnover bug. Hammer and Rails:
My analysis of this game can be summed up in one sentence:
HOLD ON TO THE DAMN FOOTBALL.
That's it. If we don't keep fumbling, we win this game by at least four touchdowns. I can live with the first interception. We got aggressive and it didn't work out, costing us a touchdown. Fine. But to not take a knee just before Taylor's fumble is ridiculous. Your opponent has no timeouts. You have just handed them 10 points. You are going to get the ball to start the half. TAKE A KNEE.
For all of the preseason and early season slobbering over Danny Hope (see Kravitz, Bob), the man has never been more than a position coach at the I-A level. As I said a few weeks ago when Kravitz declared the Hope hire a home run, it's too early to make a judgment either way. But the situation described above and the inexplicable late timeout against Notre Dame must raise some concerns among Purdue fans. Sippin' on Purple:
Basically, it's impossible to feel anything but good after that win, just because it was so improbable. I mean, 24 unanswered points? I mean, look in the comments section of yesterday's post, and you can smell the despair in the comments in the early part of the game. The team that went down 21-3 was the same team we'd seen in the first four games, the one with major defensive issues.
There was a two-play sequence in the first quarter that featured arguably the worst defense I'd ever seen: on the first play, Ralph Bolden ran up the middle, and when he was tackled, seven yards later and about seven seconds later, he had done two spin moves, actually been touched by four defenders and passed within a one-yard radius of eight defenders. And none of those eight were the one that tackled him.
Wisconsin 31, Minnesota 28: The Badgers continued their control of this rivalry with a win in their first trip to TCF Bank Stadium. The Daily Gopher:
2003, 2005, and 2006. Those are the last times Minnesota defeated Wisconsin (Rhys Lloyd hello), Michigan and Iowa in a rivalry game, respectively. For the decade, Minnesota is 5-22 in rivalry games. The only reason it won't become 5-24 this year is because the Big Ten thought it was a good idea not to have Michigan and Minnesota not play in 2009, the 100th anniversary of the Jug rivalry.
Whatever. If you're a Gopher fan (why else are you here except to gloat) what happened yesterday ought to tick you off. Yesterday was the kind of game that we should be able to expect victory in - an opposing QB in his first road start, playing against our D with 9 senior starters, playing in our shiny new ballpark, with upwards of 90% of our own fans there, on ESPN, and who in the world can defend Eric Decker?
The Badgers survived another late comeback from an opponent, but this time from their bitter rivals who were hosting their first conference game at brand new TCF Bank Stadium. John Clay ran for a career-high 184 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries, and once again took over a game that had been opened back up by a key Wisconsin fumble.
With Wisconsin settling for a field goal by running on 3rd and 10 with an 11-point lead with just under seven minutes to go, it looked like the Badgers would take a very comfortable 14-point lead. Zach Brown gained eight yards on the carry but coughed the ball up as he fell to the ground and Minnesota cornerback Marcus Sherelsreturned it 84 yards for a touchdown. A successful two-point conversion sealed an 11-point swing and cut UW's lead to three.
Penn State 35, Illinois 17: Penn State had a fairly easy road win against the reeling Illini. It's being reported today that Zooker has benched Juice Williams in favor of Eddie McGee. Black Shoe Diaries:
In the end, the team outgained Illinois by over 100 yards, had their best rushing game of the season, and took care of the ball save one blindside strip. Three of their four touchdown drives started at or near the 20, and Clark got those goal line pushes that were clockwork last season. Maybe the Illinois defense is just that bad, but you have to like the way the offense took advantage of it.
What I wanted coming into this game was to show progress and for the first 3 quarters we didn't see much. The shoot yourself in the foot penalties are still occurring, namely the intentional grounding that took the Illini out of field goal range in the first half. Only in the 4th did we see the play book opened up, did the Illini routinely look down the field and did the offense look like it had some life in it.
Iowa 24, Arkansas State 21: A week after a road win against Penn State, the Hawkeyes continued their recent struggles against non-conference patsies, but held on to beat the...whatever Arkansas State's nickname is, if it has one. BHGP:
OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!! Iowa comes through with the sensational, shocking win by the count of 24-21! Nobody gave Iowa a chance, like usual. But for the steady, reasonable, consistent leadership of Ricky Stanzi, we'd all be lost--as would be the season.
Virginia 16, North Carolina 3: Until Saturday, the Cavaliers had been horrible, losing to William & Mary, Southern Mississippi, and TCU. Virginia took the first step toward salvaging its season by upsetting North Carolina on the road. I'll have much more on this one later in the week.
Northern Illinois 38, Western Michigan 3: Uh oh. The Tim Hiller bandwagon is emptying out. Hiller threw 3 picks in a blowout loss to the huskies.
Eastern Kentucky 36, Eastern Illinois 31: The Colonels haven't lost since the IU game and lead the Ohio Valley Conference with a 3-0 record. Considering the struggles of Akron and WMU, Eastern Kentucky might be our best win to date.