Welcome to Week Eight Midweek Musings, in which I can start musing about another entire conference!
Well, they certainly didn’t waste any time making things interesting. There were three upsets in the conference this weekend: Indiana over #8 Penn State, Iowa losing to Purdue, and Rutgers (RUTGERS!) beating Michigan State. (So much for my thoughts about Iowa being ranked this week).
I won’t go into detail about the controversy in Bloomington, since the media has covered it thoroughly. What surprised me the most this weekend was the sloppy play of Michigan State. They turned the ball over seven times! Rutgers hadn’t won a conference game in almost three years!
Clearly, neither team is going to have any real impact on the Big Ten this season. But I’m curious to see, going forward, if Sparty can get it together and look respectable, and whether Rutgers has a chance to recapture the Schiano magic.
Also, Penn State not only lost their game, but their starting running back Noah Cain was injured and is out for the season. Remember that original starter Journey Brown is dealing with a medical issue and he, too, is out for the season. And, as if the Nittany Lions needed more bad luck, they get to face Ohio State this week.
No Skylar Thompson, no problem for the Wildcats- not against the Jayhawks, anyway. Freshman quarterback Will Howard continues to play well in Thompson’s place. K-State steamrolled Kansas 55-14 for a 12th consecutive win over their in-state rival.
The Cowboys are off to a 4-0 start and have some of their best stats in over a decade. Per game, they’re currently allowing 12 points, 303 yards, and 176 passing yards. They’re stopping opponents on third down 81% of the time. These are all high marks of Mike Gundy‘s tenure, which dates to 2005.
The 19th-ranked Hokies were upset by Wake Forest despite out-gaining them by more than 100 yards. Giving up three interceptions negated that advantage. The Hokies were fortunate to recover the three balls they fumbled as well.
The story of the game was Wake Forest walk-on Nick Andersen. The true freshman(!) was the recipient of all three Virginia Tech interceptions, the last of which sealed the victory for the Demon Deacons. He also made 11 tackles. According to the Raleigh News and Observer, Andersen will be on scholarship in the spring.
Two noteworthy things from this game: first, Syracuse trailed by just ten points twice in the first half. They even managed to pull within six points in the third quarter. Going into the fourth, Clemson’s lead was still 34-21. The mental toughness required for a 1-5 team to stay with Clemson for that long is substantial.
Second, Trevor Lawrence threw his first collegiate pick-six in the game. He’s a junior, and that was his first interception to be returned for a touchdown.
Of course, last week he threw what was his first interception in basically a calendar year, so… yeah. This guy is special.
Unfortunately, my week eight Midweek Musings require a section devoted to COVID-19 thoughts. First and foremost, the quarterback situation at Wisconsin is not good. Starting quarterback Jack Coan isn’t ready to return from a foot injury, and now Graham Mertz and third-stringer Chase Wolf both have COVID. That would leave fourth-string Danny Vanden Boom, a junior with one career pass attempt, as the starter against Nebraska. As I’m writing this Wednesday morning, the game is still scheduled for Saturday. However, I don’t think it’s a given that it does in fact take place this weekend. Also, keep an eye on Indiana, Wisconsin’s previous opponent.
There’s been a lot of talk about COVID and what effects it might have on athletes’ cardiac functioning. If you’re a medical geek like me, this Science article about COVID and the heart is fascinating.
#19 Marshall at FIU: Postponed, due to FIU’s lack of available scholarship players
North Texas at UTEP: Working to reschedule, according to Yahoo. A drastic increase in COVID cases in El Paso has resulted in a stay-home order. UTEP planned to play the game without fans, but North Texas preferred not to travel to El Paso.
Those are my Week Eight Midweek Musings. Stay safe everybody, and don’t forget to VOTE!