Another drama filled Saturday is in the books. The weekend got off to a fun start with Clemson and Florida State being postponed at the last minute, after a Clemson player had been training with Covid symptoms for several days (what on earth?!).
There were some further postponements, but by and large there was a full slate of action this weekend. The big dogs in the SEC all seemed to ease to victory, with Alabama tightening their grip on the no.1 seed, and Florida doing their utmost to fight into no.4. Two teams appear to be pulling ahead in the Pac-12, with both USC and Oregon easing to wins in the early hours of Sunday morning. The Big 10 presented some of the best action of the weekend, with Indiana losing out to Ohio State in a tight game and Northwestern upsetting Wisconsin to move to 5-0.
But we’ll start the winners with one of the Friday night games, which have provided consistently good action all season long.
- Rondale Moore – Purdue Boilermakers
Purdue started the season 2-1 despite the absence of their star wide receiver, Rondale Moore. They should have won their match up on Friday night against Minnesota as well, but they were robbed by quite possibly THE worst call in football history. Defeat aside, Moore was utterly dominant throughout the game, on 18 targets he caught the ball 15 times for 116 yards and rushed three times for 20 yards and a touchdown. Moore is the ultimate YAC receiver, often targeted on screen passes and swing routes before converting them into big gains. His decision to play football this season will be vindicated if he turns in more displays like this, with a first or second round selection seemingly around the corner.
- USC Trojans
The first two weeks of USC’s season saw them scrape past opponents, with 4th quarter turnovers helping them a lot. Not this week though, the Trojans breezed past the Utah Utes who totalled five turnovers on the day. With such a talented group of wide receivers, Kedon Slovis has a lot to be thankful for and he repaid that thanks by dishing the ball out at will to Bru McCoy, Tyler Vaughns, Drake London and Amon-Ra St-Brown. Making the most of the good field position gained from Utes turnovers, USC put their foot on the pedal in the second quarter and moved ahead to a 14 point lead and the score didn’t seem like it was going to flip for the rest of the game. The defense proceeded to only allow a field goal in the second half of the game, and the rest is history. Two home games and a trip to near neighbours UCLA stand between the Trojans and a Pac-12 Championship game.
- Northwestern Wildcats
In one of two high profile games in the Big 10 this week, the unbeaten Wildcats hosted Graham Mertz and the Wisconsin Badgers. It was another game with a lot of turnovers, but Northwestern ground out a hard earned victory whilst limiting the Badgers to just one touchdown. The Wildcats defense forced five turnovers and sacked Mertz a further three times to control the game from the second quarter onwards. On offense there wasn’t a lot of spark in the run game (23 yards in total), but Peyton Ramsey made some nice throws to first put Northwestern ahead, and then an absolute dime to Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman in the second quarter for what would prove to be the game winning score. This is the first time that the Wildcats have been 5-0 in the Big 10 since 1996 and they’ll quietly be eyeing a matchup with Ohio State in the Conference Championship game.
Losers – @Wakefield90
- People who want to see the Big Ten East go to anyone but Ohio State
In reality Ohio State were never behind and never looked like losing. However, the #9 ranked Hoosiers certainly kept it interesting and were the first team since Clemson in last year’s Fiesta Bowl to make Justin Fields look human.
In fact, that is actually doing the Indiana defense a fairly hefty disservice; they actually made Fields look ordinary in places. Fields threw three ugly interceptions, all bad throws or poor decisions in separate and different ways, and early on Fields looked a little bit rattled.
On a small side note, this will provide some interesting scouting film on Fields so evaluators can see both sides of the coin.
Back to Indiana – They had the chance to set up a Big Ten Championship game, or at least have their fate in their own hands, but unfortunately couldn’t get over the hump.
To me, it was a game of fine margins – dropped catches, missed sacks on Fields and three fumbles of their own.
To beat Ohio State as an underdog, you can’t just play well or better than you’d expect, you have to play a near perfect game and Indiana couldn’t quite do it.
- Anyone who thinks COVID-19 is going away
Week 12 was a grim weekend for college football and COVID-19.
17 games were either cancelled or postponed this weekend, up from 9 in week 11 and a number that has been rising ever since the opening couple of weeks of the season.
Teams are having large swaths of their squads either being infected with the virus, or having to isolate due to close contact with their teammates, games are being called off at extremely short notice and I have a feeling (which is completely unsubstantiated) that the problem is probably much worse and people at the top of top programmes are probably sweeping some things under the rug too, in order for games to get played and for their teams to carry on competing.
Not only is it taking away from the season but it’s also bringing me back to my thoughts that I was having just before the season started, when I was asking myself, “is this all going to be worth it?”.
I know money talks in sport and certainly in college football but playing in the midst of a global pandemic with stories like that of Journey Brown’s emerging with regards to potential future heart issues, it really does make you wonder, doesn’t it?
- Penn State
Apologies to readers who aren’t fans of the Big Ten conference for my incredibly bias losers section where the conference is mentioned almost constantly but I simply could not leave out the biggest loser of them all this week, who is Penn State.
The Nittany Lions are 0-5 for the first time in programme history. Pennsylvania State University has had a football programme since 1887 and it has never once been 0-5. First of all, that shows what an exceptional programme they have had for over 130 years but whenever it comes 0-5 is never good.
We commented on the podcast recently that the Big Ten looks like it’s upside-down so wit that I’m sure it’ll just be a temporary blip and a bit of a bad year in what is a very strange year due to COVID.
James Franklin has had too much success and is far too good of a coach for his hard work to just have caved in on itself so suddenly.
However, taking a mollywhopping off of Iowa is going to hurt… Especially when your starting QB is picked off and juked out by a 305lb defensive lineman.
Daviyon Nixon, this one’s for you! What a play from the big man.