It was a strange week for Penn State’s former foes, teams that are used to putting up a lot of points found themselves in low-scoring defensive dog fights. We’re hitting the home stretch of the schedule and of all the teams the Lions have previously played, only Indiana has a losing record. Yeah, yeah I know Northwestern will add another but that’s NEXT week’s Former Foes, for this week just let me have my point.
Alabama had the audacity to sleepwalk through the first half of a "rivalry" game with a .500 Tennessee and only managed 37 points. Now comes the main ticket slugfest between the Tide and #1 LSU. If you’re not excited about that game it’s time to turn in your football fan card.
Then there’s Purdue…
Beat #23 Illinois 21-14
Two weeks ago Illinois was sitting undefeated and poised to make a run at the Leaders division but two ugly losses later and the Fighting Zookers are stuck in the middle staring down the barrel of a Penn State team that has hit its stride. Speaking of the Lions, Purdue and Penn State shared something in common this week, both teams came in to the game with a quarterback rotation and both teams stuck with one guy for the whole game. Results: both had solid offensive days. Weird how that works… but I digress.
Quarterback Caleb TerBush had a solid day, tossing two touchdowns as Purdue jumped out to a 21 point lead at half. While the offense was improved the defense and special teams were both stellar. Purdue held Illinois to 128 yards in the first half and a botched punt attempt gave the Boilermakers the ball on the Illinois 14, with Purdue up by two scores. TerBush found Jared Crank* in the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown pass to take the halftime lead. Illinois scored twice late in the game but Purdue's Justin Siller recovered the ensuing onside kick and that was the game. Nathan Scheelhaase, who tortured Purdue last year, was held in check and sacked four times.
Next up: Purdue starts a brutal schedule at Michigan, at Wisconsin and at home against Ohio State and Iowa. Danny Hope may have saved his job but when he says "We're still in control of our own destiny," he’s saying a LOT.
Indiana State (5-3)
Lost to Illinois State 17-14
A week after Indiana State and Western Illinois combined for over 800 yards of total offense, the Sycamores end up in a defensive struggle. The difference in the game was a 1st quarter Redbirds field goal as the teams exchanged touchdowns in the 2nd quarter and the 2nd half. Indiana State recovered a fumble after their last touchdown but kicker Tann Frischle missed a 41-yard field goal attempt and sealed their fate.
Shakir Bell had another solid performance running for 123 yards on 27 carries. Another big difference in the game was penalties – Indiana State gave up more than twice (11-5) what Illinois State did. You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: special teams and penalties are the difference in a close game.
Next up: North Dakota State
#2 Alabama (8-0)
Beat Tennessee 37-6
At the end of Saturday night’s beatdown of Tennessee, Tide fans began the "LSU" chant, and the Tigers were probably on the Tide’s mind because they had a sluggish start. Alabama woke up from a 6-6 halftime tie to score on the next 5 offensive possessions and ran away from the Vols. Trent Richardson was held under 100 yards (77) for the first time in six games but he scored twice and wasn’t needed. Quarterback AJ McCarron passed for 284 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score, finishing with 284 yards. Now Alabama can look ahead to the big show next Saturday night.
Next up: #1 LSU
Lost to Bowling Green 13-10
Owls running backs Matt Brown and Bernard Pierce each ran for 100 yards and Pierce scored Temple’s only touchdown with 11:02 to play but Bowling Green responded with their only touchdown 4 minutes later. Falcons quarterback Matt Schilz tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Shaun Joplin with 7:41 for the game’s final score. Temple got the ball back 3 more times but Bowling Green forced two Owl punts and sacked Chester Stewart on the Temple 47 on 4th an 8, their final offensive play.
Next up: Ohio
Eastern Michigan (5-3)
Beat Western Michigan 14-10
Sticking with our defensive theme, Eastern Michigan used two 50 yard jaunts from running back Javonti Greene to beat Western Michigan. Greene caught a 50 yard pass from Alex Gillett in the first quarter and broke open a 10-7 deficit with a 50 yard run with just over 7 minutes to play. Considering that Greene finished with 66 yards rushing and Gillett finished with only 144 yards passing, those two plays were pretty much the entire Eagles offense.
Next up: Ball State
Lost to Iowa 45-24
Indiana put up a fight till about midway through the second quarter but they couldn’t contain Marvin McNutt. McNutt caught three touchdown passes and Iowa scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 35-14 lead at the break. James Vandenberg was extremely efficient completing 12 of his 16 passes for 253 yards and a career-high 4 touchdowns. Running back Marcus Coker bullied Indiana, rushing for 139 yards and 2 TD’s. Indiana did put up 414 yards of offense behind true freshman quarterback Tre Roberson but their worst-in-conference defense couldn’t contain McNutt or Coker.
Next up: Northwestern
*another AWESOME football name