The first Saturday in October delivered with interesting storylines around the conference. Here are some things that caught our eye.
Best Win of the Week: Purdue
In the West, there were two intriguing intra-division games. We’ll address both right off the bat. Let’s give the best win to the Boilermakers. Purdue opened 1-2 with last second losses to both Penn State and Syracuse, who are a combined 10-0. The Boilermakers also dealt with an injury to start senior quarterback Aiden O’Connell. Well, AOC was back on Saturday, though he played rather pedestrian in the win. Instead, it was Purdue turning to its running game and defense to come away with the 20-10 win against the shorthanded, but previously unbeaten Gophers.
Worst Loss of the Week: Wisconsin
A third loss in four weeks. Just two yards rushing. And BERT on the opposing sideline. What a rough day in Madison for the Badgers. A day so bad that it ultimately cost Paul Chryst his job. Wisconsin is in disarray and Illinois has risen from the ashes (they still lost to Indiana for goodness sakes) to be a contender to get to Indianapolis. Credit to those Illini, who easily could have been named my coveted best win of the week. But, the story clearly is how sour things have gone in Wisconsin just a few years removed from a Rose Bowl appearance.
Offensive Player of the Week: Miyan Williams, Ohio State
A couple weeks back, we highlighted a ton of Big Ten running backs who were having big days (and years to date). Let’s add another one. With TreVeyon Henderson sidelined with an injury, Williams got 21 of Ohio State’s 34 rushing attempts Saturday at Rutgers. The results: 189 yards and a Buckeye record-tying five touchdowns.
Miyan Williams had himself a day against Rutgers. 189 rushing yards and 5 TDs! pic.twitter.com/XwufvzNZmr— CleBuckeye (@CleBuckeye23) October 2, 2022
Defensive Player of the Week: The Penn State Defense
So, you want me to be a blatant homer? I’ll play along for a bit. I had great fun watching Penn State’s defense on Saturday. Name a guy who stepped on the field and they likely made a contribution or had a standout play. Even when put in bad spots because of Penn State’s poor offensive performance, they answered. Yes, there was some sort of coverage mistake that led to Northwestern’s lone score. But overall, seven points and less than 250 yards of offense...and so much physicality. Everyone on Manny Diaz’s crew, take a bow.
Best Offensive Play of the Week: Clifford to Strange touchdown pass
An ugly day had its perfect moments...
Penn State messing with the 2nd level keys, pulling the Guard opposite the FIB, H delay wheel with token toss action. pic.twitter.com/bhHn7lB3VV— SpreadOffense.com (@SpreadOffense) October 2, 2022
Best Defensive Play of the Week: Ji’Ayir Brown Interception
Am I homering enough? I can’t find a video - but you remember it.
Most Big Ten Moment of the Week: Saturday’s Beaver Stadium weather
Saturday’s Hurricane Ian after effects brought nastiness to State College on Saturday. While it may not join the pantheon of worst weather games at Beaver Stadium (comment below with your worst), it was a pretty miserable afternoon all things considered. Even more annoying was the fact that it was a generally nice fall day early on Saturday before the deluge started about an hour prior to kickoff. Bad weather. Running the ball. It was November-esque at (Chris Fowler voice) the “old gray battleship” on October 1.
Most Doug Graber moment - Ryan Day vs. Greg Schiano
Things got a little testy in New Jersey...so, who do you think was right in this whole debate? The argument is Ohio State’s punter was doing what he was coached to do. But, maybe just kick the thing?
Great TV. Fake punt leading to Greg Schiano getting into it with Ryan Day pic.twitter.com/3e1Pn8j1Qw— Menace 2 Sports (@Menace2Sports) October 1, 2022
Most Intriguing non-Big Ten Coach Who Could Soon Be a Big Ten Coach: Lance Leipold
So Kansas is ranked and College Gameday will be there on Saturday. Lance Leipold, a Wisconsin native and a man who oozes Midwestern football, is fast becoming the hottest name in college football. We’ve certainly seen this before. Even if Kansas slips from the ranks of the unbeaten and the literal rankings in the next few weeks, the work Leipold has done over the years demands attention. Leipold stands to make a lot of money very soon - and could that be at a Big Ten school? Nebraska and Wisconsin are both open now. Meanwhile, should we mention that Leipold is from Wisconsin and won multiple national titles at NCAA Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater?
Thing We Are Looking Forward to the Most - Relaxing Day on the Couch
Take a breath and kick up your feet. Penn State’s season-defining stretch is starting soon. But let’s hope for some chaos on Saturday - it’s what makes college football the absolute best sport on earth. Big Ten wise, who would have thought Purdue playing at Maryland would be the best game on the schedule? Will the Boilermakers rise to the level of potential West favorite or will Maryland fully position itself as a top tier conference team?