Welcome to the Big Five! This is my weekly column discussing and take-ing on the top five headlines, news items, storylines, etc. of the week. Feel free to comment on my thoughts either below, on Twitter, on Facebook, or…shoot us an email – firstname.lastname@example.org – We’ll make sure to bring your comments up on the next podcast.
1. About Penn State…
We all want to talk about Saquon Barkley, a player Nittany Lions coach James Franklin called the best in college football. He may be right. Barkley exploded for eye-popping runs on Saturday. But I want to talk about quarterback Trace McSorley.
McSorley has been alright this year, not great. Last year, he stopped throwing interceptions in week five, turning him around for the season. Can week five be his turnaround this year?
McSorley’s game-winning toss against Iowa Saturday was a sight to behold. For one of the more inefficient, yet effective passers, the tiny hole which Trace found was spectacular quarterbacking.
Now, back at home for the first Big Ten game at Happy Valley this season, perhaps McSorley can feed off of the plenty of fans, and his NFL-caliber sidekick.
2. Michigan is QB-proof
For 90 percent of college football teams, a first-quarter injury to your starting quarterback would screw you over. But when Michigan’s Wilton Speight left Saturday’s contest against Purdue in the middle of the first, the Wolverines didn’t miss a beat.
Backup John O’Korn is a solid QB, but Speight’s replaceability highlighted Michigan’s stout defense. Purdue’s Jeff Brohm-led offensive circus show was limited to just 10 yards and one first down in the second half. Purdue, which put up 28, 44 and 35 points in its first three games, was limited to 10 against the Wolverines.
Michigan has one of the best defenses in the country, which makes them just about quarterback-proof to a level probably only Alabama can match.
3. The Wild West?
The Big Ten West has a chance to get wild Saturday when Northwestern takes on Wisconsin at Camp Randall. If you didn’t grow up in purple, you may not understand, but Northwestern is incredibly unpredictable.
My jokes with Michael have carried to “what if they lose to Bowling Green and then beat Wisconsin?” They’re jokes until they actually happen. See last year, when the ‘Cats lost at home to Illinois State but beat Iowa and Michigan State on the road.
Anyway, Wisconsin is coming off a convincing performance in BYU, which saw just one incompletion from quarterback Alex Hornibrook. Northwestern is coming off a convincing win itself, trouncing Bowling Green. The ‘Cats shouldn’t win this one, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did. Then again, nothing they do surprises me.
4. Mediocrity matches up
Two of the Big Ten’s middle-ground teams will matchup Saturday when Iowa goes to Michigan State. With chances to make statements last Saturday, both teams came up short, one much shorter than the other.
Iowa should be feeling pretty good heading into this one. Akrum Wadley is a solid offensive centerpiece and its defense is rock solid, led by linebacker Josey Jewell, who won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week this past week. Michigan State accumulated 97 penalty yards and committed three turnovers in a blowout loss to Notre Dame.
While Michigan State is favored at home, I’m still taking the Hawkeyes here.
5. Maryland has literally nobody at quarterback
I’m just going to link you here