Michigan football and Michigan State turn back the clock
In case you missed it, Saturday was the annual night we turn our clocks back an hour.
You’re back? OK. Anyway, it was fitting, as several Big Ten football teams also dialed the clock back a bit.
In West Lafayette, Michigan State football turned the clock back to 1953-61, when it lost to the Boilermakers while ranked No. 6 or better four times in a nine-year span. Of course, those Spartans also won a couple of national titles in that span, so maybe it’ll work out for them.
In Minneapolis, the Illini turned back the clock to the days when Bret Bielema teams won by running a lot, passing very little — nine pass attempts for Brendan Peters! — and stopping the other team’s running game. It was so close to Wisconsin’s formula for success (right down to extending Bielema’s winning streak against the Gophers to eight games), we won’t be surprised if the Illini play House of Pain’s greatest hits between the third and fourth quarters when they return home Nov. 27.
In Lincoln, coach Scott Frost picked up his seventh loss of the season, and his third seven-loss season in four years. That’s turning back the clock to NEVER? Nebraska has never had a coach with three seven-loss seasons? Ouch, Frosty, ouch.
And, closing out the night In Ann Arbor, a spate of injuries had Michigan football turning the clock back to the days of Bo Schembechler, Lloyd Carr and one lone tailback smashing through, over and around an unprepared defense, as Hassan Haskins rushed 27 times for 168 yards. The Wolverines’ defense also turned back the clock a fortnight, as they faced a third-string quarterback for the second time in three weeks. Unfortunately, Jim Harbaugh didn’t complete the throwback trifecta by cussing out the crowd like Bo used to after games against the Hoosiers; then again, that might have been awkward considering the Wolverines were at home.
RAINER SABIN: How Hassan Haskins helped Michigan hammer the Hoosiers
DISTANT REPLAY: Why Indiana still needs five decades of wins to catch Michigan
Of course, some schools were turning ahead the clock on Saturday — 18-year-old Donaven McCully probably earned a fake ID after the beating he took from the Wolverines. While we wait for everyone’s clocks to sync up, let’s run through the Misery Index, from least miserable to most:
14. Purdue: W, 40-29, over Michigan State
Record: 6-3, 4-2. Last week’s ranking: 9.
The origin of that 39-yard TD by Jackson Anthrop in the second quarter? “To be honest with you, I stole it from a YouTube video of a high school team years ago,” coach Jeff Brohm said, “and the first time we ran it, it went for a touchdown.” Which explains the Boilermakers’ less-successful plays in the second half: “Baby Shark Dance,” “How to Tie a Bow Tie” and “Jim Harbaugh Says Nice Things About Ohio State.”
SHAWN WINDSOR: Michigan State still has CFP path: Beat Ohio State
13. Illinois: W, 14-6, over Minnesota
Record: 4-6, 3-4. Last week: 2.
Shout out to Illini punter Blake Hayes with the week’s best celebration, in which he exulted over pinning the Gophers at their own 1 in the final two minutes by miming rowing a boat — a jab at Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck’s trademarked phrase — and then breaking the invisible oar/paddle over his knee. (To be honest, Hayes looked like he was paddling more than rowing, but he’s Australian, so who knows how it works down under.)
12. Wisconsin: W, 52-3, over Rutgers
Record: 6-3, 4-2. Last week: 12.
The Badgers have 12 takeaways over their past three games, including four Saturday — three interceptions and a forced fumble by kickoff specialist Jack Van Dyke. “My main focus was just to get him down,” Van Dyke said. “I didn’t know right away. I was just happy that we got him down. Then I got up and people were screaming so I knew something more happened.” Us too, buddy, us too.
11. Penn State: W, 31-14, over Maryland
Record: 6-3, 3-3. Last week: 8.
Entering Saturday, there had been 32 200-yard receiving games by Big Ten receivers since 2000, and never more than two on one day in that span. On Saturday alone, there were three: Penn State’s Jahan Dotson (11 catches, 242 yards), Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba (15, 240) and Purdue’s David Bell (11, 217). Good luck to the Spartans and Wolverines, who face Dotson and Smith-Njigba in the next three weeks.
10. Michigan: W, 29-7, over Indiana
Record: 8-1, 5-1. Last week: 1.
The Wolverines’ ongoing experiment with QB J.J. McCarthy is kinda like the McRib: Around for a limited time, annoys about 60% of folks who see it, and makes you forget how bad the other McOptions are.
9. Ohio State: W, 26-17, over Nebraska
Record: 8-1, 6-0. Last week: 7.
Buckeyes kicker Noah Ruggles connected on all four of his field goals Saturday against Nebraska, plus two PAT attempts, bringing him to 15-for-15 on FGs and 49-for-49 on PATs. He’s the Big Ten’s only remaining perfect kicker, and also the host of a show on Nick Jr., we think.
(And yes, we know, kicker well down the list of things Ohio State should excel at. But reliability when the offense fizzles out can be helpful …)
8. Nebraska: L, 26-17, to Ohio State
Record: 3-7, 1-6. Last week: 4.
Just ask Scott Frost, who sat 2020 All-Big Ten kicker Connor Culp last week, after Culp started the season 6-for-12 on field goals and 28-for-31 on PATs, in favor of Chase Contreraz … who missed two of the three field goals he attempted Saturday. (At least he hit both PATs.) We’d say watching Nebraska special teams this year is like getting kicked in the face over and over again, but the Huskers of Corn would probably miss those, too.
BIG TEN MISERY INDEX RECAP
7. Iowa: W, 17-12, over Northwestern
Record: 7-2, 4-2. Last week: 6.
Sophomore QB Alex Padilla stepped in for an injured Spencer Petras (shoulder) early on Saturday. Was he nervous? “Definitely some nerves,” Padilla said. “There were definitely some of those. Just excited. I have a great group of guys around me. They make my job easy.” We’re pretty sure he was talking about his teammates, and not Northwestern. We think.
6. Maryland: L, 31-14, to Penn State
Record: 5-4, 2-4. Last week: 11.
If you were wondering about the moment the Terps officially became a Big Ten team — seven years in — it came with 12:34 remaining in the third quarter. Trailing 7-6 and facing a fourth-and-10 from Penn State’s 36, coach Mike Locksley chose to punt (though the Terps downed it at the 5). Later, trailing 21-14 on fourth-and-7 with 10:28 left in the fourth quarter, Maryland punted again, this time from Penn State’s 33 (for a touchback, no less). Exactly how close do the Terps have to get before trying a field goal anyway?
5. Indiana: L, 29-7, to Michigan
Record: 2-7, 0-6. Last week: 5.
We’d remind the Hoosier faithful that basketball season starts Tuesday (with a visit from Eastern Michigan on Tuesday), but after last season’s 12-16 run, that might be painful, too. At least the basketball team got to go to the Bahamas. Football team’s still gotta go to West Lafayette in late November.
4. Northwestern: L, 17-12, to Iowa
Record: 3-6, 1-5. Last week: 3.
The game in Evanston was stopped for a few minutes when a couple handfuls of protesters marched on the field with signs against the Northwestern Police, the conflict in the Middle East and, um, death. (We here at the Misery Index have actually softened our stance on death, at least on the “sudden” kind, after that 9OT game a few weeks ago.) Unfortunately for the protesters, their signs faced away from the field’s cameras, leaving the Big Ten Network showing a lot of nothing. So… kinda like most Northwestern games, actually.
3. Michigan State: L, 40-29, to Purdue
Record: 8-1, 5-1. Last week: 14.
They’ve still got a path to the CFP, and it runs behind Kenneth Walker III, who picked up his 15th rushing touchdown this season. The Spartans haven’t had 15 rushing TDs in a season since 2017, when they had 15 in the regular season and added three in a Holiday Bowl win over Washington State.
2. Rutgers: L, 52-3, to Wisconsin
Record: 4-5, 1-5. Last week: 10.
The Scarlet Knights turned back the clock, too, on the 152nd anniversary of their involvement in the first college football game ever played. The rules were greatly different back then — evident from the fact that Rutgers won — and only allowed scoring via kicks. Accordingly, the Scarlet Knights held themselves to a single symbolic field goal in the first quarter. Unfortunately for them, the Badgers did not.
1. Minnesota: L, 14-6, to Illinois
Record: 6-3, 4-2. Last week: 13.
A week after triumphantly rushing for a 24-yard touchdown, walk-on linebacker-turned-RB Derik LeCaptain was nowhere to be found on the Gophers’ stat sheet. Wait a second, LeCaptain missing? Is this the misery index for the Big Ten or the Red Wings?
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Big Ten misery index: Michigan football, Michigan State fall back