Heat Checks and Hail Marys - Penn State Crushes Auburn to Lead the Way

By: Mike
September 20, 2022

Mike Cagley, Big Sports Radio Host

September 20, 2022

It was another weekend where the B1G fell victim to teams that many B1G fans did not anticipate a loss when the season started. Northwestern lost to Southern Illinois and Michigan State fell behind Washington and wasn't able to catch up. No one expected Nebraska to beat Oklahoma, but the absence of Scott Frost ended the trend of close Nebraska losses with a 49-14 blowout. It could have been worse for the Big Ten as Indiana held on to beat Western Kentucky in overtime.

The Big Ten highlight of the week had to be Penn State going into SEC country to smash Auburn at home 41-12. SEC teams, particularly stronger SEC teams like Auburn are not used to have a visiting team come in and thrash them at home.

Hail Mary #1 - Big Ten East Looks Tough

The Big Ten East looks really tough as only the Michigan State Spartans have lost a game this season. The record of the division is a sparkling 20-1 with six teams sporting a 3-0 record. The #3 Buckeyes and #4 Wolverines are the class of the East with the Penn State Nittany Lions lurking around #14 this week, ready to move up if either favorite trips up and waivers. Michigan State dropped all the way out of the Top 25 with it's loss to Washington State.

This week will be the beginning of separating the contenders from the pretenders. A battle of undefeated teams is featured in Michigan as Maryland comes to town. We may not learn much about Michigan if things go as expected, but how Maryland plays will tell fans a lot about this year's Terrapins team.

The West's Golden Gophers come to play the Spartans this week, Wisconsin visits Ohio State and Iowa faces Rutgers in New Jersey. We will know much more about both divisions next week.

Hail Mary #2 - Big Ten West Not So Much

Minnesota's Mo Ibrahim courtesy Minnesota Athletics

It's not a news flash that the Big Ten West doesn't have a super team. Only Minnesota is undefeated and the division's record is only 12-10 with Northwestern, Purdue and Nebraska having losing records. Nebraska's head coach at season's beginning, Scott Frost, has already been fired.

Two of the perennial west powers are Wisconsin and Iowa. Neither team is ranked as each has stumbled. Iowa's offense has been putrid but hopes momentum built up during their rain-soaked victory over Nevada will carry over to their battle on the road this week against Rutgers. Wisconsin has the unenviable task of playing Ohio State in the horseshoe.

The door is open for Minnesota to extend their undefeated season, but it won't be easy. The Gophers play on the road against a Michigan State team smarting from a defeat at the hands of Washington last week. Purdue is looking to make a move and right the ship after a second disappointing loss this season. Brohm and the Boilers have lost in the final minutes of the game to both Syracuse (last week) and Penn State (to open the season).

Hail Mary #3 - Iowa's Offense

Brian Ferentz courtesy Iowa Athletics

The Cameo videos designed for the trolling of Iowa Offensive Coordinator (OC) Brian Ferentz have been well documented over the last week. The scripts read by Bob Stoops and Fran McCaffery were deftly written and generic enough to get past their respective editorial helpers. The videos were funny. It was also the type of trolling that while legendary, was done in a way that almost no one would want done to them.

Kirk Ferentz selected his own son to be Iowa's OC beginning in 2017. There's no problem in doing that, but when things don't work out well, a segment of fans maybe choose push back harder on the OC based on poor results precisely because he is the head coach's son. When you add social media which gives everyone a platform to air their grievances, this situation provides fans opportunity to cross the line when it comes to evaluating performance.

Let's take a look at Iowa's rankings in the Big Ten when it comes to offense since 2017:

Year Yards/Game Passing Yards/Game Rushing Yards/Game Points/Game
2017 10 9 11 5
2018 10 6 10 4
2019 10 7 10 10
2020 8 11 6 2
2021 13 8 11 10
2022 14 14 14 14

While the Iowa offense hasn't been a disaster except for this season (which in fairness is only 3 games old for Iowa), it's hard to say that Ferentz's tenure has been a failure. It is also fair to point out Brian's tenure has not been anywhere near an outstanding tenure as well. Thus, fans are asking if the OC was anyone other than the head coach's son would he still be employed? We won't know that answer but as results pile up this season, the intensity of the inquiries are getting louder.

At this point, it's still early in a long college football season. The team is struggling on offense - that much is crystal clear. At the same time, the conference schedule is just beginning. Many coordinators have engineered mid-season changes that have turned seasons around. Can Brian Ferentz do the same? We will see what happens on the field.

If things don't improve markedly, there may be a lot of friction coming between the head coach and Iowa fans.

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