Week 6 wrap

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Dwayne Haskins ties Ohio State record with 6 TDs as No. 3 Buckeyes avoid letdown vs. Indiana

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A year ago, Ohio State celebrated a thrilling one-point victory over Penn State only to be blitzed by Iowa the following week. This year, a week after another thriller of a one-point victory over Penn State, No. 3 Ohio State (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) did not look particularly sharp for a while against Indiana (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) but the Buckeyes used their talent advantage to avoid a letdown with a 42-26 victory over the Hoosiers.

Dwayne Haskins tied an Ohio State record previously held by J.T. Barrett and Kenny Guiton with six touchdown passes in the same game. That, along with 455 passing yards, was enough to forget about two interceptions thrown, one of which led to an Indiana touchdown that gave the Hoosiers a 17-14 lead in the second quarter. Ohio State responded with two touchdowns before halftime to take a lead into the break, but the Buckeyes restored order in the second half.

Ohio State allowed just one touchdown by Indiana in the third quarter while the offense continued to put points on the board. Two fourth-quarter touchdowns put the game out of reach for Indiana, who suddenly struggled to get some scoring opportunities. Patrick Ramsey did throw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns, but there was not enough in the tank to keep pace with a stronger and deeper (and more skilled and athletic) Ohio State on the road.

There was a scary moment on the Ohio State sidelines when head coach Urban Meyer was seen receiving medical assistance and going down to one knee with a hand on his head. His medical history certainly was a cause for some alarm, however, it was later reported Meyer had just collided with someone on the sideline while running down to give some instructions.

The Buckeyes remain the lone undefeated team in the Big Ten and now sit atop the Big Ten East standings tied in conference play with their rivals from Michigan. But while the Wolverines are about to embark on a challenging three-game stretch that could define their season, Ohio State will get some games that look to be very favorable for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State will stay home next week to play Minnesota. Indiana will play at home next week against Iowa.

No. 15 Michigan flashes look of Big Ten contender in win over Maryland

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No. 15 Michigan (5-1, 3-0 Big Ten) won their fifth straight game since losing the season opener by flexing their defensive strength against Maryland (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) on Saturday afternoon in Michigan Stadium. The Wolverines sent the homecoming crowd home happy with a 42-21 win behind the strength of a defense that made things extremely difficult for the Terrapins all afternoon.

Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson passed for 282 yards and three touchdowns in the win, and running back Karan Higdon rushed for 103 yards. The Michigan offense continues to look formidable as the season goes along, even after overcoming a rough start last week against Northwestern. Michigan was efficient with their third-down conversions, converting 8 of 13 in the game, but this was a story for the defense.

Maryland didn’t go over 100 yards of offense until a fourth-quarter touchdown drive of 75 yards, which took them to 122 yards of offense. Maryland had four three-and-out drives and it wasn’t until the fourth quarter the offense put any points on the scoreboard. A kickoff return of 98 yards for a touchdown by Ty Johnson was the lone score for Maryland in the first quarter until the fourth-quarter score. The Terrapins did add a third touchdown late in the fourth quarter with the game all but official.

The win moves Michigan to 3-0 in Big Ten play, and the Wolverines now sit in front of both Penn State and Michigan State in the Big Ten standings after the Nittany Lions lost last week and the Spartans went down at home on Saturday. Michigan will still have to play both of those division foes of course, as well as Ohio State, so it’s not time to start speculating about Michigan contending for the Big Ten title just yet. However, the defense remains the strength of the team and the offense continues to look consistent enough to make some noise in the Big Ten race.

Next up for Michigan is a big one. The Wolverines host Wisconsin next weekend. The Badgers will likely come to Michigan Stadium with a 4-1 record (assuming they beat Nebraska) and a top 15 ranking, The game against Wisconsin will open a challenging three-game stretch with games against Michigan State on the road and home against Penn State to follow. If Michigan gets through that stretch no worse than 2-1, it’s game on for a Big Ten title run.

Maryland will look for a rebound win next week when they host Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights lost at home to Illinois on Saturday and are now 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the Big Ten.

Clayton Thorson scores 4 TDs as Northwestern upsets No. 20 Michigan State

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Northwestern (2-3, 2-1 Big Ten) finally found a way not to waste a halftime lead. The Wildcats took down No. 20 Michigan State (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) in East Lansing behind a solid defensive effort and a three-touchdown performance through the air from Clayton Thorson. Northwestern’s 29-19 win also helps keep Northwestern in the early running in the Big Ten West Division thanks to the crossover matchup with the Spartans.

After Northwestern’s defense brought pressure on Brian Lewerke in the end zone on two straight plays and somehow managed to not get a safety ruled in their favor on those two straight plays, the defense dialed up a fourth down stop on 4th and 1 on the Michigan State 11-yard line. Northwestern took over in a great spot to put the game away, and a strong push on the goal line by Thorson put the 10-point underdogs up by 10.

Thorson passed for 373 yards and three touchdowns and he pushed forward on the goal line score late in the game gave Northwestern’s quarterback four touchdowns in the game.

Each of Thorson’s touchdown throws came from outside the red zone. The first to Kyric McGowan in the first quarter and traveled 77 yards came as a result of a bit of blown coverage down the field, as McGowan was wide open behind the Michigan State defense. Thorson’s perfectly placed ball into the hands of JJ Jefferson covered 34 yards for a second-quarter touchdown, helping to give Northwestern a 14-6 lead as the Michigan State offense was failing to cash in on their opportunities. A third touchdown pass to Cameron Green in the third quarter from 21 yards pulled Northwestern back in front of Michigan State after the Spartans had taken a 19-14 on their second touchdown of the second half.

Northwestern missed a field goal to keep Michigan State in it in the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats defense forced a three-and-out and then

Northwestern will return home next week to play a home game against Nebraska. The Huskers, already off to a woeful start at 0-4, could be searching for their first win of the season after a road game at Wisconsin on Saturday.

Michigan State will be on the road next week to play a division game at Penn State. The Spartans knocked off the Nittany Lions with a last-second field goal to effectively remove any thought of the College Football Playoff for Penn State. The Nittany Lions lost a tough one last week at home against Ohio State and have this week off to prepare for their next revenge situation against Michigan State.

Bryce Love heroics, stingy Stanford defense help knock No. 20 Utah from unbeaten ranks

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Stanford running back Bryce Love entered Week 6 leading the country in just about every rushing category imaginable so it was safe to say it was a priority to stop him if Utah wanted to remain undefeated. The Utes ended up containing the nation’s leading rusher for three quarters, but the tailback still found a way to get loose and help the Cardinal to a 23-20 victory on Saturday night in a game where every yard was earned between two stingy defenses.

Love had just 75 yards on 15 carries until early in the fourth quarter, being met with three or four Utah defenders at the line of scrimmage on just about every touch. Despite a game plan that was clearly geared toward loading the box, the shifty back came close time after time to spinning out of a hit and breaking off a big one.  Not surprisingly, after battering it and battering it, the dam eventually broke and Love ripped off a 68-yard touchdown run that proved to be the decisive score in the closely contested Pac-12 battle between similarly built teams. He eventually finished the game with 152 yards and a hefty 7.6 yards per carry.

Sealing the deal, the feisty Stanford defense picked off passes on the next two drives to essentially wrap up a win in a difficult environment on the road in Salt Lake City.

Both sides played their backup quarterbacks in this one and only one side survived it. Regular starter Keller Chryst took the first snaps under center for the Cardinal (7/13, 106 yards), but was spelled regularly for K.J. Costello who added a different element with his legs in addition to the 82 yards passing he had.

The home team wasn’t so lucky with dual-threat starter Tyler Huntley out of the lineup due to injury, forcing last year’s first-team option Troy Williams into action with his first start of the year. While the senior flashed at times, he still hovered around the 50 percent mark passing and the pair of late interceptions he threw were downright backbreaking after the team was threatening to come back. Running back Zach Moss recorded just 79 yards and the Utes’ lone touchdown but was mostly a non-factor down the stretch as the team played from behind.

The end result on the scoreboard certainly makes both Pac-12 division races a little more interesting. Utah will travel to Los Angeles to take on USC in a game that very well could decide the South while Stanford continues to control their own destiny in the North as they return home to host a banged up Oregon team.

Nick Saban bristles at ‘rat poison’ served up by media

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Don’t be concerned as, as is the case with everything, this is merely part of The Process™.

Entering Week 6, Alabama was ranked No. 1 in the country and winners of five straight to start the 2017 season, all of which came by 17 points or more.  The last two weeks, the Crimson Tide had won both games by a combined score of 125-3.

Enter Texas A&M, which fell behind 24-3 at one point before succumbing to the superior team in a 27-19 loss in College Station.

After the game, an innocuous question about three first-quarter three-and-outs opened the door for head coach Nick Saban to continue his ongoing processing of the media.  From al.com:

We just didn’t play as well tonight and you have to give them a lot of credit for it,” Saban began.

Then a pause.

“I’m trying to get our players to listen to me instead of listening to you guys,” Saban said. “All that stuff you write about how good we are. All that stuff they hear on ESPN. It’s like poison.

“It’s like taking poison.

“Like rat poison.

Saban going from “like poison” to “like taking poison” to “like rat poison” in a span of a few seconds might be the most Saban thing ever, at least when it comes to publicly downplaying the media in his players’ eyes.  The Process™, though, never sleeps — especially after a closer-than-expected win from which the greatest college football coach of this generation can impart yet another lesson to his young Crimson Tide team.