Michigan State’s defense rolls Michigan; more midday Week 10 Snap Judgments
Snap Judgments from the Week 10 midday slate. For more coverage, check out Andy Staples’ file from Florida State’s win over Miami and our early and late Snaps.
• No. 24 Michigan State 29, No. 23 Michigan 6: A smothering defense and a ball-control offense might look like ugly football to some, but not to the Spartans. Michigan State used that combination on Saturday to rout the Wolverines 29-6, improve to 8-1 on the season and win the Paul Bunyan Trophy for the fifth time in the last six seasons. In a dominant performance, the Spartans’ defense lived up to it’s No. 1 overall ranking, throwing the Michigan running game into reverse — the Wolverines rushed for -48 yards — and sacking quarterback Devin Gardner seven times.
Michigan State harassed Gardner (14-of-27, 210 passing yards, one interception) all afternoon, and a rainy field in East Lansing didn’t make the quarterback’s life any easier. The slippery footing limited his ability to run the ball, and his biggest plays came on a pair of long completions (a 58-yard pass to Jehu Chesson and a 35-yard throw to Jeremy Gallon).
The Spartans flawlessly executed the game plan of defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. While Michigan trailed only 16-6 early in the fourth quarter, the Wolverines’ deficit felt much greater than 10 points. Michigan State Kept the Michigan offense in third-and-long situations all game long — the Wolverines converted just two of 13 third-downs.
Though Spartans quarterback Connor Cook (18-of-33, 252 passing yards, one touchdown, one interception) missed several open receivers, Michigan State remained in command. Cook hit wide receiver Bennie Fowler for a 14-yard touchdown in the closing seconds of the first half, and running back Jeremy Langford — who carried 26 times for 120 yards — put the game away with a 40-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter.
At 5-0 in the Big Ten, the Spartans have a firm grasp on the Legends Division lead. We could be in for an intriguing chess match between Narduzzi’s defense and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer’s offense in the conference championship game on Dec. 7. [RECAP l BOX]
• No. 9 Clemson 59, Virginia 10: The Tigers needed an easy win here, if only for their own sanity. The Cavaliers complied. Clemson outgained Virginia 621 yards to 274, and quarterback Tajh Boyd completed 24-of-29 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns. (He also ran for another score.) With the performance, Boyd has now had a hand in 116 touchdowns in his career (93 passing, 23 rushing), surpassing former NC State star Philip Rivers’ mark (112) to become the ACC’s all-time touchdown leader.
Tigers receiver Sammy Watkins caught eight passes for 169 yards and two scores. Clemson was in such complete control that coach Dabo Swinney was able to work in two backup quarterbacks, Chad Kelly and Cole Stoudt. On the other sideline, the Cavaliers lost their sixth straight game to fall to 2-7. How Virginia beat BYU in Week 1 remains one of the great mysteries of the 2013 season. [RECAP l BOX]
• Notre Dame 38, Navy 34: Oh, the perils of playing against an option team. The Fighting Irish were without star defensive tackle Louis Nix III (knee), and its defense wilted in the face of the Midshipmen’s relentless ground attack. Navy rushed for 331 yards and took a late 34-31 lead after quarterback Keenan Reynolds connected with receiver Matt Aiken on a 34-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter.
Eventually, Notre Dame regained control of the game. Freshman running back Tarean Folston (140 rushing yards, one touchdown) scored the game-winner from one yard out with 3:47 remaining. The victory wasn’t pretty — the Irish clearly missed a healthy Nix — but Notre Dame is now 7-2. [RECAP l BOX]
• Texas 35, Kansas 13: Don’t look now, but the Longhorns have won five games in a row. Tailback Malcolm Brown rushed for 119 yards and four touchdowns as Texas easily dispatched the Jayhawks. The Longhorns are 5-0 in the Big 12, and coach Mack Brown’s statement that “[Texas] can get all this righted by winning the Big 12” doesn’t seem quite as unlikely now as it did when he said it following his team’s 44-23 loss to Ole Miss on Sept. 14. Still, the Longhorns will face some stiff competition in the coming weeks. After traveling to West Virginia next Saturday, they play Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor to close out the year. [RECAP l BOX]
• Minnesota 42, Indiana 39: There are losses, and there are debilitating losses. Then there is whatever one would call the Hoosiers’ collapse at the end of Saturday’s game against the Golden Gophers. On second-and-goal from the Minnesota nine-yard line with 25 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Indiana made an egregious error.
Just an unimaginable mistake by Indiana, which throws a backward pass, loses the ball and lets Minnesota pick it up. Speechless.
— ESPN Big Ten (@ESPN_BigTen) November 2, 2013
In the continued absence of coach Jerry Kill, the way the Golden Gophers have banded together behind interim coach Tracy Claeys is a nice story, but following this victory it’s clear that there’s more to this team than just valor in the face of adversity. Minnesota has now won three straight games (at Northwestern, vs. Nebraska, at Indiana) and is 7-2 on the season, matching the Gophers’ highest win total since 2008. The Hoosiers, meanwhile, dropped to 3-5. [RECAP l BOX]
• Nebraska 27, Northwestern 24: Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini’s seat is scorching hot, but things should cool down for a day or so courtesy of a victory on a last-gasp Hail Mary. The Wildcats are now 0-5 since Oct. 5, when they hosted College GameDay. And things don’t get any easier. Northwestern plays Michigan on Nov. 16 following a bye. Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah, with a 127-yard rushing effort, went over the 1,000-yard mark for the second season in a row. [RECAP l BOX]