FOOTBALL: NO. 4 OHIO STATE AVOIDS UPSET TO CLAIM FOURTH CONSECUTIVE BIG TEN TITLE
By Keaton Maisano and Jack Emerson The Lantern
In a game in which they played out of sorts, the Buckeyes were able to make enough plays to overcome a second-half deficit and claim their fourth Big Ten Championship in a row.
On the back of graduate running back Trey Sermon, No. 4 Ohio State offense was able to outscore Northwestern 16-0 in the second half. The Buckeyes would down No. 14 Northwestern 22-10 to secure a 6-0 record.
In the opening half, Ohio State was held to 195 total yards and six points — its lowest totals in first halves all season.
The lone bright spot in Ohio State’s offense was graduate running back Trey Sermon, who broke the Big Ten Championship and Ohio State records for rushing yards with 331.
Sermon added Ohio State’s only touchdowns — including the go-ahead score in the third quarter.
Junior quarterback Justin Fields came into the game with 20 touchdowns and only three turnovers.
In the first half against Northwestern, Fields was unable to tally a 21st score, but the Georgia native would throw a red zone interception with 28 seconds left before intermission.
Entering the game with a country-high pass completion of 78.1 percent, Fields completed only 9-of-20 passes in the first half against Northwestern.
Fields would finish the game 12-of-27 for 114 yards to go along with two interceptions.
Northwestern’s conference-leading defense created plenty of problems for Fields and the rest of the Buckeye offense.
On the offensive side of the ball, Northwestern’s wildcat formation — which saw freshman running back Cam Porter taking the snaps — threw Ohio State’s defense off balance. The Wildcats finished with 105 yards on the ground.
Northwestern graduate quarterback Peyton Ramsey was a constant threat through the air and on the ground. Ramsey threw for 224 yards while adding X yards on the ground.
Despite playing a mistake free first half, Ramsey struggled in the later stages of the game with three second half turnovers. Graduate linebacker Justin Hilliard played a key role in Ramsey’s second half regression — intercepting a red zone attempt and recovering a Ramsey fumble.
Hilliard added nine tackles with two for a loss.
With the win and title of Big Ten Champion, Ohio State boosted its College Football Playoff resume.
Ball State's Bryce Cosby and Buffalo's Jaret Patterson
For the second consecutive week, Ryland took home the MAC West Division Player of the Week honor
CLEVELAND, Ohio (EMUEagles.com) - Eastern Michigan University junior kicker Chad Ryland (Lebanon, Pa.-Cedar Crest) collected Mid-American Conference West Division Special Teams Player of the Week honors, the league announced today, Dec. 14. It marks the second consecutive week that Ryland took home the accolade and the fourth-time in his career.
Ryland moved into third-place in Eastern Michigan history with 94 career made extra points after he went 5-for-5 on PATs in EMU's 41-33 victory over Northern Illinois, Dec. 12. For Ryland, the five made extra points marked the second-consecutive game he has knocked in at least five PATs, and the sixth time he's accomplished the feat in his career.
In addition to his five extra points, the Cedar Crest, Pa.-product nailed two field goals (39, 24) to topple the Huskies. The pair of field goals extended his flawless kicking streak to nine straight with his last miss being a 53-yard try against Ball State, Nov. 11. Ryland's field goal streak is the fifth-longest active in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) ranks.
Ryland ultimately earned 11 points for the Eagles against NIU, marking the third time in the six-game season that he notched at least 10 points. Previously, Ryland had only recorded a game of 10-plus points twice (2019 vs. Pittsburgh and 2018 vs. Northern Illinois).
He also recorded his first-ever punt on a fake field goal attempt during the contest. The 37-yard boot caught the Huskies off-guard, as he pinned NIU at its own one-yard line.
No. 24 Buffalo is ranked for the first time in school history, breaking into the Top 25 this week without playing a down. The Bulls had their game at Ohio called off on Friday while on their way to Athens because the Bobcats were having COVID-19 issues.
Buffalo is the first MAC team to be ranked this season, giving every FBS league at least one ranked team during this pandemic-altered season.
The Bulls have been an FBS school playing in the MAC since 1999 and had only two non-losing seasons before Lance Leipold took over as coach in 2015. Leipold, who built a Division III powerhouse at Wisconsin-Whitewater, is in the midst of his fourth straight season of .500 or better at Buffalo.
B1G Football Players of the Week
Player of the Week
Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana
F – So. – 6-9 – Greenwood, Ind. – Center Grove (Ind.) – Major: Sports Marketing
Hunter Dickinson, Michigan
C – 7-1 – Alexandria, Va. – DeMatha Catholic (Md.) – Major: Undecided
Chippewas three TO's difference in lose to BSU
Ball State has hit its stride.
After struggling early in the season and squandering its season opener, fifth-year coach Mike Neu and company have built a solid unit. That unit imposed its will on Central Michigan Dec. 5, rolling the Chippewas 45-20.
"They took us behind the shed and whopped us pretty good," CMU coach Jim McElwain said. "No doubt about it in every phase of the game. Credit to them and what they were able to do."
The Cardinals kept their Mid-American Conference championship hopes alive with the win, while the Chippewas were eliminated from MAC West title contention with the loss.
Here are three takeaways from CMU's 45-20 loss to Ball State
Drew Plitt among conference's best quarterbacks
He ran, he threw, he even threw a block on occasion.
Ball State quarterback Drew Plitt did whatever he wanted for a majority of Saturday's game. The senior made throws at all three levels -- short, intermediate and long. Surrounded by an arsenal of talented wide receivers, Plitt made play after play when his team needed him to and finished 26-for-43 for 366 yards and four touchdowns.
He also showed poise and awareness in the pocket. The Chippewa front four had little trouble getting to Plitt, yet he proved difficult to bring down. Numerous times, Plitt would shake off a Chippewa rusher and find a receiver or sprint for a first down.
Plitt was efficient in both the pass and run game. In the red zone, Plitt took a speed option and reversed field to go 12 yards for a touchdown. In the third quarter, with the Chippewa defense reeling, Plitt sprinted through a small hole in the defense and juked his way to a first down.
Later on that drive, he dropped a perfect 39-yard pass to Jalen McGaughy while being ripped to the turf by a Chippewa defender.
After making a late mistake that cost his team a win in their season opener against Miami (Ohio), Plitt has reversed the trajectory of his team's season and captained them to a chance at a MAC championship berth.
Brock solid, yet unspectacular in first start behind struggling offensive line
After seeing spot duty in the first four games of the season, Brock got his first chance to start for the Chippewas against the Cardinals. With plenty of experience from playing at the Division I FCS level, Brock looked ready for the opportunity.
Brock provided the only two big plays for an otherwise downtrodden CMU offense. First, he hit junior receiver Kalil Pimpleton open on a wheel route for a 38-yard score to open the Chippewa scoring. Later, he sprinted through a gaping hole on the right side of the field, picked up a block, and ran 82 yards for a touchdown to put his team within 10 points, 24-14.
Brock finished the game 20-of-30 with 188 passing yards, along with 67 rushing yards. He was intercepted twice, one time for putting too much air on a tight throw to Pimpleton that was intercepted by J.T. Wahee and another late in the game trying to keep a play alive.
"He did some good things," McElwain said. "(There's) some throws he'd like to have back. And yet he went in there and competed."
However, more often than not, he was operating with multiple defenders in his face. Without starter Deiyantei Powell-Woods, and Danny Motowski after the first half, the Chippewas struggled to move the ball. There was little to speak of in terms of running the ball, with both junior Kobe Lewis and freshman Lew Nichols being held to 19 and 70 rushing yards, respectively.
Coming into the game, the Cardinals had allowed the most passing yards of any defense in the MAC. Despite the talented weapons that the Chippewas have at their disposal, Brock and company were unable to take advantage of that struggling secondary.
Redshirt freshman Daniel Richardson did suit up, as did sophomore John Keller for the first time all season, but did not play. It's unclear whether Brock will be the starter going forward, however he provided the team with a steady presence. Yet, the usually explosive Chippewa offense was held in check by the Cardinal defense.
Trio of special teams blunders difficult to overcome
In the grand scheme of the game, CMU's three special teams mistakes only resulted in seven Ball State points. Yet, in terms of momentum, they cost so much more.
First, there was a poor punt from BSU that was inadvertently kicked by redshirt freshman Trey Jones. Fortunately, Pimpleton was able to fall on it and the misplay resulted only in a loss of around 20 yards.
Pimpleton and company wouldn't get as lucky later on.
The Chippewas tried a trick play late in the first half on a kick return following a Cardinal touchdown, however Pimpleton stumbled and lost the ball. Ball State was unable to convert with the ensuing nine seconds, and CMU dodged a bullet.
Perhaps the biggest blow came midway through the third quarter with CMU preparing to get the ball trailing by 10. Cardinal punter Nathan Snyder had his punt downed at the 1-yard line, however a penalty forced BSU to retake the field and punt again.
The result was disaster for CMU. Pimpleton dove at the ensuing punt and lost the ball, which the Cardinals recovered. What ensued was a rushing touchdown from Will Jones, putting the Cardinals up three scores and put the game out of reach.
The errors on special teams were symbolic of the game itself, with the Chippewas squandering multiple opportunities after being given them. The struggles were too much to overcome.
Ball State Coach Mike Neu on Cardinals taking on San Jose St. in the Arizona Bowl
2020 MAC Specialty Award Winners
Coach of the Year: Lance Leipold, Buffalo
Offensive Player of the Year: Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo
Co-Defensive Players of the Year: Troy Hairston II, DE, Central Michigan // Brandon Martin, LB, Ball State
Special Teams Player of the Year: D’Wayne “Dee” Eskridge, WR/KOR, Western Michigan
Freshman of the Year: Lew Nichols III, RB, Central Michigan
Vern Smith Leadership Award Winner: Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo
2020 All-MAC First Team Offense
Quarterback – Dustin Crum, Kent State
Offensive Lineman – Kayode Awosika, Buffalo +
Offensive Lineman – Mike Novitsky, Buffalo
Offensive Lineman – Tommy Doyle, Miami &
Offensive Lineman – Bryce Harris, Toledo #
Offensive Lineman – Mike Caliendo, Western Michigan +
Tight End – Quintin Morris, Bowling Green +
Wide Receiver – Justin Hall, Ball State &^
Wide Receiver – Isaiah McKoy, Kent State %
Wide Receiver – Tyrice Richie, Northern Illinois
Wide Receiver – D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
Running Back – Teon Dollard, Akron
Running Back – Jaret Patterson, Buffalo &#
Placekicker – Marshall Meeder, Central Michigan
2020 All-MAC First Team Defense
Outside Linebacker – Anthony Ekpe, Ball State
Outside Linebacker – Troy Brown, Central Michigan &
Inside Linebacker – Brandon Martin, Ball State
Inside Linebacker – James Patterson, Buffalo
Down Lineman – Malcolm Koonce, Buffalo &
Down Lineman – Ralph Holley, Western Michigan
Down Lineman – Troy Hairston II, Central Michigan
Down Lineman – Mohamed Diallo, Central Michigan
Defensive Back – Bryce Cosby, Ball State
Defensive Back – Willie Reid, Central Michigan
Defensive Back – Noski LaFleur, Eastern Michigan
Defensive Back – Bricen Garner, Western Michigan
Punter – Luke Elzinga, Central Michigan
2020 All-MAC First Team Specialists
Kickoff Return Specialist – D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
Kickoff Return Specialist – Justin Hall, Ball State &
2020 All-MAC Second Team Offense
Quarterback – Drew Plitt, Ball State
Offensive Lineman – Curtis Blackwell, Ball State %
Offensive Lineman – Jake Fuzak, Buffalo
Offensive Lineman – Derek Smith, Central Michigan
Offensive Lineman – Bill Kuduk, Kent State
Offensive Lineman – Jaylon Moore, Western Michigan +
Tight End – Daniel Crawford, Northern Illinois
Wide Receiver – Antonio Nunn, Buffalo %
Wide Receiver – Kalil Pimpleton, Central Michigan &
Wide Receiver – Jack Sorenson, Miami ^
Wide Receiver – Skyy Moore, Western Michigan &
Running Back – De’Montre Tuggle, Ohio
Running Back – La’Darius Jefferson, Western Michigan
Placekicker – Chad Ryland, Eastern Michigan
2020 All-MAC Second Team Defense
Outside Linebacker – Christian Albright, Ball State ^
Outside Linebacker – Jamal Hines, Toledo %
Inside Linebacker – Bubba Arslanian, Akron
Inside Linebacker – Terry Myrick, Eastern Michigan
Down Lineman – Turan Rush, Eastern Michigan
Down Lineman – Weston Kramer, Northern Illinois
Down Lineman – Desjuan Johnson, Toledo
Down Lineman – Austin Conrad, Ohio
Defensive Back – Antonio Phillips, Ball State &
Defensive Back – Jordan Gandy, Northern Illinois
Defensive Back – Tycen Anderson, Toledo
Defensive Back – Nate Bauer, Toledo
Punter – Nathan Snyder, Ball State
2020 All-MAC Second Team Specialists
Kickoff Return Specialist – Trayvon Rudolph, Northern Illinois
Kickoff Return Specialist – De’Montre Tuggle, Ohio
2020 All-MAC Third Team Offense
Quarterback – Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan
Offensive Lineman – Sidy Sow, Eastern Michigan
Offensive Lineman – Nathan Monnin, Kent State
Offensive Lineman – Danny Godlevske, Miami %^
Offensive Lineman – Brayden Patton, Northern Illinois
Offensive Lineman – Brett Kitrell, Ohio
Tight End – Zac Lefebvre, Buffalo
Wide Receiver – Yo’Heinz Tyler, Ball State
Wide Receiver – Hassan Beydoun, Eastern Michigan
Wide Receiver – Isaiah Winstead, Toledo
Wide Receiver – Jaylen Hall, Western Michigan
Running Back – Caleb Huntley, Ball State +
Running Back – Kevin Marks, Buffalo
Placekicker – Alex McNulty, Buffalo
2020 All-MAC Third Team Defense
Outside Linebacker – Kholbe Coleman, Bowling Green %
Inside Linebacker – Jaylin Thomas, Ball State %
Inside Linebacker – Kyle Pugh, Northern Illinois #
Inside Linebacker – Treshaun Hayward, Western Michigan &
Down Lineman – Eddie Wilson, Buffalo
Down Lineman – Jose Ramirez, Eastern Michigan
Down Lineman – Kam Butler, Miami +
Down Lineman – Lonnie Phelps, Miami
Defensive Back – A.J. Watts, Akron
Defensive Back – Devonni Reed, Central Michigan
Defensive Back – Emmanuel Rugamba, Miami %
Defensive Back – Devin Lafayette, Northern Illinois
Punter – Nick Mihalic, Western Michigan
2020 All-MAC Third Team Specialists
Kickoff Return Specialist – Bryson Denley, Bowling Green
Kickoff Return Specialist – Ron Cook, Buffalo
& 2019 First-Team All-MAC
+ 2019 Second-Team All-MAC
% 2019 Third-Team All-MAC
@ 2018 First-Team All-MAC
# 2018 Second-Team All-MAC
^ 2018 Third-Team All-MAC
= 2017 First-Team All-MAC
* 2017 Second-Team All-MAC
! 2017 Third-Team All-MAC
B1G Players of the Week
Offensive Player of the Week
Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa
Sr., WR, Newark, N.J./Weequahic
Defensive Player of the Week
Mariano Sori-Marin, Minnesota
Jr., LB, Mokena, Ill./Providence Catholic
Special Teams Players of the Week
Jahan Dotson, Penn State
Jr., WR/KR, Nazareth, Pa./Nazareth Area
Freshman of the Week
Cam Porter, Northwestern
RB, Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle
FINAL: Spartans snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, Penn State 39, MSU 24
Joe Dandron- State News
Michigan State looked like it had this one.
Until it didn't.
In Payton Thorne's first career start, with Gruff Sparty adorning their helmets, with a 21-10 lead at halftime and with a 21-point second-quarter outburst from an offense that was bereft of life, the Spartans blew it.
Penn State didn't.
And the Nittany Lions won the battle Land Grant Trophy 39-24 as Jahan Dotson buckled his knees and scooted 81 yards for a punt-return touchdown to seal the game with 11:24 left in the final quarter.
"We have to do it for four quarters," Head Coach Mel Tucker said after the loss. "It was crystal clear today, what we've been talking about and what we're striving for. In the first half, we played complementary football. We did on offense, defense and special teams. Guys were playing hard, and we had execution and we were able to have success. In the second half, we did not do that."
MSU falls to 2-5 with the loss and Penn State won their third game in a row to climb to 3-5 after starting the season with five straight losses.
MSU's offense flickers then the flame goes out
Thorne and the MSU offense found the end zone in the second quarter after getting down 3-0 at the end of the first.
Wide receiver Jalen Nailor beat a safety on a deep post route and Thorne thrust the ball downfield for 45 yards. MSU took a 7-3 lead.
Then Thorne connected on 10-of-10 passes in the second quarter with seven completions of 10+ yards and two more touchdowns, one more to Nailor and another to 6-foot-7 giant Tre'Von Morgan, his first of his career, with 6:24 left in the second.
At the half, on the legs of a second-quarter that was MSU's best 15-minute stretch of offense all season, MSU was averaging 8.1 yards per play and Thorne had three touchdowns and more than 200 yards after he started the game with a penalty, sack and interception all on the very first drive.
"He wasn't rattled, and he was into the game and he was aware, the entire game," Tucker said. "He had a good look in his eye and he was into the game."
Penn State's defense was lost. MSU's offense found its way.
In the second half, MSU had 147 total yards of offense after having more than 200 in the first half. Thorne, overall, was a bright spot for a team that has struggled with week-to-week consistency under center all season. The redshirt-freshman finished with 325 passing yards, three touchdowns and 22 completions on 39 attempts.
Penn State's second-half adjustments save season freefall
The Nittany Lions' historically bad start has been salvaged by three straight wins over Michigan, Rutgers and now MSU.
Penn State's defense was battered and bruised for much of the first half but in the second, the Nittany Lions front seven chased Thorne around the line of scrimmage and their quarterback duo of Will Levis and Sean Clifford found stability.
Levis and Clifford both rushed for touchdowns. Clifford scampered for the Nittany Lions' first touchdown of the day, and Levis scored his from one yard out to give Penn State a 25-24 lead that they never relinquished.
Dotson returned a punt to seal the game. MSU's offense was shut down in the second half by a defense that is missing a likely top-10 draft pick in linebacker Micah Parsons.
In a year where Penn State has lost to teams that it hadn't in years, they kept their hopes for any semblance of a postseason bowl game alive as the usual baseline for a bowl game of winning six games was waived early this fall by the NCAA.
What's next for Michigan State
MSU will see who they play for their ninth game during Big Ten Champions Week. The ninth week of the season will showcase teams from each division facing each other.
"I really haven't been told anything," Tucker said. "We'll find out when we find out. ... We'll be on the phone today, and I'll be asking a lot of questions. We'll be making some calls, and we might not be able to narrow it down. We might not know tonight, but we might be able to narrow it down to a couple two or three teams."
MSU finishes the regular season section of their schedule with two wins, but both came against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top-15.
MAC Football Standings
BGSU Coach Loeffler