Quite a day in East Lansing and at FedEx Field as well. Here are my thoughts on the other two early Big Ten games.
Michigan State 35, Purdue 31: Wow. Spartan Nation is breathing a lot easier now after surviving a major scare from the Purdue Boilermakers. Michigan State needed 22 points in the fourth quarter to avoid what would have been one of the more damaging losses in program history, considering what's at stake. After a sloppy first half, the Spartans came alive on defense, special teams and eventually offense to keep their Rose Bowl hopes alive. The biggest play came from redshirt freshman linebacker Denicos Allen, who blocked a Purdue punt that set up the game-winning touchdown run by quarterback Kirk Cousins. Arguably no team in the country has made more HUGE special teams plays than the Spartans. Wonder what Mark Dantonio is calling Allen's block? How about "Lifesaver?" Purdue received strong play from quarterback Rob Henry, who completed 16 of 26 passes after dealing with a laceration on his throwing hand. But Henry's youth showed late in the game with two interceptions, and Purdue couldn't pull off the upset and saw its bowl hopes vanish. Cousins had a pick-six in the first half as Purdue cornerback Ricardo Allen continues to impress, but the quarterback settled down and got a lift from wideout Mark Dell (8 catches, 108 receiving yards, 2 TDs). Michigan State will need to be better next week in Happy Valley, but the Spartans have to feel relieved today.
Penn State 41, Indiana 24: Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin is a streaky player, but when he's on his game, look out. McGloin started strong and finished strong, completing 22 of 31 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns as Penn State recorded win No. 7 and likely clinched a Jan. 1 bowl game. Much like the Michigan State-Purdue game, this contest turned on a blocked punt. Andrew Dailey had the block and James Van Fleet returned the ball 21 yards to the end zone to break a 24-24 tie. Indiana started the game in lay-down mode, allowing two scoring drives in the first 15:04, but the Hoosiers rallied behind quarterback Ben Chappell and receivers Tandon Doss and Terrance Turner. Penn State racked up 496 yards against the Hoosiers, whose two biggest problems under coach Bill Lynch have been defense and the inability to close out Big Ten games. Both issues showed up today.