Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Take Two: Most thrilling game so far?
By Brian Bennett and Adam Rittenberg
Big Ten bloggers Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett will occasionally give their takes on a burning question facing the league. We'll both have strong opinions, but not necessarily the same view. We'll let you decide which blogger is right.
In a mostly ho-hum college football season, two of the nation's most exciting games have taken place in Big Ten country -- actually in the same state (Michigan). Today's Take Two topic is this: What has been the Big Ten's best game so far, Notre Dame-Michigan or Wisconsin-Michigan State?
Take 1: Adam Rittenberg
You might not see a wilder fourth quarter than the one in the Notre Dame-Michigan contest, but the better game undoubtedly took place this past Saturday night in East Lansing. I was there, and I'll be fortunate to witness another one that comes close the rest of the season. You had huge momentum swings: Wisconsin scored the first 14 points, Michigan State scored the next 23 and Wisconsin erased a 14-point deficit in the final 8:10, which set up you know what from the Spartans. I'm a believer that any great game must feature great plays in all three phases -- and Saturday night's contest didn't disappoint. You had several terrific plays by both offenses, a blocked punt recovered for a touchdown by Michigan State, a safety forced by the Spartans and seven combined sacks. There were great calls by the coordinators and gutsy/debatable decisions by the head coaches. It set up the play of the year in college football, Kirk Cousins' Hail Mary touchdown pass to Keith Nichol as time expired. But this game was more than the Michigan State miracle. It featured better teams than the game in Ann Arbor. It was a much cleaner game, with only six penalties called (none on Michigan State). Don't get me wrong, Notre Dame-Michigan was fun to watch, but in terms of overall quality, Wisconsin-Michigan State gets my vote.
Take 2: Brian Bennett
I agree that the overall game between Wisconsin and Michigan State was both more important in its impact on the league and more interesting throughout the course of 60 minutes. And that final play was an absolute jaw-dropper. Still, the Notre Dame-Michigan game was the one that left me saying, "I can't believe what I just saw" for hours and even days afterward. The teams scored five touchdowns in the final quarter as Michigan rallied from a 24-7 deficit. I've never seen bigger momentum swings in any game, and I certainly can't remember ever witnessing three touchdowns in the final 72 seconds. We had not one, not two, but three two-minute drill scores. Denard Robinson had a game for the ages and probably his signature moment in a career full of unbelievable highlights. And while I'm sure the atmosphere in East Lansing was special last weekend, the buzz in Ann Arbor for the first-ever night game was surreal. One thing we know for sure: the next time "GameDay" comes to the state of Michigan, we'd better be ready for some good theater.