Big Ten morning links

October, 27, 2014
Oct 27
Does the Big Ten have a credibility problem with its officiating?

We're just two years removed from a very poor year by the league officials. And on Saturday night, the crew working the Ohio State-Penn State game was involved with several head-scratching -- and at times, just plain botched -- calls. "Clownish" is how's David Jones described the refereeing in State College, and it's hard to argue against that wording.

For years, fans have long accused the league of protecting its brand-name teams and have theorized that those schools get the benefit of the whistle. That's a bit too much tinfoil-on-the-head, conspiracy-mongering for me. After all, Michigan lost at Rutgers earlier this season in part because of a bad call on a Wolverines' pass that should have been ruled a completion.

But it's also true Ohio State got some breaks in its overtime win Saturday, most notably on the interception by Vonn Bell that actually hit the ground and on a field goal that came clearly after the play clock had expired. James Franklin had to hold himself back from saying what he really thought about those calls. asked the league to clarify what happened on the Bell interception, after the officials told a pool reporter Saturday night that there were technical difficulties on the replay. The Big Ten's response:
"[T]he video feed to the replay booth was tested and confirmed on Friday and prior to the game on Saturday, but at the start of the game, the booth was no longer receiving all available feeds. The technician in the booth followed procedure by contacting the production truck, which immediately began working on the issue. Due to these technical difficulties, only one isolated shot from the overhead camera was available and the view did not provide sufficient information to reverse the call. As a result, the play stood as called. The production truck rectified the technical issues shortly thereafter, and the replay booth had access to multiple feeds for the remainder of the game."

And the league office also responded about the no delay-of-game penalty before that field goal:
"In this case, a breakdown in officiating mechanics occurred and the crew failed to properly monitor the play clock. There is flexibility for a slight delay between the play clock and the snap of the ball, but in this case, the timing far exceeded the tolerance for normal play clock procedures. The proper ruling should have been a five-yard penalty for delay of game. This is not a reviewable play."

It's good that the Big Ten provided some explanations here and that the league admitted a failure on the missed delay-of-game. That may not be enough for some fans who find it convenient those breakdowns happened to help one of the conference's remaining playoff contenders.

I don't believe there's a conspiracy in play. But I do believe the Big Ten needs to continue to demand better from its officiating, because it was far from acceptable on Saturday night.

East Division
West Division

Finally: RIP, Oscar Taveras. Incredibly sad.

Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 9

October, 26, 2014
Oct 26

Best of the visits: Big Ten

October, 26, 2014
Oct 26
Wisconsin had a big recruiting weekend, hosting several visitors for its game against Maryland. The Badgers came away with the win and the coaches also landed a few commitments.

Athlete Zack Baun and linebacker Jordan Griffin both announced their commitment to Wisconsin on Saturday, giving the Badgers 21 commitments in the 2015 class.

This type of visit is big for the uncommitted prospects, but it’s also important for the committed recruits to take in the atmosphere and spend time around the program.

Michigan State had a huge game at home Saturday, hosting quite a few commitments, targets and in-state prospects. The Spartans beat rival Michigan in resounding fashion and in front of an exciting atmosphere.

The visiting recruits got to see quite a show, and the Spartans likely helped themselves with the in-state recruits, especially the 2016 and 2017 class.

Because Michigan State came away with the win, the prospects also got to see an exciting environment in the locker room after the game.

While the Spartans handled Michigan fairly easily, the game in Happy Valley with Penn State and Ohio State turned into an outstanding game. The two teams went to overtime, where Ohio State eventually won. The sentiment from the prospects on campus, though, was that it was crazy and exciting.

Penn State losing won’t matter as much to prospects because of the way it happened and the fact that the crowd was loud and the visit seemed to make a lasting impression on many of the recruits. The Nittany Lions had some big 2015 targets on hand, including ESPN 300 offensive lineman Matt Burrell, who was taking an official visit.

Penn State coach James Franklin made sure to get a little recruiting done before the game with Burrell and Indiana quarterback commit Tommy Stevens, who was offered by the Nittany Lions.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State coach James Franklin wanted to talk about the officiating. But he didn’t. He wanted to express his frustration over two missed calls during an emotional, double-overtime loss. But he didn’t want the accompanying fine or the wrong attention.

“I’d love to come in here and tell you how I really think,” he said during the postgame news conference at 12:30 a.m. Sunday, “but that would not be appropriate.”

It wasn’t difficult to read between the lines after No. 13 Ohio State slipped past Penn State 31-24 in double overtime Saturday. Officials failed to overturn a first-quarter interception from Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg that clearly hit the ground -- which led to an OSU touchdown -- and referees also missed an expired play clock in the second quarter when the Buckeyes nailed a 49-yard field goal.

“All that equals 10 points, right? Yeah,” Franklin said, pausing. “I would love to come in here on a weekly basis and tell you exactly what I think. And it goes against everything about who I am; I tell people the truth. But I’m not able to do that. I’m not able to do that.”

Referee John O’Neil and replay official Tom Fiedler addressed both calls after the game. With the expired play clock, Fiedler said that was not a reviewable play. On the interception, the play was not “thoroughly reviewed” due to technical difficulties on the two replay feeds. The in-house replay system worked, but the officials said they were unable to use those.

“We can’t create our own rules,” O’Neil told a pool reporter. “The replay rules are clear that we have to use the equipment provided.”

Those calls obviously weren’t the only reasons for the Penn State loss. The Nittany Lions didn’t reach the red zone until the fourth quarter, and the offense couldn’t generate much momentum in the first three quarters.

But it seemed as if those calls only complicated matters for an emotional Franklin. He was asked if he planned to file any grievances with the Big Ten but also declined to address that.

“Guys, I know you would love for me to give you a sound bite that not only would sell papers for you guys but would also give me a big fine. I’m not going to do it,” he said. “I’m going to focus on the things I can control, which is our players and our coaches and our program and loving these kids and coaching them.

“So I would really appreciate if we didn’t have any more questions about that stuff. I’d appreciate it.”

Franklin wasn’t asked about the calls again during the 13-minute postgame news conference. But it’s clear the loss took its toll. The head coach opened up with a long, 16-second pause to compose himself once his voice cracked.

The calls clearly played a role in the game, but this wasn't entirely unprecedented for Big Ten teams. Michigan was hurt in the fourth quarter against Rutgers a few weeks ago when a critical catch was ruled incomplete, and there was also the Wisconsin-Arizona State debacle last season. The 2012 season wasn’t exactly a banner year, either.

Video: Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett

October, 26, 2014
Oct 26

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett discusses his team's 31-24 win against Penn State after he rushed for two touchdowns in overtime.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Quarterback J.T. Barrett scored twice in overtime to help No. 13 Ohio State escape with a 31-24 double-overtime victory over Penn State on Saturday night.

The Buckeyes (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten) built a 17-0 lead and were cruising when Penn State's Anthony Zettel intercepted Barrett's pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Christian Hackenberg threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Saeed Blacknall early in the fourth, and Penn State (4-3, 1-3) tied it on Sam Ficken's 31-yard field goal with 9 seconds left in regulation.

In the first overtime, Penn State tailback Bill Belton took a direct snap from the Wildcat formation and scored on a 10-yard run. The Buckeyes countered when Barrett carried two straight times, the first for 17 yards and the second 5 yards for a touchdown.

Penn State was called for a personal foul on the touchdown, giving Ohio State the ball at the 12 to start the second overtime. With a third-and-2 from the 4, Barrett powered through the middle of Penn State's defense for a touchdown. Joey Bosa sacked Penn State's Hackenberg on a fourth-and-5 play to end the game.

(Read full post)

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The Nittany Lions' defense swarmed and nearly came away with the upset win Saturday night. Nearly.

Instead, they walked off the field silently after falling 31-24 against No. 12 Ohio State in double overtime. The Buckeyes scored two touchdowns in the overtime periods and sacked Christian Hackenberg on the final play.

Penn State's Anthony Zettel returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown, and the defense held J.T. Barrett to just 74 passing yards.

The Buckeyes showed they were the better team with a strong defense and ground game. Penn State didn't enter the red zone until the final quarter, and Ohio State limited PSU to 16 rushing yards on 31 carries.

With the win, Ohio State improves to 6-1, 3-0 in the Big Ten. Penn State drops to 4-3, 1-3 in the conference.

How the game was won: Ohio State’s defense dominated, as the Nittany Lions just couldn’t get anything started until the final quarter. Penn State finished with 240 total yards -- and didn’t reach the red zone until the final quarter. By then, it was too late. Two controversial calls in the first half also helped Ohio State, as a questionable interception call led to an Ohio State touchdown and a field goal counted despite the snap coming after the play clock had expired.

Gameball goes to: Ohio State's Joey Bosa. He finished with six tackles and 2.5 sacks -- but his final sack was most important of all. He tackled Hackenberg in the backfield to end the game. Ezekiel Elliott and Mike Hull also deserve mentions here, but Bosa's play had the biggest impact.

Playoff implications: The Buckeyes are still in this. For them to truly be considered, though, they’ll have to win out. Nothing is guaranteed, but the College Football Playoff committee might be willing to overlook the Week 2 loss to Virginia Tech – as long as the Buckeyes beat Michigan State in two weeks and then win the Big Ten title.

What’s next: Ohio State will take on Illinois at the Horseshoe next week, while Penn State remains at home against Maryland. The Illini are coming off a surprise win against Minnesota, and the Terrapins are coming off a big loss to Wisconsin.

Christian Hackenberg sacked by Joey Bosa for a loss of 8 yards to the OhSt 28

J.T. Barrett run for 4 yds for a TD (Sean Nuernberger KICK)

J.T. Barrett run for 6 yds to the PnSt 4

J.T. Barrett run for 5 yds for a TD

J.T. Barrett run for 17 yds to the PnSt 5 for a 1ST down

Bill Belton run for 1 yd for a TD

Christian Hackenberg pass complete to DaeSean Hamilton for 12 yds to the OhSt 2 for a 1ST down


Penn State Lands ESPN 300 CB Taylor
National recruiting analyst Craig Haubert breaks down what No. 12 cornerback Garrett Taylor - once a Michigan commit - means to James Franklin's defense now that Taylor has committed to the Nittany Lions.


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Friday, 12/26
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Thursday, 1/1
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