Can one team be both a winner and a loser at the same time?
Michigan put that theory to the test this weekend.
The Wolverines are featured prominently in this list after their helter-skelter, 48-42 victory over Rutgers in three overtimes.
Below, we also take a look at the rest of the conference’s winners and losers:
Winners: Cade McNamara
After he steered Michigan to a 17-point comeback and willed his team to victory, Cade McNamara was asked if Jim Harbaugh should install him as the Wolverines’ No. 1 quarterback.
“Personally, I feel like I’ve done enough for me to be put in that position,” McNamara said. “That’s coach Harbaugh’s decision and whatever’s best for the team, but from a personal level, I feel like I’m confident enough in myself that, if my number’s called again then, I can perform the same way.”
That it’s even a question is an indictment on Michigan’s staff. (More on that later.) McNamara far exceeded what Joe Milton has done in the past three games. Against the Scarlet Knights, he completed 75% of his 36 pass attempts for 260 yards and four touchdowns. He added a rushing score. With McNamara in control the Wolverines played a more inspired, competent brand of football that even carried over to the defense.
The positive effect he created opened up running lanes for Hassan Haskins and created a rhythm in the passing game that was nonexistent with Milton behind center.
McNamara should carry Michigan forward, and there shouldn’t be any questions about that.
Northwestern is No. 48 in 247Sports’ team talent composite rankings, which rates the roster quality of each FBS program. Yet the Wildcats are the only Big Ten team not named Ohio State to have a real shot at the College Football Playoff this season.
Northwestern preserved its unblemished record with a victory over Wisconsin in an old-fashioned rock fight Saturday.
And for the second time in three seasons, Fitzgerald has his team in line to represent the West division in Indianapolis next month.
If it weren’t universally known the former Northwestern star linebacker loves his alma mater so much, universities around the country would try to snatch Fitzgerald away.
He has shown he can consistently win more with less and follow bad seasons with good ones. More often than not, he finds a way, despite the talent disadvantage he faces each year.
Schiano should have absorbed every second of the scene that followed the conclusion of a 48-42 triple-overtime loss to Michigan. He should have relished seeing Michigan’s players and coaches rejoicing as if they had vanquished a rival, instead of a perennial doormat before he arrived for his second act in Piscataway. He should have been soothed that the Scarlet Knights, in their first year with Schiano back in the fold, could draw such a reaction, instead of the apathy they once elicited.
It means Rutgers is ahead of schedule in its rebuild and will be competitive in the Big Ten East sooner than imagined. For stretches Saturday, Rutgers looked better than Michigan and nothing like the team that lost, 52-0, to the Wolverines last season. The Scarlet Knights are no longer a joke. Instead, many were laughing at Michigan for celebrating the conquest of a team that had been disregarded for so long.
Losers: Michigan’s Coaches
Harbaugh and his assistants have a lot of explaining to do. The decisions they’ve made over the course of the last five weeks may have cost the Wolverines victories. They may even have damaged their own long-term prospects at Michigan with their stubbornness, myopia or a toxic combination of both.
After the close victory over Rutgers, so many questions bubbled to the surface. How was Joe Milton selected over Cade McNamara as the team’s starting quarterback? How was Hassan Haskins not identified as the lead running back? Why does this team expect different results when it tries the same maneuvers after they have failed?
Something is amiss with Michigan’s staff. They are supposed to put their players in positions to succeed. But over the course of the season, they have jeopardized their opportunities to thrive. Sure, Michigan won on Saturday. But they did so in spite of Harbaugh and his assistants.
The Cornhuskers have reserved a spot in this space — finding a way to sink lower when most assumed they already bottomed out.
The latest calamity occurred Saturday, when Illinois — Illinois! — pummeled them, 41-23, in Lincoln. After the game, Nebraska coach Scott Frost said he was “embarrassed” by the performance.
He should be.
Since returning to his alma mater in December 2017, the Cornhuskers are 10-18. Even with a star from its past at the helm, there are few signs of life with a program that has flatlined in the 21st century and has transformed into the football equivalent of Puyi, the last emperor of China who had been reduced to a commoner.
Franklin has become Penn State's version of the “How it started…How’s it going” meme.
The Nittany Lions were ranked No. 8 heading into the season and now are 0-5 for the first time in the program’s 134-year history.
Things went south real fast after his poor clock management in the opener against Indiana led to an overtime loss.
What the heck happened here?
Well, for one, Penn State was never at full strength. Star linebacker Micah Parsons opted out before the season and running back Journey Brown was forced to retire because of a heart condition. But even so, Franklin hasn’t been able to overcome these losses. The quarterback play has been deficient. And the defense has been subpar.
With his family elsewhere while he stays in State College, Franklin has struggled to cope with his personal situation. Maybe that explains why the Nittany Lions have cratered on his watch. But there is no doubt his reputation has taken a hit as Penn State has plummeted to the bottom of the Big Ten.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan football's backup QB won, but its coaches lost in Big Ten's Week 5 action