I’ve tried to watch a fair amount of football over the first two weekends in order to get a handle on what Big Ten football might offer this season. Week one was decent enough, but week two across the conference was generally a big ball of suck. Northwestern lost to Duke, Nebraska to Colorado, Michigan State to Arizona State, and Purdue lost to Eastern Michigan.
First impression so far - Ohio State hasn’t been phased a bit by the Urban Meyer suspension, which has completely died down now that real football has started. Both Buckeye games so far have been ridiculous, with Ohio State scoring 77 against Oregon State and 52 against Rutgers. TCU might represent more of a challenge this weekend, but I sincerely doubt it. Dwayne Haskins looks like the quarterback who can take them to the playoff.
The Illinois team everyone picked as the worst in the conference is now 2-0. The wins might have been over bad teams Kent State and Western Illinois, but they count towards bowl eligibility and that’s a lot better than Purdue is doing right now. The Boilers are 0-2, and one might expect them to be 0-4 in a couple weeks with Missouri and Boston College coming up next.
Antoine Winfield Jr. made perhaps the most amazing play of the weekend to save the game against Fresno State for the Gophers. He came out of nowhere. It’s a cliché, but in this case it is true and it fits the occasion. Minnesota is 2-0, but received very bad news yesterday as it was announced star running back Rodney Smith is out for the season with a knee injury.
Antoine Winfield Jr. = TOO CLUTCH pic.twitter.com/3dN2ER1iZm— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 9, 2018
Penn State struggled with Appalachian State last weekend and in the early part of the game against rival Pitt, leading 14-6 at the half. They started rolling and the game ended up a 51-6 butt-kicking. Penn State is a decent football team and the big question is going to be whether Trace McSorley can put this team on his shoulders until they can mold together and become a great team. Their offense seems sputtery at times, and their young defense improved greatly between week one and the second half against Pitt. Can they challenge Ohio State? I doubt it, but they weren’t picked to win the Big Ten last year either.
Michigan State drives me nuts and I’m not even a Sparty fan. They have the same plodding offense that they’ve always had and it cost them against Arizona State. They lead the Sun Devils 3-0 at half and 13-3 going into the fourth quarter. They lost 16-13 as Arizona State held the ball the last five minutes of the game, kicking the game-winning field goal with only seconds left.
I did not watch Iowa - Iowa State. I don’t hate myself that much. Iowa won 13-3. Still, Iowa is 2 – 0 and we are not.
Kirk Ferentz and Mark Dantonio are two guys who are going to be content to run offenses that score about 20 points a game while counting on good defense to keep their opponents from scoring more. They will win the majority of their games. They will bore everyone to death. They will never get more than an occasional sniff at a conference championship. Even Nick Saban at Alabama has recognized you need to score to win. The old adage that defense wins championships isn’t as true as it used to be. You still need defense, but you’d damned well have an offense capable of scoring 40 points per game.
Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor has 398 yards in two games already this season. He leads the nation in yards and touchdowns, and the Badgers have easily won their first two games against Western Kentucky and New Mexico. A decent test should come against BYU this weekend.
It will be a shocking upset if the Badgers don’t win the west and they are the ONLY team anywhere close to Ohio State in this conference. I don’t think that’s saying much, though.
I have not seen Indiana play yet this season, but freshman running back Stevie Scott ran for 204 yards on 31 carries and a touchdown in their win against Virginia. That’s good, right?
Maryland smashed Bowling Green 45-14. It’s been an impressive 2-0 start for the Terps, their first win coming against Texas. They haven’t announced it yet, but they put DJ Durkin on a large boat adrift at sea before last week’s game. The next time anyone hears from him will be long after this season is over.
Michigan crushed Western Michigan and that Wolverine defense was exceptional. It’s as if the entire team had something to make up for, and they did. Jim Harbaugh can beat up on the teams he should, but until they start beating the rivals...I fear for Harbaugh’s sanity when Meyer compresses him into a beer can this year.
Rutgers, whatever. Chris Ash still looks like he’s going to burst into tears any minute now.
Northwestern’s offense is tied for last with Rutgers at 19 points per game. That’s not intentional. Neither was their loss to Duke this past weekend. The Wildcat offense seems dynamic at times, but they haven’t been able to sustain long drives, or score. They’re splitting time at quarterback between Clayton Thorson and TJ Green, and like last year, they’ll probably figure it all out just in time for conference play.
Purdue lost to Eastern Michigan 20-19 on a last-second field goal this past weekend. The Boilers made five trips into the red zone for 12 points. Note my emphasis on “score a lot” above. Eastern Michigan hadn’t beaten a Big Ten team since winning against Rutgers last season and now they’ve won two in a row. Sound impressive? Considering they were 0-38, it should. Purdue won’t make a bowl this year.
Illinois battling injury bug, thin roster as Illini prepare for USF - The Champaign Room
Check out the storylines from Lovie’s press conference this afternoon.
Rodney Smith injury update; final status expected Tuesday - The Daily Gopher
Everything about this looks bad.
I can’t believe this happened
Here’s Tom Allen destroying a Memorial Stadium trash can. - The Crimson Quarry
Nothing was standing in Tom Allen’s way of celebrating victory with the IU faithful.
Wisconsin football: Recapping New Mexico, Previewing BYU - Bucky's 5th Quarter
Final thoughts on Wisconsin’s Week 2 win
Purdue Football: Is This Our Rebuilding Year? - Hammer and Rails
Is this the year we expected last season?