Purdue vs. Ohio — W, 44-21
Well, the Boilermakers looked really good against Louisville but were undone by mistakes. They played the same way against Ohio, and the lesser competition was enough for them to get by with a convincing victory. David Blough looked solid if not unspectacular with 235 yards through the air. Jeff Brohm’s team isn’t quite there yet, even in the weaker Big Ten West, but they could definitely prove an upset threat this season as they grow toward being a competitor again.
Northwestern at Duke — L, 41-17
The Wildcats came into the season with so much hype around them, but have yet to show why they were considered dark horses in the conference not long ago. They narrowly escaped last week, but Duke exposed them as potential big-time frauds. If they want to be considered a Big Ten contender, beating a middle-to-bottom-tier ACC team should be easy. Pat Fitzgerald’s seat is getting hotter each and every second. If Northwestern can’t turn it around, there might be some shifting in Evanston.
Iowa at Iowa State — W, 44-41
This should go down as the best game in the conference this weekend. Everything was pointing to a Cyclone victory and yet another falter at the feet of the thorn in the Hawkeyes’ side. Instead, Akrum Wadley took over, with his combined 190 rushing and receiving yards being enough to separate the Hawkeyes. While a great day, Iowa State should be beaten more handily if Iowa is to be considered a threat in the Big Ten. Still, a good win for Kirk Ferentz and his program, and something they can gain momentum from.
Maryland vs. Towson — W, 63-17
The Terps picked up where they left off against Texas last week—points, points and more points. Kasim Hill stepped right in at starting quarterback and was fantastic. They used him in an efficient, conservative way, but he is already showing poise beyond his years. Add to that the Ty Johnson effect—five carries, 124 yards—and you’ve got a well oiled offensive machine. When they face a truly potent offense, there could be some concerns. However, for the time being, Maryland looks very, very good.
Michigan vs. Cincinnati — W, 36-14
Despite some mediocre quarterback play from Wilton Speight, he and the Wolverines cruised to a 36-14 win against Cincinnati. Several receivers made standout performances including Kekoa Crawford and Grant Perry, and running back Ty Isaac remained the leading contributor to Michigan’s rushing attack.
Once again riding the back of the defense, who accounted for 16 of Michigan’s points, the maize and blue moved to 2-0 on the year and will have a tough test next week vs. the option-heavy Air Force.
Wisconsin vs. Florida Atlantic — W, 31-14
Fact is, the Badgers are 2-0 and they didn’t play poorly. The nation was formally introduced to freshman Jonathan Taylor. The running back ended with over 200 yards and three scores. Alex Hornibrook and the Wisconsin passing game also did some good things. Most notably, Troy Fumagalli netted 92 yards on eight receptions, one of which was for a touchdown. While saying that, though, the Badgers have a lot to improve upon to compete for a division/conference title. The biggest need is further consistency in the passing game on both sides of the ball. In both cases, the talent is there, so morale is high in hoping that both units will improve.
Michigan State vs. Western Michigan — W, 28-14
Many were putting the Spartans on upset alert. With their horrendous season last year and the Broncos’ tough performance against a top team in USC last week, who can blame those who thought that. However, Mark Dantonio’s team proved they have put 2016 behind them with a solid victory over their in-state foe. There are still questions to be asked, though. Brian Lewerke does not look convincing at quarterback (he only had 161 yards passing). They seem to be operating with a few running backs, which will ease the load there, but they need to establish a better attack through the air.
Penn State vs. Pittsburgh — W, 33-14
The Nittany Lions managed to get their revenge after the Panthers beat them last year, edging the in-state rivals with relative ease. With Ohio State’s loss, the Nits are now the clear-cut top team in the Big Ten—something difficult to hold down, but indicative of the program’s progress nonetheless. Marcus Allen was a beast on defense while Saquon Barkley continued to update his Heisman resume with impressive superlatives. It’s really hard to see this Penn State team losing in the regular season. Bring on ‘Bama? Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself, but James Franklin’s group looks legit.
Rutgers vs. Eastern Michigan — L, 16-13
Well, this was bad.
We thought Rutgers’ encouraging showing against Washington last week was indicative of the inroads the program has made under Chris Ash, but instead they reverted to the old ways of finding impressive ways to lose. Eastern Michigan is no slouch, but the Scarlet Knights should be finding it far easier to put up points on a non-Power-Five team. Scoring 13, even on a solid one, isn’t going to cut it. I’m still a firm believer in the improvement of this program, but this was a case of stagnation, or, even worse, backwards movement.
Indiana at Virginia — W, 34-17
We saw how Indiana put fear in Ohio State in the opener. We know they have the talent to compete. They just went out and did what we thought Northwestern would do—beat an ACC opponent they should beat.
As our Hoosier writer Alec Lasley pointed out in his recap, the Cavaliers actually out-gained Indiana and, on paper, looked the better team. However, finding ways to win is a great quality of any good program, and the Hoosiers seemed to have that. However, if they want to keep winning, quarterback Richard Lagow can’t play like that and get benched, regardless of the result.
Nebraska at Oregon — L, 42-35
To Nebraska’s credit, they hung with the Ducks. However, this isn’t Marcus Mariota’s Oregon, or Chip Kelly’s for that matter. This is just as much a rebuilding program, and one should think Nebraska is further ahead in that process. No sir, that’s not true.
The Huskers do look solid on offense, and Tanner Lee looks very capable of becoming a good starting quarterback. Unfortunately, they were undone on the defensive end, similar to the way they almost were against Arkansas State last week. That’ll need fixing. It wasn’t bad, but needs to be better.
Ohio State vs. Oklahoma — L, 31-16
Ohio State appeared to be in full control throughout the game until everything unraveled in the fourth quarter. After a solid week one, J.T. Barrett appears to have returned to his old ways leaving many Buckeye fans frustrated. Poor play calling was also a major factor in the loss as J.K. Dobbins only touched the ball 14 times on offense while Barrett had 18 carries himself. On defense, Baker Mayfield was able to expose the inexperienced Ohio State secondary, which now appears to be the team’s biggest liability. Ohio State could very well wake up and run the table but after a loss like this, it seems unlikely.
Illinois vs. Western Kentucky — W, 20-7
Our Zach Leslie wrote that defense seems to be Illinois’ mantra. While they’re still figuring out how to consistently get the ball in the end zone, they do really seem to be a solid defensive team. I know the competition hasn’t been great, but it’s a good start.
When they get to the Big Ten schedule, though, figuring things out like how to throw the ball and establishing a consistent running game if Mike Epstein is ineffective, those would top Lovie Smith’s list. Still, encouraging signs from the Illini.
Minnesota at Oregon State — W, 48-14
This. This was what we expected from P.J. Fleck’s Golden Gophers.
A lifeless display against lowly Buffalo a week ago is well in the rearview mirror now, as the Gophers took it to a decent Pac-12 opponent, and on the west coast, too. The 48 points isn’t indicative of how their offense still needs to find its feet a bit, but what a defensive performance. The Gophers are further ahead than perhaps we thought after that Buffalo game, and who knows what they can accomplish in the Big Ten West?