The Whistlestop Tour: Week 2 Of Big Ten Football

Well, that was pretty much a disaster for all involved. When your conference's best win during a 12-game non-conference week comes over Vanderbilt it is definitely not a good week. The grisly details:

  • Three Big Ten teams went on the road to Pac-12 venues. The Big Ten went 0-3, with two of the losses coming from an unranked team beating a ranked team. This does not bode well for the Rose Bowl.
  • Purdue had the backing of our conference brethren in playing Notre Dame since most of the conference does not like the Fighting Irish. The quarterback rotation prevented us from winning.
  • The conference went 2-5 in its seven road games, with only Indiana beating possibly the worst FBS team in the country and Michigan State blowing out an overmatched MAC team.
  • Iowa and Purdue lost out of conference rivalry games.
  • Our defending champion lost to a team that was 4-8 last year in the Pac-12.

So yeah, it was about the worst week possible. At least Minnesota acquitted itself well in finally beating an FCS team. Once again, let's go around the league alphabetically after this week's video report:


Arizona State 45, Illinois 14

Just as I compliment the Fighting Illini last week they go and crap the rug on the road. This was a pretty brutal game for Illinois. Nathan Scheelhaase did not play, leaving Riley O'Toole and Miles Osei to split duties. Neither one worked. I have to say that Illinois' struggles combined with Wisconsin's certainly has me optimistic for the Leaders Division race.

Since there is no Illinois SB Nation blog, we go to Off Tackle Empire for a wrap:

And Illinois? You still can't have nice things.

Indiana 45, Massachusetts 6

The good news: Indiana doubled last year's win total and finally played solid defense against a teamt hat absolutely should have dominated this way. The bad news: Tre Roberson was lost for the season in what was a devastating blow. With Roberson Indiana was probably thinking of a formula where it beats Ball State, Navy, and Penn State while hoping to surprise someone else (Iowa? Northwestern?). Cameron Coffman is now the man after going 16 for 22 for 19 yards and a score:

Again, I don't mean to overstate it. UMass has a long way to go even toward competing in the MAC. Still, for a program that couldn't get out of its own way last year, this is a nice step forward. IU averaged 6.5 yards per play and ran a whopping 93 plays. IU held UMass to 3.8 yards per play and 2.2 yards per rush. IU punted on its first position but the second punt came when the score was 38-6. IU forced four consecutive three-and-outs in the second and third quarters. While Roberson was still in the game, IU ran 33 plays and gained 307 yards. Under the direction of Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld, IU gained 303 yards on 67 plays, so not as explosive. Obviously, Roberson's two long TD runs of 50 and 39 yards accounted for nearly a third of IU's offense while Tre was in the game.

Iowa State 9, Iowa 6

I could have sworn that the ESPN gametracker for this game was broken because the score was at 9-3 forever. Needless to say, there is a lot of concern for the Iowa offense, especially since they have the league's most experienced quarterback:

0: The number of touchdowns Iowa has scored in the red zone so far this year. (0 for 6.) Only three other teams have played two games this year and scored touchdowns on 0% of their red zone opportunities: Auburn, Vanderbilt, and UTEP.

1: The number of touchdowns Iowa has scored in two games (eight quarters) this season. Only two other teams have played two games this year and scored only one touchdown, Idaho and UMass.

Michigan 31, Air Force 25

Struggling against Alabama is one thing, but Air Force? Suddenly the "Brady Hoke can get away with anything by saying ‘we're Michigan'" isn't an unstoppable force. So far it is still Denard Robinson running around doing Denard Robinson-things:

After counting the victory kneels as team rushing attempts Robinson surpassed the entire team in total offense. Fitzgerald Toussaint didn't have the run blocking we thought he'd have but he also didn't create anything, leaving Denard as the only legitimate rushing threat left for Michigan. The offensive line must find a way to create gaps for the running backs or this offense will continue to rely on a single player, and Michigan will pay for it by the time Notre Dame rolls around.

Michigan State 41, Central Michigan 7

The Spartans were one of the few teams that performed exactly to expectations this week. They went on the road to a MAC venue and curb-stomped them:

Hooray for a game that should be a blowout actually being a blowout. MSU wasn't totally sharp at the beginning of the game, but once Andrew Maxwell got rolling, the game was over. And roll he did: 21 of 32 for 287 yards and 2 touchdowns will do quite nicely, thankyouverymuch. More impressively, the defense pitched a shutout, and still hasn't allowed a touchdown on the year. (CMU scored its touchdown via pick-six, courtesy of Connor Cook.)

Minnesota 44, New Hampshire 7

The Golden Gophers don't have to sit in the corner and think about what they've done this year! Huzzah! This has got to be a relief after all of the recent struggles with FCS teams:

For those of you who have experienced long-term memory loss or are not old enough to remember, this is what you are supposed to do to FCS teams. The Gophers played like a Big Ten should play against even a good FCS team like New Hampshire.

UCLA 36, Nebraska 30

The Big Ten's newest member continues the conference's struggles in the Rose Bowl. Counting regular season games against the Bruins the conference is a dismal 0-4 in regular season games and 1-8 in the Rose Bowl game itself since Wisconsin won back-to-back Rose Bowls in 1999 and 2000. Illinois, Ohio State, Nebraska, and Michigan have lost regular season games there while Purdue, Michigan (three times), Illinois, Penn State, and Wisconsin (twice) have lost there in the Rose Bowl game. Only Ohio State's win over Oregon on January 1, 2010 keeping the conference from being 0-13 since January 1, 2000 in Pasadena. Nebraska also lost the 2002 Rose Bowl there.

Fans of the Cornhuskers are incredibly concerned about the defense:

The 36 points were bad enough; the 653 yards allowed were even worse. The only thing between that performance and the worst performance in school history (656 yards by Oklahoma in 1956) was the three yard loss on the final "take a knee". That's right...in terms of yardage, this was worse than anything Kevin Cosgrove was involved with.

Northwestern 23, Vanderbilt 13

This was a very good win for the Wildcats. Instead of struggling to close it out Kain Colter cemented things by reversing the field and icing it with a touchdown. Now Northwestern is 2-0 and showing their ridiculous propensity for winning close games already:

Sure, the team looks like it could start off with seven wins and the rest of the Big Ten looks shoddy at best, but I don't think this team is significantly better than I did when I made season previews. Way more crazy fun than I thought? Yeah, but we have to remember that this is still a team that just eked out two wins against teams that aren't world-beaters.

Ohio State 31, Central Florida 16

If Michigan is a one-man team with Robinson the Buckeyes could be a one man team with Braxton Miller. The only difference is that Michigan played possibly the best defense in the country and Miller has run wild against sub-par defenses. There will be a team that takes Miller out of the game. Maybe that team is Purdue since we bizarrely do that to OSU's running quarterbacks:

Offensively, the Buckeyes are still very much a work in progress as well. The offensive line has to figure out how to keep Braxton Miller upright and avoid the need for the Buckeyes QB to have to run 25+ times to generate offense. Bri'onte Dunn showed flashes and even with the potential return of Jordan Hall, he will quickly become one of the most important cogs in the Bucks' offense with Carlos Hyde having suffered an MCL sprain and now expected to miss one-to-two weeks. The wide receivers regressed some from last week's breakout performance, and despite the touchdown snag, Jake Stoneburner yet again appeared to be more important as a blocker than as a target.

Virginia 17, Penn State 16

Few players in the country had a worse day than Penn State kicker Sam Ficken. In fact, one of the only guys who had it worse was Tulane's Devon Walker (Get well soon, big man). It wasn't all Ficken's fault, however:

Granted, Ficken will take all the heat for this one, but it's worth noting that Penn State forced four turnovers inside the UVA 30-yard line and came away with only 3 points. The missed field goals didn't help, but the offense could've really helped out by pounding out a touchdown.

Notre Dame 20, Purdue 17

For most people the quarterback controversy was settled by Robert Marve's play, but the news of a pending MRI on his left knee fills us with the same dread we have felt all too often. Here is the latest:

Meanwhile, one Foot Down was complimentary of Purdue today:

Still, I feel like by virtue of their dual war daddy defensive tackles, Purdue was a tougher matchup for us than Michigan or State. We'll see. Boy it's tough to be optimistic. After watching that game, I just feel like we still have a LOOOOONNNGGG way to go. But that's probably to be expected for a team breaking in new wide receivers, a new quarterback, and basically an entirely new secondary.

Oregon State 10, Wisconsin 7

Your guess is as good as mine as to why Wisconsin struggled so much against a rather mediocre Oregon State team. An offensive line that big with a runner like Montee Ball should be able to run for 250 yards on anyone. Ball himself was worth about three touchdowns per game last season. I don't know what's wrong, but they can figure it out after their October 13th visit to Ross-Ade:

There were multiple scape goats on Saturday, but the majority of the issues were on the offensive side of the ball. The Badgers were able to manage just 207 yards of offense against the Beavers. That includes a paltry 35 yards on the ground, despite featuring arguably the best running back in the country in Montee Ball.

Non-conference opponents:

Eastern Kentucky 24, Morehead State 17 - Matt Denham played more like the running back he is supposed to be with 166 yards on 34 carries in this one.

Illinois State 31, Eastern Michigan 14 - Brock Spack's team pulls off the FCS over FBS upset in convincing fashion. Is Eastern Michigan worse than Eastern Kentucky?

Marshall 52, Western Carolina 24 - The Thundering Herd rolls behind 337 yards and three touchdowns from Rakeem Cato as all three of our other non-conference opponents played FCS teams.

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