September 1, 2012; West Lafayette, IN, USA; Purdue Boilermakers running back Akeem Shavers (24) runs up field past Eastern Kentucky Colonels defensive lineman Ryan Smith (98) at Ross Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sandra Dukes-US PRESSWIRE
After a wet and wild weekend in the Big Ten, it's time to sit back and take another look at where everyone stands. This is a pretty hectic week for me, so there won't be a theme. Instead we'll be looking at more by the numbers.
With week one in the books I have to say that I was a little disappointed and taken back by the results of most of the games. I thought Michigan was going to lose, but I thought they would at least put up a fight. I expected Wisconsin to blow Northern Iowa out of the water, and Penn State losing was quite the curve-ball as well. The Northwestern vs. Syracuse shoot out was a fun game to watch, Purdue's blow-out was great despite the fact that just about every Boilermaker feels this way about TerBush starting this weekend. Nebraska, Ohio State, and Michigan State had big victories over their opponents. Iowa, IU, Minnesota, and Illinois all topped off the weekend with wins of their own; although I didn't think IU was going to make it for a bit; damn them.
So, without further ado let's break this sucker down.
1. Michigan State (1-0)
- In a close home-opener against Boise State Sparty showed that their defense is going to be lethal. Freshmen safety RJ Williamson had an athletic interception in a goal-line defense and the Spartans only allowed 206 total yards. Le'Veon Bell had a monster game with 2 touchdowns and 210 yards, but I don't expect him to get 40+ touches a game. Quarterback Andrew Maxwell needs to work on turnovers as well. If MSU starts having games where Maxwell can throw for around 200-250 and a touchdown, Bell runs like he did Saturday with around 25-30 touches, then combine that with their defense and you get a scary team.
2. Nebraska (1-0)
- With a career high 354 passing yards and tying his career high of 5 touchdowns, it looks like Taylor Martinez's work in the offseason has payed off; as he torched Southern Miss' defense. The Nebraska defense looked alright too as they only allowed 260 total yards and forced a fumble. An MCL injury to senior running back Rex Burkhead could be a big loss, but as of now he is listed as questionable for Saturday's game against UCLA. Head Coach Bo Pelini seems to be confident that if Burkhead misses time to injury they'll be fine with backups Ameer Abdullah, Imani Cross, and Braylon Heard. After week one Nebraska looks like it could be a high scoring offense. We'll see if their success continues at UCLA.
3. Wisconsin (1-0)
- After what many thought would be a thrashing, Wisconsin escaped with a 26-21 victory over Northern Iowa. Wisconsin can be a serious contender for the Leaders Division title and the Big Ten Championship. If Wisconsin wants to accomplish either of these, they'll have to be able to hold onto leads and defend the pass. Quarterback Danny O' Brien came in and look extremely effective and comfortable. Montee Ball and Jared Abbrederis picked up where they left off last season and will be huge assets to this offense. Even with these three great players on offense, Wisconsin needs to show that their defense isn't going to hamper them going forward.
4. Michigan (0-1)
- The Wolverines got whooped on Saturday. I thought this would be a closer game, but apparently I was dead wrong. The Crimson Tide accumulated 431 total yards and made a statement by scoring 21 points in the first quarter. Denard Robinson threw two interceptions but managed to both pass and run for a touchdown. Michigan also lost starting cornerback Blake Countess to an ACL tear. The good news for Michigan: They don't play Alabama or an SEC team for the rest of the season. The bad news: Michigan has a pretty tough away schedule and they aren't a very deep team. Denard Robinson will have to limit his turnovers while younger and less experienced players have to start contributing to this team.
5. Ohio State (1-0)
- With zero turnovers and over 500 total yards, Ohio State looks like they will be an offensive juggernaut. Their run defense could end up being one of the best in the nation, as they just flat out had their way with Miami of Ohio's running game; holding them to -1 yard on 20 attempts. Braxton Miller looked extremely impressive both on the ground and in the air; 161 rushing yards, 207 passing yards, 3 total touchdowns. Urban Meyer looks like he's taking this team in the right direction. Look for OSU to roll through their teams until they meet their first challenged against Michigan State.
6. Purdue (1-0)
- Despite Hurricane Isaac hurting game and tailgate attendance, Purdue had a good opening to the season. Robert Marve looked great leading the charge and Rob Henry came in and put up solid numbers at the end as well. Our defense looked not too shabby as they forced 4 turnovers and held Eastern Kentucky to only 190 yards. Turnovers on offense were a huge problem for us as we gave up the ball 5 times. Going to Notre Dame this weekend won't be an easy task. We'll see how TerBush will be as this weekend's starter and how the offense manages at not turning the ball over. If we can get a win at ND, this season could end up being one to remember.
7. Illinois (1-0)
- The Illini made easy work of Western Michigan as they beat them 24-7 at home. Nathan Scheelhaase was having a good game until he suffered an ankle injury in the third quarter; after which the Illini failed to secure a first down. Their run defense looked Buckeye-ish as they held Western Michigan to -6 yards on 19 carries. If Scheelhaase doesn't play Saturday, and it's looking like he won't, a win is going to be tough to come by. Illinois' defense and offense will be challenged at Arizona State, and both are young and banged up.
8. Minnesota (1-0)
- Senior quarterback MarQueis Gray led the Gophers to an overtime victory at UNLV, but will need to be more efficient in scoring during regulation if this team is going to get wins come Big Ten play. The good news is Minnesota's defense looked pretty good; led by safety Derrick Wells' two interceptions. However, they will need to work on stopping the run as they gave up 159 yards on the ground. This team had some great individual performances this week, but will need to work as a whole if they want to keep winning. We'll see how they perform at home against New Hampshire this weekend.
9. Iowa (1-0)
- Sophomore runningback Damon Bullock led the way with 150 yards on the ground and the Hawkeyes' only touchdown. Outside of Bullock, Iowa's offense looked to be pretty shaky. Quarterback James Vandenberg couldn't get much going in the air and was sacked six times. Iowa needs to find a way to protect Vandenberg or this team is screwed. The defensive line stood out for Iowa (5 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble), but they'll need to work more on forcing turnovers. Other than that, the defensive held Northern Illinois to only 201 total yards. This team has potential and is known for their intense home atmosphere. We'll see how they play when Iowa State comes to town on Saturday.
10. Northwestern (1-0)
- Although it was an exciting game to watch, Northwestern has some huge questions surrounding its defense. But I mean, that's expected when you give up 41 points and blow a 22 point 3rd quarter lead. The Wildcats gave up almost 600 total yards to Syracuse (596)! If quarterback Kevin Colter can't put points on the board late in the game, maybe backup Trevor Siemian can. Northwestern is going to need to learn how to stop teams and hang onto leads if they are going to be competitive in the Big Ten this season.
11. Penn State (0-1)
- Penn State came out early and looked as if they were going to smack around Ohio all game, but a collapse on both offense and defense in the second half led to PSU losing its first home opener since 2001. The defense gave up 499 yards, allowed 13-21 third down conversions, and Ohio QB Tyler Tettleton went 31/41 against this defense. This Penn State team is going to be an interesting one. They could have some big wins this year, or they will just be beat up all season long. It's a time of rebuilding for The Nittany Lions and if this game reflects how the next few years are going to be, well, then I send you my best, Coach Bill O'Brien and Penn State fans.
12. Indiana (1-0)
- "Wait Steve, how can IU be dead last if they won their first game?" Well, friends, let me tell you. IU gave up 192 rushing yards to running back Shakir Bell! Not Le'Veon Bell, Shakir Bell. If IU gives up that many yards to a non-FBS running-back, then Hoosier fans should quiver at what will happen when they have to play Big Ten running games. Another reason why IU is still at the bottom is that this is the second win under coach Kevin Wilson. Some good things for the Hoosiers were they didn't turn the ball over, they accumulated 5 sacks, they didn't lose, they tied their season win total from last year, and Tre Roberson had a nice game (26/36, 280 yards, 1 TD while rushing for 67). A win is a win for IU at this point. They will look for their first FBS win under Wilson this weekend as they travel to Massachusetts.