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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 1 Of Big Ten Football

So what do you all think about calling the weekly Big Ten round-up The Whistle Stop Tour? It plays in with our train theme and I want to try and begin it each week with a short video discussing some of the more unsung players from that week's Purdue game. Here is video one featuring the walk-ons of Sam McCartney, Landon Feichter, and Kurt Freytag:

With that done, Let's go around the Big Ten in alphbetical order:

Illinois 24, Western Michigan 7

This was a close game a year ago and I really thought that Alex Carder would be more impressive as the senior MAC QB everyone is supposed to fear. Well, Carder waspicked three times and Illinois' defense was pretty solid. It is concerning that Nathan Scheelhaase left with an injury. He'll be battling an ankle injury that may force the Fighting Illini to go with Riley O'Toole.

For Illinois, it is always a good day when a defensive end (in this case Michael Buchanan) gets an interception. The Illini are in the same boat as Purdue in that they know the Leaders Division is a three-team race. A win over a good MAC team while Wisconsin struggled with an FCS team has to give them some confidence. Next up is a trip to the desert.

Indiana 24, Indiana State 17

Indiana managed 451 yards of offense but only put up 24 points, just seven of which came in the second half as the Sycamores gave them a scare late. Kevin Wilson is now 2-0 against FCS teams, but still 0-11 against the FBS with a trip to FBS newcomer Massachusetts next. As Crimson Quarry points out,the IU run defense continues to be awful:

As expected, ISU's running back, Shakir Bell, was fantastic, gaining 192 yards on 24 attempts. He's possibly the best player in FCS, and looked like it. I don't want to imagine what Leveon Bell and Montee Ball will do against this defense.

Iowa 18, Northern Illinois 17

Damon Bullock ran for 150 yards and the game-winning touchdown on 30 carries to save Iowa's ass from becoming the second MAC victim in of the opening weekend. Naturally, he will now need to look out for anvils falling from the skies in Iowa City from a vengeful AIRBHG, who hates Iowa running backs more than the gods hate Purdue ACLs.

Iowa moved the football, but only managed four Mike Meyer field goals before Bullock scored the winning TD with 2:15 left. I am not sure if this was a game between two really good defenses or bad offenses. Iowa should have rolled with an experienced quarterback against nine new starters, but the Hawkeyes managed just 268 total yards. I don't think the strategy of riding Bullock for 30 carries per game is sound, especially given Iowa's running back history.

Alabama 41, Michigan 14

The Wolverines got their ass kicked in virtually every phase of the game. Purdue enemy Russell Bellomy got his first career action and was promptly intercepted on his first pass. If only it had been to Roy Roundtree. Maize N' Brew points out that there are more disturbing things than players that have spurned Purdue:

The entire front seven looked bad, and at times the defensive line looked more impressive than the linebackers. The linebackers were supposed to be a strength on the defense but the loss of Martin and RVB has lead to an easy path to blocks on the second level for opposing lineman. The defensive line was controlled by the Alabama front and the linebackers just didn't make plays, taking poor pursuit angles and failing to shed any blocks whatsoever. Teams with big, experienced fronts will have success, and although it won't be to the same extent it will still force Michigan to move Kovacs into the box.

Michigan State 17, Boise State 13

Do not underestimate this win. Yes, it was a defensive slugfest, but Boise is one of the top teams in the country year in and year out. They are not afraid to play good teams on the road. The Spartans took their best shot and responded. That said, Le'Veon Bell getting 50 touches and gaining 265 yards from scrimmage and two scores is insane. He was trucking guys all night long, but he's going to wear down at that pace. The Only Colors is even talking Heisman:

There's not really anything left to be said. Suddenly, Bell's return next season seems as likely as Will Gholston's. The spin moves, the power, the hurdling; all incredible to watch. Bell has taken a big step forward with each season after being a two-star recruit, and he has now burst onto the national scene, getting himself in the Heisman conversation after one game.

The obvious worry is his health. Javon Ringer didn't suffer a major injury in 2008, but he clearly wore down by the end of the season. The good news is that the passing game should improve and there shouldn't be a need for 40 carries. Larry Caper has the ability as a No. 2, but with Bell picking up five yards every single time, MSU just couldn't afford to take him out.

Minnesota 30, UNLV 27

This was not a confident showing for the Golden Gophers. Jamel Harbison was lost for the season with a torn ACL as more bad news from this game. Still, it was a win. The Daily Gopher will take it:

Overall, outside of hoping for a blowout of UNLV, week 1 probably went about as well as could be expected. Your QB played poorly, but put up fantastic numbers. Your team was mistake prone, but stuck it out and found a way. One of your most exciting young players suffered a season-ending injury, but several other receivers emerged as potential weapons. You gave up two turnovers, but you came away with three of your own. You had 11 penalties, but you... yeah, nevermind, that's just bad and needs to be fixed.

Nebraska 49, Southern Miss 20

Only a handful of teams had an easy time on Saturday. A five touchdown day from Taylor Martinez definitely qualifies as an easy day. He also had 354 yards passing. Corn Nation was naturally pleased that Nebraska won its 27thconsecutive season opener:

Nebraska stretched its streak of winning season openers to 27 with a 49-20 win over the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles. The Huskers were lead by quarterback Taylor Martinez, who had a career day against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, completing 26 of 34 passes for 354 yards and five touchdowns. Martinez completed passes to ten different receivers.

The receivers were lead by Quincy Enunwa, who hauled in six catches for 70 yards. Tight end Kyler Reed had five receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown, while fellow tight end Jake Long had three catches for 41 yards and a touchdown. Running back Ameer Abdullah caught four balls for 39 yards and a touchdown, while Steven Osborne had his first career touchdown reception.

Northwestern 42, Syracuse 41

Northwestern was involved in an exciting, high-scoring affair that saw almost no defense played? Allow me to turn on the sarcasm font when I say that is incredibly rare. Demetrius Fields scored on a nine-yard TD pass from Trevor Siemian with 44 seconds left and the Jeff Budzien extra point was the difference. This was after the Wildcats blew a 22 point lead of 35-13 and fell behind 41-35. Rodger Sherman of Sippin' On Purple had mixed emotions, especially with a QB controversy:

I'd be up in arms about Northwestern's "quarterback controversy", but I suppose two talented quarterbacks is a good problem to have. My thoughts coming into the year were that Kain Colter was miles ahead of Trevor Siemian and that the coaching staff wouldn't shake Colter's confidence by benching him at times; that clearly was very wrong. Colter looked alright passing the ball, making most of the passes he needed, but Siemian came in and finished the job admirably. Let's not make it seem like Colter had a bad day - 14-for-21, two touchdowns, no picks, could have been better if not for some dropped passes - but he wasn't the star we expected. Siemian might be the guy.

Ohio state 56, Miami (OH) 10

Braxton miller ran wild and the Buckeyes handed out a curbstomping of an in-state opponent. Lather, rinse, repeat. This was even after trailing 3-0 at the end of a quarter. There isn't a whole lot you can take from beating up a bad team:

When the smoke cleared, Ohio State had outgained the Redhawks 538 yards to 312, going 8-for-16 on third downs, 1-for-1 on fourth down, and winning the turnover battle, +3 to -3. Despite their frantic pace offensively at times, the Bucks even finished the afternoon winning the time of possession battle, 31:26 to 28:34. Ohio State's 7.3 yards per pass completion bested the RedHawks' 5.8 and the rushing advantage was even more definitive: Ohio State averaged 5.6 yards per carry while the RedHawks finished at a paltry -.1 per touch. To really put the icing on things, the Bucks were more attention-to-detail oriented and disciplined in terms of executing, committing just three penalties for 20 yards loss relative to Don Treadwell's group's six penalties for 33.

Ohio 24, Penn State 14

As I have stated before, a MAC team almost always gets a Big Ten team. I thought it might happen in Champaign, but instead it was in Happy Valley. This wwas the first loss to a MAC team for the Nittany Lions since dropping a game against Toledo in 2000. Tyler Tettleton overwhelmed a Penn State team that showed a ton of deficiencies on offense:

Last year Penn State was 96th in passing efficiency, and 110th in scoring offense. Yesterday, Penn State had zero 3-and-outs on offense. Let that sink in, and allow it to ease you back off the ledge a little bit.

The only thing stopping the Penn State offense yesterday was the Penn State offense.

Purdue 48, Eastern Kentucky 6

Myles and I have said enough about this game, but let's go to the Boiled Sports guys:

Caleb TerBush was suspended prior to the game for violating team rules. Our pals on scooped the situation about an hour prior to kickoff while I visited the show...and I still don't know the reason for the suspension.

My thoughts on this are pretty simple- I don't know what he did. What I do know is that he's a captain and was the starting QB. Thinking about the team matters. If I were Hope or Nord, which I'm obviously not, he'd not only not be the starter for the remainder of the season, but he'd be third string.

Wisconsin 26, Northern Iowa 21

The Badgers very nearly had to go over into the corner and think about what they had done by becoming the third ranked team ever to lose to an FCS team. Yes, Northern Iowa is a very good FCS team, but still, this is the two-time defending Big Ten champ. This could be an eye-opener according to Bucky's Fifth Quarter:

The Badgers came into the day heavy favorites over the Panthers who play at the FCS level, but certainly didn't look like it. Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema noted after the game that Northern Iowa wasn't going to be a pushover.

"A lot of credit should go to Northern Iowa. I've said it before, but I think they are probably the best FCS team we've faced," Bielema said after the game. "I could see that before we even played them today."

Non-conference Opponents:

Notre Dame 50, Navy 10 - The Fighting Irish were barely challenged in Dublin.

Ball State 37, Eastern Michigan 26 - The Eagles fell on the road Thursday night in Muncie.

West Virginia 69, Marshall 34 - The Thundering Herd appears to not have a defense.