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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 2 of Big Ten Football

At least we’re not Northwestern

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

First, the good news: Purdue did not have the worst week in the Big Ten! That was reserved for Northwestern, who only managed seven points and lost on a ricochet field goal to Brock Spack and Illinois State. Also, Rutgers was tied at halftime with Howard, so maybe both of those teams are worse than Purdue.

Nah. Justin Jackson is running for a minimum of 250 yards when Northwestern beats Purdue by 25 in November.

I am thoroughly done with Darrell Hazell barring a miracle turnaround. I have zero expectations for the rest of the season after his team looked thoroughly unprepared for Cincinnati and, in fact, was far less competitive than the FCS team the Bearcats played a week earlier. I will get more into that later today, however. For now, here is the week that was in the Big Ten.

Maryland 41, Florida International 14

Before the season started I thought Maryland was ripe for the picking on a nice road win for Purdue. Now the Terps are looking pretty good through two early games:

Perry Hills was once again spot-on, going 13-for-18 through the air for 210 yards and three touchdowns. He almost never attempted passes down the field against Howard, but he aired it out a little more against FIU. He answered FIU’s first touchdown only 84 seconds after it happened with a 45-yard bomb to D.J. Moore. Just like in Week 1, Tyrrell Pigrome relieved him, but didn’t have any highlight-reel runs this time around. Maryland’s running backs combined for 238 yards, ripping off 10 rushes of over 10 yards, compared to just four by FIU.

Cincinnati 38, Purdue 20

As expected, we’re not the only ones upset with this mess. Boiled Sports was also on hand Saturday:

I saw today as the beginning of Hazell's end. The few remaining optimists told me that Purdue needed to be 3-0 after the pre-con...I giggled at the thought in spite of the weak schedule. Wish I had their hope, I just don't anymore. A similar loss to Nevada will make it pretty clear that Purdue must begin looking at candidates, I believe...but hey, I thought both coordinators needed to be fired in November of 2014. That didn't happen, obviously.

Ohio State 48, Tulsa 3

As expected, the Buckeyes rolled at home:

We expected Ohio State to come into this one pretty comfortably on offense. Tulsa is known as much more of an offensive juggernaut, that has extreme issues on the defensive side of things. That certainly didn’t show in the first half, as it seemed Tulsa was able to have their way for the most part. The front seven was making Ohio State’s offensive line look fairly bad for one of the top teams in the nation, and the offense looked similar to the sluggishness we saw for much of the 2015 season. The pass rush of the Golden Hurricane made J.T. Barrett look very uncomfortable for much of the first half, which was a big reason for the struggles of the Ohio State offense early.

Michigan 51, Central Florida 14

Someday soon Michigan will play a real team, but for now, the Harboners in Ann Arbor are fully turgid from cupcakes:

Wilton Speight followed up his debut with an outstanding performance, going 25-of-37 for 312 yards and four touchdowns. UCF was stacking the box to stop the run (more on that later), but Michigan countered with play action passes executed perfectly by the redshirt sophomore quarterback.

Wisconsin 54, Akron 10

The Big Ten bludgeons a MAC team seeking a paycheck:

Playing their game from the opening offensive series set the pace for the Badgers’ entire first half en route to a 30-10 lead. The offense held the ball for 23 minutes, one second—compared to Akron’s six minutes, 54 seconds—and accumulated 365 total yards (159 rushing, 206 passing) in the first two quarters.

Iowa 42, Iowa State 3

¡El Assico! Was a dud, as Iowa just beat the bloody pulp out of the Cyclones:

They deserved a Hayden Fry-like beatdown. And that’s exactly what they got. Iowa thoroughly dismantled their rival and I enjoyed every single second of it. Now, with that out of the way, it’s time to look at what went right (a lot) and what went wrong (not a lot).

Nebraska 52, Wyoming 17

Another dull game where the home Big Ten team flat out rolled:

Senior quarterback Tommy Armstrong, even throwing one of the most ugliest interceptions you’ll ever see him throw, set the school’s all-time TD pass record today, passing the man he followed, Taylor Martinez. Two Huskers had 100+ yards in receiving, and the Husker offense did amass 520 yards in total offense, in comparison to only 320 to Wyoming.

Pittsburgh 42, Penn State 39

Any day that Penn State loses is a good one. When it loses to a team that “isn’t good enough to be our rival” is even better. Sorry, but this program can be burned to ashes as far as I am concerned:

After sixty minutes of highly entertaining football the teams were separated by only three points on the scoreboard. That would have been hard to believe early in the second quarter when Pittsburgh led 28-7. Each team gained over 400 yards on offense for a combined total of 838 for the day. The Lions passed for their yards, with Trace McSorely completing 68% of his throws (24-35) for 332 yards. Pittsburgh ran for 341 yards led by James Conner who finished with 117 yards on 22 attempts.

Rutgers 52, Howard 14

This was a 14-0 game at one point in favor of Howard and 14-14 at halftime. The Scarlet Knights recovered to win big, but it never should have been close:

Rutgers has developed a terrible trend after just two games and that is performing very slow out of the gate, falling behind big early. After trailing Washington 24-0 after the first quarter of game one, Rutgers fell behind by two touchdowns yesterday. Thanks to Janarion Grant’s 84 yard kickoff return for a touchdown, Rutgers scored their first points in the opening frame this season. However, Rutgers has now been outscored 38-7 in first quarter action through two games. Turnovers deep in their own territory are a big part of this problem, but I’ll address Chris Laviano in a minute.

Minnesota 58, Indiana State 28

The Trees were no match in Minneapolis:

The Gophers took care of business. Minnesota racked up 50+ points and almost 600 yards of offense against Indiana State. The Gophers did exactly what a Big Ten team is supposed to do against an FCS team. Don’t take that for granted. Just look at Northwestern, who illustrated what not to do in a demoralizing 9-7 loss to Illinois State.

Illinois State 9, Northwestern 7

It is time to rub Northwestern’s nose in the metaphorical rug and then tell them to sit in the corner and think about what they’ve done:

This is a fundamental problem with the offense. If the lineman can’t run block, then Northwestern is forced to throw the ball, but if the lineman also can’t give Thorson time to throw, then the offense will look like it did on Saturday. Bad. Offensive line play has been a problem for Northwestern before, but not to the extent that’s it’s been through two games in 2016. Even with poor offensive play, Justin Jackson had been able to do enough to keep the offense moving reasonably. That wasn’t the case even against an FCS front.

Indiana 30, Ball State 20

We live in a world where Indiana is a good team, it might have a defense, and they are almost certainly going to consecutive bowl games. It is my hope that the inevitable unmerciful beating they deliver on November 26 ends Darrell Hazell once and for all:

Before the season started, one glance at IU’s schedule demonstrated that the first two games would be pivotal for setting the tone of the season. FIU and Ball State were never expected to be title contenders even within their own conferences, but each presented their own specific challenges that Indiana was able to navigate. FIU was an unusual Thursday night road opener for Indiana, whereas Ball State was an in-state opponent that had won its last three against the Hoosiers. Despite this, the Hoosiers now sit at 2-0, something not every B1G team can claim. Entering a bye week, Hoosier fans can feel good about where Indiana stands at this point, while also knowing that the team still has work to do.

North Carolina 48, Illinois 23

As expected, Illinois is not exactly a world beater in year one of Lovie Smith:

There’s no good way to sugarcoat it: Wes Lunt was pretty awful Saturday night. Normally, he’s able to compile decent statistics even in games where he hasn’t been particularly sharp. This was not the case Saturday; Lunt was 17-of-35 for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Just seven of the 17 completions were to wide receivers, and there was an array of miscues, from Lunt missing wide open targets, to the drops that Illinois fans are accustomed to seeing. He did turn the ball over with a fumble, as he dropped the ball without even being touched. Illinois really seemed to miss Mikey Dudek in this game, as no wide receivers were able to consistently get open.

Non-Conference Opponents:

Eastern Kentucky 55, Pikeville 14 – The Colonels won their own paycheck game in their home opener and they played a third string QB.

Notre Dame 39, Nevada 10 – The Wolfpack had a dumb safety and trailed 32-0 before they finally scored.