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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 1 of Big Ten Football

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Rounding up the opening weekend in the B1G

NCAA Football: Lambeau Field College Classic-Louisiana State vs Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

A week of football has passed and Purdue is not the embarrassment of the Big Ten. That honor belongs to Northwestern, who lost at home to Western Michigan and 2017 Purdue coach P.J. Fleck. Our B1G brethren went a convincing 12-2 in week 1, and for once Purdue was not the embarrassment.

Let’s enjoy that for what it is.

Anyway, here is this week’s Whistlestop Tour, as we take a look around the league through the eyes of our blogging brethren.

Thursday

Indiana 34, Florida International 13

I expected a lot more from this game given last year’s close one in Bloomington, but as it turns out, Florida International is not good at football. FIU led 13-12 going into the fourth quarter, but Indiana parlayed a pair of defensive touchdowns into the win and outscored the Golden Panthers 22-0 in the final 15 minutes:

It's still too hard to tell if Indiana's defense is truly improved -- and we might not find that out for weeks. Ball State is, well, Ball State -- and will feature a decent MAC offense. Wake Forest scored 7 points tonight on Tulane. No one expects Michigan State's offense to be world-beating in 2016 -- and Ohio State's could do that to anyone and everyone. But the early sample size of only allowing 13 points to FIU? That's a helluva a start -- and a point total that anyone would've been happy with in any game last fall.

Minnesota 30, Oregon State 23

The Gophers had a bit of a fight on Thursday, but they were able to pull it out late thanks to their defense. The Beavers led 23-17 in the fourth quarter, but two TDs meant a victory for Minnesota:

Offensively it was not an efficient or dominating performance but the Gophers fared well on the ground. Rodney Smith rushed for 125 yards and 2 touchdowns while Mitch Leidner mastered the zone-read and occasionally caught the Beavers off-guard gaining 76 rushing yards with 2 scores of his own.

Friday

Michigan State 28, Furman 13

It was your typical Friday night opener for Michigan State. They slept walked against a lesser opponent in a Milton Berle game (they only pulled out enough to win):

Don’t let it be misunderstood, Michigan State was never really going to lose this game. While Furman did hang around much longer than they should have, I was never sounding the upset alert. The real disappointment of this game was that while it started out looking like we would put up 40+, the Spartans limped across the finish line. Let’s dive into the highs and lows of this victory in East Lansing.

Saturday

Purdue 45, Eastern Kentucky 24

Purdue managed to score more points than the other team. Even Boiled Sports will take that:

The defense is where things were worrisome. Purdue allowed 176 yards on the ground (off *47* attempts, but still). And though 20/37 for 222 passing yards looks good, the individual coverage gaps looked alarming at times The secondary looked much better against EKU’s worse quarterback (Maty Mauk, the starter), but looked hapless in several 3rd down situations against the better Bennie Coney.

Wisconsin 16, LSU 14

Suck it long and suck it hard, SEC. It’s about time you played a game in B1G country (and no, Indiana losing to Missouri at home a few years ago doesn’t count because Indiana is barely B1G and Missouri isn’t SEC.

This wasn’t the equivalent of a soccer team taking on a defensive posture and hoping to sneak a goal or force penalty kicks at the end. This was an overlooked, talented team taking the fight to a top-five opponent from the supposed Holy Conference of college football, the SEC, and emerging victorious.

Ohio State 77, Bowling Green 10

Bowling Green led this game 7-0, then Ohio State woke up:

Ohio State lost the farm to the NFL draft, so there were newbies all over field on Saturday. K.J. Hill and Demario McCall scored touchdowns on their first and second touches, respectively. Mike Weber tallied his first carry. Joe Burrow took his first snaps as backup QB. A.J. Alexander, Johnnie Dixon, and Terry McLaurin notched their first catches. Kicker Tyler Durbin scored his first points. Damon Arnette, Jerome Baker, Rashod Berry, Nick Bosa, Jashon Cornell, Jordan Fuller, Eric Glover-Williams, Davon Hamilton, Malik Harrison, Justin Hilliard, Keandre Jones, and Robert Landers registered their first tackles, with many more seeing the field for the first time.

Michigan 63, Hawaii 3

The saddest of sad field goals is when you realize Hawaii flew 10,000 miles from its last game to kick a 55-yard field goal while down 56-0:

Hawaii ended the shutout on a 55-yard field goal from Rigoberto Sanchez to make the score 56-3 with 12:30 to play in fourth quarter. Karan Higdon added a five-yard touchdown rush to put Michigan up 63-3.

Washington 48, Rutgers 13

Oh Rutgers:

On Saturday, Rutgers was blown out of the water by a much better team in Washington. The game was never really close, as Washington jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the first quarter. Rutgers literally could not keep up with the Washington receivers, giving up 3 touchdown passes on simple streak routes. On offense, they could not get a rhythm going with all the disruption caused by Washington’s defensive line.

Iowa 45, Miami (OH) 21

Our Most Hated Rival had a pretty easy season opening win over the Red Hawks, who put up a bit of a fight, but lost this B1G-MAC Challenge game:

The two-headed monster of Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels took care of business. As expected, the offensive line imposed their will on an overmatched front 7 from Miami and pushed Wadley and Daniels to 22 attempts, 204 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Not a lot to report here, other than in watching the Iowa State game, they really struggled to stop the UNI rushing attack. Granted, UNI is a spread rushing attack instead of power-style. Regardless, Iowa should have a solid advantage here next week.

Western Michigan 22, Northwestern 21

A WMU TD with 2 minutes left gave the Broncos a Big Ten pelt for the Mac, as that happens every year. Now Northwestern is in some surprising trouble early on:

The defense would continue to let the team down, as it gave up a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive right after Northwestern took a 21-16 lead and finally couldn’t get a stop after the bizarre Clayton Thorson fumble to give the offense a half-chance in the waning seconds. These were the types of shutdown situations in which the 2015 defense thrived, but the Wildcats cracked on Saturday. And it started up front.

Penn State 33, Kent State 13

The Nittany Lions had a rather pedestrian win over Darrell Hazell’s old crew:

Prior to the start of the game most Penn State fans would have been ecstatic with a twenty point victory versus Kent State. That was roughly the point spread heading into the game. Trace McSorely threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 47 additional yards. Chris Godwin caught 7 passes for 67 yards. Saquon Barkley rushed for 105 yards on 22 carries. Mike Gesicki, a player that the coaching staff is looking to for a breakout season, grabbed three passes for a total of 49 yards and a touchdown. DaeSean Hamilton added a touchdown reception.

Illinois 52, Murray State 3

The Chicago Tribune was practically turgid over this win for the Illini, but they beat a crappy FCS team like most Illinois teams do:

The first game of the Lovie Smith era is in the books, and it's a 52-3 rout of the Murray State Racers. The Fighting Illini defense held tough and Wes Lunt was efficient in limited action as the biggest crowd for a home opener in Champaign left quite satisfied today.

Maryland 52, Howard 13

Howard fell badly in week 1 of their B1G Newbie Doubleheader, as they go to Rutgers this coming week:

On Saturday, Durkin had to adjust to his new role. When he was a defensive coordinator, Durkin couldn’t afford to watch much of the offense during the game. He’d be with his defense, making adjustments and preparing for the next drive. Now, Andy Buh is doing that while Durkin oversees the entire team.

Nebraska 43, Fresno State 10

By far the best moment of the evening was Nebraska honoring Sam Foltz, the punter who was killed in a car accident this offseason:

Non-Conference Opponents:

Cincinnati 28, Tennessee-Martin 7 – The final margin was good, but Tennessee Martin led 7-6 deep into the 3rd quarter and had a second quarter of two missed FGs and a fumble inside the Cincy 10.

Nevada 30, Cal Poly 27 OT – Purdue’s No. 3 opponent needed overtime to beat its FCS opponent.