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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 2 of Big Ten Football

The rest of the league is looking a lot better than Purdue right now.

NCAA Football: Eastern Michigan at Purdue Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue’s once promising season is now on fire. The two losses by five points is minor in a vacuum, but momentum has been lost and it is never a good look to lose at home as a 16.5 point favorite to a historically awful program. Just when Purdue was gaining respect again we’re suddenly the butt of jokes. “To Purdue” became a verb again on Saturday at an unexpected time, and it is an uphill climb to gain that respectability back. So let’s start of this week’s Whistlestop Tour with the Hustle Belt.

Eastern Michigan 20, Purdue 19

The Eagles now have a two game winning streak over the Big Ten and hopefully they are in line for a big season so this loss is not as embarrassing:

Coach Creighton is in his fifth year at Eastern Michigan. He has one bowl visit to speak for and with a handful of plays, might have had a second bowl game to speak for. He has managed to do something with Eastern that it hasn’t done before and that is beating a Power Five team in back to back seasons. The offense appears to be throwing the ball well and the defense is humming along. I am hoping this bodes well when Eastern plays their first MAC opponent next weekend.

Ohio State 52, Rutgers 3

The Buckeyes rolled, as expected, and their nightmare of being without Urban Meyer is almost over:

The Buckeye offense has been a runaway train so far this season. When they get going, you might as well pack it up and go home. Oregon State learned that last week; Rutgers learned it this week.

Of the eight OSU scoring drives against the Scarlet Knights, five of them ended in touchdowns being scored within three minutes. All five of those “three-minute drills” needed to go at least 45 yards for the score.

As for Rutgers, at least they scored this year:

The first half could not have ended any worse, as Ohio State star Nick Bosa blew past Rutgers’ best lineman Tariq Cole and ran over quarterback Artur Sitkowski. He left the field walking off holding his throwing arm and shoulder. The true freshman never returned after the Scarlet Knights trailed 35-0 at the break. No word on his potential injury as of yet, but there is no sugar coating what a setback that would be for both Sitkowski and the program.

Wisconsin 45, New Mexico 14

The Badgers started a little slow in this one, but eventually got going full speed and rolled past the Lobos:

Down at the end of the first quarter, they crawled their way to a 10–7 lead at halftime behind the legs of sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor, who lost his second fumble in as many games during the second quarter.

In the second half, Wisconsin certainly pulled away with the help of an A.J. Taylor touchdown reception and another Jonathan Taylor rushing score to put the Badgers up 24–7 after three quarters. The rest was academic, as Wisconsin held New Mexico under 225 yards of total offense after the Lobos gained 87 on their initial drive of the day, their only scoring opportunity of the first half.

Penn State 51, Pittsburgh 6

Pittsburgh had a chance to tie this game before missing an extra point, then they promptly got drilled the rest of the night:

Penn State’s defensive line was given a big boost against Pitt this past weekend with the return of the previously suspended Kevin Givens. The 6-foot-1, 285-pound defensive tackle isn’t the biggest guy in the world, but goodness, is he an absolute terror on the interior.

Givens mixes elite quickness with a high football I.Q. to make up for any “prototypical” physical shortcomings he has. Watch here as he diagnoses the jet sweep, but then has the quickness to not only burst past the oncoming lineman, but to also make a play on the speedy receiver.

Arizona State 16, Michigan State 13

The Sun Devils kicked a field goal as time expired to earn a nice home win in a marquee home night game:

Michigan State took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter, when the ASU offense returned to form. They scored 13 unanswered points culminating in a game-winning field goal as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

The 15th-ranked Spartans showed many of the same weaknesses against Arizona State that flared in Week 1. Little-to-no push on the offensive line left the MSU offense prone to mistakes in key moments. With LJ Scott sidelined the entire second-half and Connor Heyward hobbled after a big hit, the running game was non-existent, finishing with fewer than 100 rushing yards as a team.

Michigan 49, Western Michigan 3

The Broncos kicked a sad field goal down 49-0 with less than three minutes left. That was really the only blemish the Wolverines had:

Entering Saturday’s game, a Michigan wide receiver hadn’t caught a touchdown pass since September 9, 2017 when both Grant Perry and Kekoa Crawford reached the end zone in a non-conference game against Cincinnati.

Michigan ended that streak at 364 days when quarterback Shea Patterson found wide receiver Nico Collins for a 44-yard touchdown in the second quarter. In the third quarter, Patterson hit wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones for a five-yard score, which gave U-M a 42-0 lead.

Duke 21, Northwestern 7

Suddenly Purdue’s week 1 loss does not look as good, as the Wildcats were pretty bad in their home opener:

At the start of the second half, Northwestern’s offense seemed to awaken from its quarter-long slumber. On the Wildcats’ first drive of the half, they found themselves near the goal line for the first time since their touchdown, but were unable to convert. The drive finished with a questionable call to go for it on fourth and goal from the Duke four, rather than electing to kick the field goal to make the score 21-10. The Wildcats would muster together a couple more threatening drives throughout the second half, but came up short on every one of them.

Colorado 33, Nebraska 28

The Buffaloes scored a TD with 1:06 left to spoil the debut of new Cornhuskers coach Scott Frost:

Three turnovers, including two on the first two offensive Husker series that gave Colorado a 14-0 lead

A dropped “in the bread basket” touchdown catch by a senior wide receiver

An unnecessary roughness call with the game winding down and Colorado behind, desperate, and needing to convert a 3rd and 24

11 penalties for 95 yards

Going 0-for-3 on fourth down conversion attempts

Iowa 13, Iowa State 3

It was a classic El Assico as it was a 6-3 game entering the fourth quarter:

Iowa won playing Iowa’s game for the second time in two weeks. For the fourth straight time, the Iowa Hawkeyes beat the Iowa State Cyclones 13-3.

The defense carried the torch in this one and only struggled on one play. After Iowa punted it to ISU after their first possession, the Cyclones found Deshaunte Jones underneath and he took it 31 yards well into Iowa territory. They moved the ball to the Hawkeye 1 before a 4th down false start forced Matt Campbell to send out the field goal team to put them up 3 points.

Maryland 45, Bowling Green 14

The Falcons led 14-10 at halftime, but the second half was all Maryland:

As the teams trotted toward the locker rooms, the stats told a very different story from the one on the scoreboard. The Terps were averaging 7.3 yards per play, while the Falcons were only getting 4.2.

But sloppy play was holding Maryland back. Nine penalties for 79 yards in the first half helped end a few Maryland drives and or get a few others from rolling. And when Maryland needed one more stop to thwart a Bowling Green drive, a crucial coverage mishap gifted the home team a wide-open score.

Indiana 20, Virginia 16

The Hoosiers earned a nice win as Virginia ran out of time during their potential game-winning drive:

After Virginia’s offense sputtered for almost the entire first half, they came out hot in the second half and on a seven-play, 71-yard touchdown drive, cut the Indiana lead to 20-15. I immediately looked to the buddy sitting to my right and said, “with these conditions and as bad as their offense has been, wouldn’t you chase the points now?”

Well, Virginia needed me in that moment. Bronco elected to take one rather than go for two and when the Cavaliers faced a 4th and 5 at the Indiana 31 with 16 seconds left, still trailing 20-16, that decision loomed as large as possible.

There’s no giving Mendenhall credit for believing in his guys, thinking they could tie or take the lead over the last 22 minutes and 59 seconds. On a dry night, that would have been fine thinking. But last night’s weather was not conducive to points, and Bronco should have grabbed them while he could.

Illinois 34, Western Illinois 14

Illinois was the previous laughingstock of the league, but they are 2-0 after handling their business this weekend:

True freshman quarterback MJ Rivers was forced to lead the Illini during the second quarter after starter AJ Bush limped to the sideline with what appeared to be a minor injury. Rivers showed as much poise in the pocket as you could expect from a kid in his second college football game, as he went 9-for-16 for 105 yards passing with two touchdowns. He also flashed mobility, accounting for 40 yards on the ground and finishing as Illinois’ third leading rusher.

Minnesota 21, Fresno State 14

Antoine Winfield Jr. made a spectacular interception in the end zone to seal this win for the Gophers:

The Minnesota Gophers held on to beat a talented Fresno State team 21-14. After the Fresno State offense woke late in the third quarter, leads changed hands a couple times before the Gopher defense made an end zone interception to seal the win and move to 2-0 on the season.

Things looked bleak early for the Gophers when their best offensive player was lost for the game to a knee injury. Rodney Smith took a screen pass for 11-yards on the third play of the game and had to be helped off the field without putting any weight on the injured leg. It was encouraging to see him along the sidelines in the first half with his teammates, but he did not return.

Non-Conference Opponents

Missouri 40, Wyoming 13 – The Tigers are 2-0 after a second straight win over an overmatched opponent at home.

Boston College 62, Holy Cross 14 – The Eagles are 2-0 and are averaging more than 57 points per game after two in-state home wins.

Single Thought Big Ten Power Rankings

1. Ohio State (2-0, 1-0) – They’re averaging 65 points per game!

2. Wisconsin (2-0) – After Northwestern faltered the Badgers are a clear leader in the West.

3. Penn State (2-0) – So much for that near stumble in week 1.

4. Maryland (2-0) – An impressive win over Texas and a road blowout in a trap game is pretty good.

5. Michigan (1-1) – They found an offense and just crushed a team.

6. Iowa (2-0) – You might fall asleep watching them, but 2-0 is 2-0.

7. Indiana (2-0) – The Hoosiers have made the defensive plays necessary to get a pair of good wins.

8. Minnesota (2-0) – The Minnesota defense has also been impressive at 12 points per game.

9. Michigan State (1-1) – After barely surviving Utah State the Spartans were burned on the road.

10. Norhwestern (1-1, 1-0) – With Purdue not looking as good as we thought the Duke loss is magnified.

11. Illinois (2-0) – Credit is being given for at least handling business against teams they should beat.

12. Nebraska (0-1) – They are partially incomplete due to the week 1 rainout.

13. Rutgers (1-1, 0-1) – Hey! They scored on Ohio State this year.

14. Purdue (0-2, 0-1) – Deserved for now at being the only 0-2 team in the league.