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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 1 of Big Ten Football

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Let’s recap week 1!

NCAA Football: Idaho at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

I would like to thank Northwestern for losing at Stanford so we’re not alone this week at 0-1 in the Big Ten Basement. That said, it was definitely not a fun weekend for Purdue fans. I know we’re used to dropping games like that and it was the fourth of our last eight losses that came on the game’s final snap. I know we can still recover and make a bowl though. Coming into the year I felt like going 2-1 in the first three was a reasonable expectation with a young team. That 2-1 was with a home split, however. Both games in the next two weeks at home are winnable though, so if we take both we recover from the debacle of Friday.

In the meantime, let’s look at the week that was in Big Ten football:

Minnesota 28, South Dakota State 21

This was a good game and SD State had a kickoff return for a TD called back by a very questionable hold. They gave Minnesota everything they had before falling late:

The path to the end result was not clean, it was not pretty but the Gophers begin the season with a win beating South Dakota State 28-21. The Jackrabbits really dominated the second half but for two critical mistakes along with a handful of untimely penalties. Those mistakes were too much to overcome as the Gophers made just enough plays to come away with the 7-point win.

Rutgers 48, UMass 21

The Scarlet Knights were down 21-7 early, but used a 31-point second quarter to pull away:

The dynamic duo of Isaih Pacheco and Raheem Blackshear played their roles very well, with Isaih wearing down the opponent’s defense with his rushing and Raheem making plays catching the ball. They combined for 321 yards from scrimmage, five touchdowns, with each scoring from at least 30 yards out. I loved how offensive coordinator John McNulty used them together in certain formations. McNulty showed he worked all offseason on restructuring the Rutgers offense. So far, so good. If they can continue to play well, Rutgers has a chance to be much improved on offense this season.

Wisconsin 49, South Florida 0

I really thought this would be much closer, but damn, Wisconsin looks terrifying again:

Neither the University of South Florida (0-1), nor the weather could stop the No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers (1-0) in the 2019 season opener.

Following a 55-minute weather delay due to lightning, Wisconsin scored on their opening drive, and never relinquished the lead, en route to a 49-0 victory.

Wisconsin’s opening drive went 77 yards, on eight plays and was capped off by a Jonathan Taylor, 36-yard touchdown run.

Michigan State 28, Tulsa 7

Just a rather dull win for the Spartans, but a win no less:

The Michigan State defense finished their night with 65 tackles, 6 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, one interception, three forced fumbles, a blocked punt, one touchdown, and one safety. They continue to climb the ranks of some of the best defenses Michigan State has ever had.

Nevada 34, Purdue 31

Well, at least kicker Brandon Talton got a scholarship for his long game winner:

When Nevada quarterback Carson Strong and kicker Brandon Talton attended high school in Vacaville, California, neither paid close attention to the other.

They were a year apart and attended rival schools.

But last year, when they met up in Vacaville at a football game, Strong pitched Nevada to Talton.

A year later on Friday, Strong got his first start at Nevada, and he would not have won without Talton kicking a 56-yard field as time expired, booting the Wolf Pack to a 34-31 victory over Purdue and capping a 17-point comeback for the second win in program history against a Big Ten school.

Ohio State 45, Florida Atlantic 21

Ohio State jumped out 28-0 after a quarter and put it on cruise control because it is not like they were playing Purdue:

Twenty-eight of OSU’s points came in the first quarter. Fields scored the opening touchdown on his own, keeping an option and rushing it 51 yards into the scarlet end zone on the north side of the stadium. The remaining three first-quarter scores came from the air. Fields found Jeremy Ruckert, Chris Olave and Binjimen Victor, seemingly scoring at will. The Buckeyes took the foot off the gas the rest of the way, but that’s what a 28-point first quarter affords you, especially when the defense holds FAU’s offense to negative 14 yards in the first half.

Penn State 79, Idaho 7

Yeah, Penn State is better at football than Idaho:

The Nittany Lions defense began the game with seven consecutive three and outs and racked up six first-half sacks, including 2.5 for Bednarik Award candidate Yetur Gross-Matos.

On offense, Penn State sputtered a bit early on and kicked a pair of field goals to go up 6-0 midway through the opening quarter. From there on though, it was smooth sailing.

First it was Journey Brown finding the end zone from 23 yards out. Then Ricky Slade plunged in from a yard to make it 20-0 at one quarter. The passing game got going in the second when Clifford hit KJ Hamler for a 36-yard touchdown. True freshman Devyn Ford made an immediate impact, taking a handoff over left guard and scampering 81 yards to extend the lead to 34-0 with under five minutes left in the half. Hamler and Clifford again connected, this time from 21 yards out to make the s score 41-0 with 1:39 remaining and the Nittany Lions capped the half with a Jake Pinegar 38-yard field goal after a well-executed two-minute drill.

Maryland 79, Howard 0

Maryland is also better at football than Howard:

Maryland football had a scoring rout in its first game of the 2019 season, taking a 79-0 win over Howard. With Virginia Tech transfer Josh Jackson making his Maryland debut, the Terps put up 56 points in the first half, which is a school record for most point scored in a half. Jackson finished 15-of-24 with 245 yards and four touchdown passes.

Indiana 34, Ball State 24

In a pseudo-home game for Ball State they made it interesting for a while, but the Hoosiers prevailed:

In this one Michael Penix Jr. became the first freshman to start the season opener under center for IU since Antwaan Randle El did it back in 1998. There’s been plenty of hype surrounding him since he signed with IU and we saw exactly why. On his first drive he led the Hoosiers into field goal range and though the drive did stall out IU took the lead. On his second drive he dialed up a long-range call, hitting Nick Westbrook on the fly for a 75-yard score, the first time the Hoosiers had scored a TD of 70 yards or longer through the air since Ian Thomas did it back in 2017. The big-play potential we’ve all been talking about with Penix came to fruition almost immediately.

Illinois 42, Akron 3

For one Saturday, at least, the pressure is off of Lovie Smith as the Illini rolled:

Former Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters looked impressive in his first game action with the Illini, ending his day with 163 yards passing and four total touchdowns. The offense never really struggled in the opener, finding the end zone on six of its first eight possessions. Peters said based on the offensive line today, he was happiest with the run blocking, “Our O-line did a great job all day upfront, pushing the line.”

Stanford 17, Northwestern 7

Defense was the name of the game as the Wildcats had an awful outing form Hunter Johnson in a punchless loss:

Stanford did everything in its power to give Northwestern an opening day win, but the Wildcats couldn’t take advantage of their many opportunities, ultimately falling 17-7 in what was a brutal game to watch from start to finish.

Mistakes and injuries plagued the Northwestern offense, which failed to capitalize on a solid defensive performance. The unit turned the ball over four times throughout the game, generating only 210 yards and seven points.

Nebraska 35, South Alabama 21

This was certainly a lot closer than most thought as the Cornhuskers needed a late TD to put away the Jaguars:

This game is absolutely validating the idea that if the Akron game had been played last season, the 2018 campaign might have gone very differently.

Michigan 40, Middle Tennessee 21

This was probably a little closer than expected, but the Wolverines were in control after the first quarter:

Michigan received the ball to start the game, but the drive didn’t last long. On the first play from scrimmage, Shea Patterson scrambled for a 15 yard gain. The bad news about the scramble is it ended with Patterson fumbling the football. Once Middle Tennessee’s offense took the field, they hit a 17-yrd pass play to standout WR Ty Lee, and a few plays later QB Asher O’Hara scrambled for an easy 18-yard TD on a scramble. After just 1 minute and 53 seconds of action, Michigan was down 7-0.

Iowa 38, Miami (OH) 14

The Redhawks took an early lead, but Iowa asserted its will and pulled away:

On Iowa’s second drive of the game, we get back-to-back bursts from Mekhi Sargent; one of which would’ve gone for a touchdown if it wasn’t for a shoe string tackle from once-upon-a-time Hawkeye Manny Rugamba. I think he talked some ish after making the play and that seems like a big mistake. You have to appreciate Iowa establishing the bully ball and getting Sargent some early confidence. He’s so important for the success of this offense this year.

Non-Conference Opponents:

Georgia 30, Vanderbilt 6 – Georgia was up 21-0 after 7 minutes, then sat on Vanderbilt’s head.

TCU 39, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 7 – The Horned Frogs had no problems with their FCS foe.