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Week 1 Big Ten Recap

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It was a wild start to Big Ten play, and we have taken a step towards DOUBLE BUCKET GAMES FOR THE B1G TITLE!

NCAA Football: Penn State at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

I apologize for forgetting to do this until today. I was really out of it last night and ended up falling asleep on my couch because I am old now. With Big Ten football suddenly returning we have already had chaos. Iowa, Penn State, and Michigan State, teams that have played in Indianapolis for the conference title in recent years, are all already behind the 8 ball in favor of… Purdue, Indiana, and Rutgers. Maryland and Illinois look really, really bad. Ohio State also continues to be good at football.

Purdue 24, Iowa 20

No Rondale, no Brohm, no problem. Purdue showed poise by giving up on three second half points and getting 10 of its own in the final 10 minutes to get a surprising and fulfilling win according to Boiled Sports.

Over at Black Heart Gold Pants they now curse the name of David Bell:

Once again, the Iowa Hawkeyes (0-1) allowed a receiver to run rampant over their secondary en route to a victory.

David Bell followed up his near-200 yard day last year in Kinnick Stadium by matching his reception total (13) for almost 80 less yards but triple the touchdowns as the Purdue Boilermakers (1-0) won, 24-20.

In other words, he, Aiden O’Connell, and Brian Brohm (with help from Jeff on his sofa) rung Iowa like a ... bell.

Wisconsin 45, Illinois 7

Of Purdue’s next two opponents one looked really good. The other… didn’t. Graham Mertz was pretty much flawless in dismantling Illinois:

The level of expectations and excitement surrounding this kid couldn’t get much higher heading into the opener. Former top-50 recruit with offers from everyone, at the most glorified position on the field, and at a position the Badgers have not been known for success at traditionally.

GRAHAM MERTZ IS A GOD DAMNED LEGEND

Graham Mertz blew the lid off his hype now after a near perfect performance against Illinois. The redshirt freshman out of Kansas made it look easy Friday night. If you are looking for an excited account of his night check out the related article above.

Illini struggled to do anything resembling offense and only scored on a defensive TD:

Meanwhile, the Illini’s offense was getting manhandled at the point of attack and failed to generate any running lanes.

Combine that with a lack of receiver separation in the passing game and the Illini had a trifecta for complete offensive ineptitude. The Illini finished with 218 yards as their veteran quarterback, Brandon Peters, finished a paltry 8-for-19 for 87 yards.

Indiana 36, Penn State 35

This was easily the best game of the weekend. I thought Michael Penix was short and the ball touched down out of bounds a fraction of a second before hitting the pylon. I also don’t like Indiana, naturally… but screw Penn State. Their program shouldn’t exist anymore. Their stadium should have been smelted down to slag. They deserve nothing but pain and suffering forever and Indiana deserved that after 1. Penn State was dumb enough to not go down after the game clinching first down, and 2. Having the guts to go for the win with one play. As expected, Crimson Quarry was ecstatic:

Saturday doesn’t make up for the nights that came before, the bowl losses, the ever-so-close games against teams a tier above — all of those things. But it’s exactly what this program needs to make a season like this meaningful. Expectations are different this year, for a variety of reasons, and rather than gauge success by counting victories, we’re measuring the quality of those wins. The thought has been that if there were ever a year when IU could beat a Penn State, or a Michigan, or a Michigan State on the road, this is it. And once the Hoosiers show they can do it, they can start to consistently believe it. And that matters. For now. For next year. For the foreseeable future.

It is safe to say Penn State fans were upset:

There is a lot that can be said about that game, but the bottom line is:

Two interceptions.

One fumble.

Two missed (makable) field goals, including a 25 yarder.

Ten penalties for 100 yards.

And a running back that didn’t take a knee when the clock would have ran out if he did.

Mental errors. Sloppy play. A devastating ending, but: Penn State largely deserved to lose that game.

Rutgers 38, Michigan State 27

The Scarlet Knights had not won a Big Ten games in 21 tries, nearly three years. They only scored 51 points TOTAL in their nine Big Ten games a year ago. That didn’t stop them from achieving the most surprising result of the weekend:

Building a strong culture and solid foundation for future success was always the goal for this season. Any positives on the scoreboard or in the win column should be considered a bonus. However, it’s fair to be excited about the possibilities for this season after seeing how far this team has come since Schiano’s arrival, even during a shortened offseason and preseason with the global pandemic.

The Mel Tucker era in East Lansing began with a resounding thud as the Spartans simply could not hold on to the football, turning it over 7 times:

I’m not going to say Mel Tucker is a fraud and we should fire him after one game. But what I will say is that, wow dude, we’re going to preach CULTURE CHANGE and DIFFERENT ENERGY all offseason and come out like that? The only thing different about the energy that it somehow got even lower than last season. Shakur Brown gets an interception to maybe change momentum and he and the sideline react as if they just wrapped up a field trip to the local morgue. And the “Ball security is job security” quote is now just hilarious to read. Seven turnovers. Zero ball protection. It got to the point that the rare times MSU had a nice play or drive going, I was sitting there waiting for the inevitable turnover. There was nothing changed in the demeanor of this team from years past, the energy was changed for the worse and that game was RELENTLESS-ly sloppy.

Ohio State 52, Nebraska 17

Happy Scott Frost Day! This was a competitive game deep into the second quarter tied at 14-14. The Buckeyes then woke up, found their glasses on the night stand, and pummeled the Cornhuskers into submission:

It’s a trend we have seen all across the college football landscape in this weird, pandemic-shortened season. Even the best teams in the country have gotten off to slow starts in games early in the new campaign — especially on the defensive side of the ball. Ohio State was certainly no different in following this trend.

Over at Corn Nation they seem resigned to their fate, but somehow excited:

While the score yesterday was relatively comparable to the game last year in Lincoln it was Nebraska who was playing with Ohio State for a half yesterday. Last year it was Nebraska getting steamrolled by Ohio State for the entire game. We shall see but the assumption is that this Ohio State team is better than last years team. If that’s true, then the performance from Nebraska, while disappointing, should give Nebraska fans reason to be excited.

Michigan 49, Minnesota 24

The Gophers were shorthanded and the Wolverines took full advantage:

Besides relearning how to mask the smell of beer on a Sunday morning at church, we learned a ton about this rejuvenated offense in Michigan’s 49-24 victory over Minnesota.

2020 has had so many bad twists it feels like it was written by M. Night Shyamalan, but all of the starts and stops of the season did not deter this youthful Michigan Wolverines team.

This would have been an ideal season to have a syllabus week style home opener. You know, a game to go through the motions and to allow this team a chance to work out any kinks without fear of defeat; like Appalachian State (KIDDING).

Once the Gophers get half their team back things should improve:

Quarterback Tanner Morgan had a tough night. He was 18-of-31 for 197 passing yards, with one touchdown and one interception. His lone score came on the Gophers’ first offensive possession, and he never found the end zone again the rest of the night. He made quite a few poor decisions and bad throws, but as expected, he was frequently under siege. Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown was true to form, cranking up the pressure and racking up five sacks. Rashod Bateman fought hard for nine receptions and 101 receiving yards, but had virtually no supporting cast. Chris Autman-Bell finished with one reception for 45 yards. Ibrahim was second in receptions with four.

Northwestern 43, Maryland 3

Northwestern football: Now with offense!

Ramsey proved that such hope was warranted with a sharp performance on Saturday night. Editor-in-chief Eli Karp predicted a “solid, but not spectacular day” of 220 passing yards and 1 TD from Ramsey in our predictions piece on Friday, and he was nearly spot on, as Ramsey wound up completing 23 of his 30 passing attempts for 212 yards and one score, good for a 94.1 quarterback rating. He also flashed his mobility, rushing seven times for 47 yards, including one cross-field, 12-yard touchdown rush in the first quarter.

Maryland actually led this game 3-0, then proceeded to go turtle (pun intended) the rest of the way:

No football team is able to operate on a full game off scripted plays and no team can rely on the comfort of getting out to a lead to build confidence. With Tagovailoa now with his first career start under his belt, his ability to remain calm when faced with adversity on the field will be key to his growth and the offense’s success.

Non-Conference Opponents:

We didn’t get to play Memphis, Air Force, and Boston College, but all three are having modest success:

Memphis 41, Temple 29 – Memphis is now 3-1 on the season and has a very good win over Central Florida.

San Jose State 17, Air Force 6 – It was the first game in three weeks for Air Force after their season opening win against Navy.

Boston College 48, Georgia Tech 27 – The Eagles are 4-2 and a solid 3-2 in ACC play.