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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 1 of Big Ten Football

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It’s the week that was in the Big Ten.

Oregon State v Purdue Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Week 1 is in the books and the Big Ten looked rather mediocre. Ohio State proved it is Ohio State. Michigan State looked surprisingly good. We had a couple of expected blowouts and Indiana proved to be wildly, hilariously overrated. Let’s look back at the week that was:

Thursday

Ohio State 45, Minnesota 31

The Buckeyes turned it on when they needed to and hit on a number of big plays in a game where they were tested, but passed easily:

The coaching staff’s utilization of its personnel throughout this game on both sides of the ball was... questionable at best, but we will get to more of that in a little bit. To begin the night, it looked as though Tony Alford was looking to use the running backs on a series by series basis, much like Ohio State did back when they had J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber at the same time — which, if you recall, did not exactly work.

The biggest news for Minnesota is that star running back Mohammed Ibrahim was likely lost for the season, which is a huge blow:

Obviously, the elephant in the room is that Ibrahim did not return to the game after suffering a left leg injury near the end of the third quarter. Twitter’s Pro Football Docdiagnosed him with a ruptured Achilles tendon, which would mean that his season is over and the Gophers’ running back stable loses its prized stallion. Ibrahim was last seen walking to the locker room with a boot on his left foot in the fourth quarter, and P.J. Fleck declined to get into specifics in his postgame press conference, as per usual. Before he left the game, Ibrahim looked the part of the reigning Big Ten Running Back of the Year, rushing for 162 yards and two touchdowns.

Friday

Michigan State 38, Northwestern 21

Sparty laid it on the Wildcats with a 75 yard TD run on the first play and never looked back:

The Spartans rode Wake Forest transfer Kenneth Walker III roughshod over the Wildcats, as he became the first Spartan since Le’Veon Bell to rush for more than 200 yards in a game (264 total on 23 attempts), and the first Spartan to score four rushing touchdowns since Edwin Baker in 2010.

The Wildcats had a very disappointing opener after winning the West a season ago:

Perhaps it was the fact that it was their first game under new defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil. Or maybe tackling just wasn’t practiced enough in the days leading up to Northwestern’s matchup with the Spartans. Whatever the reasoning may be, the fact of the matter remains that the Wildcats’ defense, one so often praised for its “bend, don’t break” style of play under former defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz, played sloppy.

Saturday

Maryland 30, West Virginia 24

An impressive opening for the Terps, as they scored a mild upset here:

Maryland football was up 23-21 with about eight minutes to go in the game against West Virginia. The Mountaineers were lined up in the endzone primed to take away the lead late in the game but as quarterback Jarret Doege sailed the ball into the endzone, Maryland defensive back Jakorian Bennett jumped up and intercepted the ball giving the Terps possession while still ahead.

Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa then inched the team down the field 20 yards in four plays to Maryland’s 40-yard line. On third down with five yards to go, Tagovailoa stepped back and launched a pass to his left where wide receiver Rakim Jarret caught the ball and raced into the endzone for a 60-yard touchdown to extend Maryland’s lead to 30-21.

Nebraska 52, Fordham 7

Happy Scott Frost Day!

It started out terrible, but ended up not too bad.

Here’s my instant reaction to Nebraska’s 52-7 win over Fordham.

It was a terrible start to the game. Our beloved Huskers looked flat and uninterested.

Nebraska fumbled. Had to punt. Fordham scored. Then things changed.

Adrian Martinez became an accurate quarterback that made good decisions. Other guys came to play - guys like Markese Stepp, Samori Toure, Austin Allen, and Omar Manning.

Rutgers 61, Temple 14

The Scarlet Knights had to wait a few extra days due to flooding, but started the year off right:

In the first home game played in front of fans in two years, Rutgers came through with a dominant 61-14 victory over Temple on Saturday. The offense struggled early on, but overall the Scarlet Knights played clean football and physically dominated its opponent. RU forced the Owls into many more miscues on the day including five turnovers and was able to capitalize throughout the game. Special teams play was excellent as well.

Michigan 47, Western Michigan 14

The Wolverines gave up a first drive touchdown, then wiped the blood off their lips and dominated:

Positives addressed include the rushing attack’s quick start to the season, an efficient display from the quarterback position and adjustments (!!!) made on the defensive side of the ball. From a negative standpoint, Ronnie Bell’s injury looms large, and there’s still a major question about Josh Gattis. Will Michigan learn a critical lesson from last year?

Iowa 34, Indiana 6

So much for Indiana being a legitimate threat to win the East:

On the Hawkeyes first drive, Tyler Goodson took a bread-and-butter zone run to the boundary 56 yards before 2 minutes elapsed from the clock. On the ensuing Hoosier possession, Riley Moss had his first of two pick-sixes (picks-six). The 14-0 lead set the tone for the rest of the game as Iowa never really had to dip an inch into the ocean of their playbook and the defense wreaked its usual havoc on the Hoosier offense.

Crimson Quarry has not published an article since August 30.

Penn State 16, Wisconsin 10

It was scoreless at halftime, but the Nittany Lions had enough defense in the end:

The first half, in a word, was ugly. Neither Penn State nor Wisconsin could generate points, sending us into the break with a B1G-centric 0-0 score. The Nittany Lions in particular looked dreadful offensively, only mustering up one first down through the first 30 minutes. Who was to blame? Everyone. Everyone was to blame. The offensive line struggled. Clifford looked so-so at best. Mike Yurcich made some uninspiring calls. Other than not turning the ball over, the Penn State offense did nothing positive.

Bucky’s 5th Quarter knows that the Badgers have a lot to work on offensively:

QB Graham Mertz on moving on from the loss.

“It’s my job, it’s what I have to do. For me, I wouldn’t say ‘flush,’ (forget about the game) I gotta learn from it,” said Mertz. “Tomorrow morning, or tonight hop on and watch the tape, take out my key points that I have to get better at, what I need to do to help this team win. I just gotta learn and grow, it’s the biggest thing.”

Texas-San Antonio 37, Illinois 30

A week after knocking off Nebraska Illinois lost to a program that didn’t exist a decade ago:

With a chance to tie the game late, Artur Sitkowski and the Illini couldn’t march down the field to punch in the tying score. A Hail Mary heave as time expired was hauled in but out of bounds.

A disappointing end to a disappointing game for Illinois.

Purdue 30, Oregon State 21

Our friends at Building the Dam still saw some positives:

It sure was fun to watch college football again, despite the result. The defensive improvements look real and Chance Nolan gave the offense a much needed spark in the 4th quarter. Oregon State will look to re-group next week against Hawaii and get in the win column.

Non-Conference Opponents:

Notre Dame vs. Florida State - Played later today

Holy Cross 38, Connecticut 28 - The Huskies lost at home by double digits to an FCS team. Yikes.