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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 2 of Big Ten Football

It was not a great week for the Big Ten West

NCAA Football: Georgia Southern at Nebraska Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

There were absolutely no complaints for Purdue this week. As for the rest of our division? Well, it wasn’t great. Northwestern, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Iowa all lost at home. Illinois, Purdue, and Minnesota all won big. Scott Frost is basically a dead coach walking at this point.

Even with the loss to Penn State last week it still feels like the West is there for the taking. Purdue dominated its warmup game. Now it has a chance to build momentum before a huge game at Minnesota in a few weeks.

Here is the week that was in the conference.

Ohio State 45, Arkansas State 12

As expected, the Buckeyes were dominant over a Sun Belt foe. Not everyone else was on the day:

The first thing that we noticed against Arkansas State was that the Buckeye big-play offense, missing against Notre Dame last week, is back. Long passing touchdowns, long running plays, almost a long punt return. Marvin Harrison, Jr. and Emeka Egbuka had no trouble getting behind the defense, and quarterback C.J. Stroud was accurate as usual.

But the game was closer, and more contested, than we would have thought. The Buckeyes did manage to insert some of the players from the second or third slots on the depth chart – but not until the middle of the final quarter.

Michigan 56, Hawaii 10

It was a large spread and they game was delayed due to weather, but the Wolverines had no problems sending Hawaii back to the islands:

The Michigan Wolverines left no doubt under the lights last night as they trounced the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors by a final score of 56-10. Once the thunderstorms subsided, the Wolverines brought the electricity and racked up 410 yards of offense in the first half, which is the most in a first half in the Jim Harbaugh era (2015-present) and the fifth-most in program history.

Once decisively up 42-0 at halftime (Michigan’s largest halftime lead since Rutgers, 2016), the Wolverines unloaded their bench and coasted to victory in the second half. Michigan came out to prove a point and emphatically did so across the board. This performance could set a record for players deserving of recognition, but I tried my damnedest to narrow it down to three. Kind of.

Michigan State 52, Akron 0

Purdue wasn’t the only team to win in a shutout:

Early on, Akron and quarterback D.J. Irons were able to advance the ball down the field early, out-gaining Michigan State in yardage by the end of the first quarter. Yet, a couple of forced fumbles helped MSU out and led to its 14-0 lead.

Wide receiver T.J. Banks fumbled shortly after making a 16-yard reception (forced by Kendell Brooks). Sophomore linebacker Cal Haladay recovered the ball. Two plays into Akron’s third possession, Shocky Jacques-Louis fumbled the ball (forced by Jacoby Windmon), recovered by junior defensive tackle Maverick Hansen.

Washington State 17, Wisconsin 14

Here was our first upset of the day, and it was a bit under the radar. No, I will not get my hopes up that Purdue finally beats Wisconsin:

With just over six and a half minutes left in the game, Wisconsin ran two offensive plays, ending in Cundiff’s 22-yard reception, which was fumbled into the arms of a Cougars defender, ending Wisconsin’s chances at a comeback.

Washington State was able to convert one third-down on their final drive of the game, which secured the victory. It was only the Cougar’s second third down conversion of the game, as they finished 2-for-11.

While Wisconsin outgained the Cougars, 401-253, their 106 yards of penalties and three turnovers were too much to overcome.

Minnesota 62, Western Illinois 10

At least the Leathernecks get a check:

Minnesota did exactly what a Big Ten team is supposed to do against an FCS opponent, rolling up 679 total yards of offense and 62 points against Western Illinois. That is the most yards the Gophers have piled up in a single game since 2004, and the third-best single-game total in program history. Mohamed Ibrahim and Trey Potts powered the ground game, combining for 209 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Quarterback Tanner Morgan was solid through the air. He finished 14-of-18 for 287 passing yards and a touchdown, finding Chris Autman-Bell for five receptions and 118 receiving yards.

Duke 31, Northwestern 23

It turns out falling behind 21-0 is a bad idea:

Whatever luck of the Irish remained from two weekends ago disappeared into the warm, late summer air at Ryan Field today. With it went Northwestern’s hopes to start the season undefeated through its non-conference slate after falling to Duke 31-23 in the 2022 home opener.

Mike Elko’s Blue Devils had no plans to relinquish its winning streak against the ‘Cats, which now amounts to four straight victories since 2017. Duke was led by Riley Leonard, who completed 13 of 24 attempts, along with receivers Jalon Calhoun and Eli Pancol, who combined for 214 yards against Northwestern’s secondary.

Penn State 46, Ohio 10

The Nittany Lions had no trouble in moving to 2-0:

The year: 2015. The player: Saquon Barkley. Against San Diego State, Barkley had his coming out party where the showed the nation what he could do, and the rest was history.

It took Nicholas Singleton four quarters and change to solidify himself as the permanent starter, and after 179 yards on the ground in an effortless performance, Singleton has all but answered the question of who the long term solution at the position is.

Maryland 56, Charlotte 21

The Terps went on the road and had a breakout day offensively:

With about five minutes to play in the second quarter and following consecutive pre-snap penalties, Tagovailoa was faced with second-and-goal from the 16-yard line. The pocket quickly collapsed on Tagovailoa, with two Charlotte pass rushers tailing the redshirt junior play caller.

It didn’t matter for Tagovailoa, though, who evaded the rush with swagger and flicked the ball to redshirt senior wideout Jeshaun Jones with not a defender in sight.

The play gave the Terps a commanding 35-14 second-quarter lead and summed up what Tagovailoa can do at his best.

Iowa State 10, Iowa 7

¡EL ASSICO! Lived up to its assy-ness. Purdue’s defense (14 points) has now outscored Iowa’s offense (10 points) on the season:

I think we’re seeing a splintered locker room. Iowa’s defenders have zero faith in its offense, as evidenced by the effort the punt team took to scoop the ball on the first blocked punt, and Terry Robert’s body language after not being able to run his interception back for a touchdown.

Illinois 24, Virginia 3

The Illini bounced back quite nicely from the narrow loss in Bloomington:

After a shaky start, Illinois completely turned the game around, handling Virginia in a 24-3 blowout on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

Just a year ago, Illinois (2-1, 0-1 Big Ten) went into Charlottesville and was dominated in every fashion in a 42-14 loss. However, the Illini flipped the script on Saturday, and the big story was the defense.

Rutgers 66, Wagner 7

Yes, that was a game that happened:

Can someone remember the last time the Knights had so many speedy playmakers on offense? Cruickshank, Youngblood, Long, Salaam. Wimsatt. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few but you all get the point - Rutgers finally has speed in the plural. Not just one guy but a slew of them and I imagine OC Sean Gleeson will open up the kitchen sink to move the ball against Iowa.

Georgia Southern 45, Nebraska 42

Scott Frost losing one score games is basically performance art at this point:

Going into the season, if you told me that Nebraska was going to put up 42 points and 575 yards of total offense against Georgia Southern then I would have expected a 30 point win.

This was because I expected a level of competency on the defensive side of the ball This, I hope, would have been justified since there is a level of consistency going into year five of an Erik Chinander coached defense.

Unfortunately, Chinander’s defense gave up 45 points and a total of 642 yards to Georgia Southern.

Indiana 35, Idaho 22

The Hoosiers trailed 10-0 at halftime, but used a big third quarter to avoid embarrassment:

Head coach Tom Allen knew that better than anyone. During halftime, Allen went to assistant coaches and team leaders to get them to rally the Hoosiers’ spirits and hold one another accountable, he said in a postgame press conference.

The result? A 23-point third quarter from the offense as the defense kept the Vandals at bay. In a stark contrast to its first half miscues, all of Indiana’s second half drives ended in Idaho’s endzone save for the last, a victory kneel from Bazelak to seal the 35-22 win.

Non-Conference Opponents:

Syracuse 48, UConn 14 – The Orange are 2-0 and looking like a tough out next week.

Florida Atlantic 42, SE Louisiana 9 – The Owls ran for over 360 yards on the day.