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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 1 of Big Ten Football

Week 1 is in the books.

Syndication: Journal-Courier Noe Padilla / USA TODAY NETWORK

The first weekend of college football is a marathon with games spread over 5 days. Fortunately, none of the Big Ten is playing tonight, though Purdue has been involved in the Sunday game before. Week 1 for the league is in the books and the Big Ten West looks like it sucks aside from Wisconsin and Minnesota. That means even with a loss, we still have a chance. Over in the East we have Indiana leading, just as we all suspected.

Penn State 35, Purdue 31

It was a frustrating game for both sides, as Black Shoe Diaries saw it as a survival game:

The offense didn’t look great. The defense didn’t look great. Clearly, there is a lot of work to be done over the next month if Penn State wants to contend in the Big Ten. But just like last year, the Nittany Lions found a way to grind out a gutty win in a tough Big Ten environment. Over a long season — and especially this weekend — savor that, Penn State fans.

Minnesota 38, New Mexico State 0

The Gophers had no issues in dispatching former coach Jerry Kill’s team:

Returning from a ruptured Achilles tendon is no small task, but Mohamed Ibrahim looked a lot like his old self Thursday night as he rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns. It was a vintage Ibrahim performance that saw him patiently reading his blocks, bursting through the narrowest of holes, and staying on his feet as he ran through tacklers. It was his 10th consecutive game with more than 100 rushing yards.

Michigan State 35, Western Michigan 13

It was a little bit dicey early in the second half, but the Spartans pulled away late for a comfortable win:

I think the majority of MSU fans are pleased with Friday night, but there is a contingent out there that feels a tad underwhelmed. Believe me, I can be as harsh of a critic on this team as anyone, but not after that game. The Spartans covered the spread, kept the Broncos to 13 points while replacing two key players (more on that later, obviously) and flexed what can make this offense special for the next 11-plus games.

Indiana 23, Illinois 20

The Hoosiers did nothing for most of the second half, but then had a late 75 yard TD drive for the win. Yes, Indiana actually won a Big Ten game:

Indiana’s offense disappeared for about 80% of that game between Bazelak’s early second half touchdown pass to D.J. Matthews and the final drive. When the lack of timeouts forced Walt Bell back into his uptempo offense and the Hoosiers started moving the ball again.

As was the case for much of last year, the defense kept Indiana in the game for way longer than it should have and deserves most of the credit for the win. Hats off to Bret Bielema as well for getting Indiana’s defensive secondary involved in a game in which he had a 200+ yard rusher.

The Illini had a TD taken off the board upon review and let this one slip away:

Despite outgaining Indiana by 89 yards, picking up 9 more first downs, and dominating time of possession by 13 minutes, the Illini somehow came out on the losing end. How could that possibly happen?

Pretty simple. 4 turnovers. 8 penalties.

Ohio State 21, Notre Dame 10

It was a hard fought victory for the Buckeyes, as they notch a top 5 win and already have an edge for the Playoff:

Opening games usually hold some surprises, and this one sure did. We probably expected the Ohio State offense to overwhelm the Irish, scoring quickly and often. They didn’t. We had questions about the new defense, questions that were largely answered Saturday night.

Notre Dame played conservatively, making C.J. Stroud throw in front of their safeties, preventing big plays. It was a good plan, by a solid defense. Stroud had a decent game, but his 6.6 yards per passing attempt were the lowest of his career. The Buckeyes eventually managed to mix the short passing game with a significant running attack and controlled the ball in the second half, but it took a while to find the rhythm.

Michigan 51, Colorado State 7

There were absolutely no problems for the defending champs in this one:

The 2021 Michigan Wolverines were an all-time original that rewrote the standard expected of all future Michigan teams. A standard so high that even winning by 44 points feels mundanely routine because that is now the expectation.

On Saturday, the Wolverines overwhelmed Colorado State in all facets of the game. Offensively, defensively, special teams, and I’m sure even their fans were overwhelmed in the Blue Lot by the the thousands of Wolverine faithful crushing Busch Latte’s with the speed and aggression of an Eyabi Anoma pass rush.

Wisconsin 38, Illinois State 0

Whither, Brock Spack. At least you got a check:

Let’s forget about that first offensive drive. It never happened. It was just a warm-up. Sure Wisconsin has been practicing for months since spring ball began but we can forgive it all after what happened on the second play of the second offensive drive. Last season was no fluke. I don’t care that it’s against an FCS opponent, a 96-yard touchdown is a 96-yard touchdown. And boy was it a thing of beauty! (Chefs kiss into the air).

Iowa 7, South Dakota State 3

The Hawkeyes struggled with one of the best FCS teams and didn’t even get a touchdown. Fortunately, the end zone was there for two safeties:

I watched other college football games after Iowa’s 7-3 victory over the SDSU Jackrabbits. I got to see the way normal offenses operated with functional blocking, competent QB play, and creative playcalling. I saw runs of 10+ yards, quarterbacks with time in the pocket to throw, and teams scoring actual touchdowns. I’m serious, I saw real life touchdowns. But I felt like the younger sibling on my older brother’s birthday, watching him open all of the flashy new toys while I was stuck with the boring hand-me-downs that don’t work half the time and throw screen passes feet above my receiver’s hands.

Maryland 31, Buffalo 10

It was a pretty quiet, comfortable win for the Terps:

Maryland football came out of the halftime locker room with a 17-7 advantage over Buffalo but struggled to generate much offense in the first half. The expectations surrounding the Maryland offense were sky-high entering the season, primarily because of the multitude of weapons capable of making impactful plays.

Failing to generate many big plays in the first half, quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa handed it off to redshirt freshman running back Roman Hemby on the second play of the second half. Hemby, who appeared in just four games last season, ran it 70 yards for a touchdown, providing the spark and insurance Maryland needed to break free from Buffalo.

Rutgers 22, Boston College 21

The Scarlet Knights got a late 96 yard drive for the go ahead score with just over two minutes left:

The Scarlet Knights won their first game of the season for the third consecutive year after erasing a two-score deficit against Boston College on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, MA. This was the first victory for Rutgers against the Eagles since 1991.

Al-Shadee Salaam capped off a 12-play, 96-yard drive with a touchdown run from 22 yards out to give Rutgers the lead with 2:43 left. Salaam was one of seven Scarlet Knights to log a carry in the game and one of four players with at least five.

Nebraska 38, North Dakota 17

There was a point where it really looked like Nebraska was going to lose to an FCS team:

I had zero confidence that Nebraska was going to pull out a win on Saturday. In fact, I wasn’t sure how Nebraska was going to get a win in 2022. Especially with the inability of the Nebraska defense to get off the field.

This is concern number one for this team.

Non-Conference Opponents

Indiana State 17, North Alabama 14 (OT) – The Trees got an interception in OT to pull off an emotional win.

Syracuse 31, Louisville 7 – Sean Tucker was very impressive for the Orange.

Ohio 41, Florida Atlantic 38 – The Owls attempted a wild comeback, but came up just short.