By: David Folz
Week 1 Big Ten Review
Here is how the Big Ten did in the opening weekend. Reviews are quite mixed from this weekend due to Michigan getting blown out, but Michigan State beating Boise State. In addition, there were many nail-biting games that puzzled many people. Here is the team by team review in alphabetical order.
Illinois- The Fighting Illini were very spotty offensively as they beat Western Michigan 24-7. The offense was outgained 259-248, but the defense forced four turnovers to keep the Broncos at bay the entire game. That defense will need to be on its game next week as the Illini travel to Arizona to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Indiana- In a show of how bad things could be for the Hoosiers, they barely held on to beat Indiana State 24-17 on Saturday. The year may rely on how good quarterback Tre Roberson is with 26 of 36 passing and 280 yards and a touchdown both passing and running. Indiana will have a similar opponent next week when they play Massachusetts.
Iowa- James Vandenburg was nothing impressive throwing the ball on Saturday against Northern Illinois, going 21 of 33 and 129 yards. The more important question heading in was the running game with the rash of injuries to the Iowa Running Backs in the pre-season. Damon Bullock answered those questions for at least one week, running for 150 yards on 30 carries en route to the Hawkeyes 18-17 win over the Huskies. Iowa will play Iowa State on Saturday in the battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy.
Michigan- The Wolverines got obliterated against Alabama 41-14 in the Cowboys Classic. There isn’t much to say outside of this other than they got destroyed offensively and defensively. Denard Robinson’s pre-season Heisman hype took a huge beating in this game, as he was only 11 for 26 with 200 yards, with two interceptions, and only 27 yards rushing.
Michigan State- The Spartans got going on their season in the right way, edging out Boise State 17-13. Andrew Maxwell had three interceptions, but tailback Le’Veon Bell had a great day, rushing for 210 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winning one with 8:55 in the game. Maxwell will need to turn his game around in the coming weeks for the Spartans to be great again. Saturday, Michigan State will play Central Michigan on the road.
Minnesota- Minnesota proved how bad they could possibly be this year despite dominating every category against UNLV on Thursday night. The Gophers won in triple overtime 30-27, despite outgaining the Rebels 478-275 and committing only two turnovers. The only bad thing outside the turnovers was a 3 of 15 third down conversion rating for the Gophers. On top of everything, they only mustered 13 points in regulation, and that will not get you far in the Big Ten. The Gophers will have a week to figure everything out as they take on New Hampshire on Saturday.
Nebraska- Taylor Martinez opened up this year with the greatest game of his career, throwing for 354 yards and five touchdowns as the Cornhuskers walloped Southern Mississippi 49-20. Nebraska could not be stopped offensively, as in addition to Martinez’s passing, they racked up 278 yards rushing and 632 yards of total offense to start the year. Defensively the Cornhuskers were solid in the second half, allowing just three points for the Golden Eagles. Nebraska will head to the West Coast to take on UCLA at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night.
Northwestern- The Wildcats built a 23 point lead against Syracuse, only to blow it and then rally late for a 42-41 win over the Orange. Northwestern will not lack for offense, but rather defense will be the question. The defense allowed nearly 600 yards of offense to Syracuse, including nearly 500 to Syracuse Quarterback Ryan Nassib. The key for the defense will be how they improve as they take on Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Ohio State- The Buckeyes opened the Urban Meyer era with a dominant 56-10 win over Miami-Ohio on Saturday. This game featured Devin Smith’s touchdown catch that may be the reception of the year. The Buckeyes get a much more challenging team in UCF next week to see how far along they are in Meyer’s strategy on offense and defense.
Penn State- The tumultuous off-season the Nittany Lions had looked to be behind them in the first half as they led Ohio 14-3 at halftime. The problem with that is in the second half, the Ohio defense shutout the Nittany Lions and rallied back to win 24-14. If there is a shining point for Penn State, then it would be Matt McGloin who had two touchdowns and 260 yards, and showed the poise that should get him looked at by NFL teams. Penn State travels to Virginia for another tough showdown on Saturday.
Purdue- The only bad thought from Purdue’s blowout over Eastern Kentucky (other than the obvious scheduling) was the five turnovers the Boilermakers committed. A 48-6 win will not happen with a team that commits five turnovers. Purdue will have to clean those up and have a great game next week, because Notre Dame is next on the schedule and Purdue travels to South Bend.
Wisconsin- In what would have been very embarrassing to the Big Ten, the Badgers managed to survive a test from Northern Iowa 26-21. Montee Ball had 120 yards on 32 carries with a touchdown, but transfer QB Danny O’Brien was 19 of 23 for 219 yards and two touchdowns. The pass defense is still a work in progress and it will have to get better for the Badgers to repeat as Big Ten champs. The Badgers head to Corvallis, Oregon on Saturday to play Oregon State.