By: David Folz
The second week of the year for the Big Ten Conference was a miserable one to say the least. Three teams went west to face Pac-12 opponents, all of them lost. The battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy between Iowa and Iowa State flopped on the Hawkeyes as the Cyclones got a rare win in Iowa City. Finally, bless Sam Ficken of Penn State because the Nittany Lions kicker could not get a break in a heartbreaking loss to Virginia. With that here is the Big Ten review:
Illinois: The Fighting Illini were without Nate Scheelhaase against Arizona State Saturday night and it showed big time, as the Sun Devils destroyed Illinois 45-14. Illinois gave up over 300 yards through the air to Arizona State and without Scheelhaase, Miles Osei and Reilly O’Toole went a combined 14 of 24 for one touchdown, three interceptions and 101 yards of passing. The positive of the night was Josh Ferguson carrying the ball for 101 yards on 14 carries but it was far too little and too late for Illinois. Luckily they have an easy opponent in Charleston Southern next week.
Indiana: Tre Roberson had over 100 yards rushing and three touchdowns combined running and throwing as the quarterback led Indiana to a 45-6 win over one of the newest members to the FBS, Massachusetts. In addition to Roberson, Cameron Hoffman threw another touchdown, and Indiana showed a balance offensive attack against the Minutemen, with 606 yards of offense and over 300 yards rushing. Indiana has a good chance to start 3-0 as they take on Ball State next weekend.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes had a disastrous offensive day against Iowa State, not capitalizing on 4 Cyclone turnovers and James Vandenberg getting intercepted twice en route to a 9-6 loss on Saturday. Making matters worse was a non-existent running game that only had 68 yards with Damon Bullock running 22 times for only 53 yards. The Hawkeyes defense only allowed one touchdown on the day, but it was all that the Cyclones needed as Iowa fell to 1-1 on the season. Next week is Northern Iowa, who gave the Hawkeyes a big scare last year, and Wisconsin two weeks ago.
Michigan: The Wolverines got all they could handle from the Air Force triple option offense but in the end survived 31-25. Denard Robinson was the entire offense on Saturday, throwing for 208 yards, rushing for 218 and four total touchdowns against the Falcons. Fitzgerald Toussaint came back from suspension but was largely ineffective, running for just eight yards on seven carries. This game may be a sign of things to come for the Wolverines if Robinson has to be relied upon for all of the offense, as next week Michigan faces Massachusetts.
Michigan State: The Spartans rolled over Central Michigan this weekend 41-7. Le’Veon Bell had two touchdowns on the day but Andrew Maxwell stole the show, throwing for 275 yards and two touchdowns as well and the Chippewas had no answers to stopping either attack. The Spartans amassed 495 yards of offense and shut down Central Michigan’s offense to the tune of 245 yards in the game. Michigan State is 2-0 on the season but this weekend will host rival Notre Dame in a big test prior to the start of the conference season.
Minnesota: The Gophers had a big day on offense from MarQueis Gray, who had four touchdowns on 209 yards of passing and rushing combined as Minnesota trounced New Hampshire 44-7. The Gophers cruised to victory, with over 400 yards of total offense, and the defense did the job with holding New Hampshire to 231 yards of offense and forcing two turnovers. Next week the Gophers could match their win record of the last two years (three) by going 3-0 if they win against Western Michigan.
Nebraska: The Cornhuskers are the second team on here to go out west and suffer a loss, this time to UCLA 36-30. For the great things that Taylor Martinez did throwing the ball against Southern Mississippi, he took a big step backwards against UCLA, throwing an interception while going 17 of 31 with 179 yards. Martinez had a touchdown running on 112 yards while Ameer Abdullah had two touchdowns and 119 yards. Nebraska had a miserable day on third downs, going 1 of 11, and on defense, giving up 653 yards to UCLA. The Cornhuskers are 1-1 on the season, while facing Arkansas State on Saturday.
Northwestern: The Wildcats got a big fourth quarter effort from Venric Mark and Kain Colter en route to a 23-13 win over Vanderbilt. Offensively, the running attack of Northwestern was impressive to mask its inefficiencies throwing the ball. Throwing the ball, Trevor Siemian and Colter were a combined 17 of 31 for 133 yards and no touchdowns, while Mark had 123 yards running. The defense contained Vandy Saturday unless they did against Syracuse on the opening weekend. Northwestern is 1-1, and on Saturday will face Boston College.
Ohio State: Ohio State has seen Braxton Miller improve from the second half of last year to this past weekend with amazing success as the Buckeyes quarterback threw for one touchdown and ran for two more in a 31-16 win over UCF. Miller ran for 141 yards, while throwing for 155 more as the Buckeyes offense amassed over 400 yards of offense in the win. The defense forced three turnovers in the win to prevent an upset. The Buckeyes start 2-0 on the season, and will face California this Saturday.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions suffered a second heartbreaking loss of the year, this time on the road at Virginia 17-16. Kicker Sam Ficken missed four field goals as the Nittany Lions could not capitalize on four Cavaliers turnovers and fall to 0-2. Matt McGloin again showed poise and good pocket presence willing to get him to the NFL as he went 19 of 35 and 197 with two touchdowns in the losing effort. Next week for the Nittany Lions, who are 0-2, is Navy who is another tough opponent to test the depth of the team.
Purdue: The Boilermakers rallied from a ten point fourth quarter deficit to a tie against Notre Dame only to be heartbroken by a field goal with 15 seconds left to lose 20-17. Caleb TerBush struggled all day, throwing two interceptions on 8 of 19 passing. Robert Mavre however shined, throwing a touchdown with no interceptions on 11 of 18 passing for Purdue. Purdue had nothing in the way of a good running attack, averaging just three yards per carry throughout the day. Every stat for the Boilermakers, 1-1 on the season, should be better this week as they take on Eastern Michigan on Saturday.
Wisconsin: The story of the day until the final Badgers offensive drive was one of disillusion as the Badgers looked completely lost on offense as they were upset by Oregon State 10-7 in a game that was not as close as the score would indicate. The Badgers mustered only 207 yards of offense together as Danny O’Brien struggled in the pocket and on the run. Montee Ball’s chances at a Heisman went up in smoke in this game as he ran for only 61 yards and the Badgers pass defense was torched again, this time by Sean Mannion for 275 yards and over 350 yards of offense to the Beavers. The Badgers are 1-1 on the season, and have a tall task ahead of them as they face Utah State, who recently pulled an upset of Utah this past weekend.