The Big Ten enjoyed an entertaining opening night, as Ohio State, Indiana, and Minnesota each won to kickoff the 2010 season. Let's go sideline to sideline...to sideline...and analyze some take aways for these teams going forward. I'm sorry, what was that? A music video to accompany the story that roughly equates to the subject? Why yes, YES I will embed Queen's 'We Will Rock You', only if you promise to join me, after the jump.
Bomber jacket: Check.
moon boots galoshes: Check.
Star shaped tinted glasses: Check.
Still one of the gretest songs ever? Check.
And okay, maybe this isn't a true kneejerk reaction, as I was able to sleep on it. But cut me some slack, I needs me my sleep at night, or I'd be useless today. After you read this, I'm sure you'll think I got no sleep at all, but it is what it is.
Marshall at Ohio State:
Pryor picked up where he left off from this game.
The Good: If you are Jim Tressel, you have to be happy yet unsatisfied this morning. Ohio State did exactly what they needed to do by thumping an overmatched team for the home opener, and letting the college football world know that they are a legitimate national title contender. Terrelle Pryor picked up right where he left off in Pasadena, Brandon Saine ran with power and speed, and the defense smothered the Thundering Herd. And they were able to do that without showing much more than base sets, which will make Miami prepare for stuff they haven't seen yet.
The Not So Good: Ohio State needs to clean up their secondary play and special teams, though. A blocked FG TD return by Marshall was unsettling. It didn't really change the momentum of the game, because OSU went right back down the field and scored, but it was Marshall. Against Miami next week, that could be the difference between a win and a loss.
Towson at Indiana:
It's going to be Bombs Away in Bloomington all year.
The Good: If Indiana is going to get to six wins and become bowl eligible, they needed to start strong and beat the FCS Tigers, which they did, convincingly. Ben Chappell and Darius Willis both looked sharp, as did receiver Damarlo Belcher, who stepped up in place of an injured Tandon Doss. Indiana's secondary, which isn't one of the better units in the conference, held Towson QB Chris Hart to under a 50% completion percentage, and intercepted him three times. Indiana was supposed to blow out Towson, and they did, as the score was 38-14 at halftime. It was a good win for a Hoosier team that will need to outscore opponents and get big plays on defense to win, and last night they did just that.
The Not So Good: Chris Hart didn't need to pass, as he rushed for over 120 yards on only 16 carries. Towson was able to move the ball effectively, but they consistently shot themselves in the foot, and the Hoosiers gave up several long gains. If the defense doesn't get turnovers, they'll have a hard time stopping offenses in the Big Ten---but Big Ten defenses will have a hard time stopping them.
Minnesota at Middle Tennessee State:
The Bradley Fighting Vehicle, shown with a Desert Camouflage Paint Scheme.
The Good: This was a good win for a Minnesota team that has stuggled for an identity under Tim Brewster. They were going to be a high flying spread team, recruited that way, and then they decided they wanted to be a smash mouth football team, and went back and forth with that all last season. Last night, Minnesota did two things. They let the everybody know that they are, in fact, a team that will run the ball down your throat, and they re-introduced the college football world to the fullback position in the process. Duane Bennett ran like a man possessed (187 yards on 30 carries), the offensive line mauled MTSU all night long, and FB Jon Hoese was a battering ram at the goal line (3 TD's). Adam Weber was efficient, and made some big throws in the second half on drives that tied the score and then took the lead. If Minnesota is going to be a bowl team, this was a must win. It wasn't always pretty, but they won, which a lot of folks didn't think they could do. Well done, Ski-U-Mah, well done.
The Not So Good:
The Gophers dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for over 45 minutes, yet only won by seven points, and trailed entering the fourth quarter. For the most part, the Gopher defense had no answer to MTSU's no-huddle spread, and were picked apart by backup QB Logan Kilgore, who was 13-18 for 172 yards and a sweet TD pass late in the first half to tie the game. If starter Dwight Dasher had played, would the Gophers have won the game? It's a legitimate question to ask, I think. To the defense's credit, they had a huge stop on third and short late in the game, which led to an MTSU punt and the ensuing winning drive. This was a good test for an inexperienced defense, and there were some bright spots. They were able to force a turnover, had some pressure on Kilgore, but they need to work on adjustments in game.
Overall, you have to be plased with opening night. Two teams dominated a lesser opponent, and one team went on the road as a 4 point underdog, won the game, and discovered an identity. It was a good night to be a Big Ten fan, and Saturday has just as many interesting storylines, UConn-UM, Purdue-Notre Dame, and Vanderbilt-Northwestern as the headliners.