Remember Week 2 last year? Let me refresh your memory, as it looked a little something like this:
Needless to say, we're a lot better off this year. With the big league matchup of Oregon at MSU and the JV scrum between Oregon State and Michigan, there was a whole lot of air time spent in Michigan this week. Rarely have I felt so bad for sportscasters, but at least some of them got to stay in East Lansing.
The talking heads found plenty of time and made up plenty of reasons to pat Jim Harbaugh on the head for...coaching football at Michigan. Talk of Big House Magic and home openers abounded, but what about the rest of the conference? Did anything else happen with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind? Let's peek around the B1G in week 2...
14 B1G Things
1. Penn State may actually be worse than we thought, which is akin to admitting we underestimated the severity of the fire in a nursing home.
2. Time to stop laughing at PSU, Maryland.
3. I'm not sure which is more impressive: Jake Rudock's ability to throw a 4-yard incompletion on 3rd and 6, or Oregon State's high school playbook.
4. Illinois has outscored their opponents 96-3 this season. Last year's Illinois team needed four games to reach 96 points, and their opponents got there first.
5. Austin Appleby throws all his passes to guys in white helmets. Purdue was just dressed incorrectly last week.
6. Joel Stave looks to have spent the offseason in the Treadstone program, having his reflexes honed and enhanced. This has brought him up to the level of your average P5 QB.
7. Ohio State actually would've looked sharper if they'd decided the game with the coin toss.
8. Jerry Kill hates sunscreen, altitude, and losing.
9. Rutgers did everything possible to lose that game and still almost found a way to win, but they stuck to their guns and lost.
10. Did the Eastern Bloc come with a gift receipt? Or a warranty?
11. Northwestern held an opponent to a quarter's worth of offense for the entire game.
12. Kirk Ferentz was thankfully out-coached by Kirk Ferentz in the highly anticipated Cy-Hawk bout.
13. Indiana got their defensive starters back from suspension. Florida International didn't notice.
14. MSU's secondary can do two things: intercept the pass, or pat a ball carrier on the shoulders as he gets an extra seven yards.
14a. As an unabashed B1G homer, I took great joy in the booming "Go Green! Go White!" cheer that heralded the end of Oregon's last bid for victory in East Lansing.
Two Non-B1G Things
15. Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire is out for the year with a broken ankle. We wish him a recovery that is speedy and painless as possible. Also, folks can stop trying to make ND happen now.
16. LOL @ BERT. Corporal Klinger couldn't be happier.
The Nitty Gritty
Buffalo at Penn State // Penn State wins 27-14. This soggy mess of a gam threatened to push the panic level in Happy Valley to supercritical levels. For the first three quarters, the Nittany Lions looked scarcely less anemic on offense on their home turf than they did a week ago on the mean streets of Philadelphia. The best play prior to the 4th quarter was Anthony Zettell's swat and grab of a Buffalo pass in the backfield. That defensive effort actually served to highlight the impotence of the PSU offense. After the turnover the Nits couldn't move the ball 19 yards for a TD, settling instead for a field goal. Hackenberg showed flashes of his old self late, hitting a quick screen for a score to put Penn State up 20-7. The much-maligned QB benefited greatly from some retooling on the offensive line, as did RB Saquon Barkley. Barkley rung up 112 yards on the day and Hack was a better-but-not-good 14-of-27 for a paltry 128 yards.
The oddest and most LOL moment of the game came when PSU special teams lineman Troy Apke came through untouched but...just couldn't.
That's not how you block a punt, Penn State! pic.twitter.com/OOAWIIGJpw— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) September 12, 2015
More important than any of that, though, is the fact that Hackenberg was not the victim of the same repeated beatings he took at the hands of Temple. None of this good news means PSU will be any more competitive. In fact, the plethora of obvious bubble screens and ineffective plays may mean that PSU is actually worse than we thought (i.e., last week was not a first game fluke). An inability to move the ball to the endzone from 19 yards out against a MAC team isn't the sign of an offense led by a future first-round draft pick. At least the changes up front mean that Hack may survive until conference play. PSU next up: Rutgers...sigh.
Oregon State at Michigan // Michigan wins 35-7 You've got a lot of nerve walking in here, Gary Andersen. Just kidding...welcome back. Have a hotdish and get your ass-kicked. After a week of Harbaugh love that probably sent ESPN interns scrambling for bulk purchases of Chapstick, the Wolverines made good in their home opener. Oregon State was overmatched from the word go, scoring once on a perfectly placed long ball from freshman QB Seth Collins. Otherwise, it was the outcome Michigan fans have sworn we've had coming since the three Wise Men announced the birth of Harbaugh. Oregon State's offense had nothing going for it--save the aforementioned pass--all day. The blustery Ann Arbor weather backed up a Michigan defense that really pounded the Beavers, holding Oregon State to 138 yards of total offense.
The Beavers didn't have much in the way of answers on either side of the ball. Rudock, as is typical of the man, was his own worst enemy. More than once, third and 6 resulted in an off-the-mark strike to a receiver on a 4-yard drag route. No Rudock day would be complete without an interception, but on the whole his performance was a serviceable 18/26 for 180. Michigan couldn't find the endzone through the air and relied instead on De'Veon Smith and Derrick Green, who combined for 161 yards and 4 TDs on 31 carries. The game wasn't truly out of hand until aOSU launched a long snap over the punter's head, surrendering the ball to the Wolverines inside the 5 yard line. That play was a microcosm of the whole day for Oregon State. Run plays developed at the speed of smell, and the Michigan defense spent as much time in the offensive backfield as they did on the sidelines. Overall, it was the home opener win that Harbaugh needed...but it didn't answer many questions about who this Michigan team is. Michigan next up: UNLV.
Bowling Green at Maryland // BG wins 48-27 If you're afraid of pitchfork-wielding mobs, stay away from Testudo Times for the next, oh, I don't know...year? That sounds safe. Let it first be known that Perry Hills was a state champion wrestler. Secondly, this may have been the worst 4th-quarter meltdown in the history of Maryland football. Words fail to fully capture how ineffective the Maryland secondary was at stopping anything BG could throw at them. Literally. Bowling Green is easily the most potent offense in the MAC, as Tennessee found out last week. Now Maryland has fallen victim to QB Matt Johnson's wide open passing attack. The BG signal caller tallied up 491 yards passing and six TDs--a career high.
As the Terps foundered in the 4th quarter, Randy Edsall looked to breathe life into the flagging offense by pulling state champion wrestler Perry Hills (15-of-30 for 168 and an INT) in favor of non-wrestler Caleb Rowe. The latter QB attempted three passes, completing two of them to BG defenders. The Falcons capitalized on the turnovers in grad fashion, sealing the win with backbreaking TDs. The only bright spot for Maryland was Will Likely's TD return, though he dropped a punt before the half that put BG in scoring position. This game certainly generated some great blog reactions and reader mail. Wear your helmet. But not a Maryland helmet, because they're hideous. Maryland next up: South Florida.
"Is it too late to give Maryland back to the ACC?" -Jim D., Chicago IL
Western Illinois at Illinois // Illinois wins 44-0. There actually isn't a whole lot to say about this game. Illinois wasn't perfect. Wes Lunt threw an INT. The Illini fumbled the ball away three times. And yet somehow, the boys in blue and orange manhandled the Leathernecks of Western Illinois like a JV squad. Wes Lunt and Chayce Crouch combined for 353 yards passing and QBRs in excess of 130 and 140 respectively. The Illini spread the love around on the runs, with three backs getting eight or more carries. This was a great win for the University of Chief Illiniwek, if only because it further served to exorcise the ghosts of last season's struggle against nearly everyone. If this performance keeps up, the biggest problem for Illinois going forward will be how they handle an interim coaching situation that is shaping up to be a reprisal of the Ed Orgeron/USC debacle. Illinois needs a real, program-building head coach. Whether Bill Cubit is that guy is anyone's guess, but next week could go a long way toward answering that question. Illinois next up: UNC.
Miami at Wisconsin // Wisconsin scores again, 58-0. Another game that's blessedly light on commentary, since the Badgers had this one in hand right around the second possession. On the personnel side, Corey Clement sat out on a day where his talents were clearly not needed. Joel Stave and Rob Wheelwright connected twice for TDs--part of Stave's 236-yard air campaign (19-of-30, 1 INT). On another happy front, Mike Caputo returned to the lineup and seemed to suffer no ill effects from having his bell rung pretty hard last week against Bama. Overall, the Badgers got a nice win in Chryst's home debut and gave some backups a chance to stretch their legs, especially Ogunbowale and Taiwan Deal. Wisconsin next up: Troy.
Indiana State at Purdue // Purdue wins 38-14. Larry Bird's alma mater might want to stick to basketball after Purdue exorcised the demons of Marshall in convincing fashion. Someone wiped Appleby's visor down and set his selector switch to "completions." The architect of drive-killing turnovers last week suddenly went 20/34 for four touchdowns this week. Perhaps he is a cyborg whose primitive viewfinder only allows him to see white helmets? It's quite possible that he is driven by the same logic module as a first generation Roomba. Nonetheless, Darrell Hazell's team managed to wake up for this tilt, though the defense leaves something to be desired. The Sycamores came within pissing distance of 400 yards of total offense. Though when we consider their 52 point destruction of the hapless Butler Bulldogs last week, it does seem that they're at least passably competent on some fronts. The Hazell Riddle will be unraveled further next week as the vaunted Hokies of VT sail into Purdue Harbor. Will the birds have any talons without Brewer? Is there any gobble left in the bear defense? Could this prose get any more strained? Stay tuned. Purdue next up: VPI&SU.
Hawaii at Ohio State // OSU wins 38-0. Can a team be the consensus number one and staunchly refuse to act like it? Urban Meyer's Buckeyes seem hell-bent on finding out. The Buckeyes, in a word, looked terrible yesterday. Was it the short week? The emotional vapors of coming off a big game? Some bad Papa John's? Hard to say exactly. Whatever the cause, the offense sputtered and stalled for most of the first half. Cardale Jones did his level best to make every bad throw possible, and should've been picked off at least twice. The super-sized cannon finished the day 12/18 for a measly 111 yards. Barrett hardly looked better, though his read-option moves were smarter and he seemed less harried in the pocket. Zeke Elliot preserved his 100+-yard-game streak by the slimmest of margins, finishing with 101 on the day.
The Buckeyes survived largely by making plays with superior athleticism, especially given the potency of the Hawaii defensive line against the Buckeyes' stalwart front five. That's all well and good against a middling Hawaii team, but it won't work against MSU. On the plus side, the defense looked potent, snagging two of USC-transfer Max Wittek's passes for themselves, and returning a fumble for a TD. Next week looks to be just as boring, though fits and starts on the offense for a second outing in a row will raise some hackles in Columbus. Ohio State next up: NIU.
WSU at Rutgers // Wazoo wins 37-34. It's safe to say that if anyone's coach should be named for a crippling disaster, it's Rutgers's's's's. Good god, what a debacle. I should preface my disdain for this outcome with the fact that WSU lost to an FCS school last week. Secondly, Rutgers managed to lose this game despite Janarion Grant scoring two TDs on special teams. Somehow, the Rutgers offense was only able to muster 20 points in four quarters against a defense that surrendered 24 points to Portland State in a game that was so rainy that passing was nigh impossible.
Rutgers held a lead late into the fourth when WSU QB Luke Falk marched the Cougs 90 yards in the waning moments to put his team up 37-34 with 13 ticks left. Rutgers couldn't stop him from connecting with River Cracraft in the endzone, despite having 12 men on the field at the time. That was Rutgers' 11th penalty of the day. Two of those yellow hankies brought back RU touchdowns. Combine that dismal stat with three turnovers (2 fumbles and a GaryTurnover) and you get an embarrassing home loss. Janarion Grant was so close to be the hero of the day. Now, he's just helping pick up the pieces. I suppose they're missing that secondary now, given the 478 that Wazoo found through the air. Rutgers next up: at PSU...the first piece of the Triforce of Stink.
Minnesota at Colorado State // Minnie wins 23-20. This game was a defensive grinder for 59 of 60 minutes. Minnesota entered the 4th period with a 3-point lead on the back of two FGs and a TD. The Gopher offense had been misfiring all afternoon, but their defense held the Ram offense to only ten. Leidner converted on a 4th and 6 and took the Gophers ahead for the win with 55 seconds remaining. Then, just as quickly, the Rams found their rhythm and managed to tie the game with a late FG. CSU got the ball first in OT, and on the first play they attempted a dump pass to RB Dayle Dawkins. Dawkins was hit as he secured the ball, and it caromed into the arms of DT Scott Ekpe. Minnesota pounded the ball to the one with Rodney Smith, who picked up 24 yards in 5 carries. Smith finished the day with 21 carries for 108 yards. Leidner was a marginal 23/45 for 233 and two crucial TDs. The best highlight beyond the lineman interception was the redness of Jerry Kill's face. He may not be Minnesotan, but he burns like one. Jerry's team found a way to get it done against a CSU squad that will end up being very good this year. Ugly win, but a win nonetheless. Minnesota next up: Kent State.
Northwestern hosting Eastern Illinois // NU wins 41-0. This was just a laugher. Northwestern came to play, and play they did. Clayton Thorson threw his first career TD pass. He finished the day 11 of 16 for a respectable 156. The Cats didn't need to throw much, as the EIU defense couldn't stop much of anything. Of the Wildcats nearly 500 yards of offense, 344 came on the ground courtesy of Justin Jackson and Warren Long. The hilarity reached a crescendo when EIU QB Jalen Whitlow tried a horribly considered shovel pass as he scrambled to sideline. Northwestern's Matthew Harris made that his second INT of the day, and took it 71 yards the other direction to make sure everyone noticed. Watch out, B1G West...the Cats feel like playing football this year. NW next up: at Duuuuuke.
Iowa at Iowa State // Surprisingly, Iowa wins 31-17. The Cy-Hawk showdown was closer than the final score indicates. The various Iowas were locked at 17 when the Hawkeyes' Canzeri fumbled on the ISU ten yard line, killing the go-ahead drive. Iowa's defense held on the ensuing possession, forcing the Cyclones to kick. After teammate Desmond King returned the punt to the 50 yard line, C.J. Beathard found Riley McCarron in the endzone for the go-ahead TD. Iowa's defense held again. Desmond King decided to help out again with an interception, and Iowa drove to the endzone to seal the game with one final TD. An emotional week came to a close with the Hawkeyes, boasting #9 on the side of their helmets in honor of Tyler Sash's passing, hoisted the trophy in triumph. The passing of Sash and Roy Marble added some extra meaning to a win that has eluded Kirk Ferentz on more than one occasion. Beathard finished with 215 yards and three TDs, while the Hawkeye defenders stuffed ISU for only 63 on the ground. Overall, it was a great catharsis for a team in need of a big win in this game. Iowa next up: Pitt.
Oregon at MSU // MSU wins 31-28. Our MSU "writer" will have a full recap of this phenomenal game this evening, but suffice it to say that whatever Dantonio did to prepare his offense and D-line, it worked. Spartan linemen were all over the backfield, swallowing up runners and making Vernon Adams Jr. run for his life. Sadly, he's pretty good at running for his life and he burned the Spartans on more than one occasion. Which brings us to the the Spartan secondary. In a word: eeesh. The Spartans either make an insane no-look interception, or let the receiver catch the ball unmolested and rumble for ten yards or more. They looked particularly vulnerable on the edge, unable to shed the blocks of Oregon receivers for much of the night. Connor Cook had a few miscues, but looked largely like the senior veteran he is. Nonetheless, it was the MSU defense that saved the day again, holding on 4th and goal in a defensive stand that conjured memories of the Rose Bowl. It was a complete victory for the Spartans over a team that manages to reload year in and year out. Stay tuned for an in-depth recap this evening. MSU next up: Air Force.
South Alabama at Nebraska // Nebby rolls 48-9. This was a case of what you can do versus what you can't. South Alabama actually bested the Huskers through the air, 313 yards to 303. Unfortunately, they could only muster 16 yards rushing against whatever version of the Black Shirts we're seeing now. Tommy Armstrong threw for two TDs and backup Ryker Fyfe added one for good measure. Another three TDs on the ground and a few FGs, and the Huskers enjoyed a nice emotional rebuilding after the heart-rending loss to BYU last week. Not much of a challenge, but then again, that's nice sometimes. UNL next up: at Miami of Florida.
FIU at Indiana // Indiana wins 36-22. Oh, Hoosiers. With their defense back to mostly full strength, Indiana looked to show the rest of the B1G they can play with the big boys. So far...well, you be the judge. The Hoosiers spent the evening epitomizing a bend but don't break philosophy (because not bending it out of the question, one assumes). The Hoosiers held FIU to 409 yards, which doesn't sound great until last week's 659-yard performance against powerhouse Southern Illinois is considered. Any progress is good progress. The Hoosiers didn't put this one away until the waning minutes when, with his team clinging to a 29-22 lead, freshman Jameel Cook, Jr. intercepted a 4th and goal pass and took it 96 yards to seal the win. Indiana's offense will likely never be the same without Tevin Coleman, but Jordan Howard's 27 carries for 159 isn't bad, either. Indiana next up: Western Kentucky.