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Week Two BIG Ballers – Sparty Sets the Tone Edition

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Week Two of the Big Ten Conference games are done. This is the definitive list of the best players in the conference. And we have to start that off with the outstanding play by the Michigan State Spartans defense this week.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The second week of the 2015 Big Ten Football Season is done. The top of the BIG looked great. I think the best plays that I saw all day happened early in the second quarter of the Michigan State game. The Ducks had the ball, First and goal at the three.

They inexplicably ran the ball into the heart of the Spartan defense four times. Sparty held. Rather, Sparty punished the ducks by stoning their backs again and again. Michigan State looks legit. OSU and the SEC better watch out.

And for a nice dose of schadenfreude, our old frienemy Bert derped hard. Arkansas lost to Toledo 16 to 12. Take a minute to savor that score. The mighty SEC Razorbacks laid low by the Toledo Rockets.


Now let’s talk about some great individual efforts:

Illinois Fighting Illini: Illinois beat the frosting off their cupcake this week, 44-0 over Western Illinois. The defense was stout, holding the fighting leathernecks to 141 total yards. Defensive back Taylor Barton had two interceptions on the day.

Wide receiver Marchie Murdock returned a punt for a touchdown as well as snagging six balls for 51 yards and another touchdown. Senior wide receiver Geronimo Allison caught eight balls for 124 yards.

Indiana Hoosiers: I worried that this game would be harder than folks thought. Turns out it was. FIU led at the half. Indiana’s defense looked suspect, giving up 249 yards and three touchdowns through the air. The ground defense looked better, as it didn’t yield a touchdown.

Jameel Cook Jr. was a bright spot on defense for the Hoosiers. He picked off a pass and returned it 96 yards for a touchdown. On offense, Jordan Howard turned in a great effort for Indiana. He rushed 27 times for 159 yards.

Iowa Hawkeyes: Iowa had a signature win this week too. Excellent job going into a hostile environment and spanking the Cyclones.

Iowa Quarterback C.J. Beathard had a great day, going 15 of 25 for 215 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also had a long run of 57 yards and a TD on the ground. Wide receiver Matt Vandenberg had a career day, catching 9 balls for 114 yards and a touchdown.

Defensive back Desmond King had a nice interception to help put the game away for the Hawkeyes.

Maryland Terrapins: Oh Maryland, Maryland, Maryland. /shakes head sadly. You get to wear the dunce cap this week. Your defense gave up 491 yards passing, 200 yards rushing, and 48 points to Bowling Green. Your quarterbacks were picked off three times. Hell Caleb Rowe only threw three passes and two were to BGSU.

That said, Will Likely had a great punt return for a touchdown. And if your team continue to play this poorly, you "will likely" be a bottom feeder in the BIG.

Michigan Wolverines: Michigan scored a solid win over Oregon State, stomping the Beavers 35 to 7. Harbaugh gets his first win as Michigan’s head coach. De’Veon Smith had an outstanding day, rushing for 126 yards on 23 carries and 3 touchdowns.

Michigan’s defense forced two fumbles, eight punts, and stopped a fourth down conversion. It was a good day for the fighting Harbaugh’s.

Michigan State Spartans: As I said in the intro, the Spartans looked good on Saturday. That defense played really well. Turnovers were key in this game. That’s why I want to highlight the play of the safeties. Sophomore Montae Nicholson, had a big pick, his second in two games. Senior Rj Williamson had one as well.

However, the star on the defense is junior linebacker Riley Bullough. While he didn’t match his three sack game last week, he was critical in the tough line play. He filled holes and hammered Duck’s running backs all game. He currently leads the BIG in tackles.

While he’s the face, his two teammates, linebackers Jon Reschke and Darien Harris are the next two leading tacklers. This is a defense to reckon with, probably top five in the country today.

Minnesota Golden Gophers: This was a good win for the Goofers, who bounced back from a tough loss to TCU last week. It came down to a field goal in overtime to finish off the Rams. If you are a BIG fan, it was a super fun one to watch. In classic BIG fashion, this game featured 18 punts for over 870 yards. /Snore…sorry, where were we?

Oh yeah, running back Rodney Smith ran for over 100 yards on 21 carries. Drew Wolitarsky caught nine balls for 114 yards and a touchdown.

Sophomore linebacker Cody Poock forced a fumble and sophomore defensive tackle Steven Richardson forced another. These guys can ball, so if Minny is on your schedule, watch out for turnovers.

Ohio State Buckeyes: Oh Ohio State, you scheduled Hawaii? They had cute little rainbows on their throwback unis. And like a good cupcake, you rolled them with little trouble.

While all the talk was about the quarterbacks, they didn’t throw a touchdown in this game. But Ezekiel Elliott had a solid day. He ran 27 times for 101 yards and three touchdowns. It’s interesting that the Buckeyes only needed about 360 yards in total offense to put up 38 points.

They got some help from the defense, as junior safety Vonn Bell scooped up a Max Wittek fumble and took it back for a touchdown.

Admittedly, Hawaii wasn’t a test for the Buckeyes. And we won’t likely see one for a while, as the Buckeyes should run the table through the next few games until Minnesota comes to town on November 7th.

Nebraska Cornhuskers: South Alabama rolled over like a good little cupcake. This is what the Huskers needed after losing last week. Tommy Armstrong Jr. looked decent, completing 21 of 30 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns.

Terrell Newby had a good day running the ball, with almost 200 yards on 28 carries. In total, the Huskers generated over 500 yards of total offense.

The defense feasted as well. Junior defensive tackle Kevin Maurice had a strip sack. Safety Nate Gerry picked off a pass. We’ll see if they can carry this momentum into next week’s game against Miami.

Northwestern Wildcats: Northwestern put up 41 points on the way to shutting out its cupcake this week. It’s hard to believe Wildcats’ quarterback Clayton Thorson only threw 16 times (11 completions) to generate 152 yards and a touchdown.

The Cats got it done on the ground too. Everybody but Fitz got to carry the rock during the game. They ran the ball 69 times for 344 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

The defense pitched a shutout and added to the point total too.Junior cornerback Matthew Harris picked off two Panthers’ passes. He ran one back 71 yards for a touchdown.

Penn State Nittany Lions: Hello cupcake…Buffalo was just what Penn State needed to get the Owl taste out of their collective mouths. There were definitely some bright spots in this game.

True freshman Saquon Barkley stepped up to run the ball. In 12 rushes he racked up 115 yards and a touchdown.

The baller that’s really stood out is senior defensive end Carl Nassib. He had three sacks and an interception in this game. And he’s currently the leader in sacks in the BIG.

Purdue Boilermakers: Phew, what a difference a week (and an opponent) makes. Austin Appleby smoked the hapless Sycamores’ secondary for 289 yards and four touchdowns. Each touchdown went to a different receiver. The Boilers racked up 540 total yards (no that’s not punting yards…that’s actual offense).

The defense played well too. Safety Robert Gregory and cornerback Anthony Brown both had picks. We still don’t know much about Purdue, with the loss to Marshall and the win over Indiana State. We’ll know a lot more when they face Virginia Tech next week and then the dreaded Bowling Green Falcons the following week.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights: That was a tough loss on Saturday. But the worst loss happened later that night, when your best offensive baller Leonte Carroo got suspended from the team for an incident outside of the stadium. WTF Rutgers? Seriously?

As we expected, Mike Leach’s air raid offense put up huge numbers against your wrecked secondary. But your guys stepped up big, led by unlikely hero Janarion Grant, who ran back a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns (take that Will Likely). He racked up a school record 339 total yards. That, my friends, is a baller.

Wisconsin Badgers: Oh you Badgers, way to redirect your anger from last week to poor little Miami Hydroxide. Jeez, were 58 points enough for you guys?

Joel Stave threw for three scores, Bart Houston threw for another. Dare Ogunbowale rushed for 116 yards and a score. Taiwan Deal added two more scores.

The Wisconsin defense got into the act as well. Safeties Leo Musso  and Tanner McEvoy picked off two and one pass respectively. Wiscy held the Redhawks to just eight first downs, none on the ground. Hell, they held the Redhawks to just three yards on 24 attempts.

In the end, we don’t know much about Wisconsin. There is a massive gulf between losing to Alabama and crushing Miami of Ohio. However, I’m inclined to think that the Badgers will be a strong contender to win the west.

Ballers of the Week:

It’s hard to argue with Michigan’s De’Veon Smith’s performance for Offensive Baller of the Week. There were some other great players and plays this week. You can tell me how wrong I am in the comments.

On Defense, I’m going to totally homer out on you guys and go with Carl Nassib. I know you don’t believe me, but when he kills your quarterback, you’ll remember this warning.

For special teams Baller of the Week, I’m going to go with Rutgers’ Janarion Grant. He had a career day in a losing effort.

Okay, on to what we’re all good at…drinking beer!

This week, I went away from the trendy microbrews and back to an old favorite: Kirin Ichiban. Ichiban means "first" and "best" in Japanese. It’s my personal favorite accompaniment with sushi and Thai food. For you beer enthusiasts, Ichiban is brewed with 100% malt, hops and water. The beer itself comes from just the first press of the wort.

It’s a crisp, clean beer with an excellent taste. When you foodies take a break from your beard grooming and trendy microbrews, pick up a six of Ichiban and see what I mean.

Your Friend,