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Sunday Morning Coming Down / / Week 1

Reunited And It Feels So Good

LSU v Wisconsin Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Ten B1G Things

  1. The new look Minnesota offense is largely indistinguishable from the old look Minnesota offense. One assumes that there’s merely a renewed sense of disappointment surrounding Leidner.
  2. What’s a Furman? Tougher than it looks, apparently.
  3. I didn’t know what the old OSU offensive yardage record was, but the new one is 776 yards.
  4. If Northwestern loses "NU" to Nebraska, it stands to reason they lose the "-western" to WMU after getting clowned by PJ Fleck’s Broncos.
  5. Harbaugh sure went through a lot of effort to hide the fact that he was starting the guy who was the backup last year at QB.
  6. New OC, same old Penn State
  7. Chrome on white: great for Cadillacs, terrible for Hoosiers.
  8. How’s it taste, Dave Aranda?
  9. Kirk Ferentz abbreviates Miami "MIA". The Hawkeye defense mistook it for the gameplan.
  10. Mike Riley made Husker fans cry for a different reason in this year’s opener. A truly touching tribute to a young man who left a mark though he left us too soon.

The Nitty Gritty

Indiana at Florida International | IU wins 34-13

The B1G’s opening salvo looked like it was a few bags short. Oddly, it was Indiana’s newly minted competent defense that kept them in this game early (and ultimately made the score look less troubling) thanks to two pick-sixes and a safety. FIU out-passed the Hoosiers, but the chrome-on-white swarm stifled the Panthers’ running attack. Indiana mounted a balanced campaign, splitting their 480 yards of offense nearly right down the middle.

Candystripes’ take: Indiana found a defense (maybe), and the offense will probably get better than what we saw in the first half plus. It could have been better; it also could have been a lot worse. Take the W and move on to Ball State.

Oregon State at Minnesota | Gophers win 30-23

After numerous assurances that Minnesota is chock-a-block full of all-B1G talent, the Gophers looked very much like...well, the Gophers. Future first round draft pick Mitch Leidner displayed his now trademark inconsistency, going 13/26 for 130 yards. The notable bright spot was Rodney Smith, who racked up 125 yards rushing. The Gopher defense made a name for itself, but only because they managed to have not one, not two, but three players ejected for targeting. Tracey Claeys is looking less like a smart hire and more like a bad knee-jerk reaction, like smashing a mosquito on your nose.

WhiteSpeedReceiver’s take: We won. It wasn't convincing due to some pretty big mistakes, but it was a win.

Furman at MSU | MSU wins 28-13

Sparty didn’t exactly answer many questions about their prospects with this game. If anything, they created more. For those who don’t know, Furman is an FCS squad coming off a 4-7 season. Somehow, MSU found itself nursing a 21-13 leader with under 12 minutes left in the game. Furman had a chance to tie it up following an O’Connor interception, but returned the favor of the turnover. MSU tacked on a final TD to make it respectable. It’s hard to say much about this team, but we should know more when they take on Notre Dame after a short week for the Irish.

AK’s take: Not an inspiring season opener, but not too far off from what I might have expected for MSU, frankly. Rebuilt lines, new receiving corps, new QB...there were some high points, like Vayante Copeland, Monty Madaris, LJ Scott, and Andrew Dowell, but also some low points. Neither line looked appropriately dominant against inferior competition, Tyler O'Connor really needs to not stare down his receivers so much, and Darian Hicks still, as a senior, hasn't picked up the turning-one's-head subtlety of coverage. That, in particular, is not an aspect of the Notre Dame game I'm looking forward to.

Bowling Green at Ohio State | Buckeyes roll 77-10

Things started ugly, with J.T. Barrett chucking a brutal pick-six to put Bowling Green on the board early. The ugly didn’t stop after that, it merely switched sides. Barrett and the Buckeyes proceeded to rack up yardage that shattered a record that had stood for 86 years, totaling 776 yards. Barrett finished 21/31 for 349 and RS FR Mike Weber showed promise of being a worthy successor to Zeke.

GF3’s take: Offense, how I missed thee. Curtis Samuel is starting to look like the same game-changing player Percy Harvin was for Meyer at Florida. Many bright spots, though I hope this laugher didn’t cost us DT Tracy Sprinkle for the season. Also, I miss Tom Herman like the deserts miss the rain.

Hawaii at Michigan | Michigan wins 63-10

Khaki wasn’t a popular choice in the islands before, and today didn’t do anything to help the cause. Michigan appears to have changed their fortunes in the backfield, recruiting a running back with actual talent in Chris Evans. Aside from worst-kept-secret Wilton Speight throwing a pick on the first toss of the year, the Wolverines were coldly efficient in dispatching the Warriors. It’s a unique challenge to take on a team that has traveled across 17 time zones in one week, but Harbaugh’s squad was up to the task.

Graham Fillers’ take: (Reverential silence)

Western Michigan at Northwestern | WMU wins 22-21

Welp...ESPN willed it into existence. The Wildcats got row, row, rowed into a 0-1 start. The sad part is that the Wildcats’ offense looked at least serviceable, amassing 319 yards. It was the defense that let the Cats down. WMU posted almost a hundred yards of production beyond Northwestern. The Broncos’ Zack Terrell went 26 for 36 as his offense played keep-away with the ball for 39 minutes of clock time. A crucial fourth down TD run by WMU put the boys in brown ahead, and Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson sealed the Wildcats’ fate with a goal line fumble. The only bright spot was Justin Jackson, who hung 124 yards on the Broncos and accounted for all three TDs.

MNWildcat’s take: We got thoroughly manhandled by a MAC team at home. Period. The Broncos gained over 400 yards against our supposedly vaunted defense. Anthony Walker, hyped all offseason with a stupid nickname, was non-existent, especially in pass coverage. The defense consistently failed to set the edge.

Clayton Thorson wasn't too awful, but that late fumble shows the same problems are still there: He occasionally tries to do too much with the ball in bad situations, and this is what we get. Ultimately I don't care what the review showed, because you can't be in that situation. So we've wasted a great game from Justin Jackson and now a bowl game is the flat-out goal. Super.

Howard at Maryland | Maryland chuckles 52-13

There isn’t much of interest to say about this game, given that Maryland was up 35-0 at the half. So I’ll offer this: the term "buffalo" is a misnomer for the animal that Howard has correctly chosen as it mascot—the American Bison. It’s a corruption of the French word boeuf, meaning cows or bullocks. As for the football game, this is was as big a mismatch as the B1G had all weekend. Maryland thoroughly overmatched a Howard squad that won one game last year. The Terps dominated all phases of the game, including returning a blocked punt for a TD. Perry Hills—a former standout high school wrestler—threw for 126 yards as the leader a three-QB bullpen. Oddly, no Maryland runner eclipsed the century mark. Five different runners hit 48 yards or more, though. The Movement is alive at DJ Durkin’s Maryland, and it spreads the love around.

The Non-Durkin DJ’s take: So, let's start off by prefacing all of this that Maryland played Howard.  So there is that factor in all of this.  That being said the start of the DJ Durkin era was great.  Maryland rolled in the 1st quarter to a 28-0 lead, keeping Howard off balance on the play calling  and blocking a punt and returning it for a TD.  The defense held Howard to three total first downs in the half, all on the last drive of the half for Howard who couldn't get anything going.  Durkin played by last count 13 total true freshman the entire game and they weren't silent contributions either.  Lorenzo Harrison had 60+ yards rushing and a TD, Jake Funk the same, and Tino Ellis gave major time at corner with the starting defense due to JC Jackson being a late scratch.

There were some areas to improve, always, but it was a great start.  The defense definitely needs to work on wrapping up as the Howard RB was able on more than one occasion break out of arm tackles that were sure losses in the backfield.  I loved the pace of the offense but Perry Hills I don't think attempted a pass more than 10 yards.  Teams will pick up on that if that remains the case and sit up on those long WR screens and quick outs to the RB.  That being said the play calling was great and I can't wait to see how the team progresses this year.  For one week at least it looks like Maryland made a home run hire in Durkin.  The playing time the freshmen received is a big plus in recruiting for the early PT sell and the way Durkin worked in the freshmen it allowed them to contribute and not have to worry about messing up.  Win win.

Eastern Kentucky at Purdue | School that doesn’t exist wins 45-24

Somehow Purdue manages to win big and look bad doing it. It’s only by the grace of some heavenly being that EKU turned 400 yards of offense into only 24 points. Well, divine intervention and some gross incompetence. Purdue was leading 14-0 when EKU attempted a Rube Goldberg throwback pass that developed at the speed of smell, allowing defensive lineman Gelen Robinson to intercept the pass and rumble like the team’s mascot to the endzone—an 80-yard run that may well have killed the young man. The other highlight was the debut of Maty Mauk, the Mizzou problem child, for the Colonels. He welcomed himself back to the field as a grad transfer, tossing a pick that set up Purdue’s second TD. His gaffe marked one of four EKU turnovers. For Purdue, David Blough looked much the same, racking up decent yardage by way of dozens of attempts. You wouldn’t think a team would need 43 pass attempts to beat EKU, but then again...Purdue. The Boilermakers have now won 13 home openers in a row. That’s great, but it doesn’t mask the fact that Purdue was leading an FCS opponent by 10 points in the fourth—oddly, only the second worst B1G lead over an FCS team in the last period this week.

Baba’s take: Purdue is still undefeated against FCS teams, which is something that not everyone can boast about. The first half defense was shaky, helped out by some turnovers. In the second half, the defense clamped down and looked alright. Offense was pretty good in the first quarter, then had a rough spell that lasted until the fourth quarter. Blough overthrew a couple of deep routes that would have been TDs. Markell Jones looked good running the ball.

I can't really draw any conclusions from this game, other than I'm glad the Boilers didn't lose.

Miami U. at Iowa | Iowa goes through the motions, 45-21

The game was never in doubt, which may be why Iowa looked as disinterested as possible for the entire second half. Wadley and Daniels combined for 204 yards on the turf, bruising their way to four scores. The Long Legend adding to his mystique, throwing for one more as part of a 192-yard performance on only 13 completions. The story of the day was defense, or more particularly how Iowa can fit pictures of all 11 starters on a milk carton. The Hawkeye defense looked flummoxed all after afternoon by a MAC team that won only three games last season. In the battle of the raptors, the Redhawks actually out-gained the Hawkeyes 424-404 on offense. Not helping Iowa’s situation was Josey Jewell. The linebacker and team captain got himself ejected early for a brutal dirty hit on a punt return. All told, the Hawkeyes looked like the Old Kirk product we’ve come to know. Lots of running, some downfield passes, and solidly vanilla flavor throughout.

Stewmonkey’s take: The Iowa offense won the day, covering for a bit of a shaky defense, which is quite the reversal of roles at Iowa.  Beathard, Wadley, Daniels, Vandeberg, and Smith all looked great.  The OL opened up some good holes, though missed protections a few times in passing.  The defense gave up too many sustained drives, with the little pressure from the DL and the Miami QB completely focusing in on Mabin's side of the field.  They did create some turnovers, though, but those aren't very sustainable.  Overall, it was a mostly boring win over an outmatched opponent, but there's definitely stuff to improve on.

Al Namias IV’s take (because MORE IOWA): Iowa hot taek: okay, I'm confused. Iowa offensive playmakers excelled. Beathard, yeah, he was great, but Wadley and Daniels at running back were superb and VandeBerg at receiver was also solid. Also, true sophomore receiver Jerminic Smith was surprisingly impressive. But the tight ends were almost absent, and the offensive line let an average MAC defensive line get far too much pressure on CJ. And the best player on the defense was...redshirt freshman defensive end Anthony Nelson? Meanwhile, overall the defense was a little worrisome, and the offense won the day. Is this the Iowa I know and love? And hey, how about that backup quarterback situation?

CreightonM’s take (seriously...a third Iowa writer): Stew and Al covered it all. Pass protection needs work. Iowa had trouble covering 4 and 5 receiver sets. I was glad to see a lot of younger guys get some work at the end of the game. Yes the game was boring, but it when you play a MAC team, you probably want the game to be boring. Lots to work on for our next game against....oh who remembers? Grinnell right? Yes. Lots to work on against Grinnell College.

Kent State at Penn State | Penn State reassures no one, 33-13

Despite the off-season talk of improvements on offense, PSU looked much like the PSU of last year. The Nits led only 16-13 at the half and 26-13 headed into the 4th against the famously anemic Kent State Golden Flashes. Newly anointed QB Trace McSorley completed barely more than 50% of his passes. Strongest RB on Earth™ Saquon Barkley edged over 100 yards on 22 carries. Kent State’s front seven played havoc with the PSU offensive line early, but McSorley capitalized on downfield opportunities—including a 30-yard TD strike—and made hay on the ground for himself when Barkley was bottled up. The Lions started slowly overall, but their defense stuffed the largely hapless Golden Flashes early and often, though not without breakdowns. Another year, another season of questions for Coach James Franklin, though this one is looking like it might be a make-or-break for the former wunderkind.

87Townie’s take: Well, Penn State looked rusty through most of this game. The defense played flat at times, allowing Kent State to rip off chunks of yards. The secondary looked hesitant and allowed some easy catches. Not what I wanted. On offense, we have a new quarterback. While he stayed upright through most of the game, he also threw off his back foot and short on his longer routes. He also kept the ball often, leading to several collisions. I am not a fan of this kind of running quarterback. Hopefully, in the future. he realizes that on third and short, Saquon Barkley will get 1 yard 9000 times more often than he will. The good news is conditioning. The defensive line looked fresh in the fourth quarter, running around in Kent State's backfield and blowing up plays. The bad news is that this team looked rusty. I know we're holding some stuff back before we go to Pitt next week, but damn. That wasn't inspiring. The ugly...poor tackling, stupid mistakes on defense and a lack of big plays on offense. I'm officially concerned.

Rutgers at Washington | Rutgers shames the B1G, 13-48

The Scarlet Knights are a sleeping giant, set to rise from the ashes with Ash #coachpun. Such has been the off-season ballyhoo from the Rutgers cognoscenti, who have reminded us time and again that things at Rutgers are changing. Hey, I get it. I am am ARMY fan. These things take time. This, though...this was bad. Rutgers only managed 304 yards of offense. That doesn’t sound so bad compared to Washington’s 380 yards, but the Huskies also held onto the ball and found the endzone. Both teams were abysmal on 3rd down, converting only 25%, but Rutgers also had 75% more third downs in the game. Rutgers also surrounded a kick return for a TD. Overall, this game showed how rough it will be to build Rutgers into a competitive team. Caveat emptor, Chris Ash.

Zuzu’s take: 34-3 at the half. Wasn't surprised. Heart was low, didn't think it could sink further. But there was a whole other half!

Murray State at Illinois | Lovie kicks the door open, 52-3

How do you like Lovie now? The Illini ran Murray State off the field—literally. Posting 287 yards rushing from a stable of five different backs. Wes Lunt did his level best to keep up, launching 226 passing yards of his own. The Racers stood literally no chance against an athletic Illinois defense. The same front that gave Ohio State fits in the trenches last year held Murray State to -10 yards rushing. Their offensive total for the day tipped the scales at 165 yards. True domination by an Illini team who deserves some nice things for once.

Thump’s take: Illinois performed as expected against a bad FCS team. There was little to learn, other than that the defensive line is great and the crowd loves Lovie Smith. Let's see what happens next Saturday night.

Fresno State at Nebraska | Nebraska plucks a big win and your heart strings, 43-10

A slow burn turned into a sweeping prairie fire as the Huskers turned it on late against a Fresno State team that probably looked like a good opponent in 2009. Tommy Armpunt completed only 5 passes for 108 yards, but the running game carried the night with 292 yards. Armstrong did add a 57-yard TD bomb to Alonzo Moore for good measure. The highlight of the night was Mike Riley’s brilliant tribute to punter Sam Foltz, who died tragically in a car accident this summer. The Huskers lined up with 10 men in punt formation, leaving the punter spot conspicuously vacant. The Huskers held firm until the clock expired, taking a five-yard penalty and the composure of most people in attendance. The crowd cheered like mad for a young life remembered and the teammates who mourned his absence. Truly a class act by Coach Riley.

Jesse Collins’ take: Nebraska has a positive winning percentage for the first time in the Mike Riley era, so let’s go ahead and start there. The tribute to Sam Foltz brought tears to the eyes of people across the nation, and while it’s less than ideal that Wisconsin won, it was cool seeing Rafael Gaglianone paying homage to Foltz as well. As for the game, Nebraska decided this week that they would run the ball down Fresno State’s throat and that’s more or less what they did. Terell Newby may be the starter, but Devine Ozigbo was the workhorse, getting his first 100 yard game as a Husker and scoring twice. Newby definitely held his own as one of the better backs we have. Oh, and don’t look now, but the best of the bunch may be freshman Tre Bryant who has about as fast a first step as I’ve seen. Defensively? Well, we held Fresno State to 10 points, got two interceptions, allowed a lot of 1 on 1 catches, and absolutely clamped down on a bad rushing attack. For a game that could have been much wider in margin if the penalties were cleaned up, I’m fairly happy with the result. On to the next one.

And the one you’ve waited for...

LSU at Wisconsin | Wisconsin crushes hearts, gets sucker-punched, and Lambeau Leaps 16-14

LSU once again showed why reputation opens doors but doesn’t close deals. The Badgers marched into Lambeau, the temple of Dairy State football, as underdogs. Too slow. Not enough talent. No Mad Hatter. They were fodder for the meat grinder, set to be rocked by the #5 team. LSU is a championship contender! I guess the mail must run slowly in Wisconsin, because the Badgers never got the memo. Facing their old defensive coordinator, the turncoat Dave Aranda, the vaunted Wisconsin defense showed exactly why they’re vaunted. Leonard Fournette managed 6 yards per haul (inflated by a 30-yard scamper), but never found the endzone. Brandon Harris—the latest in a long line of LSU QBs who can’t really QB all that well—offered a paltry 131 yards to his team’s efforts. He was generous with the turnovers though, including a back-breaking pick that sealed the Bayou Bengals’ fate. His Wisconsin counterpart, Bart Houston, took over the role of the ever-maligned Wisconsin QB with a 205-yard performance of his own...and 2 INTs. The story of this game was, for the most part, great defense and abysmal quarterbacking. To wit, the combined QB rating for both signal-callers was 40.1 (Eww).

Suffice it to say, Les Miles is starting his last season in Baton Rouge with a loss, punctuated by one of his shitbag linemen (who couldn’t block a blitzing linebacker all night) taking a pathetic cheap shot at D’Cota Dixon. It’s been fun, Les. Don’t let the doorknob hit ya...