Wake up and smell the brilliance, folks. The best dumpster-fire comments section of the week returns with a few minor format tweaks. As always, your faithful “writer” is glad to be with you as we recap the whats and wherefores of a weekend of great college football. After all, Marines died on Iwo Jima to give us the right to trash-talk other teams and we dare not squander that right. Let’s get to it.
10 B1G Things
- If you judge the season’s potential by the first halves of football, some of you might think you’re in for a rough year.
- If you judge the season’s potential by the last 30 minutes of those games, some of you will know you’re in for a rough year.
- Parris Campbell has stepped into the role of Jalin Marshall, which is lining up at the H-back position and dropping the ball every chance he gets.
- The Twin Cities are now home to a second Rhoda nobody really wants to watch.
- Wilton Speight’s accuracy isn’t great, but he makes up for it with bad decisions.
- Maryland wrung 51 points out of 482 yards of offense for their first win over a ranked team in 18 tries.
- Janarion Grant proves that singularly great players do kind of matter in college football.
- Every game at Jerry’s World is awful. Every single game.
- Purdue and Rutgers have both clearly put in a lot of work in an effort to reach 13th place.
- The only college football trope with more lives than The Next Percy Harvin® is The Return of the Blackshirt Defense®.
Tom Herman's renovations hitting a snag pic.twitter.com/rvNO2ZB48S— SB Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) September 2, 2017
Maryland at Texas | Terps upend Texas 51-41
The Tom Herman era starts with a whimper at UT, thanks to two QBs who inexplicably seem to have no discernible wrestling experience. Tyrrell Pigrome led the Terps to two TDs through the air and added one of his own on the ground to give Maryland a big lead before Texas came storming back to bring the game within 3 points in the third quarter. It likely seemed as though all was lost for Durkin’s team in the third quarter when Pigrome left with a worrying knee injury and Texas looked poised to finally wrest the lead back from Maryland’s crab claw. Freshman Kasim Hill took the reins and led Maryland to two decisive TDs that buried Herman’s Texas team in a soul-crushing fashion that’s becoming a bit too familiar for folks in Austin. The game wasn’t clean for Maryland, and had they executed better the Terps would’ve owned an old-fashioned blowout. Texas scored three non-offensive TDs. That’s impressive in more ways than one, considering that UT’s Shane Bouchelle threw for 375 yards and managed to find the endzone all of twice. Had Maryland cleaned up those mistakes, this would’ve been a murderdeathkill victory. Takeaway: Houston isn’t the only disaster in Texas right now. You can’t help Texas, so help Houston and Donate to the American Red Cross Houston Relief Efforts
DJ: Maryland did what most assumed was unthinkable and went to Austin and came away with the victory. Not only that, they looked impressive doing it. Maryland went into the half with a 30-14 lead, having given up zero points on defense as both TDs were scored on special teams or defense by Texas. Maryland's defensive line looked much improved from a year before and really gives me cautious optimism for the future under Durkin. Hitting bowl eligibility will still be hard this year but Minnesota and Northwestern suddenly look much more beatable, at least after week 1. Next week is Towson in what I can only hope and assume will be a tune up game on offense prior to taking on Scott Frost and UCF before going into the conference slate. Tyrrell Pigrome looked much more in control of the offense and Ty Johnson picked up where he left off in the rushing game. Jermaine Carter Jr was dominant on defense with 2 sacks, 2 TFL, and many more QB pressures.
Ohio State at Indiana | Buckeyes win 49-21
The first half was abject misery for Buckeye fans, if only because it looked as though Tim Beck had executed some Vulcan mind meld with the OSU offense, turning talent to mush in an oh-so-2016 fashion. OSU’s star-laden receivers showed just how little they’ve grown in a year. For their part, Indiana came out gunning and the reward was a 14-13 halftime lead at home, thanks mostly to Lagow’s tireless arm and Simi Cobbs’ ability to turn average-to-bad throws into one-handed snags. In a development that will become a theme, the Buckeyes adjusted at the half and opened the 3rd quarter with a 3-and-out stop to get the ball back. From there, the talent and execution gap became readily apparent. The Indiana offense exhausted itself against wave after wave of fresh Buckeye bodies. OSU freshman sensation J.K. Dobbins (in for the injured Mike Weber) broke Maurice Clarrett’s freshman debut record with 181 yards rushing in a performance that likely has Weber itching to prove his worth again. Takeaway: Another slow start for the Buckeyes, with talent saving the day. Indiana will ruin some Saturdays around the B1G this year. It’s possible that part of the result was avoiding putting too much on film for Oklahoma.
Candystripes: Someday Indiana will win one of these. Someday.
Buffalo at Minnesota | Gophers squeak out a win 17-7
The maiden voyage of the SS Fleck was more like a shakedown run than a pleasure cruise. The Gophers gave reason for optimism early, with QB Conor Rhoda hitting Tyler Johnson in stride on a beautiful crossing route that went 61 yards for a touchdown just inside the 10 minute mark of the 1st quarter. Unfortunately for Gopher fans, his only other highlight of note was an interception in the endzone. Because Fleck seemingly has not learned from other every team in existence, Minnesota’s QB-by-committee system offered Demry Croft the chance to showcase his talents as well. Neither QB offered much in the way of distinguishing efforts, with their combined passing totals barely cresting 200 hundred yards against a Buffalo defense that will give up 300+ through the air to half of the MAC. Shannon Brooks added a Gopher TD in the second quarter and kicker Emmitt Carpenter managed to connect on one of his three FG attempts to cement an unimpressive evening. The talented Minnesota duo of Brooks and Rodney Smith managed to put up 145 combined yards of rushing. Against Buffalo. Takeaway: Adding Ed Warinner to your offense is the same as subtracting 200 yards.
WSR: I'm pleased that we won, because God knows plenty of coaches have had problems with that. And I'm glad that nobody got hurt, because we don't have the depth at OL or DB to sustain much. Outside of those and the defense holding an overmatched opponent to 69 yards in the second half the entire night was a series of "close, but..." that don't really mean much. Personally I feel that Croft was the better QB and does more for the team going forward, especially in regards to the running game. A couple of the WR stepped up and made a few plays, but we couldn't string together enough to convincingly put away a weak opponent. The return of "Uncomfortably in control" wasn't what I was hoping for from this one.
Washington at Rutgers | Washington wins 30-14
Washington was a playoff team last year. Against Alabama. Let that sink in for a moment and then consider their two-touchdown victory over the artist formerly known as 2-10 Rutgers. Former Louisville QB Kyle Bolin opened the scoring with a TD pass to Janarion Grant, who made his debut after missing last season with an injury. Things were going well for the Knights until they punted from deep in their own endzone and Washington’s Dante Pettis took the kick right back to where it came from to notch his 6th career punt return TD. That blow before the half put Washington ahead 10-7 and the Huskies would not trail again. Bolin hit Dacoven Bailey for a second TD in what was essentially garbage time. Takeaway: Sleeping Giant stirs briefly, hits snooze button.
Utah St. at Wisconsin | Badgers wake up, rout fake Aggies 59-10
Wisconsin needed a moment to shake off the cobwebs in Camp Randall this year, facing Utah State and unexpectedly finding themselves deadlocked at the half with 10 points apiece. As the collective sigh of relief in Madison might indicate, they did indeed shed their malaise and take care of business in typical Badger fashion. There isn’t much to say about this game, other than that after USU struck early following a Hornibrook fumble in Badger territory, it was all Wisconsin. 59 straight points of Wisconsin, to be accurate. As it should have been, given that the Aggies are picked to finish dead last in their division and possibly last in the MWC. Probably the only memorable moment came when redshirt senior and Madison native (and descendant of Barry Alvarez) Joe Ferguson returned an interception 99 yards for a TD. Takeaway: Wisconsin is much better than a bad Mountain West team.
Akron at Penn State | Penn State wins 52-0
Not even worth writing about. Penn State is good and Akron is terrible. Penn State scored a lot of points and Akron scored none. Saquon Barkley ran for fewer yards than J.K. Dobbins against a worse defense. Takeaway: This game told us nothing, as we knew it would, per the Penn State Soft™ scheduling technique.
87Townie: Note to James Franklin - Don't fucking let Barkley return kicks. I don't care what the kid says. I don't care what your special teams coach says. I don't care if it came to you in a heroin and redbull induced fever dream...DON'T LET HIM RETURN KICKS. That was in my top two dumbest things I've seen fielded by Penn State, ever. (The first was any offense Jay Paterno authored).
Penn State came out strong...no slow start this year. The offense is what we expected. Saquan Barkley is a beast. McSorley made some great throws. Mike Gesicki will be one of the top three tight ends in football. The defense got pressure and blanked Akron.
While I saw improvement in the offensive line, there were still negative plays. Plays when the hole never opened or a guy got through. First game jitters. The big standout for me were special teams. We never return kicks for touchdowns. We were like "Fair Catch U". Not this year.
Akron was a good first game. Next week is Pitt. I hope we can perform as well against them.
Aaron Yorke: Penn State dominated in every aspect of the game against Akron. I expected the offense to have a field day, but the defense impressed me with the way it pressured Zips quarterback Thomas Woodson and held him to 71 passing yards. Saquon Barkley needs to stop hurdling so much if he wants to make it through the season in tact, but he looked as elusive as ever. Hopefully that will continue next week against a Pitt team that blew a 21-point lead to Youngstown State before finally pulling away in overtime.
Michigan vs. Florida | Michigan wins 33-17
It bears mentioning that Florida is a bad team made worse by 10 suspensions. Without the ever-interesting Wilton Speight throwing back-to-back pick-sixes, the Gators would not have found the endzone (as evidenced by the fact that they could not find the endzone the rest of the day). Speight finished the day an unimpressive 11-of-25 with one TD (three if you count the ones he scored for Florida). The difference was Michigan’s running game combined with Michigan’s run defense, which churned out 215 yards—a +204 differential against Florida’s rushing production. Neither team did much through the air, with ertswhile Irish QB Malik Zaire unable to lift Florida’s flagging offense to even 200 yards passing. Takeaway: The most-hyped snoozer of the season so far, featuring twice as many FGs as offensive TDs for Michigan’s vaunted Harbaugh-ffense.
Louisville vs. Purdue | LOLuisville limps out of Purdue Harbor 35-28
Imagine a year ago if you were told that Purdue would face a P5 team with a Heisman-winning QB at the helm in their opener. Imagine what you would expect! Imagine being told that same thing a week ago, and your reaction probably doesn’t change. Instead, what we saw was a Boilermaker team that looked sharper, angrier, and more like the Purdue of 20 years ago than we thought possible. David Blough and Elijah Sindelar combined for 291 yards passing, but the Boilermakers only managed 51 yards on the ground. they also surrendered the ball 4 times. While Jeff Brohm has certainly invigorated the Purdue program, it’s important to note that Louisville played as the worst possible version of themselves last night. Five false start penalties in just over 15 minutes of clock time and two lost goal-line fumbles kept Purdue in a game they otherwise would’ve been out of early. The Boilermakers managed to lead 28-25 in the fourth, but as so often happens, the talent gap made up for the failures execution. Takeaway: Signs of life in West Lafayette.
Ball State at Illinois | Illinois blocks a FG to beat a MAC team 24-21
Welp. That’s about all one can say about Illinois football at this point. They’re approaching 8th wonder of the world status in their ability to turn all the football talent in Illinois into something consistently less impressive than Northwestern. There’s no reason to belabor the details of this game. It was, in a word, sad. Illinois scored three touchdowns. Ball State outproduced Illinois offensively 375 to 216. Ball State registered 50% more first downs than Illinois. There is not a single impressive Illinois state. Takeaway: Time is a flat circle. Everything Illinois has ever done, or will do, they’re gonna do over and over and over again.
Thumpasaurus: Illinois is going to lose twelve more games before their next win against Western Illinois on September 8th, 2018.
Wyoming at Iowa | Iowa wins 24-3
Unsurprisingly, an Iowa team exhibited little in the way of offense and managed to fairly comfortably beat a team that literally whiffed on a punt. This looks to be another season where the Fighting Ferentzes will lean on a solid defense to fight their way to a good-not-great finish in the B1G West and another 14 years on Kirk’s contract. Iowa QB Nathan Stanley looked serviceable with a 3-TD showing, including a 45-yard shot to Nick Easley to put the Hawkeyes up 21-3 in the 3rd quarter. Akrum Wadley rushed for 116 yards. The defense held Wyoming to 233 yards. The Iowa offense only bested them by 30 yards. Many people got sunburns. Takeaway: This is the kind of football Iowa is satisfied with, and Stanley looks capable of delivering on that promise.
Stewmonkey: Iowa won by 21 points, completely stymied one of the top NFL prospects, and the Gerg Davis offense is dead. Overall, I'm pleased. The offense still needs some work. 4 turnovers is not ideal. But it was Nate Stanley's first start, and he's a true sophmore. Akrum Wadley is still very good. The OL was shuffled around a bit, starting a RS Fr at LT and missing their best lineman.
That defense, though. The front 7 wreaked havoc all day on Josh Allen. And any concerns on the inexperienced secondary were quelled with Josh Jackson's absolutely stellar coverage and Jake Gervase's nose for the play.
BGSU at Michigan State | Spartans cruise 35-10
There was more than little disagreement about how this game would go, both among the “writers” and the commentariat. Brian Lewerke did everything in his power to settle that question, completing 22/33 passes and accounting for three scores. He also managed to be the Spartans’ leading rusher with 69 (nice) yards. Madre London started the Spartan scoring with a 7-yard TD scamper, and Tyson Smith capped it off with a pick-six. Takeaway: Not a lot learned here, other than to remember that MACtion isn’t always magic.
Anders Krisalonsky: It was a very halting start, and if a Bowling Green receiver doesn't drop a 4th down conversion early in the game that would have given them a 10-0 lead, maybe the course correction wouldn't have come.
But overall a lot of the signs you needed to see to envision a positive season were there. Felton Davis III and Darrell Stewart look the part of a nice receiving tandem, Brian Lewerke showed both poise in the pocket and a sense of when to leave it and make some yards on the ground, and the secondary looked stronger, albeit not against the best passing attack.
The youth movement the staff promised was also in full effect, as MSU played 9 true freshmen. Even if a few of them end up taking a "medical" redshirt due to "injuries," there's clearly a sense of urgency to find the best players regardless of their age.
Oh and LJ Scott please stop fumbling k thx
Nevada at Northwestern | NW wins head-scratcher of the week 31-20
This game is a thing that occurred. In the real world. Somehow, the Wildcats found themselves trailing at the half to a team that Vegas is giving credit for 3.5 wins this year. At home. Northwestern didn’t actually take the lead until 5:28 in the 4th when 7th-year QB Clayton Thorson punched it in for a yard out to go up 24-20. He added another for insurance later in the same fashion. These capped a 352-yard passing day, 237 of which came in the second half. He was essentially a one-man show, as Nevada’s defense under first year coach Jay Norvell held Justin Jackson the Ball Carrier® to 109 yards on 30 carries. Takeaway: Whatever happens/ Northwestern’s got/ A Clay Thorson/ And they have not.
LPW: A win’s a win.
Arkansas State at Nebraska | Nebraska survives 43-36
Nebraska’s victory came on the legs of Tre Bryant, who amassed 192 yards to shove the Huskers just clear of the jaws of defeat. He got no help from the vaunted Blackshirts, who took Nebraska’s upcoming fascination with porosity a bit too literally and allowed Arky State QB Justin Hansen to throw at will. The Red Wolf signal caller embarrassed the Husker secondary, racking up 415 yards and three scores. Had he not overthrown his receiver in the endzone on the game’s ultimate play, the “sellout” crowd would’ve been treated to a 5th quarter. Hansen completed 46 of 68, which set his school record and came one shy of owning the Nebraska opponent record as well. Takeaway: Bob Diaco got replaced by Randy Edsall for a reason, folks.
BigRedTwice: There were some parts of this game I enjoyed. Our QB, did a thing where he threw the ball, a lot, and frequently with great beauty and accuracy. I dunno, still not sure what I watched. I also thought Tre Bryant's exuberant performance was a lot of fun.
Then there was the defense. I don't want to freak out too much after the first game...but it was pretty terrible. Hottie McDCoordinator has a LOT of work to do.
And though we usually only react to our own teams, Maryland deserves commendation. Beating Texas is one if the most purely good acts a team can do. Embarrassing them with a new, vaunted coach at home? The Lord's work. Ya done good, Terps.
DeadRead: As is its wont, Nebraska nearly stole defeat from the jaws of victory at Memorial Stadium last night. Nebraska somehow prevailed 43-36 over Arkansas State. The Cornhusker offense functioned well, with a (gasp) relatively proficient passing attack. Trigger man Tanner Lee completed sixty percent of his throws, and Tre Bryant led the rushing attack with 192 yards. The real story was defense. Specifically, Nebraska's lack of one. The Red Wolves peppered the Husker D with an assortment of slants, curls, and bubble screens. Visionary DC McDreamy countered with a bold sieve concept. To Arky State’s credit, they executed well. To Nebby’s detriment, they couldn’t stop ARKY FUCKING STATE. Nebraska’s special teams giveth (99 YD KR TD by JD Spielman) and taketh away (63 YD TD PR and failed onside kick recovery). It will be an interesting trip to Eugene this coming week, and it could be a perilous season in the land of corn. We will take the W, nonetheless. Welp.