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Sunday Morning Coming Down // Week 1

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Like So Many Pavlovian Dogs, You Come Salivating

NCAA Football: Michigan at Notre Dame Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Ten B1G Things

  1. PJ Fleck is an Escalade guy. In Crystal White Metallic. He traded his QBs for it.
  2. Pat Fitzgerald was one knee injury away from being a high school gym teacher, but here he is beating Purdue
  3. Purdue’s Lorenzo Neal is strong like bull, smart like locomotive
  4. Michigan State is probably an upper-half team in the Mountain West (probably)
  5. Joey Bosa scored more points than Shea Patterson
  6. Chris Ash is 1-0 for the first time ever and above .500 for probably the last time this season
  7. Reports of Lovie’s demise have been slightly exaggerated
  8. In_iana has earned a provisional “d” and could soon become Ondoana
  9. Wisconsin’s game was boring and sort of pointless so I would like to remind you that Paul Chryst said “Turnover Chain my fucking ass” on national TV last season.
  10. sHeA PaTTeRsON mAkES MiCHiGAN a cOnTENdeR
  11. Nebraska and Akron will begin in 30-45 minutes
  12. What if Joe Moorhead actually was the brains of the operation?
  13. Kirk is now Iowa’s wins leader...only took like two decades
  14. Michigan has now lost 17 consecutive true road games against ranked opponents

The Rundown

New Mexico State at Minnesota | Gophers down the...(checks notes)...Aggies 48-10

Playing a walk-on freshman QB is bold move for the Schtick King of the Prairie, but it’s not as though he was spoilt for choice. One the one hand, Annexstad threw for 220 yards. On the other hand, he lost a fumble deep in his own territory and completed 48% of his throws against the weakest defense he’ll see until Illinois. Rodney Smith ran for over 150 yards, at 6.4 ypc—which is only 0.3 shy of the average Gopher pass.

WSR: t was really nice to watch the Gophers smother the life out of an inferior opponent instead of letting them hang around. Rodney Smith looked really good picking up 158 yards on the ground and moving into 7th all-time for the Gophers. Zach Annexstad looked solid in his debut, and is already better than what we had at the QB spot last year. He’s going to make some mistakes (like taking his eyes off a snap) and may cost us a game this year, but he’s fun to watch and not shit. It’s a great change of pace. WRs had a few drops, but Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman actually know what they are aware of what they’re supposed to do in a football game. The defense did a great job just tormenting the Aggies all night, and I’m still happy a couple days later having just watched the game again. We’re not great and we’re not shit, which is good enough for week 1.

Northwestern at Purdue | Purdue suplexes defeat from the jaws of victory, 31-27

The best story of this game was Rondale Moore, who by all estimates is the most impressive Boilermaker since that guy who walked on the moon. With 11 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown, he was absolutely the core of the Boilermaker offensive attack. On the other hand, Lorenzo Neal shows why he isn’t wearing purple with the biggest of lame-brain moves, in the form of a body slam delivered to Jeremy Larkin as he was already stopped and going down. His buffoonery handed Northwestern a first down and sealed Purdue’s fate. On the plus side, they have to be contending for some sort of “0-1 to start conference play” lifetime achievement trophy by now. Northwestern looked only slightly less clowneriffic, limiting their QBs to snap counts as though they’re worried about trade-in value. Overall, not a great looking game all around. But, it’s the West. What do you expect?

MNW: You read what I had to say about Pat Fitzgerald trying to think himself out of a possibly-comfortable win at Purdue. That’s terrifying in and of itself.

If this dumbass “pitch count” remains a thing in Big Ten play, put Northwestern in as a big question mark. TJ Green still has a bit to prove under center, and Claytom Thorson can’t run like he used to (per his own admission). Jeremy Larkin looks more than capable (and the wildcat formation we saw could be a fun wrinkle in 2018) to replace Justin Jackson the Ball Carrier, and the defensive line is gonna be fine with Joe Gaziano and Samdup Miller leading the charge.

The defensive secondary...looks exactly like the unit that got blown the fuck out by Duke last year. Which is fine, because...

Boilerman: I can’t complain too much about what Purdue put out there against Northwestern. The Boilers fell behind by 14 twice and managed to fight back into the game. There’s plenty of stuff to clean up. Elijah Sindelar had two god-awful picks and stared down his receiver on the third. The defense is going to be a work in progress. And that Lorenzo Neal penalty. Inside Ross-Ade it didn’t look bad but watching the replay, it was an easy call and was just plain stupid. On the plus side, Rondale Moore is the real deal and has speed that hasn’t been seen in West Lafayette in quite awhile.

USU at MSU | Dantonio Refuels the Skepticism Machine 38-31

Remember two seasons ago when MSU went 3-9? And then last year when the besotted masses claimed he should be Coach of the Year for wiping his own feces off his shoe? Welp, here we are not even a year later and Sparty is barely surviving a Mountain West team they’ve had all summer to prepare for. On the bright side, Lewerke completed 23/33 for 287 yards and 2 TDs. Somehow, the entire stable of MSU running backs amassed 165 yards. Against Mountain a West defense. Nine penalties and two turnovers didn’t help things. Grumble grumble disrespect.

Andrew Kosciuszko: Did any of you out there in the Empire pick MSU to cover in week 1? If so, man oh man you are some idiots. To be clear, it never should have been this close. Hopefully Utah State will eventually justify this uncomfortable result, but this was not what you want to see from a team returning so much production. Bad turnovers, really bad offensive line play for most of the game, unfathomably bad execution at the goal line, all salvaged by heroic WR play, Joe Bachie being a damn spider monkey, and some big moments from Lewerke, who certainly needed to make up for a pick-six that turned the game back into a game. I suppose it’s not how, it’s how many, but it’s hard to feel good ahead of a road trip to a PAC-12 opponent next week. Lot of crap to clean up.

OSU Squared | Ryan Day has his day in 77-31 beating of lifeless corpse

This went exactly as you’d expect if you have even a passing knowledge of the history of Oregon State’s program. Highlights include Dwayne Haskins’ rifle of an arm and all things Bosa. Lowlights include another year of potentially underwhelming linebacker play. The good news is that if the linebackers don't improve, there’s no reason to believe linebackers coach Billy Davis will be retained due to some misguided sense of loyalty.

Texas State at Rutgers | Rutgers back their Fulmer Cup win with an actual win, 35-10

Turns out not playing Washington right off the bat makes life in Piscataway seem less bleak. Whatever gets ya there, I guess. Is Texas State even a school? It seems like something you’d hear in a movie about college football. The ESU Timberwolves open the season against Texas State...

Zuzu: The score may look like this was a game that Rutgers fans are happy with, but ohhhh boy we have a ways to go if we are to compete and even match last year's record. The youth of the teams SHOWS.

Kent State at Illinois | Illini outlast KSU to win the Beard Bowl 31-24

I’d say it’s hard to believe that Illinois trailed 17-3 at one point, but nothing about that is hard to believe—except that they weren’t trailing by more at any point. Fortunately, the days of Jeff George Jr. seem to have passed, and something approaching a serviceable QB has entered the fray in AJ Bush. With 229 all-purpose yards, there’s finally some reason for optimism among Illini fans—and there must be dozens of them. The real apple of their eyes should be linebacker Del’shawn Phillips, whose interception sealed the game for Illinois with KSU on the 2-yard-line.

Thump: It’s certainly possible that Illinois is a lot better than this game, but since this game seemed so much like last year’s opener, they have yet to show me anything’s changed. At this point they’d need to rack up 650 yards of offense in a 66-0 rout with no kick OR punt return fuckups next week against Western for me to feel they have a chance to do any better than last year.

Texas at Maryland | LOL Tom Herman you clown, eat shit and live (Maryland wins 34-29)

Broke: “Tom Herman is a snitch.” Woke: “Tom Herman buys lap dances for high school coaches.” Bespoke: “Tim Beck is a boat anchor necklace.”

Good job, Terps. You still killed a kid. But hey, you found a QB! The yin and yang.

Northern Illinois at Iowa | Iowa wins 33-7, crowns Kirk their king for all time

It’s hard to find good things to say about noshing on a MAC cupcake. Good for you, Iowa. Stanley went 11/23, which is...better than 10/23 I guess.

Stewmonkey: That first half was brutal. While Iowa kept NIU of the board, they gave up over 5 yards per rush when NIU would spread out and run the zone read option. The offense was every bit as awful as it was at times last year. Just a terrible half of football, but Iowa was up 3-0. Then the second half started and Iowa just blew the doors off NIU. The run game came to life, even without the starting tackles. They were running 2 and 3 TE sets and mauling the mighty Sutton Smith. And the defense just erased the NIU offense until garbage time against the backups. NIU had -2 yards of offense in the 3rd quarter. Before garbage time the most plays they had in a single drive was 5. And that ended in a fumble. First half Iowa can lose to a LOT of teams, but 2nd half Iowa would easily win the West.

Creighton: I haven’t rewatched the game yet, but my initial impression of this team is pretty positive. The first half was far too conservative offensively and led to a 3-0 halftime lead. Brian Ferentz was much more aggressive in the second half and it paid off. Our running backs are good. The offensive line shut down Sutton Smith and bludgeoned the NIU defense until they barely take the field anymore. The defensive line controlled the entire game whenever they were on the field. The passing game needs to improve, and the penalties need to curbed, but overall there’s much more to be happy about than concerned with. A few individual notes: Toren Young, Ivory Kelly-Martin and Mekhi Sargent combined for 186 yards rushing, with Young in particular having a stand out performance as he averaged well over 10 yards per carry. AJ Epenesa is going to be the kind of pass rushing monster where offensive coordinators will have to choose whether to double team him or let their quarterback take a hit on every play. As expected the tight ends are a strength, and TJ Hockenson was Stanley’s favorite receiver on the day. With the win today Kirk Ferentz, who got his very first win at Iowa against NIU, passed hall of famer Hayden Fry as the winningest coach in Iowa history. Well done.

Indiana at FIU | Midwesterners invade Florida to disdain of locals, 38-28

This was a game that occurred. The Hoosiers overcame a 7-point deficit (big if true) to score three straight enroute to a 38-28 win over Lane Kiffin’s chief rival (if our babysitter’s t-shirt is to be believed). That’s nice.

Candystripes: There’s a lot of things you could say about Indiana’s win over FIU. The offense, after starting a bit slowly, did finally pick it up through the midway point of the game. A little worrying that the defense was unable to keep the Golden Panthers (seriously, that’s their mascot? Wow) from rumbling for 170 rushing yards, but it’s game 1, and there was always going to be a step back from last year’s squad. On the other side of the ball, both IU quarterbacks were able to move the ball, which should be helpful moving forward, though it’s unclear how much freshman Mike Penix will actually be called upon. Morgan Ellison is gonna be missed for however long his suspension may last, though IU sent a few running plays through the wide receiver corps as well, so it may just be all hands on deck. Could it all have gone better? Maybe, but a win is a win is a win.

WKU at Wisconsin | Wisconsin does Wisconsin things, 34-3

Well that’s that. Taylor did Taylor things (lots of yards). Hornibrook did Hornibrook things (kinda good). Too much red all around. WKU heads home with fatter pockets and not much else.

MC ClapYoHandz: Generally solid opener for Wisconsin and this one was never in doubt. Jonathan Taylor is still Jonathan Taylor, Taiwan Deal looked fantastic, and Alex Hornibrook was one passing yard shy of his career high set in their last game against Miami Fluoride. That said, as suspected, some proverbial brakes need to be proverbially pumped on all this playoff/national championship media hype. The passing game doesn’t look all that dynamic with the starting WRs gone, the defensive line looked to struggle at times with its starting DEs hurt, and the secondary notably broke down on an explosive pass play that will go for a touchdown against better teams. I’m comfortable arguing this as a Top 10 team, but some things need to be cleaned up to justify any playoff hype.

App State (America’s Team) at Penn State | Penn State escapes permanent ignominy 45-38 (OT)

Pay no attention to that fraud beneath the headset. For all the jokes we (I) made about Joe Moorhead and the consistent underwhelming use of Saquon Barkley as a pass catch, it appears that they might’ve actually been the magic sauce. Trace McSorley is the only thing Penn State has in terms of a real threat on offense, and it showed yesterday. Though App State’s Zac Thomas had better numbers, McSorley made the throws when it counted. Penn State’s defense looked pretty abysmal in regulation, surrendering nearly 450 yards to a Sun Belt offense. Oh what could have been on the 11th anniversary...

87Townie: Penn State has a long way to go to be the #10 team in the country. We miss you Joe Moorhead.

The team hasn’t found the talent to replace the wide outs that left. Blacknall, Hamilton, and Gesicki all had sure hands. If you hit them, they almost always came up with the ball. Not so this year. Juwan Johnson is the new #1 receiver. He dropped several passes. The tight end was almost a non-entity in this game.

The offensive line is not good. It may be better than last year. But it is far from good. App State lived in our backfield. They flushed McSorley with three-man rushes. That’s unacceptable.

The defense isn’t ready yet. Blown coverages. Missed assignments. Terrible tackling.

Special teams looked awful. They gave up a touchdown. Gave up an onside kick.

On the plus side, McSorley is a great quarterback. He put the ball in good spots. He managed the game. He ran hard. I like him a lot.

And I’ll give you two names to watch out for. They are stars in the making. Ricky Slade, #4, is a freshman running back. He had six carries for 39 yards and a touchdown. But he broke a 27 yarder. The other guy is K.J. Hamler, #1. Another freshman, Hamler will break a kick return for a touchdown this year. He’s fast, he’s tough, and he’s confidant.

Credit Appalachian State for a great game. They played hard. They had a great plan. And they damn near beat us. Work hard this week fella’s, you’ve got a long way to go.

Michigan at Notre Dame | Michigan wakes up the echoes LOLing her name, losing 24-17

“Shea Patterson is (insert predicate about how Michigan is now a 12-headed offensive beast because of the latest rent-a-QB here).” We heard enough about the wonders of Shea Patterson this off-season to choke a Brady Hoke. “The missing link! The silver bullet for Harbaugh’s elephant gun! Look out Big Ten (shit-eating Musburger voice) BACK.” Apparently “back” is a QB rating of 32.2 and one offensive touchdown in four quarters. To be completely fair, there’s a reason all the hype was about Michigan’s stolen QB and not about its offensive line. Patterson looked like one of those idiots who flees his car after being chased by the cops, only to be run over by a do-gooder in a minivan while the news helicopter films it. Michigan is now 9-9 in their last 18 games, and hasn’t beaten a ranked road opponent since 2006.

LGHF: One of the least entertaining UM ND games I can remember. Michigan’s offensive line looks SCARECROW TRAFFIC CONE SWINGING GATE bad. ND went conservative because Michigan’s offense was impotent; hence closer score than box would show. UM defense looking not bad at all, Chase Winovich wooooo lordy. Going to be a long season for the Wolverines.

And Shea - outside the pocket, good.

Inside pocket, bad.

Akron at Nebraska | Canceled

Silly Huskers...Akron only plays Penn State.

BRT: After being delayed forever by lightning mere seconds before kickoff, Nebraska fans were forced to confront an uncomfortable and unexpected truth: God, it seems, turns out NOT to be a Husker fan after all.

Dead Read: Nebraska remains undefeated.