clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Sunday Morning Coming (Mostly) Down

We still have Rutgers and jNW to look forward to

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

First, a note from your beloved writer...

Good morning, sports fans. I hope you’ve all stayed healthy, happy, and fulfilled in the off-season—that your lives have been blessed with moments of excitement, meaning, and peace in equal measure. It is almost unfathomable to me that this is my 10th year writing SMCD. Where do the years go? Time is a thief. An entire decade of stirring the pot on Sunday mornings as we lick our wounds. I like to think this has been more good than not for all of us. If nothing else, i’ve added “punching in” and “rock or something” to the lexicon of B1G football fandom. Perhaps my greatest—and only—literary achievements.

This is just to say thanks. Thanks for your readership, your good humor, and your dedication to this sport that—if I can be a bit of an old codger for a moment—is changing before our eyes in ways that may at times challenge our ability to see in it all the things we love. I hope we can cling to the things that have made the B1G such a special place. Script Ohio. The M Club Supports You banner. ANF helmet stickers. White-outs. Jumping Around. Purdue ruining nice things. Trouble with the Snap. Wishing it was 10 degrees colder and snowing. Beating the piss out of Notre Dame. And most of all, you: proud midwesterners...both the great diaspora, and those who still make the most misunderstood and underestimated part of America their home.

Here’s to a great season, however it turns out. Let’s a have a fun tenth year together.

Ten B1G Things

  1. We’re back, and I want everyone to bask in what is—for all of us—the last dance with a B1G that resembles the conference we know and love. After this, we’re just Umbrella Corp.
  2. Just a masterclass on cultural fit by Matt Rhule, serving up last-second heartbreak to let everyone know he’s not some cheeky outsider who doesn’t know their history & values
  3. Kims were responsible for 18 of MSU’s 31 points
  4. Michigan blew past a cheeseburger cupcake without their beloved and very honest coach
  5. J.J McCarthy wearing a “Free Harbaugh” shirt says a lot (not anything you’d actually want him to say, mind)
  6. McCord is the clear starter for OSU and brings that special Trent Richardson vision to the offense
  7. Tom Allen always just seems happy to be here
  8. This marked the first time WVU and PSU have played since 1992, having played the Mountaineers for 45 straight years to that point
  9. Wisconsin is said to be trying to throw the ball. To its own receivers. This is not a drill.
  10. Did Iowa just beat the Mormons? Are these the Mormons or are those the other Utah schools? Or are they all? I have no idea how that place works.
  11. Ask not for whom the Harbor tolls, Purdue. It tolls for thee (and for 70,000 white people with dreadlocks currently trapped in a dry lakebed due to flooding, but that’s just funny)
  12. September Maryland has arrived, now with 20% more Tua. Bask in her glow, like a sunset over the Chesapeake
  13. Is Illinois...good? God no, totally kidding.
  14. After a decade plus of being coached by a set of massive teeth wearing a McDavid neck roll, Northwestern has an actual human at the helm. Let’s see how that works out.

The Rundown

Nebraska at Minnesota | Gophering over-Rhules Nebraska’s new era, 13-10

WSR: That was a depressing win. We gotta fix our running game or we’re in for a very long season that’ll still probably have 6 wins because the defense is just outstanding.

BigRedTwice: I think I would have saved myself a lot of time over the years if I just had a set response to this feature saved and available for copy/paste. When Minnesota scored the tying touchdown in the waning moments of the game, the TV commentators exclaimed “And Nebraska fans can’t believe it!” He could not be more wrong - if anyone could believe what we saw on Thursday night, it is Nebraska fans. Because we’ve seen it 25 times since 2018 (I think that’s the number they kept throwing around in the broadcast, I’m too sad and jaded to fact check that, so whatevs.) I truly believe this team is possessed. The Vatican should investigate them. Science should study them. What’s happening here is truly something special.

It’s also depressing AF if you’re a Husker fan, but you already knew that. At least my picks for this week - both outcome and rationale - were dead on. Though honestly, that feels a bit like cheating at this point.

If I’m forced to put aside the outcome, no, not everything was terrible. But that’s been true in other years too, and it’s now to the point that the only thing I’m really interested in is if they can ever be “not terrible” in the last three minutes of a game.

Dead_Read: Nebraska’s defense played pretty well, the offense showed some flashes, and the Big Red actually won the special teams phase. (edited)

Both scheme and talent level are sufficient to win conference games. The Huskers must find a way to conquer the opponent between their ears. I hope to see progress on that front later this season.

I hope, at least, to see it before I die.

CMU at Michigan State | Sparty sticks to the script, 31-7

Asphalt Koldkreamski hot take loading...

ECU at Michigan | Michigan overcomes persecution complex, 30-3

Brian Gillis: Michigan’s recorded a rather underwhelming 30-3 victory over East Carolina in its season opener. A game that gave the lunatic fringe of the Wolverine fan base reason to panic and the more optimistic faction reason to feel good.Michigan didn’t run away from East Carolina the way Oklahoma or Oregon did in their openers, but it’s not as the game was ever in question. The Wolverines were up 30-0 one possession into the second half when they effectively took their foot off the gas.If there was a story of the the game it was quarterback J.J. McCarthy. With East Carolina selling out to stop the run, Michigan took to the air. McCarthy played magnificently, completing 26 of 30 passes for 280 yards as three touchdowns whole looking in control the entire time.Michigan was a bit rusty, and has a ways to go to justify its lofty pre-season ranking, but if the season-opener showed anything, it’s that McCarthy and Wolverines are not the one-dimensional, run-only team that many believed them to be.

RockyMountainBlue: I haven’t seen the fourth quarter yet, but the second string lost it 3-0. Other than that, pretty good? East Carolina was bound and determined Michigan would not beat them with the run, and for the most part, they were successful. Jim Harbaugh serving the first of a three game suspension, and you could tell because Michigan didn’t stubornly ram their heads into 8 and 9 man boxes all day. They let McCarthy throw it around instead (26/30 for 280 with 3 TDs and no picks). Michigan failed to punch it in on 4th down from the 1 late in the third, but it was already 30-0 and they pulled the starters after that. It wasn’t an overwhelming start, but it wasn’t underwhelming either. I’ll take it.

Author’s Note: This was J.J. McCarthy’s signature play of the day...

Ohio State at Indiana | Boring, tepid violence, 23-3*

Credit to commenter DtownK for this absolutely perfect summary

GF3: I once rebuilt a ‘74 Triumph TR6, which I loved with a fondness I dare not express on a family website. One winter, I didn’t run the bowls dry on my fancy SU carbs before putting it away. When I tried to fire it up in the spring, she’d hit on maybe 3 cylinders every other rotation of the crank. So if you didn’t catch OSU yesterday, just imagine that for 3 hours and you’ve pretty much got it. All the pretty parts, just sputtering along after a long layoff.

The greatest privilege of college football fandom is alarmism. I am absolutely pulling all the levers and losing my goddamn mind right now (as is my right). Kyle McCord is cause for concern. People keep seeing “look at Stroud’s first game, he wasn’t good!” Wrong. WRONG. Stroud threw for 300 yds and 4 TDs in his debut. In a loss against Oregon the following week he threw for 500 yards and 3 TDs. As a RS Freshman.

McCord is a junior. He threw for 239 and 1 INT. How much upside do we really think there is at this point? He’s throwing one-yard check-down passes on 3rd & 10. He doesn’t see the field. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. All I’m going to say is that this did not result in a touchdown:

But, I’m trying to be balanced in my assessment, so I’ll add that the o-line is absolute trash as well. LT Josh Simmons is the human embodiment of the “cheeto used as a door lock” meme.

Notre Dame will maul this offense.

MaximumSam: Ryan Day is an absolute master of winning games in a way that looks fine in the final box score and also enrages Buckeye fans. I expected the Buckeyes to look a little rough on offense, and they were. Unexpectedly, the roughness came not from their quarterback, but from their very hit and miss run game. After some stubborn playcalling in the first half, things looked a little better when they got a little more diverse. Pray for me, I have to listen to Columbus sports radio all week.

BuffKomodo: Indiana loses a game to Ohio State. They were down 10-3 going into halftime (should have been 7-3 but I mean, yeah). In a season where EVERYONE expected the Hoosiers to suck real bad, they kinda didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, the offense SUCKED, but they did show flashes. The defense was pretty tough but overall got bailed out by pretty bad QB play from the Bucks. Indiana now goes into a 3 game stretch where they need 2 to stave off the wolves, but could very easily get 3 in a row. We’ll see what happens.

WVU at Penn State | Big East dominance revisited, 38-15

misdreavus79: West Virginia nearly executed their plan to perfection —play keep away ball and make the game close for as long as possible. Penn State was able to withstand the “first game jitters” and eventually poured it on. I’m encouraged by the wide receiver play early, as it looks like the loss of Parker Washington, Mitchell Tinsley, and Brenton Strange isn’t going to sting as much as originally thought. KeAndre Lambert-Smith had 136 receiving and two touchdowns, Liam Clifford (relation), lovingly nicknamed “Little Clifford” had himself a couple of catches as the third option tries to emerge. And, of course, Drew Allar and his 325 passing yards to go along with his 3 touchdown passes cannot be ignored. It’s obviously the first game of the season against a team that might not be that good when it’s all said and done, but it’s still good to see the team put the hammer down as the game went on.

Buffalo at Wisconsin | Gophering over-Rhules Nebraska’s new era, 13-10

MC ClapYoHandz: I’m generally pretty okay with this, though a couple things emerged to keep an eye on. It may turn out that Buffalo is pretty good this year (bowl winner returning all its horses) but I was underwhelmed with the defense at times. Their transition this offseason wasn’t nearly as drastic and I thought they found themselves out of position a decent amount early. Kudos to them for pulling it together moderately well as the game progressed, but better offenses are going to feast if they don’t improve. And the passing game clearly is still a work in progress, flashes of brilliance mixed with some duds. Mordecai made two bad decisions and paid for them both, but was effective downfield when it opened up. I think he’d be looked at differently if Skyler Bell catches the guaranteed TD deep behind the Buffalo secondary.

But while the passing game isn’t ironed out yet, its immediate value is that it is already opening up the run, and that on its own makes for a big improvement on last season. Wisconsin got over 300 yards rushing with almost 8 yards a carry thanks to the lighter boxes the passing game opened up. The offense is already generating 500+ yards and leaving a ton more on the table; I can’t wait to see how it does when the team is more comfortable with it.

Kind of... : Meet the new boss...The much hyped debut of Wisconsin’s Air Raid experienced QB throwing multiple awful picks and two RBs running wild. Buffalo is a solid team and should be in the thick of the MAC race, but let’s not kid ourselves, this was an uneven performance with a downright bad first half. The Badger D really stepped up in the 2nd (the TD drive was 11 yards thanks to a Mertzian INT from Mordecai), but looked shaky against the run on occasion in the first. Chez Mellusi and Braelon Allen combined for 299, but a 89 of that came on 1 play and a lot came in the second half as Buffalo wore down in the heat. Improvement is needed all around. Hard to say too much with confidence after Week 1, but let’s hope the old saw is true and the biggest improvement comes between Week 1 and 2.

Utah State at Iowa | Kirk & the Brain Trust down an Aggies, 24-14

“We’re not that cerebral,” coach Kirk Ferentz joked. “We were just trying to score.” There’s nothing you can say about Iowa that Ferentz hasn’t said already.

Fresno State at Purdue | The Post-Brohm era begins with a fizzle, 39-35

BoilerUp89: It was a close encounter of the athletic kind. As the two teams kicked off the game, the score was tied 0-0. Fresno State won 39-35 to start the season 1-0. Purdue falls to 0-1.

The game went pretty much as I expected with Purdue losing a close one. Fresno State is a good team and Tedford is a good coach. The o-line had some issues (and the depth issues were highlighted with Purdue going to their 4th center). The secondary got beat a lot on 3rd and long. Give some credit to Mikey Keene and Erik Brooks who were phenomenal for the Bulldogs.

The big momentum swing of the game for me was when Ben Freehill pushed his one FGA wide to prevent Purdue from going up two TDs. That left the window open for Fresno State and they capitalized.

I have some complaints about the offensive play calling, particularly in the run game. Get the ball to the edge. Hopefully some linemen can get healthy before B1G play. Defensively I’m hoping that much like the Illini in 2021, the Boilers improve as the year goes on. Incremental improvement from game to game will be very important. After giving up 22, 37, and 42 points in their first three games against Nebraska, UTSA, and Virginia, the 2021 Illini would only give up more than 20 one more time the rest of the way. Learn from this game, correct some things, and prepare for a very important game next week at Virginia Tech. Tech is worse than Fresno in my opinion, but it’s a road game and those are always tricky.

Towson at Maryland | Gophering over-Rhules Nebraska’s new era, 13-10

Larry Wilson: Maryland Summary/Commentary: Lia - Good. 22/33 for 260 yds and 3 TDs. Rushing better on paper than it seemed wathcing live - 4.6 yards per carry for 166 yards. Cameron Edge 2/3 {3rd string QB] looked better than Billy Edwards 2/7 [2nd string QB]. Defense looked very solid. Towson didn’t complete a pass until the 2nd quarter. Coltan Spangler averaged 49 yds per punt and Maryland only punted twice. The kicker kicked it out of the end zone on all but one kick, so special teams looks solid. Penalties - 6 for 54 yards,, which is pretty good by Maryland standards. But two fo those penalites for 25 yards occurred on the same drive. Ugh. No turnovers, but also didn’t force any tunrovers.

Toledo at Illinois | Bert battles back, bottles rockets 30-28

AlmaOtter: Barring the touchdown-scoring first drive, it was not pretty. But it’s an early season win, and it’s a win that would have gone the other way in previous Bert-led seasons (see the 2021 UTSA/Maryland/Purdue games and the infuriating 2022 Indiana game). It’s only one non-con game in, but Luke Altmeyer appears to be the best Illini QB I’ve seen since Scheelhaase. The 4th and 4 desperation throw to Casey Washington while being sacked and nearly horizontal kept the game-winning field goal drive alive and was something in the realm of baffling and astounding. Dumb penalties, less than last year’s stellar defense, but a win. Better to be lucky than good, for at least one week.

He was a high school QB: In true OTE “writer” fashion, I only saw the last 11 seconds of the game. They looked good enough to win over that timeframe. I’ve rooted for Illinois long enough that I know there is no such thing as an ugly win so I’ll take it.

thumpasaurus: The Fighting Illini currently have one win and no losses. That in and of itself is worth celebrating.

Toledo is a dangerous team with a surprisingly good defense for a MAC team. This is no excuse for Illinois failing to maul them in the trenches, but it does explain why I emphatically picked Toledo to cover a 9.5 point spread. There were real problems on the offensive line, the defense clearly misses last year’s veteran secondary and neither back has Chase Brown’s power, speed and endurance (note: and, not or). Luke Altmeyer’s pocket presence left something to be desired and he doesn’t quite have the instinct of where to run that Big Time Tommy did, but he throws a nice ball, has adequate wheels, and saved the game with a quick decision when right tackle Josh Gesky became an absolute turnstile and allowed a free rusher to the quarterback. He heaved it to Casey Washington, who had a step on his man and was able to come up with the ball. I want to see more from the Illini, but Toledo had more AP poll votes than they did. Some shuffling may happen on the OL and the defense will be running some stairs after all the penalties, but Illinois is 1-0, has a talented quarterback and has an offensive coordinator whose team didn’t fall short of the number of points they must average for him to avoid being fired. Not everyone in the Big Ten West can say those things.

Rutgers at jNW | Meh. Pick a score. Rutgers wins Threeve-Gabbagool in OT.

MNW: My team escaped Saturday unscathed, and I for one could not be happier.