This past weekend of college football was mostly good for the Big Ten, except for the parts that were not very good at all. We're looking at you, Maryland. Oy.
Predictably, the confluence of the SEC getting egg on its collective face (Kyle Koster, USA Today) and Ohio State and Michigan State winning impressively has totally changed the narrative on conference strength, and in some much-too-early prognostication, ESPN has decided the Big Ten is the new SEC or something.
We're #1? Two weeks into the season, the conference's most surprising story has to be Illinois sitting pretty at 2-0, and with the #1 scoring defense in the country too. Of course, a win over Western Illinois doesn't necessarily tell us anything, as Matt Silich notes in this By the Numbers column for The Champaign Room.
North Carolina and its up-tempo offense will present a stiff challenge for Illinois, a team looking to go 3-0 since a 6-0 run in 2011 (Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune).
This is weird! Indiana fans are in uncharted territory. The team is currently 2-0 and tied in the B1G East standings with Ohio State and Michigan State. If that isn't weird enough, there's a fair chance the Hoosiers will be undefeated heading into their matchup with the Buckeyes on October 3. Stranger things have happened, but not usually in Bloomington.
Perfect record notwithstanding, the Hoosiers have been struggling on offense. Several drives stalled out against Florida International on Saturday, and both playcalling and execution were sometimes lacking (Zach Osterman, Indy Star). Indiana hopes to fix these issues before taking on undefeated Western Kentucky, already a winner over Louisiana Tech and Vanderbilt.
Closure: Iowa played tough through four quarters to beat Iowa State in Ames for the first time since 2009. The victory capped off a difficult week with the Hawkeyes grieving for former Iowa safety Tyler Sash. Afterwards, the team honored Sash and the Cy-Hawk Trophy:
Iowa's win might be a Pyrrhic victory though, as the Hawkeyes may have lost their best defensive player, Drew Ott, to injury.
WTH was that?? Maryland lost. By a lot. To a MAC team. The Terps gave up nearly 700 yards of offense to Bowling Green in a 48-27 loss that might have been worse than the scoreline suggests. Afterwards, head coach Randy Edsall offered more questions than answers.
Panic may be setting in early at Maryland, as Edsall also announced a change at quarterback: Perry Hills is out, Caleb Rowe is in. He's already thrown two interceptions to go with his single completion, so it's not clear this is a huge upgrade for the Terps (Kevin McGuire, NBC Sports)
Finally, a win!Jim Harbaugh has finally won a game as the head coach at Michigan, a resounding 35-7 victory over Oregon State. The win capitalized on the upside seen in Michigan's opening loss to Utah. Although De'Veon Smith and Chris Wormley were the obvious star performers, Harbaugh credited the win to a team effort.
The Wolverines found an offensive identity over the weekend--power running is back in Ann Arbor, and the defense was solid through most of the game, giving up only an early touchdown ( , Detroit Free Press).
Making a statement: On a night when East Lansing was the epicenter of college football, Michigan State delivered early and often. Though Oregon threatened late in the game, the Spartans were able to hold on for a 31-28 win. The victory moved them firmly into the Top 5 of the latest polls.
The lone dark spot was on special teams as they gave up a touchdown and several long runs.
Finally, a win, redux! The Mike Riley era began with a shock loss to BYU, but the Huskers ran roughshod over South Alabama and that 48-9 win helped right the ship. Terrell Newby rushed 28 times for 198 yards, and Tommy Armstrong managed 270 yards through the air.
This was Nebraska's 875th win, and they're now in an exclusive club with only Michigan, Texas, and Notre Dame having higher win totals. The Huskers may add to that total this week when they travel to Florida to take on their old rival, Miami, in honor which Corn Nation runs same really lame smack.
We're #1, redux: Northwestern posted a shutout over Eastern Illinois, beating the hapless Panthers 41-0. Over two games, the Wildcats have given up exactly zero touchdowns, which means that Illinois and Northwestern are both tops in the nation in scoring defense. Northwestern will look to keep that streak going in Nerd Bowl II, i.e. their game against Duke this weekend.
Meanwhile, Northwestern fans demonstrate they understand "tradition" but not "harmless fun." A student is circulating a petition to end "Put Your Hands Up in the Air" between the third and fourth quarters.
Much ado about nothing: Buckeye fans panicked a little when the offense struggled against an unexpectedly salty Hawaii defense, but good sense was ultimately restored, and Ohio State rolled to a 38-0 victory. The defense, and especially the linebackers, were stellar.
Still, the offense looked shaky in the first half, and Cardale Jones was ultimately benched for J.T. Barrett. Is there cause for concern? Luke Zimmerman says no, and we believe him.
Finally, a win, part trois! The Nittany Lions finally put together a sustained offensive effort in the fourth quarter and beat Buffalo 27-14. The win was a much needed exorcism for Penn State, and fans had much to celebrate, especially with the emergence of Saquon Barkley.
Penn State will stripe out Beaver Stadium this Saturday for the Big Ten opener against Rutgers. A number of schools have done stripe outs this year, and Tennessee even went full checkerboard (Dustin Tackett, College Spun). I have to assume all this is the result of the unfortunate confluence of college football and Instagram.GET OFF MY LAWN.
Getting things done: Austin Appleby had a field day against Indiana State, passing for four touchdowns and helping his team to a 38-14 victory. The defense was mostly solid too, although the kicking game was a bit of a letdown.
Next up, the Boilers host a much-improved Virginia Tech team.
WTH was that, redux: After a tight first half, Rutgers rallied to tie Washington State 20-20 late in the game. But fourth quarter heroics from the Cougars' Luke Falk led to a game-winning 90-yard drive and put the dagger through the Scarlet Knights. The loss left fans strangely optimistic, i.e. at least they're not as bad as Maryland.
There are bigger problems on the banks of the Raritan though. The team's best player, Leonte Carroo, already suspended indefinitely from the team, was arrested on Monday for simple assault. Dark times may be ahead for Rutgers as they take on Penn State this weekend.
We're baaaack! Nothing cures losing like winning. Fresh off a Week 1 loss to Alabama, the Badgers routed Miami (OH) in every aspect of the game and rolled to an easy 58-0 victory. The option game worked nicely with Joel Stave, and this game also saw the emergence of Robert Wheelwright (brother of former Gopher Ernie Wheelwright) as a legitimate threat. He caught six passes for 79 yards and also had two touchdowns.
Ed: Apologies for the lateness of this post. As with all things, I blame the Minnesota Vikings.