The division had a decent showing in Week 2, with some teams continuing to look strong against inferior competition (Wisconsin, Iowa), a team resting (Northwestern), some teams regaining their footing after Week 1 debacles (Purdue, Minnesota), a team getting to half their 2018 season win total before a fourth of the season has been played (Illinois), and one team costing themselves their preseason national title hopes (Nebraska LOLOLOLOLOL).
Overall, it was a decent week for the often-maligned Big Ten West. All signs point to the West still being wild in the coming weeks. Here is a review of the results of the seven participants in this masquerade ball of a college football division. The teams will be reviewed in alphabetical order with up-to-date conference standings to follow.
(Overall record, conference record)
Illinois Fighting Illini (2-0, 0-0)
The Illini were able to overcome a sluggish 1st quarter and put away the UConn Huskies, who rank 122st out of 130 teams in SP+, 31-23. Quarterback Brandon Peters continues to put together good stats for Lovie Smith as he had 227 yards in the air to go with 4 TD passes. Despite being penalized 9 times for 98 yards, the orange and blue from Chambana were able to secure a victory against a Group of 5 opponent. No one is going to throw a parade for the first two victories by Illinois this year but 2-0 is 2-0 especially when you are program in desperate need of victories.
Next Up: Illinois has a home game against another very low quality opponent in Eastern Michigan. The Illini could be 3-0 for the first time since 2011.
Iowa Hawkeyes (2-0, 1-0)
continued non-conference play were the first team in the division to open up their conference schedule with a resounding 30-0 victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Nate Stanley continued his high level of play from the quarterback position with 236 passing yards and 3 touchdown passes. Iowa held Rutgers to 5 first downs and allowed fewer completed passes than punts (9 completed passes, 10 punts for Rutgers). Since the peons from Piscataway are ranked 107th in SP+, I’ll try not to read too much into this game when it comes to tomorrow’s power rankings but, after all, a shutout is a shutout.
Next Up: College Gameday in Ames against their hated in-state rival the Iowa State Cyclones awaits Kirk Ferentz and company.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (2-0, 0-0)
While many will look at Saturday’s results for Minnesota, a 38-35 double-overtime victory against the Bulldogs of Fresno State, as just another close victory against a Group of 5 team for a mediocre Power 5 team, I think the ability to win despite playing well below their ceiling bodes well for the Golden Gophers. Fresno State, ranked 51st in SP+ (one spot ahead of Nebraska), is a much higher quality of opponent than many other conference mates faced. Sophomore wide receiver Rashod Bateman again was the best offensive player for the Gophers, grabbing seven receptions for 105 yards and one touchdown. Despite losing the turnover battle and being on the road, a victory was snatched thanks again to Antoine Winfield Jr.
Next Up: The Gophers play the option-running Georgia Southern Eagles in their final non-conference game of the 2019 schedule.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (1-1, 0-0)
Oh Nebraska. You sweet, sweet children of the corn. The Cornhuskers had a 17-0 lead at halftime in Boulder against their former Big 12 North counterparts. This included a 93.1% win probability. But then Buffaloes quarterback Stevie Montez started doing work and the Nebraska offense stagnated at all the wrong times, allowing Colorado to secure a 34-31 victory in overtime. Adrian Martinez was very good in this game for the Huskers but the team as a whole just couldn’t do what was necessary to pull out the victory. While it has no influence on the conference race, this particular defeat illustrates the many issues second year
savior head coach Scott Frost still has to figure out in Lincoln.
Next Up: A home date with the vaunted Northern Illinois Huskies.
Northwestern Wildcats (0-1, 0-0)
BYE. As far as I know, no news for the Wildcats which means they avoided the dreaded Bye week defeat to the hands of suspensions, practice injuries, etc.
Next Up: A home game against the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels.
Purdue Boilermakers (1-1, 0-0)
Jeff Brohm and company rebounded from the disappearing act in Reno to defeat a Power 5 team (albeit a not-so-very-good one) by the score of 42-24. While the Vanderbilt Commodores currently rank 72nd in SP+, the victory probably wasn’t enough to rinse away the stench of the loss to Nevada considering the Wolf Pack lost to Oregon in Week 2 by 71 points. While quarterback Elijah Sindelar had a eye-popping state line (509 yards passing, 5 passing touchdowns) and sophomore wide receiver Rondale Moore looks like a shoe-in for being a Biletnikoff Award Finalist (13 receptions, 220 yards, 1 touchdown), the Boilermaker defense appears to need some tuning up before conference play begins.
Next Up: A tough home game against the TCU Horned Frogs. Props to Purdue for scheduling an excellent overall non-conference slate.
Wisconsin Badgers (2-0, 0-0)
Because this recap is supposed to be snarkless, I will state that the Badgers won their game 61-0 against the Central Michigan Chippewas. Jonathan Taylor again looked the part of Heisman Trophy contender with 119 total yards and 4 total touchdowns. Beyond that, there seems very little comment necessary.
Next Up: A bye week before a huge game against the Michigan Wolverines on September 21st.