Originally, I had some brilliant Weird Al Yankovic -style parody to Will Smith’s affront to hip-hop Wild, Wild West planned to drop on you to introduce what this division will most likely develop into over the season. However, my producing ability and utter lack of creativity halted this endeavor as soon as it began. Here’s a scene from the aforementioned film that spawned Smith’s misstep for you to laugh at due to its sheer atrociousness.
Instead, what I will be bringing to you every week is a straight-forward snark-less review of all seven Big Ten West teams (yes, even Illinois will be represented... ok there might be a little snark). The teams will be review in alphabetical order with up-to-date conference standings to follow.
(Overall record, conference record)
Illinois Fighting Illini (1-0, 0-0)
The Lovie Smith-led squad smashed the Akron Zips out of the MAC in their home opener 42-3. The victory was convincing on every stat line as Illinois committed zero turnovers and out gained the Zips by 209 yards. Quarterback Brandon Peters had a strong debut in the blue and orange throwing for 163 yards on a 60.8% completion rate and three touchdowns. The Illini scored touchdowns on their first three offensive drives of the game and never looked back. The lowest point of the afternoon was losing running back Mike Epstein for the season with a knee injury.
Next Up: Illinois travels to Storrs to face the UConn Huskies. A 2-0 start seems all but ensured.
Iowa Hawkeyes (1-0, 0-0)
lovedhated neighbors to the south enjoyed a first week victory despite only leading 10-7 at the half over the Miami (OH edition) RedHawks. However, at the end of the day the numbers indicate a second half Hawkeye romp including a 252-59 advantage in rushing yards. This is exactly the kind of game Kirk Ferentz prefers and so I’m sure they were extremely happy with the result. Iowa seem to hold the advantage in every meaningful stat line so the black-and-gold took care of business again their respective Week 1 creampuff.
Next Up: Iowa
continues non-conference play begins conference play with a home game against Rutgers. A 2-0 start seems all but ensured.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-0, 0-0)
The team we all come to this blog to root for was successful in their season opener on Thursday evening. That is, if you judge success by winning or losing, which last time I checked, people generally do. Minnesota defeated FCS foe South Dakota State in less-than-convincing fashion 28-21. A few timely plays allowed the Gophers to overcome the Jackrabbit’s advantage in total yards, yards per rush, and first downs. Sophomore wide receiver Rashod Bateman put on a show with a spectacular one-handed touchdown grab and 132 receiving yards in the first half alone.
Next Up: The Gophers travel to play Fresno State in another tricky non-conference game against the Bulldogs. A 2-0 start seems anything but ensured.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (1-0, 0-0)
Speaking of being out gained by an inferior opponent, Nebraska beat the South Alabama Jaguars 35-21 despite being on the wrong side of total yards, first downs, time of possession, and penalties. The Huskers were buoyed by 3 non-offensive touchdowns and 5 Jaguar turnovers. Sophomore pre-season darling Adrian Martinez was 13-22 for 178 yards and 1 interception. Perhaps everyone needs to pump the breaks on the National Title parade that was scheduled for Lincoln in January. However, a win is a win and Nebraska will go into Week 2 undefeated and 25% of the way to matching their 2018 win total.
Next Up: An away game at elevation in Boulder to face old Big 12 opponent and rival Colorado. A 2-0 starts seems anything be ensured.
Northwestern Wildcats (0-1, 0-0)
Northwestern had the toughest challenge of the any of the West squads in their season opener as they traveled to Palo Alto to play the Stanford Cardinal. The trip resulted in an ugly 17-7 loss. The game predictably had the feeling of a rock fight as the two defensively-minded teams exchanged blows like elementary-aged children hurling stones across the school yard. Four Wildcat turnovers as well as a 17-minute advantage in time of possession for the Cardinal buried Pat Fitzgerald’s crew. A foot injury to quarterback TJ Green required transfer Hunter Johnson to take the reigns of the offense later in the 3rd quarter of the game. He promptly threw two interceptions. There will be many offensive wrinkles to smooth out for Northwestern.
Next Up: An early bye week. A 2-0 start has been identified as impossible.
Purdue Boilermakers (0-1, 0-0)
Purdue also found themselves traveling out west and also found themselves losing. The Boilermakers dropped their opener in Reno to the Nevada Wolf Pack 34-31 after coughing up a 3rd quarter 31-14 lead and a 31-24 lead with about two minutes remaining in the game. A 56-yard field goal from Nevada kicker Brandon Talton capped off what was a miserable 2nd half for both the Purdue players and coaching staff. Purdue had a 95.5% win probability with 3:32 remaining. Echoes of 2018’s 0-3 beginnings may very well be ringing in the ears of the Purdue locker room with games against Vanderbilt and TCU upcoming...
Next Up: A home date with Vanderbilt. A 0-2 start seems feasible.
Wisconsin Badgers (1-0, 0-0)
Because this recap is supposed to be snarkless, I will state that the Badgers won their game 49-0 against the South Florida Bulls. Jonathan Taylor looked the part of Heisman Trophy contender with 183 total yards and 4 total touchdowns. Beyond that, there seems very little comment necessary.
Next Up: The home opener in Madison against Central Michigan. A 2-0 start seems all but ensured.