Written by: TJ Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
The Indiana Hoosiers knocked off the Virginia Cavaliers to improve to 1-1 on the young season. Everyone else on their schedule was also in action and each week, we’ll be providing a quick, one-stop recap so that you can keep tabs on how IU’s past and future opponents fared.
Ohio State - 16 vs. Oklahoma – 31
After dismantling the Hoosiers over the final 20 minutes on the final night of August, the Buckeyes returned home as favorites against the Oklahoma Sooners. Things did not go as planned as Baker Mayfield and the Sooners blasted the Buckeyes, scoring 21 straight points in the second half to take firm control of the contest. The Sooners had 490 yards to OSU’s 350 and they had nearly 11 more minutes of possession on the night. The outcome makes the Sooners an early favorite to make the College Football Playoff and puts the Buckeyes in a position that likely forces them to win out if they are to reach the heights they entered the season aspiring to.
Florida International – 17 vs. Alcorn State – 10
Butch Davis won his first game as the head coach of the Panthers but it was far from an impressive performance. Alex McGough had 328 passing yards and Alex Gardner added 102 rushing yards but FIU didn’t seize control of the game until a very late touchdown pass put them ahead for good. Alcorn State was outgained 269-465 but this outcome was very much in doubt the whole way. At first glance, this is definitely a contest IU should win comfortably if they play decently.
Georgia Southern – 12 vs. New Hampshire – 22
New Hampshire is a good FCS program. The Wildcats finished the 2016 season at 8-5 and they are currently ranked 12th in FCS. That being said, Georgia Southern was expected to win this contest and they were not even particularly close to scaring New Hampshire. The loss drops the Eagles to 0-2 and head coach Tyson Summers is firmly in the crosshairs. He entered the season on the hot seat and a loss at the hands of an FCS program is the kind of thing that pushes things over the edge. After gaining only 78 yards against Auburn, the Eagles gained 326 yards against UNH but freshman quarterback Shai Werts looked lost and there appears to be a lack of difference-makers for Georgia Southern on both sides of the ball. This is still a tricky game for IU because the triple option can be deadly if rhythm gets established plus Georgia Southern now has two full weeks to prepare but if IU is focused for this one, the Hoosiers should be just fine.
Penn State – 33 vs. Pittsburgh – 14
The Panthers (1-1) outgained the Nittany Lions (2-0) 342-312 and kept this one closer than people thought they would but the big-play ability of Penn State ultimately proved to be enough to see the new Big Ten East favorites through over their rivals. The PSU defense forced a pair of interceptions that resulted in quick scores and Pitt never got closer than 14 in the second half. Saquon Barkley was largely bottled up and the passing game was a little bit off the whole afternoon which meant PSU was unable to really sustain drives but this offense is extremely explosive and they have multiple ways of breaking off big plays. Penn State is now ranked fourth in the country and they take on Georgia State before traveling to Iowa for a very interesting game against the Hawkeyes on September 23.
Michigan – 36 vs. Cincinnati – 14
After watching the Michigan Wolverines for two weeks, I feel confident in saying their defense will be ferocious. In fact, it is quite possible this year’s defense is faster and more athletic than last year’s. Whether they are as good of an overall unit is yet to be determined but they are definitely formidable and nasty and the strength of this team. The offense, however, is a definite work in progress. I have been unimpressed by Wilton Speight and they don’t have the elite level matchup problems they had a year ago. Kekoa Crawford is going to be a special player but he’s not the problem that Amara Darboh or Jehu Chesson were in 2016. Of note, Ty Isaac received the bulk of the work at running back and did quite well (133 yards on 20 carries) and Chris Evans appears to be just another cog in the depth chart. That will be worth monitoring moving forward. The Wolverines take on Air Force before matchups against Purdue and Michigan State.
Michigan State – 28 vs. Western Michigan – 14
Do you remember the Michigan State Spartans teams from 4-5 seasons ago? Stingy defense, ball control offense that relied on a bruising running game and an efficient quarterback? You know, stereotypical Big Ten-type football? Well, after an offseason that saw the program drug through the mud and questions about whether or not Mark Dantonio was going to be forced out if the Spartans had a bad season, MSU’s demise may just have been greatly exaggerated. While it’s too early to say for certain, they’ve been impressive through two games and they locked down a Western Michigan rushing attack that largely had its way against USC in week one. Brian Lewerke was efficient (13-21 for 161 yards) and added in 81 rushing yards with a pair of rushing touchdowns. The Spartans ran for 296 rushing yards total and outgained WMU 457-195. They have a bye week before a very difficult stretch of schedule begins: Notre Dame, Iowa, at Michigan and at Minnesota before hosting IU.
Maryland – 63 vs. Towson – 17
We didn’t learn anything about the Maryland Terrapins but it was still impressive to see them completely dominate an opponent and take care of business a week after their hugely emotional victory over the Texas Longhorns. There was no letdown and no let-up as they wiped out Towson behind 367 rushing yards. Ty Johnson only touched the ball five times and he rushed for 124 yards with two scores. The Terps are a scary team right now and they now have a bye week before a trio of interesting games against Central Florida, Minnesota and Ohio State.
Illinois – 20 vs. Western Kentucky – 7
I did not see that coming. In one of the more unexpected results of the weekend, the Illinois Fighting Illini held Western Kentucky and seasoned quarterback Mike White to just 244 yards and 7 points as they knocked off the Hilltoppers 20-7. The Illini are now 2-0 after wins over Ball State and WKU. Chayce Crouch struggled and threw for only 107 yards but Illinois got 111 yards from Mike Epstein and 193 rushing yards overall and their defense held WKU to just 6 rushing yards in a starring performance. I still think Illinois is the worst team in the Big Ten West but it is entirely possible their defense is much better than expected and they provide a stern test late in the season.
Rutgers – 13 vs. Eastern Michigan – 16
It was a rarity. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights were favored against an FBS opponent. Unfortunately, they were unable to live up to the spread, falling to the Eagles (2-0) and watching as EMU earned their first victory in program history over a Big Ten opponent. Brogan Roback had 260 passing yards and EMU chipped away for 114 rushing yards, outgaining Rutgers 374-326. Kyle Bolin was less than impressive, completing only 17 of 37 passes for 198 yards with two interceptions. Janarion Grant continues to be the only true offensive threat for the Scarlet Knights and he simply won’t be enough by himself to threaten competent FBS opponents. Rutgers should win handily against Morgan State before traveling to Lincoln to take on the Cornhuskers.
Purdue – 44 vs. Ohio – 21
It does not please me to say this but I have to be fair: the Purdue Boilermakers appear to be much improved under new head coach Jeff Brohm. Tario Fuller had a massive day, churning out 142 rushing yards and one touchdown and David Blough had 235 yards with three touchdowns. Perhaps most impressively for Purdue, they did not have any turnovers and played a largely error-free offensive game for the first time in a long time as they comfortably dispatched of the Ohio Bobcats. If Purdue can continue to have that kind of balance and take care of the football, they’ll be a legitimate threat to reach a bowl game. Things get real now though, they travel to Missouri to play a wounded and defensively-inept Tigers squad before returning home to host Michigan and Minnesota.