Around the Big Ten in Week One

We go around the conference and check out all of the scores from the first week's games.  Image:

We go around the conference and check out all of the scores from the first week's games. Image:

Written By T.J. Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)

B1G Recap – Week 1

One week is in the books. We know the Hoosiers survived a major scare to begin their season, how did the first week of the season go for the rest of the conference? This weekly article will attempt to briefly recap each B1G result and provide a bit of context (for example, what does this performance mean for the Hoosiers?) to each game. 

Thursday, September 3

Michigan -17 at Utah - 24
The day Michigan fans have been waiting for finally arrived. Jim Harbaugh prowled the sidelines, wearing the blue long-sleeved shirt, khakis, blue cap with the maize “M” and the lanyard with the whistle around his neck. However, the Utah Utes made sure fans remembered this night was about more than just Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines. The Utes got 124 yards from running back Devontae Booker and a late pick-six from its defense to seal the program’s third straight victory over UM. 

The Hoosiers take on Michigan later this season and it will be interesting to see who is taking snaps at quarterback by the time that contest rolls around. Iowa transfer Jake Rudock started at quarterback and struggled, throwing three interceptions. The Wolverines offense was held to 355 yards (80 of which came on the final drive) and managed only 76 yards on the ground. Despite a strong defensive effort, this offense is going to need to find some answers on every level if they want to be competitive in the B1G East. One thing that was clear while watching this game, IU is going to need to have an answer for Michigan tight end Jake Butt. Butt was a reliable option all night for the otherwise struggling offense. He ended up with 8 catches for 93 yards and one touchdown. His height, size and good hands make him a very difficult matchup for any defense and IU struggled with SIU’s tight end (a similarly built player) on Saturday.

(2) TCU - 23 at Minnesota – 17
The TCU Horned Frogs entered the 2015 season as one of the primary contenders for the second College Football Playoff. Their first test of the season was a Thursday night trip to Minneapolis to battle Jerry Kill’s Golden Gophers. The Horned Frogs raced out to leads of 10-0 and 17-3 before Minnesota’s Rodney Smith scored with 3:44 remaining in the third quarter to narrow the deficit to 7 points. A pair of field goals put the Horned Frogs up by 13 but Minnesota refused to go away, scoring with 1:32 to go before failing to recover the desperation onside kick. 

It was clear that Minnesota has a very good defense. The Gophers held the explosive TCU offense to 23 points and flustered star QB Trevone Boykin’s passing game by being extremely physical in the secondary. Minnesota will make life difficult for any opponent this season but whether or not they contend in the West will depend on their ability to consistently move the ball on offense and that has yet to be seen.

Friday, September 4

(5) Michigan State - 37 at Western Michigan - 24
While most college football fans have been waiting on the Spartans to take on the Oregon Ducks in Week 2 of the season, Michigan State began the season with a tricky trip to Kalamazoo to battle in-state foe Western Michigan. I expected this to be “closer than the experts think” and I ended up being right but in truth, Michigan State was never threatened. The Spartans were extremely impressive in the first half as they roared out to a 27-7 lead and put to bed any thoughts of the Broncos “rowing the boat” to an upset. Michigan State ended up with 452 yards of offense and coasted to the 13-point victory.

The Hoosiers travel to East Lansing to battle the Spartans on October 24 so I watched this game with one eye turned towards that matchup. While we are continuing to caution against judging things after one week, it’s very hard to look at the current IU defense and think they have very little shot to slow down this powerful Michigan State offense. Connor Cook was a little bit inaccurate but he ended up with 256 yards and 2 touchdowns. The most impressive part of the Spartans game though was the three-pronged rushing attack of LJ Scott (77 yards), Madre London (59 yards) and Gerald Holmes (54 yards). Any team, including IU, is going to have a difficult time slowing this offense down. That being said, I do think the Hoosiers will be able to put up some points of their own against MSU’s defense. Western Michigan’s Zach Terrell threw for 365 yards and two WMU receivers exceeded 100 yards. This coming Saturday night, the Spartans take on the Oregon Ducks in one of the biggest non-conference games of the season.

Kent State - 3 at Illinois - 52 – (game postponed from Friday to Saturday)
Kent State is probably wishing that “postponement” would have ended up as a “cancellation” after the Illini stomped them to kick-off the 2015 season. There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Illinois program after the dismissal of Tim Beckman but for one day, there was nothing but catharsis as the Illini jumped all over the Flashes and rolled to a 52-3 victory. Wes Lunt threw for four touchdowns and Josh Ferguson ran for 76 yards.

Saturday, September 5

(21) Stanford - 6 at Northwestern - 16
I did not see this coming. The Northwestern Wildcats stunned the college football world by dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and punishing the Stanford Cardinal to pull off the Week 1 upset. Redshirt freshman Clayton Thorson struggled to move the ball but he ran for a 42-yard touchdown to give the Wildcats a lead and played turnover-free football in his debut to help get the victory. The star of the day though was the Northwestern defense as they held the anemic Stanford offense to 240 yards.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald called it, “One of the best performances I’ve seen our D play top to bottom against a ranked team maybe in my time”. The Wildcats don’t play IU this season but it will be interesting to see if this game was more of an indicator of the strength of Northwestern or of larger struggles for Stanford.

Illinois State - 14 at Iowa – 31
On our weekly podcast, Sammy and I put the Hawkeyes on “upset alert”. We weren’t alone as I saw several different people ponder the danger of this matchup against last year’s FCS runner-up. The Hawkeyes had other ideas as they quickly put Illinois State behind the eight ball and controlled this game from the outset. CJ Beathard was extremely impressive, throwing for a touchdown and rushing for two more in a very efficient and effective performance. I was also very impressed by the play of running backs LeShun Daniels (123 yards) and Jordan Canzeri (90 yards receiving). Daniels looked like a true lead running back as Canzeri played the role of “change of pace” back and pass-catching option. Iowa’s defense harassed former Hoosier quarterback Tre Roberson into a miserable -12 yards rushing and only 49 yards passing before he left with an injury (his replacement went 11-15 with 2 touchdowns to lead a mild comeback). 

Iowa will battle IU on November 7 in a game many Hoosier fans have pointed to as a chance for a conference victory. After watching this one, that “W” could be a bit tougher to come by than I originally anticipated. Iowa’s offense was moving at a quicker pace than we’ve seen before (they talked about an uptempo offense during the offseason but I didn’t believe it was happening until Saturday), Beathard looked very competent, Daniels and Canzeri are a strong RB tandem and Drew Ott is a terrifying opponent at defensive end. Iowa is a team I’ll be watching closely in Week 2 as they battle in-state foe Iowa State. Was this impressive performance fueled by a very strong first half a mirage or have the Hawkeyes made substantive improvement?

Richmond - 21 at Maryland – 50
Special teams and defensive ace William Likely set a B1G record with 233 yards in punt returns as the Maryland Terrapins took care of the Richmond Spiders, 50-21 in College Park. The Terps started Perry Hills at QB but relied on the running game as Brandon Ross ran for a career-high 150 yards on 18 carries. Richmond, a team replacing 23 seniors and expected to struggle in the Colonial Athletic Association, kept it competitive until halftime (14-22 at the break) but couldn’t keep up as Maryland scored 34 unanswered to pull away. The most surprising part of this game is that tremendous kicker Brad Craddock missed an extra point.

Indiana travels to College Park for a late season contest (November 21) against the Terrapins so it is extremely difficult to gauge anything this far in advance. However, it is worth keeping an eye on whether or not Maryland’s passing game can be any more prolific than it was Saturday (only 138 passing yards and no receiver with more than 37 yards). Maryland is trying to replace a ton of production at wide receiver and questions about their ability to consistently produce through the air are legitimate. The Terps have a very interesting Week 2 contest against a decent Bowling Green team.

Norfolk State – 13 at Rutgers – 63
Prior to the game, it was announced that Rutgers had dismissed five players involved in an ugly off-the-field criminal investigation. The Scarlet Knights struggled through the first half (led 21-13 at the break) but pulled away with a dominant third quarter and ultimately hammered the Spartans. Leonte Carroo was suspended for the first half for a violation of team rules but he made up for his missed time by scoring three times in the third quarter. Both Hayden Rettig and Chris Laviano played well and Kyle Flood said he would choose a starter for week two by Tuesday. 

IU battles Rutgers in Bloomington on October 17. The biggest issue for any Rutgers opponent is going to be defending Leonte Carroo. Carroo, now the school’s career receiving TD leader, is a tremendous player and the Hoosiers don’t really have an answer for him. There’s a little over a month until IU takes on Carroo and the Scarlet Knights. Here’s to hoping the secondary can develop between now and then.

Penn State - 10 at Temple – 27
For the first time since 1941, the Penn State Nittany Lions lost a football game to the Temple Owls. The Owls didn’t just beat Penn State, they dominated them and exposed the same weaknesses that plagued the Nittany Lions a year ago. The largest concern for Penn State coming into the season was the offensive line and it turns out things may be worse than anyone feared. Temple sacked Christian Hackenberg 10 times (you read that correctly) and Penn State had only 55 yards of offense over the final three and a half quarters. Offensive coordinator John Donovan and head coach James Franklin are both under pressure from Penn State fans after this performance. 

Prominent and excellent Penn State blog, had this to say, “The takeaway here is that James Franklin and John Donovan had eight full months and yet couldn’t have looked more feckless and incompetent and caught off guard by even the most basic of Matt Rhule’s adjustments. Penn State started strong and finished abominably, and that, not the failure of any number of players, is the strongest indictment on a coaching staff that deserves a maelstrom of criticism.” (credit to writer Devon Edwards, great stuff here)

It’s safe to say the honeymoon period between the fans and this coaching staff is now over. There are massive questions about the offensive decision making, the offensive line (again) and Christian Hackenberg’s confidence level after taking so many hits (again). In addition, the defense lost standout linebacker Nyeem Wartman-White has been lost for the season with an injury. IU plays at Penn State on October 10 in a game that looks very interesting right now. The Hoosiers have never won at Beaver Stadium and I’m not suggesting IU fans should be expecting that now. However, Penn State looks significantly more vulnerable than I thought they would. It will be very interesting to see what adjustments are made this coming week as the Nittany Lions take on Buffalo this Saturday. 

BYU - 33 at Nebraska – 28
I expected this game to be a whole lot of fun but this exceeded expectations as Mike Riley’s Nebraska debut was spoiled by a Hail Mary completion that propelled BYU to a thrilling 33-28 victory in Lincoln. Taysom Hill led the way for the Cougars before leaving with a season ending injury (major bummer for Hill as he suffers another season-ending injury). Tanner Mangum entered at QB and eventually connected with Mitch Matthews for the 42-yard game winner on the contest’s final play. Nebraska received a good performance from Tommy Armstrong (319 yards and 3 TDs) but there is some concern about the running game as the Huskers ran for only 126 yards with a 3.4 yards per carry average. 

BYU is a very good team and a very strong program and Nebraska fans shouldn’t feel too discouraged about dropping this highly entertaining game to them (as gut punching as the ending was). I’ve never thought they were contenders in the West but I think the Huskers showed enough on Saturday for me to think they could reach the 8 or 9 wins that were expected of them entering the season.

Southern Illinois - 47 at Indiana – 48
Whew! IU managed to do just enough to survive a major scare from Southern Illinois as they squeaked out a 48-47 victory at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. Hoosier Huddle has had extensive coverage of the opening week victory, please check out the rest of our articles and come back all week for our preview content of Florida International! 

(20) Wisconsin – 17 vs. (3) Alabama – 35
Everyone knew this was an extremely tall order for the Wisconsin Badgers. The standard bearer for the B1G West division has been one of the most consistent programs in the country during this past decade but the Crimson Tide are among the few annually elite teams in the nation and Alabama rolled past the Badgers on Saturday night in Arlington, Texas. Derrick Henry, the next in a growing line of dominant Bama backs, rumbled for 147 yards and three touchdowns on just 13 carries and quarterback Jake Coker showed off a strong command of the offense, completing 15-21 passes for 213 yards with no turnovers. 

Thankfully, the Hoosiers don’t have to play Wisconsin this season. However, this site will be monitoring the B1G as a whole and the Badgers enter the season considered favorites to win the West once again. A game against Alabama shouldn’t be considered reason to panic but it will be worth noting how a revamped O-line and this usually dominant running game does after struggling mightily to move the ball against the Crimson Tide (only 40 yards on 21 carries). 

Sunday, September 6

Purdue - 31 at Marshall – 41
The Hoosiers in-state rivals had the attention of the college football world as the lone game on Sunday afternoon. After a poor start (Austin Appleby threw an atrocious pick-six on the first play from scrimmage), the Boilers settled down and performed admirably for three quarters before eventually folding late and losing 41-31 to the Marshall Thundering Herd in Huntington, West Virginia. The Boilers outgained Marshall 454-397 but turned the ball over four times with two of the turnovers being turned directly into Marshall touchdowns (both interception returns for touchdown were by Tiquan Lang).

Make no mistake, Purdue is no longer a horrible football team. I don’t think they are good but they are certainly not awful and opponents will need to play well to knock them off. That being said, the defense is still suspect, particularly in pass coverage across the middle (a consistent problem Purdue has had) and Austin Appleby, while talented, is still prone to some head-scratching mistakes. D.J. Knox (102 yards) and Markell Jones (72 yards) formed a tough-running combination at running back and wide receiver DeAngelo Yancey looked like a much improved player out wide. The Boilers have a tough non-conference schedule with games against Virginia Tech and Bowling Green still to come but they should have an easy time with the Indiana State Sycamores in Week 2. 

Monday, September 7

(1) Ohio State – 42 at Virginia Tech – 24
After a shaky first half, that number one ranking will be staying in Columbus. The defending national champions pulled away from Virginia Tech for a fairly convincing 42-24 victory to close Week 1 of the college football season and open their quest to become repeat national champions. After an offseason of debate and scrutiny from the media, the Buckeyes started Cardale Jones at quarterback. Jones found early success as he hooked up with Curtis Samuel for a 24-yard score. On their next possession, Ezekiel Elliott ran 80 yards for a score and the Buckeyes appeared to be off to the races. However, Virginia Tech settled into the game, Ohio State made some mistakes (an INT thrown by Jones, a muffed punt by Elliott) and the Hokies led at the half, 17-14. That’s when ex-QB Braxton Miller burst onto the scene, scoring on a 54-yard pass from Cardale Jones and taking a handoff 53 yards for his second touchdown. When all was said and done, Miller had six carries for 62 yards with a score and two catches for 78 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Cardale Jones struggled at times, completing only nine passes for 186 yards. But, he also ran the ball for 99 yards and generally looked in command of the offense. J.T. Barrett threw one pass (in the fourth quarter) and connected for a 26 yard score.

IU will play Ohio State in Memorial Stadium on October 3 and will enter the game as massive underdogs. Monday night gave no indication that Ohio State will be “ripe for the picking” and it would be crazy to expect the Hoosiers to knock off OSU in the B1G opener. In addition to the offensive weapons we saw on Monday at Lane Stadium, the Buckeyes will be welcoming back Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall and defensive ace Joey Bosa from suspensions when they take the field next week against Hawaii.