B1G Viewing Guide Week 2

Written By T.J. Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle0

B1G Viewing Guide – Week 2

Saturday, September 12

Week two features some big time match-ups highlighted by the re-match between Oregon and Michigan State in East Lansing. 
Oregon State at Michigan – Noon on ABC
Michigan (0-1) opened the season last Thursday night with a 24-17 defeat at Utah while the Oregon State Beavers (1-0) began the Gary Anderson era with a 26-7 victory over FCS foe Weber State. Michigan’s defense did quite well against the Utes, holding star running back Devontae Booker to only 69 yards on 22 carries and limiting Utah to 4.8 yards per play. However, the Wolverines offense is still a major concern. The Utah defense was only 51st against the run (according to S&P+) but Michigan sputtered to only 2.6 yards per carry behind an offensive line that still looks like a problem. Iowa transfer Jake Rudock threw three interceptions and couldn’t really stretch the field. The only real success came when Rudock threw to tight end Jake Butt. 

For now, Michigan is sticking with Rudock over Shane Morris but if he continues to give the ball to the other team, Rudock won’t be the starter for long. Oregon State is expected to be one of the weakest teams in the PAC-12 and Michigan is favored by more than two touchdowns but the atmosphere at the Big House will be worth tuning in for as Jim Harbaugh makes his home debut.

Western Illinois at Illinois – Noon on BTN
The Fighting Illini (1-0) got some much needed catharsis on Saturday afternoon (after bad weather forced a postponement from Friday night to Saturday) as they hammered the Kent State Golden Flashes 52-3. The WIU Leathernecks knocked off fellow FCS opponent Eastern Illinois 33-5. In 2014, WIU finished 5-7 which included losses to Wisconsin (3-37), Northwestern (7-24) and Southern Illinois (17-34). Illinois cruised to victory on Saturday behind a quick start from Wes Lunt (162 yards with 4 TDs) and 134 rushing yards. The statistics show a closer game than the 52-3 final (yardage favored Illinois by less than 70 yards) but Kent State turned the ball four times and only two of Illinois’ scoring drives were longer than 38 yards. 

This should be a very comfortable win for Illinois and they have every right to be pleased with their Week 1 performance but there are reasons to believe they are nowhere near as good as the score line from Week 1 would indicate.

Bowling Green Falcons at Maryland Terrapins – Noon on BTN
The Maryland Terrapins (1-0) exterminated the Spiders of Richmond on Saturday, 50-21 but questions about the passing game linger after Perry Hills threw for only 138 yards and no receiver had more than 37 yards. The Terrapins used a B1G record 233 punt return yards from William Likely to help spark their victory, a feat that is not likely to be repeated against a competent FBS opponent. 

Bowling Green (0-1) surrendered 399 rushing yards to the Tennessee Volunteers and fell 30-59 in Nashville. That run defense is concerning but the Falcons showed off their explosive offense by racking up 557 yards. Quarterback Matt Johnson is one of the best players in the MAC and he threw for 424 yards and two scores. Even more impressive, Johnson completed nine passes of 20-plus yards. I expect Maryland to win a close and entertaining game but the Falcons winning in College Park will be no shocker.

Buffalo Bulls at Penn State Nittany Lions – Noon on ESPN2
Very few teams in the country had a worse week one than the Penn State Nittany Lions (0-1). James Franklin’s crew was shoved around by the Temple Owls and lost to their in-state rival for the first time since 1941. After jumping out to a 10-0 lead, things completely apart as Christian Hackenberg was sacked ten times and Temple scored 27 unanswered points to win 27-10. Their week two opponent, the Buffalo Bulls (1-0), drilled Albany 51-14. 

Penn State’s coaching staff (mainly Franklin and offensive coordinator John Donovan) is dealing with a lot of criticism and unrest from the fan base and star linebacker Nyeem Wartman-White has been lost for the season. The Nittany Lions are heavy favorites in this one but it might be worth watching just to see if any adjustments have been made to jumpstart the unproductive offense.

Indiana State Sycamores at Purdue Boilermakers – Noon on ESPNews
The Purdue Boilermakers (0-1) turned the ball over four times and fell apart in the fourth quarter to lose their opening game of the season at Marshall. The running game looked promising with DJ Knox and Markell Jones combining for a solid day and wide receiver DeAngelo Yancey looked like a much improved player but Austin Appleby made far too many mistakes to beat a quality opponent on the road. Their week two opponent, the Indiana State Sycamores neutered the Butler Bulldogs 52-17. 

Whether playing IU or Purdue, the Sycamores typically battle their in-state FBS foes pretty tough. I don’t see Indiana State keeping this one close for long but if you are interested in seeing an intra-state battle, tune in to ESPNews on Saturday.

Miami (OH) at (20) Wisconsin – Noon on ESPNU
The last of the noon games involving B1G teams features the 20th ranked Wisconsin Badgers (0-1) taking on the (1-0) Miami (OH) Redhawks. The MAC school defeated Presbyterian 26-7 in week one of the season while Wisconsin was ground into Badger meat by the Alabama Crimson Tide. There’s certainly no shame in being rolled by the Tide but Badgers fans must be at least a tiny bit concerned by the complete lack of success they found on the ground. Alabama’s front seven is probably the best in the country but still, I don’t think anyone expected Wisconsin to be held to 40 yards rushing. Safety Michael Caputo is dealing with a concussion and running back Corey Clement might not play due to a groin injury. 

Wisconsin is still the favorite to win the B1G West, a division that had a pretty tough week one (losses by Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Purdue) and beating up on Miami (OH) won’t tell us much but getting that ground game on track will feel good for the Badgers.

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at (1) Ohio State Buckeyes – 3:30 on BTN
After a shaky first half, the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes (1-0) put on an offensive display in the second half in Blacksburg and cruised past the Virginia Tech Hokies, 42-24. The Buckeyes were without Joey Bosa, Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson but received a strong performance from Braxton Miller (both as a pass-catcher and a runner) and an effective game from Cardale Jones. The Buckeyes will kick off their home schedule with a game against the (1-0) Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, who knocked off the Colorado Buffaloes in controversial fashion 28-20. The ‘Bows are led by former USC quarterback Max Wittek and are massive underdogs heading into the Horseshoe.

Washington State Cougars at Rutgers Scarlet Knights – 3:30 on ESPNU
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-0). First, Head Coach Kyle Flood was involved in a procedural academic issue. After the buzz surrounding that died down a bit, news broke that five football players were arrested for their involvement in a criminal case involving robbery, armed burglary and aggravated assault. Rutgers sputtered through the first half against Norfolk State without star wide receiver Leonte Carroo and led 21-13 at the break. Then Carroo entered the fray, scored three third quarter touchdowns and Rutgers pulled away for a 63-13 victory. On the other side of the country, the Washington State Cougars (0-1) were stunned by FCS opponent Portland State, a result that prompted WSU blog “CougCenter” to declare, “there is no bottom”! Things in Pullman haven’t gone as many expected for Mike Leach, as the program has failed to do much more than put up gaudy passing totals. 

Rutgers coach Kyle Flood has decided to start Chris Laviano at quarterback after his successful second half. The Scarlet Knights are favored by a slim margin and they knocked off Washington State in Pullman last season. I expect Rutgers to handle the Cougars quite well and give the B1G another win over the Pac-12.

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Colorado State Rams – 3:30 on CBSSN
The Colorado State Rams (1-0) lost their star quarterback and their head coach in the offseason. However, they still have a strong program and they crushed Savannah State 65-13 in their opener.  The Minnesota Golden Gophers (0-1) fought hard but ultimately dropped the opening game of the season to TCU. Their tough schedule continues as they head to Fort Collins. Of note, the Rams had 16 tackles for loss on Saturday, the most in the NCAA’s and new QB Nick Stevens had 289 yards and 5 touchdowns. Minnesota played TCU without their top two left tackles so Jerry Kill expects the offensive line to be a bit better than it was against TCU. The Gophers are favored by a touchdown but this will be a very stern test for one of the up and coming programs in the conference.

Eastern Illinois Panthers at Northwestern Wildcats – 4:00 on ESPNews
One of the most impressive performances of the first week came from the Northwestern Wildcats as they upended Stanford, 16-6. The Wildcats controlled the Cardinal and physically dominated them throughout the game. Redshirt freshman quarterback Clayton Thorson played mistake free football and showed off his mobility with a key touchdown run in the second half. For a team many (including myself) expected to struggle in 2015, it was a very surprising day. The Wildcats shouldn’t have much trouble going to 2-0 as they take on an Eastern Illinois (0-1) squad that was thumped by Western Illinois in week one. 

Iowa Hawkeyes at Iowa State Cyclones – 4:45 on FOX
We’ll start by saying that our thoughts and prayers go out to the Iowa Hawkeye community and the friends and family of Tyler. The former Iowa and New York Giants safety died at the age of 27.

The Hawkeyes were another very impressive team last Saturday as they handled FCS runner up Illinois State, 31-14. The Hawkeyes showed off a quicker tempo on offense and I was rather surprised at how good the attack looked. CJ Beathard was efficient and looked the part of a #1 QB, LeShun Daniels was very effective and Jordan Canzeri was used well as a receiving threat out of the backfield. On the other side of the ball, Drew Ott terrorized the Redbirds and completely disrupted anything former IU QB Tre Roberson was trying to accomplish. The Hawkeyes week two opponent, the Iowa State Cyclones handled Northern Iowa, 31-7 to set up an intriguing battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy. The past four games in this series have been close (although not always pretty) contests (20-17, 27-21, 9-6 and 44-41) with the Cyclones winning three of them. A loss for Iowa would completely wipe out the good feelings the fans have after week one.

South Alabama Jaguars at Nebraska Cornhuskers – 8:00 on BTN
The finish of the week (and possibly the season) happened in Lincoln, Nebraska but it certainly wasn’t the ending Mike Riley was hoping for. BYU backup QB Tanner Mangum connected with his wideout for a 42-yard score as time expired to push the BYU Cougars past the Cornhuskers (0-1) and ruining the debut of new head coach Mike Riley. Riley’s first win as Nebraska coach should be coming soon though as the Huskers take on South Alabama (1-0) this Saturday night. The Jaguars defeated Gardner-Webb, 33-22 in week one. 

(7) Oregon Ducks at (5) Michigan State Spartans – 8:00 on ABC
The attention of most of the college football world will be on East Lansing, Michigan. The College Game Day crew will be in town and the Oregon Ducks high-flying offense will be looking to knock off the Spartans for a second straight season. The stakes are clear, a win would put Michigan State into very good shape for a potential playoff bid at the end of the season (you can’t get those now but you can definitely lose them) and would send a very clear signal that the B1G East won’t just be handed to the Buckeyes. A loss for Michigan State would make the Ohio State game an absolute must win if the Spartans are too accomplish what they set out to accomplish when the season began. Meanwhile, the Pac-12 had a very rough week (losses by Arizona State and Stanford and embarrassing losses for Colorado and Washington State)

Oregon (1-0) defeated Eastern Washington in a high scoring shootout, 61-42, in week one .While new QB Vernon Adams Jr. looked good (before leaving the game with a head injury), there are questions about the defense’s ability to slow down a good offense. Michigan State knocked off a game Western Michigan squad in Kalamazoo, 37-24. There are so many intriguing storylines in this one and I have no clue what’s going to happen but I do think it would be wise to expect a lot of points.

Florida International Golden Panthers at Indiana Hoosiers – 8:00 on BTN
We will have extensive coverage of the week two matchup between the FIU Golden Panthers (1-0) and the Indiana Hoosiers (1-0). Check back all week to get yourself prepared for the Saturday night clash!