Sports Q&A: Big 10 Quick Hits – Week 1

 Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

The first week of the 2015 college football season is in the books but there is still a lot left to the season, so here at Sports Q&A we will be taking a quick glance at every team in the Big Ten conference and how they did for that week — Good, Bad, or in the case of the Penn St. Nittany Lions, super ugly.

BIG TEN EASTERN DIVISION:

Indiana Hoosiers 1-0 (0-0)

The Hoosiers escaped with a closer than expected 48-47 victory over FCS program Southern Illinois and despite each year I try to give Kevin Wilson the benefit of the doubt, it just seems as if he can’t convince anyone to play defense in Bloomington. The return of a healthy Nate Sudfeld (349 yards 1 touchdown) helps a lot but unless he can play defensive back and help the other side of the ball that gave up an unacceptable 659 total yards, it’s going to be another long season for Indiana — and maybe the last for Wilson.

Maryland Terrapins 1-0 (0-0)

People want to talk about the 233 return yards from William Likely but the 374 rushing yards by the Terrapins is more impressive — especially when the leading rusher was Brandon Ross and not Wes Brown. One thing to keep an eye on is the quarterback play of Perry Hills. He showed the talent to play the position by beating out Caleb Rowe for the starting job, but the 138 yards passing was hardly impressive.

Michigan State Spartans 1-0 (0-0)

The warning signal  should be blaring in the “no fly zone” as there is still something wrong in the defensive backfield for the Spartans as they let WMU Broncos quarterback Zach Terrell pass for 365 yards and two touchdowns. Also the 48% completion rate by their own quarterback Connor Cook should raise some eyebrows as well especially knowing that the offense will have to be operating at optimal level to keep up with the Oregon Ducks this weekend.

Michigan Wolverines 0-1 (0-0)

Turnovers!!! What doomed the Wolverines in the past still haunts them in the much-anticipated Jim Harbaugh era as new quarterback Jake Rudock tossed three interceptions including a costly pick-6 to seal the game. The team showed glimpses of growth from last season, but Wolverines fans aren’t about baby steps. They have to find a way of running the ball better because if they have to rely on quarterback play to lead them… trouble-trouble.

Ohio State Buckeyes 1-0 (0-0)

For one half of play the Buckeyes were on upset alert as they trailed 17-14, then within a blink of an eye an injury swung momentum and the Buckeyes went into overdrive and cruised to a 42-24 victory over Virginia Tech. I still am curious as to why head coach went with Cardele Jones over J.T. Barrett, and it looks like Braxton Miller got adjusted to his new position quite nicely — that spin was NCAA Football-esq.

Penn State Nittany Lions 0-1 (0-0)

10 sacks! All we heard during spring camp was how improved the offensive line was for Penn St. and they go on the road and let a talented but inferior Temple defense wreak havoc on their quarterback Christian Hackenberg. The PSU defense had the more heralded defensive tackles in Anthony Zettel and Austin Johnson but Jahad Thomas gashed them for 135 yards, so it seems like Coach Franklin has a lot to fix up front before the open of Big Ten season.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights 1-0 (0-0)

I am so over these “body bag” games with FSC HBCU’s, I understand the financial windfall that the victim gets but it does nothing for either team in the grand scheme of it. With that being said Rutgers gets into the winning column with an easy 63-13 victory over Norfolk St. and now must decide who will be the starting quarterback after solid performances from both Hayden Rettig and Chris Laviano (who was suspended for the first half of the game.)

 

BIG TEN WESTERN DIVISION

Illinois Fighting Illini 1-0 (0-0)

New coach, rescheduled game… no problem for Illinois as they easily defeated Kent St. 52-3 after having their Friday game cancelled due to inclement weather. 364 total yards is nothing to write home about, but sometimes numbers can be deceiving and this is that case. The Illinois defense gave its offense a short field on three of those scoring drives and quarterback Wes Lunt took advantage as he threw four touchdowns.

Iowa Hawkeyes 1-0 (0-0)

Disappointed in last season’s 7-6  record, the Hawkeyes fans weren’t running to Kinnick Stadium for the home opener against Illinois St. — only around 60,000 were in attendance. Unfortunately they missed a glimpse of the CJ Beathard era as the junior quarterback passed for 211 yards and had two scoring runs. It looks like head coach Kirk Ferentz may have chosen the right signal callers after all.

Minnesota Golden Gophers 0-1 (0-0)

The Gophers had a chance on Thursday to pull the first big upset of the 2015 college season but came up short as they fell to the No. 2 ranked TCU Horned Frogs 23-17. The Minnesota defense held Heisman hopeful and TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin in check during the first half, but couldn’t contain him when it mattered. Keeping in line with other previous successful Gophers running backs freshman Rodney Smith had a nice start to his career by rushing for 88 yards on 16 carries and one touchdown.

Nebraska Cornhuskers 0-1 (0-0)

Hail No… What a way to lose if you are Nebraska; many say why not knock the ball down but it was under thrown by BYU replacement quarterback Tyler Mangum that it worked out. The Nebraska passing game (314 yards from starter Tommy Armstrong Jr. — did enough to win but to have your leading rusher only have 40 yards that’s quite un-Nebraska like. I am still waiting on the black-shirt moniker to make a long-term stay when describing the defense — they didn’t show up Saturday as it surrendered 511 total yards and six “chunk” plays.

Northwestern Wildcats 1-0 (0-0)

Pretty or not, a win is a win… That’s how most Northwestern fans have to be feeling after the 16-6 upset win over No. 21 ranked Stanford Cardinal. This was a battle of the brainiacs and sophomore running back Justin Jackson seemed to be the smartest at picking running lanes as he ran for 134 yards on 28 carries. Freshman quarterback Clayton Thorson came up with the play of the game as he scrambled 42 yards to make the score 10-3 in the first half and Stanford never got any closer.

Purdue Boilermakers 0-1 (0-0)

Austin Applby may not want the job as starting quarterback for the Boilermakers after an abysmal four interception performance in the 41-31 loss to Marshall. One good thing did come out of the loss; the team may have found a talented running back duo in sophomore D.J. Knox and freshman Markell Jones. The two combined for 174 yards on 34 carries. If the passing attack doesn’t cut down the turnovers, we should expect more carries as the year goes on.

Wisconsin Badgers 0-1 (0-0)

Many fans of the conference were hoping that the Badgers could hand the hated Alabama Crimson Tide its second consecutive loss at the hands of a Big Ten school, but it was all for naught as it was a battle of the haves vs. the have nots — running game that is. Combining for a very un-Wisconsin like 40 rushing yards signaled a long night for the Badgers who were operating in the post-Melvin Gordon era. Cory Clement was expected to be the next back up in Madison but he only had 16 yards on eight carries. Conversely Derrick Harvey for Alabama ran through the Badgers defense for 147 yards including a 56 yard burst where the 250lb back was running from the Wisconsin corners and safeties. Both lines must get it together if the Badgers hope to repeat as West Division champs.

 

Sports Q&A Big 10 Player of the week: Braxton Miller HB Ohio State– Many thought Miller would transfer after losing the opportunity to start at quarterback for the Buckeyes but he took the move to HB as an opportunity to improve his NFL draft stock and showcase his skills better. In one game it has proved to be a great move as he had 140 total yards on only eight touches — including two scoring plays of over 50 yards. With the return of Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and Corey Smith the rich get richer in Columbus, but we know now that Miller could easily be the focal point of the offense moving forward.

Game of Week 2:

Oregon vs. Michigan St. – The Spartans have a chance to get revenge on the Oregon Ducks as they host them in a highly anticipated night game. The key for the Spartans is to limit turnovers and keep the ball out of the hands of the uptempo Ducks offense. Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. took a big hit against Eastern Washington and was held out of the remainder of the game as a precautionary measure, but we have to wonder how he will respond in the hostile Spartan Stadium environment.  People are focusing on the match-up between the Ducks offense and the Spartans defense but I think the Ducks defense will make a key play to steal the game

Oregon 38 Michigan St. 34

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