Sports Q&A Big Ten Quick Hits: Week 2

 Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Week 2 of the college football season in the books and no closer to finding out the real identity of many of these school than we were before the season started. One thing that can be taken away from this week is that there are some seats starting to warm up at some schools and there are other coaches that are having more success than expected.

Big Ten Eastern Division:

Indiana Hoosiers 2-0 (0-0)

For the second straight week, it was the Hoosiers defense that came up with big plays. In the 30-20 victory over the Miami Redhawks, the Indiana defense forced three turnovers, including a forced fumble by linebacker Marcus Oliver on the opening drive of the game. Running back Devine Redding is ready to be the next talented IU running back, following in the footsteps of Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard, as he rushed for 110 yards on 26 carries — his fourth consecutive 100-yard game dating back to last season. Sophomore receiver Nick Westbrook had the best game in his short IU career as he caught three passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns.

Maryland Terrapins 2-0 (0-0)

The Maryland renaissance continued for a second week as the Terrapins easily handled Florida International 41-14. Maryland had another game with zero turnovers and got a great performance from senior quarterback Perry Hills — 13-of-18 for 210 yards and three touchdowns. Freshman running back Lorenzo Harrison played well again and rushed for 64 yards on only eight carries. Even with the victory, head coach DJ Durkin has to work on third down conversions (4-of-12) and penalties (eight for 85 yards) before conference play.

Michigan Wolverines 2-0 (0-0)

Michigan kept the high scoring barrage going with the 51-14 win over Central Florida on Saturday. Week 1 it was the running game that led the way, but against UCF the Wolverines did it through the air as quarterback Wilton Speight passed for 312 yards and four touchdowns. The big three for the U-M offense — Amara Darboh, Jake Butt, and Jehu Chesson — all had at least 80-yards receiving with Darboh and Butt having two touchdowns a piece. Defensively the Wolverines forced two fumbles but also allowed UCF to rush for 275 yards — including an 87-yard touchdown by sophomore running back Adrian Killins.

Michigan St. Spartans 1-0 (0-0) 

no scheduled game

Ohio St. Buckeyes 2-0 (0-0) 

The offense started off sluggish for Ohio St. in the 48-3 victory over Tulsa but the defense picked up the slack as defensive backs Malik Hooker and Marshawn Lattimore both intercepted Tulsa passes and returned them for touchdowns right before the half. An extended weather delay helped the offense get refocused and it scored on four of seven possessions in the second half. Running back Mike Weber had a second consecutive productive game as a starter as he rushed for 92 yards on 17 carries and scored one touchdown.

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

Quarterback Trace McSorley learned a hard lesson in the 42-39 loss to Pitt on Saturday. One bad decision can wipe out all the good you’ve done up until that point. McSorley brought the Nittany Lions from a 21-point deficit and was leading a late drive to tie the game when he made an ill-advised passed that was intercepted in the end zone to end the comeback hopes. Despite the loss, PSU fans saw how potent the Joe Moorhead offense can be when it’s clicking as McSorley passed for 332 yards. Now if Moorhead can figure out how to get both the passing game and rush offense going at the same time as Penn St. couldn’t establish much of a run game as the team only ran for 70 total yards — Saquon Barkley ran for 85 yards and four touchdowns but sack yardage reduced the total. Defensive coordinator Brent Fry may want to tell his front seven to tackle someone as well, as the defense surrendered 341 yards rushing.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights 1-1 (0-0)

Rutgers found someone to take its Week 1 loss frustrations out on as it easily handled Howard 52-14. Even with the lopsided victory, head coach Chris Ash can’t be too satisfied with the performance. Chris Laviano had another pedestrian game as he completed only 50% of his passes for 137 yards. Janarion Grant had another productive afternoon as he had 224 total yards and three touchdowns on the afternoon — including 105 rushing yards on five carries. Ash has to find a way of getting the ball into this dynamic playmaker hands more.

Big Ten West Division:

Illinois Fighting Illini 1-1 (0-0)

The opening game started off with a bang but Week 2 ended with a large thud as Illinois took one on the chin against North Carolina 48-23. Running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn had a 65-yard touchdown on the opening drive and many Illini fans thought they were on their way to upset the ACC opponent, but it was all downhill after that. This was one of those games that both sides of the ball would soon rather forget. Quarterback Wes Lunt — 17-of-35 for 127 yards — seemed uncomfortable in the pocket and seemed to settle for the check down when the offense needed a bigger play. Defensively, the corners and safeties seemed to always be trailing an open Tar Heels receivers which led to multiple scoring drives in the second half. It was good seeing Vaughn in the offense but now coach Lovie Smith must find out a way to get both his star running back and quarterback going at the same time.

Iowa Hawkeyes 2-0 (0-0)

Iowa continues to fly under the radar and that may be how head coach Kirk Ferentz wants it. The Hawkeyes used a 235-yard performance from quarterback CJ Beathard and an 112-yard performance from running back Leshun Daniels to pace the offense in the 42-3 blowout of in-state rivals Iowa St. In addition to Matt Vandeberg’s seven catches for 129 yards, seven other Hawkeyes caught at least one pass on the evening which allows for Beathard to build continuity with all his receivers. Linebacker Josey Jewell led the way defensively with nine tackles and one tackle for loss.

Minnesota Golden Gophers 2-0 (0-0)

Minnesota was able to make quick work of Indiana St. in the 58-28 victory as it was up 38-7 at the half. Led by quarterback Mitch Leidner’s 295 yards and four touchdowns, the 58 points were the highest for the program since 2006. JUCO transfer Running back Kobe McCrary made his presence known in a Gophers uniform as he rushed for 176 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. McCrary allows Minnesota to continue to have a 1-2 punch at running back with Rodney Smith (75 yards on 17 carries) as projected starter Shannon Brooks is still recovering from an injury.

Nebraska Cornhuskers 2-0 (0-0)

It may be safe to say that the blackshirt defense is finally back. In the 52-17 win over Wyoming, the Nebraska Cornhuskers defense forced six turnovers which led to 28 second half points. Senior safety Nathan Gerry had two interceptions and junior safety Kieron Williams returned his interception 23 yards for a touchdown. In addition to forcing multiple miscues, Nebraska had six tackles for loss and one sack. Tommy Armstrong Jr. (377 yards and three touchdowns) connected with Jordan Westerkamp (four catches for 105 yards) and Alonzo Moore (three catches for 109 yards) for long plays of 55 and 63 yards respectively to lead the offense.

Northwestern Wildcats 0-2 (0-0)

12 & 41… Those numbers were very significant in the 9-7 loss to Illinois St. on Saturday; the former being the number of carries by star running back Justin Jackson and the latter being the number of pass attempts for quarterback Clayton Thorson. Jackson finished the game with 42 yards on those 12 carries and never seemed to be able to find his rhythm as a runner. Thorson is not the type of quarterback that finds success throwing the ball that much and when you consider that the Wildcats held the lead until the final seconds, he shouldn’t have been throwing that much. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald has a lot to reevaluate because a program the caliber of Northwestern should not be losing games this way.

Purdue Boilermakers 1-1 (0-0)

You can’t turn the ball over five times and expect to win, but that’s what happened to Purdue in the 38-20 loss to Cincinnati on Saturday. The Boilermakers offense had 504 total yards but most of that came while trying to overcome a 24-point deficit. David Blough had two of his five interceptions on critical drives in the fourth quarter and overshadowed his record-breaking 401-yard performance. Losing starting running back Markel Jones to a shoulder injury in the third quarter hurt Purdue as the team abandoned the run totally after he went down. The defense didn’t get any help from the offense but allowing 7.6 yards per play and 9-of-11 third-down conversions in the first half made things tough all the way around for Purdue

Wisconsin Badgers 2-0 (0-0)

The Wisconsin Badgers avoided the “big win” hangover as they easily handled the Akron Zips 54-10. As great as the offense was — 586 total yards, 32 first downs, and seven touchdowns — the defense made its presence known as well. The Badgers limited Akron to 224 total yards, one third-down conversion, and even collected a safety when Alec James sacked Zips quarterback Thomas Woodson in the end zone. Corey Clement rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns and Jazz Peavy caught seven passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns. The Badgers are just handling their business on the field while everyone else in the conference takes notice .

Sports Q&A Big 10 Player of the week:

Kobe McCrary RB Minnesota

McCrary showed the vision and patience of a more experienced back against Indiana State and it looks like the Gophers got a gem in this JUCO transfer. Surprisingly Minnesota was the only Power 5 school to offer the 6’0 230lb back out of Chipley, FL which shows that recruiting is not an exact science.

Game of the Week:

Michigan St. vs. Notre Dame

The Spartans had an uncommon bye week Saturday and we will find out if it helped or hurt MSU in its preparation for a Notre Dame team that is taking on its second quality opponent in three weeks. In its Week 1 win over Furman, MSU looked uninspired but still was able to get the job done. Notre Dame has finally settled on a quarterback — Deshone Kizer — but it must do a better job of defending the deep pass — fortunately for Irish fans, that isn’t the strength of the MSU team at this point of the year. The rust from the early bye week will force the Spartans to play catch-up the entire evening. A late big play by receiver Equanimeous St. Brown will be the difference for the Fighting Irish.

Notre Dame 38 Michigan St. 34

 

Week 3 Predictions: (Week 2 record 10-2)

Michigan over Colorado

UCF over Maryland upset special

Rutgers over New Mexico

Penn St. over Temple

Iowa over North Dakota St.

Wisconsin over Georgia St.

Oregon over Nebraska

Western Michigan over Illinois

Oklahoma over Ohio St.

 

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