It’s the second week of the 2018 college football season, and the conference already has its share of unimpressive wins and bad losses. There was hope of balance in both divisions during the preseason, but it looks to still be a matter of the Haves (Ohio St. Wisconsin, and Penn St.) and the Have Nots (the rest of the conference.)
Big Ten East Division:
Indiana Hoosiers 2-0 (0-0)
It may not have been to the liking of the fanbase, but the Hoosiers got the job done against the Virginia Cavaliers 20-16. True freshman running back Stevie Scott led the way with 204 yards and one touchdown on 31 carries. Defensively, after surrendering an opening-drive touchdown, Indiana held stout by stopping the Virginia offense from getting going on the next five drives — including a fumble on the kickoff after Indiana tied the score at seven.
Maryland Terrapins 2-0 (0-0)
After upsetting Texas last week, the Terrapins were on let-down alert against Bowling Green, and for one half it looks like Maryland would lose to the MAC opponent, but the Terrapins used 444 yards rushing as a team to seize control and easily win 45-14. Ty Johnson (12 carries, 124 yards), Tayon Fleet-Davis (15 carries, 102 yards) and Lorenzo Harrison III (eight carries, 86 yards) led the way as eight different players ran the ball on the afternoon. Junior linebacker Isaiah Davis had 10 tackles and two sacks to spark the defense that allowed two first downs in the second half.
Michigan Wolverines 1-1 (0-0)
There still are issues on the offensive line, but the Wolverines bounced after last week’s loss to Notre Dame with a convincing 49-3 win over the Western Michigan Broncos. Running back Karan Higdon ran for 156 yards, and one touchdown and quarterback Shea Patterson had three passing touchdowns. Defensively, linebacker Khaleke Hudson had six tackles and a blocked punt.
Michigan St. Spartans 1-1 (0-0)
Maybe it was the late start or playing in 100+ degrees in the desert, but things never seemed to click for the Spartans, and it cost them in the 16-13 loss to the Arizona St. Sun Devils. Quarterback Brian Lewerke, an Arizona native, had his share of moments in front of 100 friends and family, but the lack of a run game — only 63 yards as a team — made it hard for the offense to find a rhythm. Lineback Joe Bachie and the MSU defense had its moments early on, but the desert heat eventually got to them as it gave up a few big plays late that cost them.
Ohio St. Buckeyes 2-0 (1-0)
Ohio St. made quick work of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to open conference play with a 52-3 trouncing. Yes, the victory was over lowly Rutgers, but it was the way it was done, that should impress Buckeyes fans. Quarterback Dewayne Haskins Jr. may not have the elusiveness of prior OSU quarterbacks but he has the quarterback acumen that many lacked, and it was on display as he passed for 233 yards and four touchdowns while only having three incompletions. Limiting Rutgers to just 134 total yards the Ohio St. defense showed that despite the roster turnover, the unit is in good hands with defensive ends Nick Bosa and Chase Young leading the way with three combined sacks.
Penn State Nittany Lions 2-0 (0-0)
Wanting to avoid another upset in the “Steel City” the Nittany Lions came out with a renewed focus in the 51-6 blowout win over the Pitt Panthers. Even in the rain, all three aspects of the Penn St. team looked to be operating at an optimal level. He may not be Saquon Barkley, but Myles Sanders (16 carries, 118 yards) showed why he was a top-rated running back coming out of high school. The PSU defense forced three turnovers, and junior defensive tackle Kevin Givens had seven tackles and two tackles-for-loss.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights 1-1 (0-1)
Chris Ash is a former Ohio St. assistant coach and he might not want to see the Buckeyes for a very long time after suffering a 52-3 defeat on Saturday. The talent gap between Rutgers and Ohio St is so vast that even when the Buckeyes played its second and third stringers, it was able to dominate. Starting quarterback Artur Sitkowski (6-of-18 38 yards, one interception) left the game due to injury, and his backup Geno Rescigno didn’t fare much better only passing for 27 yards and throwing one interception. Linebacker Trevor Morris did all he could to slow down the OSU offense, but his 11 tackles and one sack wasn’t enough.
Big Ten West Division:
Illinois Fighting Illini 2-0 (0-0)
It may not have been pretty, but the Fighting Illini got the job done in the 34-14 victory over the Western Illinois Leathernecks. The Illinois offense punted on its first four drives, and it looked like there was an upset on the horizon. Freshman QB MJ Rivers finally got things going and despite leaving with an injury seems to be the guy that can eventually rectify the issues at the position. Despite surrendering, almost 300 yards passing the Illinois defense made plays when called upon as defensive backs Michael Marchese, and Nolan Bernat both had interceptions.
Iowa Hawkeyes 2-0 (0-0)
The Cy-Hawk trophy is looking pretty comfortable in Iowa City, IA. After defeating the Iowa St. Cyclones 13-3, this is the fourth straight win in the in-state rivalry for the Iowa Hawkeyes. It may not have been pretty for Iowa — only 271 total yards and 6-of-17 on third-down conversions — but a win is still a win. The defensive unit was the star on the afternoon as Matt Hankins and A.J. Epenesa led the charge to hold Iowa State to only 188 total yards and 19 rushing yards on 25 carries. This game may not have excited those who enjoy high scoring outputs, but it will go a long way in preparing Iowa for the rough and tough Big Ten.
Minnesota Golden Gophers 2-0 (0-0)
Walk-on freshman Zack Annexstand quarterback has been thrown into the fire, but for the second straight week, he has played well enough to lead the Gophers to victory. This time it was a 21-14 win over Fresno State. The beauty of Annexstand being named quarterback with no prior collegiate experience is having support from his teammates. The Minnesota rush offense contributed 132 yards, and two touchdowns — both by Seth Green — and the defense helped as well by limiting Fresno St. to only 299 total yards and 87 rushing yards. The game was sealed when defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. intercepted a pass in the end-zone with seconds remaining.
Nebraska Cornhuskers 0-1 (0-0)
It’s usually hard to see any positives in a loss, but despite losing to the Colorado Buffalos 34-28, head coach Scott Frost has to like what he saw out of both the Nebraska offense and defense. True freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez had 304 total yards, and three touchdowns and senior linebacker Luke Gifford finished the game with 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks. The downside in the loss is the Cornhuskers offense had three turnovers; the defense surrendered 351 passing yards, and Martinez was injured in the waning moments of the fourth quarter. It still is not known the severity of his injury, but Nebraska can ill-afford to have Martinez out for an extended period with conference play starting next week.
Northwestern Wildcats 1-1 (1-0)
Quarterback Clayton Thorson was being mentioned as a legitimate NFL prospect, but after the 21-7 loss to the Duke Blue Devils, his stock has to be plummeting. The senior quarterback only completed 58% of his passes for 198 yards and one interception. The lone bright spot of the offense was the continued emergence of running back, Jeremy Larkin. The sophomore scored the only touchdown for Northwestern while rushing for 121 yards. After allowing 21 points in the first half, the Northwestern defense did its job shutting out the Blue Devils in the second half; unfortunately, the offense could not get anything going.
Purdue Boilermakers 0-2 (0-1)
Maybe it was the hangover from losing to Northwestern. Or perhaps it was an over-confident team expecting a historically bad MAC school to roll over, but the Boilermakers looked terrible in the 20-19 upset loss to the Eastern Michigan Eagles. The Boilermakers did just enough to where they should have won the game: 476 total yards, 341 yards rushing — DJ Knox ( 21 carries, 152 yards) and Markel Jones (12 carries,109 yards) — limited EMU to 69 yards rushing, but it was the brief moments of undisciplined play that cost the team. For the second consecutive week, it was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Purdue defense that allowed the opponents’ offense to sustain a drive to either run out the clock or set up the winning field goal.
Wisconsin Badgers 2-0 (0-0)
After letting the New Mexico Lobos hang around for the first quarter, the Badgers went into over-drive and never looked back in the 45-14 victory. Running back Jonathan Taylor rushed for 253 yards and scored three touchdowns, and quarterback Alex Hornibrook needed only 11 passes to throw for 148 yards. The Badgers defense played its part well on Saturday, limiting New Mexico to 211 total yards and it forced three turnovers — interceptions by Scott Nelson and Madison Cone. If Paul Chryst wants to nitpick, he could see that Hornibrook is still struggling with protecting the ball — he had one interception, pushing his career total to 23 — and that the Badgers defense only had one sack.
Sports Q&A Big 10 Player of the week:
Jonathan Taylor – RB: Wisconsin
With another dominating performance this week, Taylor is cementing himself in the top tier of early Heisman candidates and is steadily creeping up the list of top running back achievements at Wisconsin. Not bad for a kid out of New Jersey that only had P5 scholarship offers from the Wisconsin, Rutgers, and Boston College
Game of the Week
TCU vs. Ohio St. (in Dallas, TX)
The Buckeyes travel to Dallas, TX to face a TCU team that is out to prove that it has just as much talent and speed as Ohio St. This game will come down to which quarterback can make the most plays — Dewayne Haskins Jr. of OSU or Shawn Robinson of TCU. This game will be a lot closer than what many expect, but the defensive end duo of Nick Bosa and Chase Young will be too much to overcome.
Ohio State 36 TCU 24
Week 3 Picks:
PSU over Kent St.
Kansas over Rutgers
Indiana over Ball St.
Maryland over Temple
Nebraska over Troy
Michigan over SMU
Wisconsin over BYU
Minnesota over Miami (OH)
USF over Illinois
Missouri over Purdue
Iowa over Northern Iowa
Northwestern over Akron
BYE WEEK: MSU