Week 2 is in the books, and the Big Ten fared a little better this week as only one team lost out of conference, but that doesn’t mean other teams weren’t pushed to the final whistle. As a fan of any of these 14 programs, after two weeks you’d like to have a better understanding of the direction of the team, but most teams have more questions than answers.
Big Ten East Division:
Indiana Hoosiers 2-0 (0-0)
Ho hum the Hoosiers easily defeated the Eastern Illinois Panthers 52-0. Whenever you face an FCS school you are forced to deal with an interesting conundrum; win big and that’s what was supposed to happen, play an unexpectedly close game, and the sky begins to fall. Luckily for Indiana, it was the former as quarterbacks Michael Penix Jr. 197 yards, two touchdowns) and Peyton Ramsey (226 yards, two touchdowns) combined to complete 73% of their passes for 413 yards. Even with a win this big, the team still has a lot to work on before conference play as star sophomore running back Stevie Scott II had an unspectacular game (12 carries, 61 yards) and the defense did not force a single turnover. There’s little time for adjustments as the Hoosiers begin conference play next week versus Ohio St.
Maryland Terrapins 2-0 (0-0)
Everyone was skeptical after last week’s thrashing, but you cannot deny the fact that Maryland opened some national eyes as it thrashed the No. 21 ranked Syracuse Orangemen 63-20. Is it the new offense from head coach Mike Locksley or better-than-good quarterback play from Virginia Tech transfer Josh Jackson (296 yards, three touchdowns)? Either way, something feels different in College Park, MD and the Terrapin fans have a lot to be excited for. Not to be left out the Maryland defense has also been sparked by a transfer, former Ohio St. linebacker Keandre Jones followed up a productive opening week game with an even better performance finishing the game with eight tackles and two sacks.
Michigan Wolverines 2-0 (0-0)
Everyone predicted the matchup with the Army Black Knights to be close, but no one thought it would be this tight as the Wolverines needed a field goal in double overtime to avoid the upset. The game was only in doubt because the Wolverines offense struggled with ball security as it fumbled three times, two by quarterback Shea Patterson. Rather than exploit the Army defense through the air — where it had the decided advantage — Jim Harbaugh reverted back to his old ways of constantly running up the middle which played right into the hands of Army. Freshman Zach Charbonnet recorded the first 100-yard game of his career, but it took 33 carries. Defensive end Kwity Paye had the play of the game as he sacked Army’s quarterback and recovered the fumble to clinch the victory. The Wolverines have two weeks to prepare for its next opponent which means it has time to fix the issues that have plagued them the first two weeks of the season. If not, it will be a long year for the Michigan faithful
Michigan St. Spartans 2-0 (0-0)
After looking like the Spartans of last year in Week 1, Michigan St. had one of its best offensive outputs in years with the 51-17 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos. Quarterback Brian Lewerke passed for 314 yards and three touchdowns and the Spartans may have found its next star running back in freshman Elijah Collins, who rushed for 192 yards on 17 carries. Receiver Darrell Stewart Jr. also had a career game catching 10 passes for 185 yards. Some will say consider the opponent, but MSU fans have to be impressed with this output considering the struggles of last season. Linebacker Tyriq Thompson recorded an interception and defensive end Kenny Willekes had two sacks for a defensive unit that limited Western to 67 yards rushing. The revenge tour visits East Lansing, MI as the Spartans look for a victory over the Arizona St. Sun Devils.
Ohio St. Buckeyes 2-0 (0-0)
For those who took the second-half struggles by the Buckeyes as a sign of weakness, the Buckeyes proved them wrong with a dominating 42-0 win over the Cincinnati Bearcats. Quarterback Justin Fields finished with another strong game passing for 224 yards and two touchdowns. After having an atypical game to start the season, running back, JK Dobbins rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns on only 17 carries. If he can continue to take advantage of teams having to account for Field’s running ability, he could have an even bigger season than expected. The Buckeyes defense finished the day with five sacks, two by defensive end Chase Young, and look better prepared than they did versus Florida Atlantic. OSU has four weeks before facing a legit defense, so the offense has time to make any adjustments that head coach Ryan Day deems necessary.
Penn State Nittany Lions 2-0 (0-0)
For one half against the Buffalo Bulls, it looked as if the Nittany Lions season was on the brink of suffering a massive upset. But interception return for a touchdown by John Reid opened the floodgates, and the Nittany Lions cruised to a 45-13 win. Sean Clifford had another productive game passing for 279 yards and four touchdowns, but there has to be some concern with the rushing offense as he was also the teams leading rusher with only 51 yards. No PSU running back finished with over 30 yards. Other than the interception by Reid, the PSU defense also left a lot to be desired as it did not register a sack and surrendered 184 yards rushing. Maybe the team read too many cyber press clippings, but despite winning by 32 points, the team seemed to be lethargic all evening.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights 1-1 (0-1)
After an impressive Week 1 win, the Scarlet Knights reverted back to the team we knew and loathed as they opened conference play with a 30-0 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes. McLane Carter and Artur Sitkowski combined for only 47 yards on 10 completions. That type of quarterback play is unacceptable from a coaching staff that has been in place for 3 years. The defense didn’t fare much better as it allowed 194 rushing yards and only forced one sack. The clock is ticking for head coach Chris Ash, and with losses like this, the ticking gets louder.
Big Ten West Division:
Illinois Fighting Illini 2-0 (0-0)
There were a lot of firsts in the Fighting Illini’s 31-23 win over the UConn Huskies on Saturday. It was the first non-conference road win in 12 seasons and it the first extended action for freshman running back Jakari Norwood. Both Mike Epstein and Reggie Corbin were out due to injuries, and the true freshman stepped in with 62 yards on six carries. Without an experienced rushing attack, the pressure was placed on Michigan transfer quarterback Brandon Peters, and he stepped up passing for 227 yards and four touchdowns. With the game still in doubt linebacker, Dele Harding came up with a critical interception to seal the victory. Illinois seems to be trending in the right direction, but without its two best running backs, you have to wonder how things will be against tougher competition.
Iowa Hawkeyes 2-0 (1-0)
The score in the 30-0 victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights seems impressive, but when you dig into the stats, there’s still a lot to improve in Iowa City, IA. Despite quarterback Nate Stanley passing for 236 yards and three touchdowns, he only completed 55% of his passes, and the Iowa offense only converted 2-of-13 third-down conversions for the game. Defensively the Hawkeyes fared much better limiting Rutgers to only 125 total yards. Despite all the preseason hype, defensive end AJ Epenesa is off to a slow start in 2019 as he only has one sack and three tackles. As the competition stiffens, Iowa will need him to do a lot more.
Minnesota Golden Gophers 2-0 (0-0)
For the second straight week the Golden Gophers took things to the wire with an opponent; this week it was a 38-35 win over the Fresno St. Bulldogs. Quarterback Tanner Morgan was able to overcome three fumbles to connect with receiver Chris Autman-Bell for a 20-yard touchdown to tie the game at 28 and eventually send the game into overtime. The Minnesota defense had its good moments — interceptions by Antoine Winfield Jr. and Kiondre Thomas — it has to do a better job of not surrendering as many yards to lesser teams. Minnesota has one more warm-up game before opening up conference play against Purdue in two weeks.
Nebraska Cornhuskers 1-1 (0-0)
For the second straight year, the Cornhuskers came up short against its former Big 12 rival. Unfortunately, this season’s 34-31 loss to the Colorado Buffalos had to sting more because Nebraska was up 17-0 in the third quarter. Running back Maurice Washington finished the game with 195 total yards and one touchdown, including a 75-yard touchdown. Receiver JD Spielman, had 112 yards on five catches but it wasn’t enough for a Nebraska team that seemed to take its foot off the gas at the most inopportune time. Despite passing for 290 yards, Adrian Martinez had three turnovers in the final five drives for Nebraska which opened the door for the upset. Senior cornerback Lamar Jackson had an interception, but the Nebraska defense was unable to stave off the momentum forged by the Colorado offense late in the game. Head coach Scott Frost has to be tired of lessons learned from losses and will have to start winning these types of games sooner than later.
Northwestern Wildcats 1-1 (1-0)
no game scheduled
Purdue Boilermakers 1-1 (0-0)
After a disappointing loss in Week 1, the Boilermakers bounced back with a convincing 42-24 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores. Silencing his critics, quarterback Elijah Sindelar came through with a career-high 509 yards and five touchdowns and looked ready to be the quarterback that Purdue needs to go to the next level. Sophomore sensation Rondele Moore was his favorite target and finished with a career-high 220 yards on 13 catches. The pass defense was almost as bad as the pass offense as it gave up 420 yards through the air. Cornerback Dedrick Mackey did have an interception, but head coach Jeff Brohm must tighten up things on that side of the ball if it wants to be competitive within the conference.
Wisconsin Badgers 2-0 (0-0)
The dominance continues for the Badgers as Wisconsin crushed the Central Michigan Chippewas 61-0. During the spring there were discussions over who should be the Badgers starting quarterback. After two games junior Jack Coan is showing that head coach Paul Chryst made the right decision in naming him the starter. Coan passed for 363 yards and three touchdowns and led Wisconsin to four touchdown drives in the first half. Because of Coan’s stellar game, running back Jonathan Taylor was not needed as much but still registered the 24th 100-yard game of his career as he ran for 102 yards on 19 carries. Defensively the Badgers continued to be stout limiting Central Michigan to only 58 total yards and three first downs
Sports Q&A Big 10 Player of the week:
Elijah Collins RB – MSU
The Spartans have been looking for a difference-maker at running back, and Collins put his name at the top of the list with an outstanding performance on Saturday. His burst and ability to quickly hit the hole is something that could pay dividends later in the season as the competition gets stiffer.
Game of the Week
Arizona St. vs. Michigan St.
Homefield advantage played a significant factor in last years win for Arizona St., this year the home cooking and comfy beds will pay dividends for the Spartans this time. The offense got into gear last week versus Western Michigan, and I expect Brian Lewerke and company to keep things going versus the Sun Devils
Michigan St. 31 Arizona St. 20
Week 3 Picks:
Ohio St. over Indiana
Nebraska over Northern Illinois
Purdue over TCU
Iowa St. over Iowa
Minnesota over Georgia Southern
Northwestern over UNLV
Illinois over Eastern Michigan
Maryland over Temple
Penn St. over Pitt
BYE WEEK: Michigan, Wisconsin