Michigan fans, I’m sorry. You have probably had a rough couple of days. Other than that, it was a pretty successful opening weekend for the Big Ten. Michigan and Purdue were the only teams that lost, but it could’ve been a lot worse if Penn State and Michigan State didn’t escape with victories.
Let’s take a look at the Big Ten Week 2 Power Rankings.
14. Illinois (1-0)
Beat Kent State, 31-24
Lovie Smith gets a W! After a disastrous first half, the Illini were down 17-3 to Kent State. Illinois went on to outscore Kent State 28-7 in the second half, which was capped off by a late fourth quarter touchdown by running back Reggie Corbin to take the lead. The star of the game was quarterback AJ Bush, who threw for 190 yards and rushed for 139 yards. It’s only one game against Kent State, but this was a good come-from-behind win for Illinois.
13. Rutgers (1-0)
Beat Texas State, 35-7
Just a week ago, I said that “Rutgers is not very good, but they’re not as bad as you think.” After a 35-7 win against Texas State, I stand by that statement. Going into the season, the defense was set to carry the team, and they showed up in a big way, only surrendering 176 yards of total offense. Rutgers may also have a three-headed monster in the backfield as Isaih Pacheco, Raheem Blackshear, and Jonathan Hillman combined for nearly 200 yards rushing and 3 TDs. There is no time to dwell on this victory as the Scarlet Knights travel to Ohio State in week 2.
12. Purdue (0-1)
Lost to Northwestern, 31-27
One of the few teams that lost in the Big Ten was Purdue, who suffered an opening night setback at the hands of Northwestern. It’s hard to win games when you fall behind 14-0 in the first quarter, which is exactly what happened to the Boilermakers. The offense combined for 472 yards, but 3 INTs from quarterback Elijah Sindelar, who was eventually benched, proved to be costly. Purdue made it to a bowl game last season after starting the season 0-1. Maybe history will repeat itself.
11. Nebraska (0-0)
Game vs. Akron was canceled
I have nothing to say about Nebraska because they were not able to play due to weather. Tune in next week for Scott Frost’s debut!
10. Minnesota (1-0)
Beat New Mexico State, 48-10
Row the boat! After falling behind 10-7 in the second quarter, Minnesota scored 41 unanswered points and blew out New Mexico State, 48-10. True freshman Zack Annexstad had a solid debut, throwing for 2 TDs, while the ground game led by Rodney Smith and Mohamed Ibrahim rushed for over 250 yards combined. It’s hard to decipher week 1 victories against inferior competition, but a win is a win so enjoy it, Gopher fans.
9. Indiana (1-0)
Beat Florida International, 38-28
Indiana winning a game with 465 yards of total offense is something I did not expect to write after week 1. The offense looked fast and versatile as quarterbacks Peyton Ramsey and Michael Penix Jr. combined for four touchdown passes. Once again, it’s hard to judge a week 1 victory vs. inferior competition, but Indiana fans have to be happy after watching an offense that was supposed to have question marks going into the season.
8. Maryland (1-0)
Beat Texas, 34-29
The Terps did it again! Last year’s shootout victory over Texas was no fluke because the Terps took down the Longhorns for the second straight year after a 34-29 victory. Receiver Jeshuan James was the story early on as he caught a touchdown, ran for a touchdown, and threw for a touchdown. That’s a pretty good day if you’re asking me. My biggest takeaway was how Maryland responded after the death of lineman Jordan McNair and the absence of coach DJ Durkin. If Maryland continues to rally in the face of controversy, maybe another upset victory is more than attainable.
7. Iowa (1-0)
Beat Northern Illinois, 33-7
To any opponent that plays Iowa at Kinnick Stadium, good luck because you are going to need it. Iowa did what a typical Kirk Ferentz team does during games. They run the ball (209 yards rushing), make few mistakes (only 1 turnover), beat you up on defense, and control the field. That strategy was too much for Northern Illinois. Expect Kinnick to be rocking again this Saturday when the Hawkeyes take on rival Iowa State.
6. Michigan (0-1)
Lost to Notre Dame, 24-17
Cue the “Jim Harbaugh is overrated” opinions because the 100 articles written with that viewpoint are not enough after Michigan’s 24-17 loss to Notre Dame. I’m obviously being sarcastic, but 8-8 in his last 16 games at Michigan is not a good look for Harbaugh. However, I’m not calling him overrated just yet. A fluke play against Michigan State and the worst ball spot in the history of officiating against Ohio State potentially kept Michigan out of the playoff a few years back. If those two plays go in Harbaugh’s favor, his entire tenure at Michigan changes dramatically. Against one of the best defenses in the country in Notre Dame, quarterback Shea Patterson was not as bad as the media is making him out to be. The Wolverine defense is very good, so the offense has some catching up to do in the upcoming weeks before conference play begins.
5. Northwestern (1-0)
Beat Purdue, 31-27
After scoring 31 points in the first half, Northwestern threw up a goose egg in the second half, but they held on to beat Purdue by 4 points. The leader of the Wildcats offense was not veteran quarterback Clayton Thorson, but running back Jeremy Larkin, who ran for 143 yards and two scores. The defense may have bent, but it didn’t break as they forced three turnovers, which proved to be the difference. I could see the ‘Cats at 3-0 before their showdown with Michigan at the end of the month.
4. Penn State (1-0)
Beat Appalachian State, 45-38 in OT
First of all, when will Big Ten teams learn to not schedule Appalachian State in home openers? By the skin of their teeth, Penn State avoided the monumental upset with a 45-38 victory in overtime. If the Nittany Lions did not have quarterback Trace McSorley, this team is 0-1. McSorley took the field down a touchdown with under 2 minutes remaining. A few plays later, Trace fired a touchdown pass to KJ Hamler in the back of the end zone to tie the score with 42 seconds left before going on to win in overtime. Was this a fluke game or should Penn State fans be nervous for the upcoming season? I’m leaning towards nerves.
3. Michigan State (1-0)
Beat Utah State, 38-31
Speaking of teams who squeaked out a victory, Michigan State had to pull out all the stops to defeat a tough Utah State team. Just like Penn State, Michigan State had the ball late in the fourth quarter, needing a touchdown to take the lead. After an insane catch by Felton Davis, the Spartans punched the ball into the end zone shortly after and held on to avoid the upset. I pose the same question as I did above. Was this a fluke game or should Michigan State fans be nervous for the upcoming season? Once again, I’m leaning towards nerves. It’s hard for me to believe in a team that doesn’t come out firing in week 1.
2. Wisconsin (1-0)
Beat Western Kentucky, 34-3
The Badgers started off slow but scored 24 unanswered points in the first half on their way to a 34-3 victory of Western Kentucky. I knew Jonathan Taylor would be a stud out of the backfield (145 yards and two TDs), but quarterback Alex Hornibrook impressed me the most. Hornibrook was efficient and confident as the lefty surpassed 250 yards in the air with two TDs. The more I think about it, the more I believe that Wisconsin will once again go undefeated and face Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.
1. Ohio State (1-0)
Beat Oregon State, 77-31
The only surprise here was the score. I didn’t expect Ohio State to score 77 points, but I also didn’t expect their defense with NFL talent to surrender 31 points. If you didn’t believe that quarterback Dwayne Haskins would be able to replace J.T. Barrett, you were completely wrong as Haskins threw for over 300 yards and 5 TDs. Expect another blowout with week against Rutgers before their big showdown with TCU in two weeks.