This past weekend, the Big Ten had a very respectable showing, going 10-4 throughout college football. While no conference games were played in Week 2, we did see some highly anticipated matchups, close games, and rivalries renewed. With 14 games played this past weekend, I don’t want to jam up your time with a 3000 word article. So, for your sake, and my sanity, I’m going t break this week’s games down into two segments with seven games each. Let’s break down each Big Ten game from the second week of the 2017 college football campaign.
Purdue 44 Ohio University 21
One week after falling just a touchdown short of knocking off reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson and his Louisville Cardinals, the Purdue Boilermakers seemed to be playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulders Friday night. Gunslinger David Blough came out firing early and picked up 235 yards and three touchdowns on 11-13 passing, but it was the seldom used Purdue running game that put the Bobcats away for good. Tario Fuller carried the ball 16 times for Purdue for 142 yards and a score. The game was close after 15 minutes of play, as Ohio trailed just 10-7, but a 24 point second half for Purdue opened up a lead that Ohio simply couldn’t crawl back from, despite outscoring Purdue in the second half. There’s something different about this Purdue team in 2017. I’m not ready to crown them as Big Ten contenders with the talent at the top of the conference just yet, but with David Blough under center and Jeff Brohm at the offensive helms for the first time, this Boilermaker team is starting to create some big play ability that will keep them in many games. Purdue improved to 1-1. Ohio fell to 1-1 after winning on opening day.
Penn State 33 Pittsburgh 14
After last year’s 83 point offensive explosion, 2017’s version of this all Pennsylvania rivalry was a much more subdued one. Penn State jumped out to a 7-0 nothing lead just over two minutes into the ball game after Grant Haley stepped in front of a Max Browne pass and took it all the way back to the Pitt eight yard line. On the next play, Trace McSorley rolled out on play action and found Mike Gesicki in the back of the endzone for a touchdown. The Nittany Lion scored again to make it 14-0 with five minutes to go in the first quarter. Only three more points were scored the rest of the half. While Penn State added 19 second half points and came away with a 19 point victory, it was somewhat of a ho-hum game for the Nittany Lions. The offense didn’t look quite as explosive as they did in Week 1, but the defense played just as well, holding Pitt to just one touchdown all day. McSorley threw for just 164 yards, throwing two touchdowns to Gesicki and one to Saquon Barkley. Juwan Johnson was held to just one catch after having a big day against Akron last week. Pitt’s run heavy offense was forced to throw the ball often as the game progressed, and while Qadree Ollison found success running the ball for 96 yards on 15 carries, it was Max Browne and Ben Dinucci throwing the ball a combined 41 times that doomed Pat Narduzzi’s Panthers. Penn State improved to 2-0, while Pitt fell to 1-1. Despite the win, Penn State fell one spot in the college football rankings, dropping from four to five.
Oklahoma 31 Ohio State 16
For the second year in a row, these two teams matched up early in the season as top 25 opponents. And for the second year in a row, the road team got the better of the home team. The Sooners went into Columbus as the fifth ranked team in the nation, set to take on the number two ranked Buckeyes. Revenge was on the minds of every player in the Oklahoma locker room after being beaten last year 45-24 in Norman. Baker Mayfield led the charge for the Sooner offense, throwing for 386 yards and three touchdowns. He connected with nine different receivers throughout the game. While Mayfield helped the Sooner offense roll, it was the defense that should be considered the stars of this game. They held the Buckeyes to just 16 points and 350 total yards, including just 183 from J.T. Barrett’s arm. J.T. Barrett, for being the best quarterback in the Big Ten, is a coin flip player. What I mean by that is, you could flip a coin to determine which Barrett you’re going to get that day. Heads, you get record breaking J.T. Barrett who’s capable of leading the Buckeyes to the college football playoff. Tails, you get indecisive J.T. Barrett who looks lost at times on the field with his decision making, holds onto the ball for too long and doesn’t make sharp passes. On Saturday, the Buckeyes got tails. Ohio State fell six spots in the rankings, from two to eight. Oklahoma climbed from five to two, jumping Penn State and Clemson. The Buckeyes are now 1-1. Oklahoma is 2-0.
Michigan 36 Cincinnati 14
I’m not quite sure why so many people were so intrigued by this game. If you looked around on college pregame shows and reports leading up to the week, this was a game that many experts said was an upset alert. I just didn’t see it. And while Michigan didn’t blow the Bearcats out of existence, they did make sure this game never really felt like a game. Wilton Speight did exactly what the Wolverines ask him to do every week: Don’t turn the ball over too much and make smart decisions. He was 17-29 for 221 yards and two touchdowns. While he did lose a fumble on the day, Speight is generally a sure handed quarterback, and that won’t happen all that often this season. What I did learn from Speight, even though this was more common knowledge that a deep, dark secret, is that he is, quite possibly, the slowest human being on the planet. Watching him move in the pocket is like watching grass grow, paint dry, or any other metaphor one could dial up. The Wolverines pounded the ball on the ground, giving Ty Isaac 20 carries, which he turned into 133 yards. Most importantly, the smothering Michigan defense came out to play again this weekend. Led by Tyree Kinnel and Lavert Hill pick sixes, the Michigan defense made junior quarterback Hayden Moore uncomfortable all day long. He was just 15-40 through the air, picking up 132 yards. The Wolverines improve to 2-0 and climb three spots in the rankings, up from 11th the eighth. Cincinnati falls to 1-1 on the season after the lopsided loss.
Wisconsin 31 Florida Atlantic 14
If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that Wisconsin has a plug and place format to win games. Generate a solid pass rush, get your defense off the the field and your offense on the field, run the ball down opponents’ throats with a power run game and good offensive line. When guys graduate, copy and paste the next options into the lineup and repeat. That’s exactly what Paul Chryst did this weekend against an over-matched Florida Atlantic team, and it’s why the score isn’t as dramatic as one would have assumed. Wisconsin held the ball for over 38 minutes in this one and used the run 54 times to control all phases of the game. True freshman Jonathan Taylor had an explosive day against the Owls, carrying the ball 26 times for 223 yards. He found pay dirt three times as well. The rest of the Badgers’ rushing attack picked up an additional 28 carries and 134 yards. The Wisconsin defense did it’s job, as well, holding FAU to just 248 total yards on offense. Amazingly enough, the Owls’ offense didn’t turn the ball over once on Saturday, they simply couldn’t muster any sustained momentum at any point. The Badgers improve to 2-0 on the season, but don’t move anywhere in the rankings, staying put at number nine. The Owls drop to 0-2.
Duke 41 Northwestern 17
I’m going to break this down as plain and simple as I possibly can. I was flat out wrong on this game. I expected Northwestern to roll through Duke in route to a victory. Maybe roll through isn’t the right word, but I did not expect a roll through of sorts from the other side. Duke was better in every facet of the game on Saturday. Quarterback Daniel Jones completed 29 of 45 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns. The Blue Devil rushing attack carried the ball 59 times, including 16 from Jones, for 233 yards and three scores. That’s a total of 104 plays run by the Duke offense compared to just 54 from Northwestern. Duke held the football for over 41 minutes in the game, keeping Northwestern biggest weapon, quarterback Clayton Thorson on the sideline. But even when Thorson was in the game, he was dreadful. He completed 11 of 29 passes for just 120 yards. He did throw a touchdown, but he was also intercepted twice, both by Mark Gilbert. Matt Alvitti came into the game for mop up duty and throw a touchdown on 3-4 passing for 41 yards. That was, however, primarily against Duke’s second string defense. Duke improves to 2-0 in 2017, as they’ve outscored opponents 101-24 in two games. The Wildcats fall to 1-1 and have just one more non-conference game remaining as back to back meetings with Wisconsin and Penn State loom.
Iowa 44 Iowa State 41
The Cy-Hawk rivalry was renewed early in 2017, and this one didn’t disappoint if you like offensive shootouts. For the Hawkeyes, it was quarterback Nathan Stanley leading the way. After throwing for just 125 yards on eight completions, despite three touchdown passes, Stanley struggled in his first start since replacing C.J. Beathard at quarterback. This weekend, we saw a different Stanley, as the sophomore completed 27 of 41 passes for 333 yards and five touchdowns to four different receivers. Running back Akrum Wadley was both the leading rusher and receiver on the day, running 28 times for 118 yards and a score. He also caught four passes for 72 yards and one touchdown. On the flip side, Jacob Park was nearly as good at quarterback for the Cyclones. He threw for 347 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He completed a pass to eight different receivers on the day. In total, the two teams combined for 964 total yards of offense, 51 first downs, and 11 touchdowns. Four quarters of high powered offense wasn’t enough to determine a winner in this one, as the game went into overtime. Iowa managed two field goals to ISU’s one, and that’s how things ended. Iowa improves to 2-0, while Iowa State falls to 1-1. Iowa has now claimed the last three Cy-Hawk series games, and lead the overall series 43-22. Iowa State hasn’t won that many in a row since they ran off five in row from 1998-2002.
Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports