In the first installment of looking around the Big Ten games for Week 2 of the college football season, we parsed through half of the schedule. Now, we’ll do the same, as we dive into the last seven games that took place this past weekend around the Big Ten.
Maryland 63 Towson 17
In state, pay for play games are common between FCS and FBS teams in the early part of each season, and this one went just as expected. The Terrapins dominated from start to finish in this one, never trailing, and taking a 21-0 lead into halftime. A week after upsetting Texas on the road, the Terps start the season 2-0 for the second year in a row. Last year, the team ran off four straight to open the campaign, but finished just 6-6 in the regular season. Freshman Kasim Hill made his first collegiate start in this one after sitting behind Tyrrell Pigrome in game one. Hill threw just three incomplete passes all afternoon, going 13-16, with 163 yards and two scores. It was the rushing attack, however, that paced the Terps all afternoon. Maryland ran the ball 36 times with eight different players for 367 yards and six rushing touchdowns. The offense was headlined by Ty Johnson, who carried the ball just five times, but picked up 124 yards and two touchdowns, including one that went for 74 yards. I’m not entirely sold on Mryland just yet, as, like mentioned earlier, they dropped six of their last nine to end 2016, but the first two victories are a step in the right direction. They’ll play one final non-conference game next week, as they welcome UCF to College Park. I’d expect the team to be undefeated heading into Big Ten play.
Indiana 34 Virginia 17
The Indiana Hoosiers bounced back in a big way after a crushing defeat at the hands of Ohio State to open up the season last week. After holding a lead into the third quarter, the overmatched Hoosiers fell to the powerful Buckeyes 49-21 in a game that felt closer than the score indicated. This past weekend, Indiana faced a much more manageable foe in Virginia. The Hoosiers doubled up the Cavaliers, behind the arm of quarterback Peyton Ramsey, who replaced the ineffective Richard Lagow midway through the game. Lagow was 3-10 for 24 yards and an interception when Ramsey stepped in. Ramsey finished the contest, completing 80 percent of his passes for 173 yards and two scores. The dual-threat quarterback added a touchdown and 45 yards on 12 carries. For the second week in a row, the 6’4″ Simmie Cobbs created mismatches for opposing cornerbacks, using his size and ability to go up and get balls to his advantage. Cobbs caught five passes for 62 yards and touchdown. Indiana is an offense that relies heavily on their passing attack, whether it be Ramsey or Lagow under center. They thrive when the offense can get Cobbs and Donovan Hale involved. Both high point the ball extremely effectively, and dominant smaller, slimmer corners. The Hoosiers won’t play next week because of the impact Hurricane Irma had on Florida International. They’ve canceled the game and scheduled a third non-conference game against Georgia Southern in two weeks time.Indiana improves to 1-1 on the season, as Virginia falls to 1-1 in 2017.
Michigan State 28 Western Michigan 14
It’s amazing the difference a year and a new head coach makes. Last year, the Broncos were the Cinderella team of the country, finishing the season a perfect 13-0 after winning the MAC. Head Coach P.J. Fleck rowed his boat right on down ti a higher paying job at Minnesota, leaving the Broncos behind. They’ve now fallen to 0-2 on the season after dropping one to in-state rival Michigan State. Brian Lewerke wasn’t great in this one, but he did enough to get the job done. HE was 13-21 for 161 yards and a touchdown and interception each. What he lacked in the passing department, he made up with his legs. Lewerke ran nine times for 81 yards and two touchdowns. Running back L.J. Scott also punched it in once and picked up 86 yards on 18 carries. But it was the Michigan State defense that was really the star of the show this weekend. They held the Broncos to 195 total yards from scrimmage and just 11 first downs all game. This didn’t necessarily transition into a large spread of time possession, as Michigan State used just over 30 minutes of offense to win this one. They did however score their two touchdowns in the first half on nine plays, going 130 yards in just over four and half minutes in two combined possessions. That’s efficiency on offense. The Spartans improve to 2-0 and await the Notre Dame fighting Irish next weekend. Heed caution with Michigan State, however. Last year, the Spartans also started 2-0, but the eventually finished the season 3-9. This is a better Sparty team than last year, but I’d tread lightly on this team still.
Eastern Michigan 16 Rutgers 14
We won’t hang too long on this game. It’s two of the worst teams in college football going head to head. In fact, to prove how bad Rutgers really is, here are some stats on Eastern Michigan. Overall, EMU is 100 games under .500 in the program’s history. They’ve appeared in two bowls games all time, one being last season against Old Dominion in the Participation Bowl for Players Who Try Hard. (Seriously, it was the Bahamas Bowl, and I’d have killed for a trip to the Bahamas over Winter Break as a student). But you get my point. Rutgers lost to them, and fell to 0-2. Giovanni Rescigno lost his starting job after just one week to backup Kyle Bolin, who proceeded to throw two interceptions and complete just 17 of 37 passes for 198 yards. Janarion Grant seems to be the only plus side to this Scarlet Knights offense that has been ineffective for two weeks in a row now. While Eastern Michigan wasn’t spectacular by any means, they did what they were supposed to do by protected the football and playing good defense. It’s unfortunate that running back Shaw Vann doesn’t play behind a better offensive line, because the kid is a linebacker in a running backs uniform. He’s 5’10”, 220 pounds and boulders through the line like he’s a wrecking ball. He could be a guy to watch as draft time rolls around to be a steal late into the fourth-sixth rounds. Eastern Michigan wins their second game this season and are a third of the way to being bowl eligible for the second year in a row. They’ll play a conference game next week against Ohio before a big test against Kentucky looms in a few weeks. Rutgers drops to 0-2 and will have to now win seven of their final ten to be eligible for a bow game because they play Morgan State, an FCS team, next week.
Oregon 42 Nebraska 35
It was a valiant effort by the Cornhuskers to make this a competitive game after going into the locker room trailing 42-14, but Nebraska came up just short in year two of this matchup. The Huskers held the Ducks off the scoreboard for the final 30 minutes of football and scored the game’s final 21 points, but couldn’t combat the insurmountable odds stacked against them. UNC transfer Tanner Lee has an abysmal day, throwing four interceptions and completing just 19 of 41 attempts. He did contribute three touchdowns through the air and added 252 passing yards, but the four turnovers are what eventually doomed Nebraska. The seemingly revamped Ducks punched Nebraska in the face from the get-go with the ground game, amassing 201 rushing yards on 41 carries. Royce Freeman led the way for Oregon with 153 yards and two scores on 29 carries. Quarterback Justin Herbert was a bigger part of the offense this week than he was last week in the 77-21 blowout win over Southern Utah. He threw for 365 yards in this one, finding the endzone three times. Herbert also threw one interception on the day. The Ducks outgained the Huskers by nearly 200 Saturday while picking up just three more first downs. That speaks to the fluidity and speed of the Oregon attack when it gets going. Nebraska falls to 1-1 with the loss and will play one final non-conference game against Northern Illinois next weekend. Oregon improves to 2-0 and will head on the road next week to take on future first round pick quarterback Jake Allen and the Wyoming Cowboys.
Illinois 20 Western Kentucky 7
Western Kentucky has scored 38 points combined this season in the two games they’ve played. Last year, the team averaged 45.2 points per game, the best in all of college football. The year before, they were second, only to Baylor, with 44.3 points per game. Through two games this year, they’re averaging 19. But give credit where credit is due to the Illini in this one. They held down an explosive passing attack all afternoon, limiting the Hilltoppers to 238 passing yards and no touchdowns. Maybe even more impressive was the Illinois run defense. While Western Kentucky doesn’t run the ball all to often, it’s still noteworthy that the Illini defense held the WKU rushing attack to six yards on 16 carries. That’s 0.4 yards per attempt. On the flip side, the Illini relied heavily on the run to beat the Hilltoppers’ defense into submission. Lovie SMith dialed up 50 run play on the day, resulting in 193 rushing yards and touchdown. Defensive back Julian Jones also picked off a pass and ran it back for a touchdown for Illinois, resulting in their other score. The Illini improve to 2-0, but will face their first true test of the season this weekend, when they head to South Florida to take on the 22nd ranked Bulls. WKU falls to 1-1 on the season and will begin Conference USA play next weekend with a matchup against Louisiana Tech.
Minnesota 48 Oregon State 14
These articles seem to come “Circle of Life” with P.J. Fleck. I can’t get away from him. He’s 15-0 in non-bowl games over the last two seasons now as his Gophers dismantled the Beavers of Oregon State, who already have three games and thousands of travel miles under the belts. Minnesota held a 20-14 lead going into halftime, but shut the Beavers out in the second half while scoring 28 unanswered points to get the blowout victory you see in front of you. The Gophers pounded the football 58 times in this one and held the ball for over 38 minutes to pick up their second win of the season. The rushing attack was headlined by Rodney Smith, who ran the ball 30 times for 92 times and a touchdown. It was spelling running back Shannon Brooks who did the damage though, rushing for 91 yards on 17 carries. He found the endzone three times in this one. The Minnesota offense as a whole succeeded, especially on third down. THe Gophers converted nine of 13 third down attempts, compared to just three of 11 from Oregon State. The Minnesota defense locked down, especially in the second half, forcing three Beaver fumbles that turned into 17 Minnesota points. Minnesota takes their 2-0 record back home to play Middle Tennessee State next weekend. Oregon State falls to 1-2 and things won’t get any easier for them, as they’ll take on #22 Washington State, #6 Washington and #4 USC over the next three games, two of which are on the road. Don’t be surprised to see Oregon State quickly fall to 1-5.
Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports