This week’s theme from the Big Ten…sloppiness. Ohio State’s sloppy play was in the form of apathy against the overmatched Bulls who made it much closer than it should have been. Nebraska gave up a school record 72 million yards to Wyoming. I’m told that is a bit high. Fine, it was only 602. Michigan State mustered just 12 points of offense, but looked good on the scoreboard thanks to two defensive touchdowns. Iowa collapsed late and Purdue accidently sent out the intramural flag football squad. Even winning teams in Illinois, Penn State and Northwestern all have room for improvement. Michigan snags the top spot for showing up to play, playing about as cleanly as you can expect on opening day and dismantling a team early. Wisconsin did the same; however, based on the competition (or lack there of) with UMass, they move just one position.
Hopefully this isn’t your first time check out a stock report, but if it is…The above chart is the power rankings of the league. The buying/holding/selling stock in a team is relative to preseason expectations, making a better bowl, or surprising the league and competing for a division title. Just because I’m buying a lot of stock in a team doesn’t mean I think they are better than the first place team. Now that we are all in sync, let’s get after it!
Michigan: It was Central Michigan, but boy did the Wolverines’ offensive line look good in front of Gardner, letting him make some big plays. If they execute in Week 2 against Notre Dame like they did against CMU, we may have a new Big Ten favorite. Also, it doesn’t matter who it’s against, allowing just 3.7 yards per play defensively is silly. Kudos to the coaches for the game plan and a big slap on the back to the kids who made it happen. Week 1 Grade: A
Michigan State: I’m still buying this team. They have more options behind Maxwell if he continues to struggle generating points. The defense is clearly as good as advertised. Week 1 Grade: C+
Northwestern: The concern with the Wildcats has always been defense under Fitzgerald, which is strange since he was the best linebacker NU ever produced. They flustered a young Cal QB into horrible decisions all day long, resulting in 3 INTs; two of which were returned for scores by Collin Ellis. I know 548 yards is a lot to give up, but Cal is also coached by Sonny Dykes who oversaw the number one offense a season ago. I expect this game to be an anomaly when its all said and done. Week 1 Grade: B
Ohio State: Was it the competition or does this team have some holes? A little bit of both in all honesty, but you can’t be too mad about how things went. First of all, they were up 23-0 after a quarter so it is only human to take the foot off the gas. Secondly, Jordan Hall had an amazing day rushing the ball and Braxton Miller was Braxton Miller. Week 1 Grade: B
Penn State: With a true-freshman QB getting the nod, we knew they’d be a work in progress, but the defense played pretty well against Syracuse. While the four turnovers were downright ugly, the defense forced three of their own and made the Orange struggle for every inch en route to a pedestrian 260 yard day. Penn State’s 57 yards on the ground will not cut it though. Week 1 Grade: C+
Wisconsin: Speaking of rushing, UW had three 100+ yards backs, two 130+ runners and the defense pitched a shut out. Stave even warmed up a bit in the second half. All in all, a perfect debut for Gary Andersen. Week 1 Grade: A
Indiana: Scoring 73 points is really impressive, but the Hoosiers also gave a up a lot and let Indiana State make it a ball game in the 3rd quarter. Still, the improvement was obvious and as much love as we gave the IU passing game in the offseason, how about the balance they showed with 319 passing yards and 313 rushing yards. If they can keep even a 220 and 200 split, that balance will make them deadly. Week 1 Grade: A-
Nebraska: As stated at the top, 602 yards is a joke. I know Wyoming is considered one of the better offensive teams in the Mountain West, but this is a Big Ten title hopeful in their home stadium, on opening day. Memo to Lincoln: No Blackshirt talk until they can hold someone to sub 300 rushing and / or hold a team to sub 13 on the scoreboard. Week 1 Grade: C-
Illinois: The Illini’s ugly defense nearly cost them the game against FCS Southern Illinois. They also had two turnovers and under 50 rushing yards. Throwing for 415 yards is great, but look at the competition. Does anyone think 50 rushing yards will be enough in a league game? Week 1 Grade: B-
Iowa: New season, same Greg Davis. Facing a crucial third and nine in what could be the game winning drive he throws a bubble screen. Earlier in the second half on a third and short he calls a deep pass. On another third and short a trick play that results in confusion and caused a five yard motion penalty. The two third and short calls were idiotic because the rushing game had 202 yards for the game and Weisman averaged five yards a carry. Three turnovers, six penalties and a 7-for-17 day on third down. The offense also only produced 20 points, a number less than last year’s pathetic effort. If Ferentz can’t get his coordinator to do an intelligent job, the focus is going to be turned to him; even more than it already is. Week 1 Grade: C-
Minnesota: Oh come on Josh this isn’t fair—they beat UNLV. Well, they crushed UNLV, but the stats were bad. Out gained, fewer first downs and 99 passing yards. Philip Nelson continues to prove he is not an elite quarterback. To heck with elite, he has yet to prove he is a mediocre QB. Minnesota may have gotten the lopsided win, but that has more to do with playing one of the five worst FBS teams in the nation than any real improvement by the Gophers. Week 1 Grade: B-
Purdue: Obviously Cincinnati was the better team going in, but Purdue didn’t even show signs of life. The stat line was atrocious: 226 total yards, just 65 rushing yards, 4-for-12 on third downs, four turnovers, seven penalties and on and on. When there is a sizable talent gap, you can’t shoot yourself in the foot. Purdue didn’t just shoot, they unloaded the whole magazine. The good news is penalties are a solvable problem. The bad news is that Purdue has one of the toughest schedules in the league and the defenses will continue to get harder, starting with Notre Dame in two weeks. Week 1 Grade: F
Buy these kids dinner (if the NCAA allowed it)
Nathan Scheelhaase (QB, Illinois) – 28/36, 416 yards, 2 TD
Christian Kirksey (LB, Iowa) – 6 solo tackles, 14 total, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 TD (all on the same play, a 52 yard thing of defensive perfection)
Jeff Budzien (K, Northwestern) – 3/3 FG (long of 35), 5/5 PATs, 14 points – the exact margin of victory
Greg Davis (OC, Iowa) –Well actually, it should probably be the athletic department and payroll department for keeping him around.