If you're reading this (which you are), the likelihood is high that you realize half of the Big Ten was a dumpster fire last night, tinged with hints of month-old eggs and fecal matter. Let's go over it anyway.
The games will be ranked from top to bottom by most impressive to least impressive performance. At the end of the column will come TOC's Big Ten power rankings, which is our best guess at the current state of the Big Ten.
HEY, A WIN OVER A DECENT TEAM!
Northwestern 23, Vanderbilt 13 Another close call for the 'Cats, as it took the first 57:59 of them to get their first lead of the game, then recovered a Commodore fumble on the first play after the kickoff. One play later Kain Colter ran 27 yards into the end zone to secure the 2-0 start for Northwestern. As this was the only victory over a BCS squad by a Big Ten team this week, it automatically takes the top spot.
PROFILES IN COMPETENCE
Ohio State 31, Central Florida 16 The only comfortable win by a B1G team over a semi-decent group. Central Florida as pegged as a Top 15 team by Phil Steele at the season's beginning, and Braxton Miller made the Knights look like just another Conference USA squad as they had a 31-10 lead with less than two minutes left. Miller passed for 155 yards and ran for 141 yards. However it took him 27 carries to get said 141 yards, a pace that will grind as the weeks continue.
Michigan State 41, Central Michigan 7 The TL;DR version -- Andrew Maxwell looks good, the defense is the same as it ever was, MSU can't average a pick six per week, can they?
Minnesota 44, New Hampshire 7 Ho hum. The Golden Gophers only passed 14 times in this game, which I guess is noteworthy. MarQueis Gray (not that Marquise Gray) ran for 109 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, but 75 of those yards came on one run.
Indiana 45, Massachusetts 6 And we have our first nominee for "Big Ten Pyrrhic Victory of the Year". Indiana won going away, but Tre Robinson, their quarterback, apparently shattered his leg into nothing but calcium and Okazaki fragments (haven't see the video, never will), and he is out for the season. A win's a win's though, which is the second time the Hoosiers can say that in 2012, doubling last year! PROGRESS.
WHISTLES, WALKS CASUALLY DOWN THE STREET
Michigan 31, Air Force 25 If ever there was a game where one team could negate two of the other team's plays it would probably be this one, as Denard Robinson runs of 79 and 58 yards for touchdowns made a difference; specifically the one between a win and a loss. Air Force was a touchdown away from winning the game for most of the fourth quarter, but Michigan's defense stopped the Falcons in the last after giving up 417 yards throughout the day.
NOT A BAD LOSS CONSIDERING THE COMPANY
Notre Dame 20, Purdue 17 The Boilermakers were trailing by 10 heading into the 4th, but a field goal and a 15 yard pass from Caleb TerBush to Antavian Edison tied the game with a little more than two minutes remaining. Notre Dame drove to the Boilermaker 10-yard line however, and a 27-yard field goal with seven seconds left gave the Irish the victory in South Bend. There's not a lot to be ashamed of here for Purdue, except that they're still having trouble figuring out their quarterback (Robert Marve attempted 18 passes, TerBush attempted 19). The defense is tough though, and the Boilermakers may have thrown themselves into the mix to make the Big Ten title game even with the loss.
AND DOWN THE SPIRAL WE GO
Virginia 17, Penn State 16
New coaching staff, new year, still somewhat the same story -- Penn State's defense plays well enough to win, and the offense has trouble finding the end zone. However, in a twist new to 2012, the special teams let the Nittany Lions down, as kicker Sam Ficken had an extra point blocked and missed field goals from 42, 40, 38, and 20 yards. I didn't feel any humor at that, just a mix of disbelief and pity.
LOST TO THE PAC-12 IN A CLOSE GAME
UCLA 36, Nebraska 30 Reversion to the mean -- it exists, it happens to real people, and it happened to Taylor Martinez on Saturday. After a superlative show last week against Southern Miss, Martinez went 17-31 for 179 and an interception, and although he had a 92 yard run for a touchdown, his other 12 runs totaled 20 yards. There's also the matter of the Cornhusker defense, who gave up 653 (653!) yards to the Bruins. Considering that last stat, it's a wonder the score was that close.
THREE IS THE WORST MARGIN TO LOSE BY
Iowa State 9, Iowa 6 My word has Iowa's offense regressed this year. 232 is a decent number of yards to throw for, but it took James Vandenberg 43 throws to get there, and those 43 include two interceptions, the second of which effectively ended the game for the Hawkeyes. After a promising 150 yard performance in week one, Iowa running back Damon Bullock could only muster 53 yards on 22 carries. One of the few good things about this Hawkeye team is that they haven't panicked enough to fire one of their coaches yet, which is more than I say for the next team:
Oregon State 10, Wisconsin 7 I never thought I'd see the day where Wisconsin had 72 rushing yards, but there it was on Saturday. Montee Ball only had 61 on the ground, and Danny O'Brien averaged 4.5 yards an attempt. In all the Badgers barely broke 200 yards of total offense, and on the good ship Bielema, that means examples must be made. That meant offensive line coach Mike Markuson, two games into his tenure, got pink slipped. While this may not be a bad move for Wisky, it certainly doesn't portend of all being well in Madison.
Arizona State 45, Illinois 14 Without Nathan Scheelhaase the Illini had to turn to backup quarterbacks, and it did not go well. Go 14/24 for 101 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions? You're going to have a bad time. The Illini defense gave up 510 yards. Let's move on from this week.
1. Michigan State
2. Ohio State
9. Penn State