For the first week of football action in the Big Ten, the results were...a mixed bag. Let's see which Big Ten Teams you should buy, hold, and sell.
Michigan State 44, Montana State 3
See here for the game recap.
Michigan 31, Western Michigan 7
In the second half Western Michigan outscored the Wolverines 7-0. In the first thirty minutes however, everything Michigan fans hoped their offense would be last year came to fruition. Tate Forcier had three touchdown passes including a beautiful 44 yard strike where he hit Junior Hemingway in stride. Denard Robinson teleported 43 yards into the end zone. Jason Olesnavage showed why he won the kicking spot, making all four of his extra points and a 44 yard field goal. The maize and blue defense pressured Bronco QB Tim Hiller all throughout the game, and Western's only touchdown came on a 76 yard pass. The one issue I have is that for explosive as Michigan's offense was in the first half, I feel like they should've scored at least one touchdown in the second half, but that one issue is an exponentially improved situation than the several problems they had at the end of the Utah game a year ago.
Northwestern 47, Towson 14
Mike Kafka continued to efficiently run the Wildcats' offense, completing 15 of 20 passes for 192 yards. There's not much to say about this game - Big Ten team plays 1-AA team, Big Ten team manhandles 1-AA team. The only red flag here is that Northwestern averaged 4.1 yards per carry, but that number could be a function of an increased focus on the run game in the second half; the Wildcats were up 35-7 going into halftime.
Purdue 52, Toledo 31
The margin of victory was 21 points, but the statistics show a game that was a bit closer. Purdue only outgained Toledo by 42 yards (535-493), and the Boilermakers had just as many turnovers as the Rockets (three). Still, any time your offense puts up 52 points with a first-time starter at quarterback - Joey Elliott threw for more yards in this game than he did in any of his three previous seasons - that's Hope (pun alert!) enough for Purdue right now.
Penn State 31, Akron 7
This game was much like the UofM, MSU and Northwestern games: The superior Big Ten team scores the majority of its points in the first half, and switches to a conservative offense in the second half. Playing with a nearly brand new receiving corps didn't slow Daryll Clark down, he was 29 of 40 for 353 yards.
Ohio State 31, Navy 27
It's not that Terrelle Pryor was mediocre (14/21, 174 yards, 1 TD), it's that Ohio State was horrible at converting third downs (3 for 12), and had to settle for two field goals of less than 30 yards. Ohio State gained only 21 yards more than the Midshipmen, but that was more a function of the Buckeyes having better field position. Long story short, the Buckeyes' offensive efficiency nearly cost them the game, and if they play like this against USC, it's going to be a looooong year for the Big Ten.
Wisconsin 28, Northern Illinois 20
The Badgers actually played pretty decent football, outgaining the Huskies by 159 yards. Turnovers made this game tight though, as Wisconsin's three turnovers to Northern Illinois' one made this game a lot closer than it should have been. Steve Tolzien was accurate in his first start (15 of 20, 257 yards, 1 TD), but he also threw both interceptions. The Badgers look like they have a quarterback, but I'm surprisingly concerned about their run game as John Clay and Zach Brown combined to average 3.2 yards a carry.
Minnesota 23, Syracuse 20, OT
The question here is how good is Syracuse? Are the Orangemen still abhorrent, or merely mediocre? Either way, red zone efficiency was a problem yet again for another Big Ten team, as the Golden Gophers settled for two 26 yard field goals in the second half which eventually sent the game into overtime. Also discouraging - Adam Weber completed less than 50% of his 42 passing attempts. Minnesota wasn't that great of a team last season, and it appears from this game they haven't improved much.
Western Eastern Kentucky 13
Let's see - Indiana only outgained EKU by 21 yards, had three turnovers (two more than Eastern Kentucky), and only averaged 2.4 yards a carry. I'd set the over/under on Big Ten wins for the Hoosiers this year at 0.5.
Iowa 17, Northern Iowa 16
I know Northern Iowa's the #4 team in 1-AA, but requiring not one, but two blocked field goals to clinch a game is never a good sign. For as heralded as Iowa's offensive line was, Ricky Stanzi had 5 rushes for -36 yards (read: five sacks), and Iowa's soon-to-be top RB (nope, not PAKIBOMB) Adam Robinson averaged a decent 4.3 yards per carry. Maybe Saturday's game against the Cyclones will be a bit closer than anyone thought, but that game is always a gambler's worst nightmare.
Missouri 37, Illinois 9
Question - how many times do you think Arrelious Benn touched the ball in this game? The answer - twice, on one reception for nine yards and a kick return. Meanwhile, Juice Williams was busy rushing 13 times for 27 yards. Also, about the vaunted Illini defense? They let first-year starter Blaine Gabbert complete 25 of 33 passes for over 300 yards. THE ZOOKER IS ROLLIN'...right to the unemployment office.