Last Week's Results
MSU 45, Jacksonville State 7
A perfect first half (apart from injury concerns, which don't seem to have been as severe as they seemed at the time) and plenty of playing time for the backups in the second. That's all you can ask for out of a tune-up game.
Minnesota 42, Eastern Illinois 20
Don't be fooled by the score; Minnesota led 21-0 at the end of the third quarter, but that greatly overstates their offensive prowess - two of the scores came on a blocked punt return and a fumble recovery at the EIU 5. On the other hand, Minnesota's offense finally awakened in the fourth quarter and only two touchdowns in the final 30 seconds by EIU made the final look as close as it did.
Rutgers 41, Washington State 38
This one went back and forth, with a fumbled punt by WSU midway through the 4th quarter setting Rutgers up at midfield for the winning drive. WSU's offensive stats read like a quintessential Mike Leach team: 532 yards passing, six yards rushing (on a 56-to-14 play split, and that's not sack-adjusted). I'm not sure how much to read into that about Rutgers's pass defense; Leach teams do that sort of thing from time to time.
Penn State 26, Central Florida 24
If UCF had started their competent quarterback instead of saving him for the second half, Penn State would probably be ruing their complete inability to finish drives - of 11 drives to cross midfield (or start across it), they had two turnovers, two turnovers on downs, a punt, four field goals, and only two touchdowns. Christian Hackenberg put up the first 400-yard passing game in PSU history, finishing with 454, and PSU needed every bit of it, with Sam Ficken's fourth field goal (this one from 36 yards) winning the game at the final whistle.
Illinois 28, Youngstown State 17
This score is deceptively flattering for Illinois - they trailed 9-7 at the end of the third quarter and the go-ahead drive was sparked by a minus-14 yard punt (the punter hit it off his own lineman's backside). Even that didn't last, as YSU added a TD+2 to regain the lead with under 11 minutes to go, but Illinois answered quickly and added some insurance with 2:33 to go.
Indiana 28, Indiana State 10
So much for my prediction that Indiana would break the scoreboard in this one. The two combined barely exceeded ISU's score from the game last year - and ISU lost that one by 38. The Hoosiers ran amok against the Sycamores on the ground, with a whopping 455 yards rushing (247 by Tevin Coleman).
Iowa 31, Northern Iowa 23
UNI kept up their tradition of playing Iowa and Iowa State close, sitting within one point for much of the fourth quarter before a Damond Powell touchdown catch gave Iowa the final margin. Sawyer Kollmorgen completed fewer than half of his passes for UNI, but when he did hit it went long - 17 completions (on 37 attempts) for 380 yards. For Iowa, Jake Rudock went 31 for 41 but for just 250 yards.
Michigan 52, Appalachian State 14
There would be no repeat of 2007 here, as Michigan led 35-0 at halftime and never looked remotely threatened. Michigan doubled up the Mountaineers on yardage 560-280, including 350 rushing yards.
Purdue 43, Western Michigan 34
The Boilers are off the schneid! WMU managed to cut the deficit to 3 midway through the fourth quarter before Akeem Hunt padded the lead back out to 9 with a 38-yard run. Giving up 200+ rush yards and 200+ pass yards to Western Michigan can't really be considered encouraging, but at this point I imagine Purdue will take their wins any way they can get them.
Ohio State 34, Navy 17
The Buckeyes struggled early, and for a moment it looked like the noon window was going to be a complete debacle for the Big Ten (OSU, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Purdue were all struggling with inferior teams). Navy actually led 7-6 at the half, and OSU didn't take the lead for good until 4:10 remained in the third quarter or extend it to two scores until midway through the fourth. J.T. Barrett posted impressive numbers through the air (12/15, 226 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) and was also OSU's leading rusher (9 carries, 50 yards). On the other end, Navy's famous option attack saw seven different ball carriers rack up more rushing yards each than the team as a whole did through the air (20).
Cal 31, Northwestern 24
This was worse than the score says; it was 31-7 for much of the third quarter. Northwestern managed to cut it to 31-21 with two quick scores before the end of the quarter (thanks to an interception on the first play after they kicked off). After a short field goal cut it to seven, Northwestern did get as close as the Cal 27 on their final drive before a sack and interception finished them off. Considering that Cal last year was as atrocious as Purdue, this is ... not encouraging.
Maryland 52, James Madison 7
In their debut as Big Ten members, the Terps laid waste to an overmatched FCS opponent, leading 24-0 at halftime and pushing the lead out to 45-0 by the end of the third quarter. Three rushers (Brandon Ross, Wes Brown, and C.J. Brown) each accumulated over 60 yards on the ground for Maryland.
Nebraska 55, Florida Atlantic 7
This was a bloodbath, as the Owls managed just 200 total yards and Nebraska dropped 784 - including nearly 500 on the ground (232 from Ameer Abdullah). FAU managed to tie the game at 7 ten minutes in; that appears to have achieved nothing except angering Li'l Red, who is not to be trifled with.
LSU 28, Wisconsin 24
The Badgers blew a 24-7 lead as Melvin Gordon was apparently dinged up and saw very limited duty in the second half. In the second half, Gary Andersen put the game on the arm of Tanner McEvoy ... and was "rewarded" with a putrid 8/24, 50 yard, 2 INT performance for the day. An LSU fake punt in the third quarter led to a field goal to cut the lead to 24-10; another FG and a TD+2 got the Tigers within 3, then the first of McEvoy's interceptions set up the winning score early in the fourth quarter. Thanks to Purdue's victory over WMU and Northwestern beating Illinois in the season finale last year, Wisconsin has the league's longest losing streak at 3 games.
This Week's Games
All games are Saturday this week. Times are Eastern.
Howard (FCS) at Rutgers (BTN, Noon)
Howard got smoked by Akron 41-0 in the first week. If this is at all competitive, it is bad news for Rutgers. It probably won't be.
Central Michigan at Purdue (ESPNEWS, Noon)
Purdue continues their Directional Michigan tour with another potentially winnable game, as CMU had to rally in the second half to defeat FCS Chattanooga 20-16 last week. With home-field advantage, Purdue should be a narrow favorite.
Akron at Penn State (ABC/ESPN2, Noon)
Akron showed signs of competence late last year and clobbered Howard to open this season, but this should still be a comfortable win for Penn State ... if they can figure out how to finish a drive.
Western Kentucky at Illinois (BTN, Noon)
The Hilltoppers whomped Bowling Green 59-31 in their opener. I would not be at all surprised if Illinois drops this one, although they're better known for almost losing in embarrassing fashion than actually doing so. On the other hand, WKU has shown signs of actual competence, so this will probably sound more embarrassing than it should.
McNeese State (FCS) at Nebraska (ESPNU, Noon)
This is the opener for the Louisiana-based Cowboys. Given what Nebraska did to FAU, I don't expect this game to be at all interesting ... but McNeese may be better than FAU (10-3 last year, including a demolition of South Florida; two of the losses were to Northern Iowa and Jacksonville State).
Western Illinois (FCS) at Wisconsin (BTN, Noon)
Western Illinois crushed Valparaiso 45-6 in their opener. Wisconsin is an entirely different level of competition, even without Joel Stave (dealing with shoulder issues) and with Melvin Gordon potentially not at full strength due to a hip flexor. And if there's one thing Wisconsin knows how to do, it's how to annihilate lesser opponents.
Maryland at South Florida (CBS Sports Network, 3:30)
South Florida opened with a narrow win over Western Carolina, 36-31 (although the score is somewhat misleading, as WCU scored with just nine seconds left to cut the margin down from 12). That's better than how they opened last year, at least (a bludgeoning at the hands of McNeese State), but it still doesn't bode well for them against real competition, which Maryland appears to be.
Ball State at Iowa (ESPN2, 3:30)
Last week, Ball State beat Colgate 30-10. The Cardinals were a solid top-end MAC team last year, and if they're similarly tough this year they could make a game of this one. They will be hard pressed to replicate last week's 300+ rushing yards against Iowa's front seven, however.
Middle Tennessee at Minnesota (BTN, 3:30)
MTSU faced Savannah State last week, winning 61-7 - which tells us absolutely nothing, because Savannah State is and always has been terrible. This is a rematch from Minnesota's opener four years ago, which they won 24-17. If Tim Brewster can beat MTSU, I'm pretty sure Jerry Kill can do it.
Northern Illinois at Northwestern (BTN, 3:30)
This is probably going to be ugly; Northern Illinois has been a MAC powerhouse for years and they're almost surely better than a Cal team that looked hopeless in the Pac-12 last year. I expect Chicago's MAC Team to beat Chicago's B1G Team, unfortunately.
Michigan State at Oregon (FOX, 6:30)
Oh, nothing. Just the best non-conference matchup of the entire year. Full preview will be later this week.
Michigan at Notre Dame (NBC, 7:30)
The final game before a series hiatus ought to be an entertaining one; almost every game in the series lately has been. Notre Dame beat Rice 48-17 in their first game. This will also be a chance to see Michigan's new offensive line against an actual defense.
Virginia Tech at Ohio State (ESPN, 8:00)
The Hokies kicked off the season with a 34-9 win over William & Mary. What Ohio State can do on the ground against a typically stingy VT defense after struggling somewhat with Navy (4.8 ypc) will be very interesting.
Conference Race Projections
Still too early for this. Ratings with preseason bias are up now at the usual location, but their reliability at this point is probably fairly low. For what it's worth, in FBS-only games, the predicted spread with preseason bias included is:
- Oregon favored by 4.5 over MSU
- OSU favored by 13 over VT
- Notre Dame favored by 7.5 over Michigan
- Northern Illinois favored by 5.5 over Northwestern
- Minnesota favored by 8.5 over MTSU
- Iowa favored by 3.5 over Ball State
- Maryland favored by 7.5 over South Florida
- Western Kentucky favored by 3.5 over Illinois
- Penn State favored by 12.5 over Akron
- Purdue favored by 2.5 over CMU