Week 1 Results
Northwestern 16, Stanford 6
Northwestern's reputation for confusing results holds true once more; three of their last four wins are over Wisconsin, Notre Dame (on the road), and now Stanford, yet in that same span they've lost to Illinois and Michigan, both at home. Northwestern wasn't a huge threat in the air, only 105 yards passing in 25 attempts, but the Wildcats ran for 225, avoided turnovers, and kept Stanford out of the end zone, and that was enough.
For being the coach at a nerd school, you'd think David Shaw would have a better grasp of game theory than this. Trailing in the third quarter, Stanford punted on 4th and 5 from the Northwestern 37 yard line, trading a chance at having the ball in scoring position for a whopping 17 yards of field position. Down 13-3 halfway through the fourth quarter, Stanford kicked a field goal on 4th and 4 from the NW 20. This is not as clear-cut a decision, but it's probably a bad one; yes, if you come up empty, you're probably doomed, but you need a touchdown at some point and there's a good chance you're going to have to take a worse chance than 4th and 4 next time - assuming that Northwestern doesn't add another score and make it moot, which they did (note that if Stanford had scored a touchdown, NW's field goal would have still left it a one-score game). Stanford only managed 240 total yards and turned the ball over twice, but the extremely conservative approach even while trailing late took away whatever little chance the Cardinal had.
Ohio State 42, Virginia Tech 24
At halftime, it looked like Virginia Tech might repeat the upset, holding a 17-14 lead. Two long touchdowns from Braxton Miller (one run, one catch) in the third quarter put an end to that, with Cardale Jones and Michael Thomas extending the lead all the way to 42-17 in the fourth. A broken collarbone for Virginia Tech QB Michael Brewer in the third quarter put a dent in the Hokies' comeback chances. The Buckeyes won the yardage battle by over 250 (572-320) and easily cleared the highest hurdle they'll see until at least November 6 (Minnesota).
Wins Over Semi-Respectable Opponents
Michigan State 37, Western Michigan 24
With Oregon looming, a road game at an in-state school and potential MAC contender could have been a bit of a trap game. And maybe it was, to some extent, with the two WMU touchdowns after it got to 34-10. Allowing 324 net passing yards to Western (sack-adjusted) in 57 attempts the week before facing a much more explosive offense is ... not ideal.
Iowa 31, Illinois State (FCS) 14
Yes, Illinois State counts - they were last year's FCS runner-up. The margin is a bit misleading, as Iowa led 31-0 midway through the fourth quarter before a couple of garbage-time touchdowns and nearly doubled up ISU in yardage (431-231) despite giving up 125 in the last two drives. Quarterback C.J. Beathard had a much better day than ex-Iowa transfer and now Michigan QB Jake Rudock, going 15/24 for 211 yards and a touchdown.
Demolition of Bad Teams
Maryland 50, Richmond (FCS) 21
Do not kick to Will Likely, because he will likely take it to the house. His 233 yards of punt returns set a Big Ten record. The Spiders kept it interesting for a little while and even led for a decent chunk of the second quarter (14-13), but three touchdowns in the fourth quarter blew the game open. Maryland put up 341 rushing yards at 7.6 per carry, without any really long runs skewing the average (long was 23).
Rutgers 63, Norfolk State (FCS) 13
Norfolk State managed to cut the deficit to 21-13 just before halftime, but that didn't last long as Janarion Grant took the second-half kickoff to the house and things quickly spiralled out of control from there, reaching 42-13 less than eight minutes later.
Illinois 52, Kent State 3
How do you score 52 points with only 342 yards of total offense? Four turnovers forced and at least two big punt returns, that's how. All six of Illinois's first-half scoring drives started in Kent State territory. Thunderstorms postponed the game from Friday to Saturday, but all the lightning flashes did for the Golden Flashes was delay the beating.
You Weren't Supposed to Make It This Close
Indiana 48, Southern Illinois (FCS) 47
This was a wild one. The Salukis took a 32-21 lead into halftime with a one-yard TD run from quarterback Mark Iannotti on the last play of the half (a two-point conversion earlier accounts for the unusual score). Indiana roared back to take the lead in the third quarter, 38-32, for some reason opting not to try the two-point conversion to make it a 7-point game. Luckily, when SIU scored again, the PAT was missed, leaving the game tied at 38. After SIU kicked a field goal with 2:37 to go to tie the game at 41, Indiana scored what appeared to be the winning TD with 58 seconds left. That's too much time when your opponent will be facing the Indiana defense. SIU only need 40 of those seconds to answer and elected to go for 2 and the win but couldn't get there.
The good news for Indiana: they won and nearly reached 600 yards of total offense. The bad news: they gave up a little over 650 yards. To an FCS team.
Utah 24, Michigan 17
The good news for Michigan: the run defense looks pretty solid, albeit with some trouble dealing with mobile quarterbacks. The bad news: the offense is still very much a work in progress, as Utah destroyed their ground game and Rudock threw three interceptions, one of which was taken back for the game-deciding touchdown with 8 minutes left, expanding Utah's lead to 24-10. Michigan's defense will keep them in most games this year, but the offense will keep the opponent in every game as well.
TCU 23, Minnesota 17
A six-point home loss to the preseason #2 is nothing to be ashamed of. Minnesota had moderate success on the ground against the Horned Frogs, averaging nearly a full yard per carry ahead of what TCU allowed last year. It wasn't enough, though, after a fumble gifted TCU an early 10-0 lead and another killed a promising Minnesota drive in the red zone.
BYU 33, Nebraska 28
This was a back-and-forth battle the whole way. After trading touchdowns in the first and early second quarters, BYU tacked on a field goal and a touchdown (after a Nebraska fumble) to take a 24-14 lead into halftime. The Huskers scored twice in the third quarter to retake the lead, then BYU cut the deficit to 1 midway through the fourth before winning the game on a Hail Mary. Tommy Armstrong put up a 24/41, 319 yd, 3 TD, 1 INT line in the first game for Nebraska under new coach Mike Riley, but Taysom Hill and (after Hill's injury) Tanner Magnum combined for 379 yards through the air for BYU.
Alabama 35, Wisconsin 17
The yardage totals (502-268) suggest an even worse blowout, but this just seems to be what happens when Alabama plays a neutral-site opener. The Badgers hung around for a while, down only 14-7 at halftime, but they had no answer for Derrick Henry (13 carries for 147 yards) and couldn't run the ball effectively (64 yards, sack-adjusted, on 18 carries).
Marshall 41, Purdue 31
Purdue outgained Marshall 454-397 and Austin Appleby ran for one touchdown and threw for three more. Unfortunately, two of those three touchdown throws were to Tiquan Lang, who plays for Marshall. Purdue had the lead as late as with three minutes to go before Devon Johnson ran for the winning score for Marshall and Lang added his second pick-six to finish off Purdue's chances. Given how good Marshall was last year (yes, against a terrible schedule, but for most of the year they beat those awful teams like a great team should), Purdue hanging with them should be considered a sign of progress.
The Truth Shall Make Ye Fret
Temple 27, Penn State 10
For one quarter, Penn State's offense looked fine and the Nittany Lions took a 10-0 lead. Then the bottom fell out, as they discovered that it doesn't matter how good your quarterback is if you can't give him time to throw. The Owls sacked Christian Hackenberg a ridiculous 10 times, resulting in an appalling 39 net passing yards in 35 attempts (after adjusting for sacks; rushing total was 18 attempts for 144 - which begs the question, why on earth would you drop back to pass that many times?). True, Temple has a great defensive front by non-Power 5 standards, but if they can wreak havoc that easily (even getting a sack on a two-man rush), imagine what will happen when that offensive line has to deal with Ohio State, Michigan State, or even Michigan.
Week 2 Games
After spreading the games across five days last week, this weekend is all Saturday games. All times Eastern.
Oregon State at Michigan (Noon, ABC)
The other half of Oregon-Michigan showdown day, with our in-state rival taking on the Ducks' in-state rival. The Beavers opened with FCS Weber State, winning 26-7 (with the only points allowed on a defensive touchdown). Don't expect too many points in this one.
Western Illinois (FCS) at Illinois (Noon, BTN)
A second warm-up game for Illinois should get them 1/3 of the way to bowl eligibility. The Leathernecks opened with a win over Eastern Illinois, but the Illini will be a much stiffer test.
Bowling Green at Maryland (Noon, BTN)
The Falcons opened with Tennessee and hung around for a while, trailing only 21-20 before surrendering two quick touchdowns just before halftime. That offense will be a far bigger challenge for Maryland than Richmond was.
Buffalo at Penn State (Noon, ESPN2)
Buffalo was not very good last year, and while they blew out Albany in the opener, Albany was bad even by FCS standards. If Penn State struggles to score here, they'll be in for a very long season.
Indiana State (FCS) at Purdue (Noon, ESPNEWS)
The Sycamores handled Butler easily in their opener, but Purdue is no longer as hapless as they have been in the past few years, and Indiana had little difficulty with ISU in the past two seasons. Purdue should be able to pull off the victory here.
Miami-Ohio at Wisconsin (Noon, ESPNU)
The Redhawks opened with a 26-7 win over Presbyterian. Wisconsin is more than a little step up in competition, and they should be looking to take out some frustrations from the Alabama game. This could get ugly.
Hawaii at Ohio State (3:30, BTN)
Hawaii playing at 9:30 AM Hawaii time, away from the islands, is bad enough news. Doing that against the defending national champion? This game is not likely to be interesting beyond the first quarter, maybe not even that long.
Washington State at Rutgers (3:30, ESPNU)
Washington State is coming off a 24-17 loss to Portland State, and the shine has come off the Mike Leach era in Pullman. Rutgers won a close one last year, with the Cougars throwing for over 500 yards and rushing for about five.
Minnesota at Colorado State (3:30, CBS Sports Network)
The Rams opened the season by annihilating Savannah State, which means absolutely nothing because everyone who plays them does that. The Gophers should have an easier time getting the ground game going than they did against TCU in the opener.
Eastern Illinois (FCS) at Northwestern (4:00, ESPNEWS)
It would be very Northwestern to follow up a win over Stanford with a loss to a team they should be able to handle, but EIU isn't good enough to pose much threat; last week, they lost badly to Western Illinois. The Wildcats should get to 2-0 easily.
Iowa at Iowa State (4:45, FOX)
The Hawkeyes go into their in-state rivalry game with heavy hearts after former star safety Tyler Sash was found dead. Iowa State, like Iowa, easily handled higher-end FCS competition in the first weekend, defeating Northern Iowa 31-7.
Oregon at Michigan State (8:00, ABC)
This is easily the main event of the week, not just in the Big Ten but nationally. Oregon opened with a shootout against FCS Eastern Washington (a 2014 quarterfinalist in the FCS playoffs). The Spartan Stadium scoreboard should get one heck of a workout, as both teams have potentially explosive offenses with some question marks on defense.
South Alabama at Nebraska (8:00, BTN)
The Jaguars struggled to put away Gardner-Webb last week. Expect the Huskers to get in the win column after very nearly doing so in the opener.
Florida International at Indiana (8:00, BTN)
FIU pulled an upset at Central Florida to start the season, 15-14. This will be a bit of a contrast in styles, as Indiana tends to get in shootouts and the Golden Panthers are more of a defense-oriented team.