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Around the B1G: Football Week 2 Recap, Week 3 Preview

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The final full weekend of non-conference play in the Big Ten approaches, with a handful of marquee games on the docket along with the usual cupcakes.

Furman v Michigan State Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Week 2 Results

Rivalry Rout

Iowa 42, Iowa State 3

So much for rivalry weirdness. After trading punts on the teams’ first possession, Iowa put together four consecutive touchdown drives, taking a 28-3 lead into the half. The Hawkeyes tacked on two more scores late in the third quarter and coasted the rest of the way, outgaining the Cyclones 435-291 and picking up substantial yardage in special teams (Iowa State’s punts averaged a net of only 33 yards, to Iowa’s 43).

Comfortable Tune-Ups

Maryland 41, Florida International 14

The Terrapins didn’t leave this one in doubt for long, scoring on four of their five first-half offensive possessions and adding a defensive touchdown as well to go up 31-7 at the half. The running game continues to go mostly by committee, as four players (including quarterback Perry Hills) had eight carries each, combining for 228 yards.

Ohio State 48, Tulsa 3

It was a very slow start for the Ohio State offense, which didn’t find the end zone even once in the first half. With just over three minutes left in the second quarter, Tulsa had the ball trailing only 6-3. The Buckeyes’ defense did what the offense couldn’t, taking two interceptions back all the way and padding the halftime lead out to 20-3. The offense picked up the slack in the second half to put the game away. The Golden Hurricane made far too many mistakes to stick with OSU, turning the ball over six times (including three in the final four minutes of the first half) and getting outgained 417-185.

Michigan 51, Central Florida 14

Yardage totals would tell you this game should have been a bit more interesting than it was; the Wolverines outgained the Knights only 447-331, hardly the numbers you would expect for a rout like this. Two missed field goals by UCF contribute to that somewhat, along with a massive special teams “hidden yards” advantage for Michigan (netting 42 yards average on three punts compared to UCF’s 21 yards average on four, plus forcing a fumble on a kickoff). Central Florida’s passing game was utterly hopeless, with two quarterbacks combining for a 6/22, 56 yards, 0 TDs line. By contrast, Michigan struggled a bit on the ground, with 41 carries for 119 yards (not sack-adjusted) and no RB even reaching 40 yards.

Wisconsin 54, Akron 10

Another one that was over quickly, as the Badgers got out to a 23-0 lead in the second quarter and never let Akron’s offense find the end zone (the touchdown came on a punt return). As you’d expect for Wisconsin, there were twice as many rushing attempts as passes, though the passes were quite efficient (a combined line of 20/27, 292 yards, 3 TDs). Corey Clement ran for 111 yards and two TDs on 21 carries before leaving the game with an ankle injury. With another cupcake lined up this week, I would be surprised if he doesn’t get the week off to recover even if the injury is only minor.

Nebraska 52, Wyoming 17

This sounds like a monster blowout, but it got close for a bit in the third quarter. Nebraska went up 17-0 with just under six minutes to go in the second, but a last-second Cowboy touchdown and opening-drive field goal cut it to 17-10. After a Kieron Williams interception return pushed the lead back to 14, Wyoming answered again to head to the fourth quarter down just 24-17, but from there it was all Huskers. Nebraska scored four fourth-quarter touchdowns on offense and forced four turnovers in a row on defense to turn the game into a rout. Tommy Armstrong had an impressive stat line: 20/34, 377 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT.

Rutgers 52, Howard (FCS) 14

Everyone was having a good laugh at the Scarlet Knights when they managed to fall behind a team that was awful even by FCS standards last year. Trailing 14-0 after giving up two consecutive scores and turning the ball over in between is pretty embarrassing. That state of affairs didn’t last long, though, as Janarion Grant took the ensuing kickoff back to cut the deficit in half. Even so, it took more than 20 minutes of game time for the Rutgers offense to find the end zone and tie the game up, and a missed field goal left the halftime score at 14-all. In the second half, though, it was all Rutgers, with five touchdowns in their first six drives and only one first down allowed in the half (and that by penalty).

Minnesota 58, Indiana State (FCS) 28

Unlike Rutgers, the Gophers didn’t leave their game in doubt for long at all. A punt on their second drive allowed the Sycamores to tie the game at 7 late in the first quarter, but from there, Minnesota’s drive chart went TD, TD, TD, TD, FG, FG, TD, FG, turnover on downs as the game was ending. The defense did its part until the game was out of hand, not even allowing Indiana State back into Minnesota territory again until the score was 35-7, and it never got closer than 27 points the rest of the way. Kobe McCrary put up big numbers on the ground, going for 176 yards and two TDs on just 17 carries.

Indiana 30, Ball State 20

The final score here is a bit misleading, as Indiana was up 30-0 early in the third quarter and 30-3 at the start of the fourth. Then a field goal and blocked punt cut the lead down to 30-13 (why Ball State didn’t go for two to try to make it a 16-point game, I’ll never understand; sure, the odds of getting three consecutive two-point conversions aren’t good, but they’re better than the odds of scoring four times in one quarter). The Cardinals did manage to score again, but their drive took six minutes off the clock; the onside kick failed, but needing two more scores with only three minutes to go, the situation was pretty much hopeless anyway.

Rivalry Blues

Pitt 42, Penn State 39

This had the look of a rout early. Penn State took the coward’s way out, punting on 4th and 4 from the Pitt 35 (!!) on their opening drive. The operation was a success, but the patient died: even though the punt was downed at the 1, the Panthers marched 99 yards to take the early lead, then a sack and fumble on the first play of the Nittany Lions’ next drive led to another score and a 14-0 lead. A long John Reid punt return set up Penn State’s first score, but Pitt answered immediately and another fumble by Trace McSorley led to another short drive and put Pitt ahead 28-7. The Nittany Lions gradually chipped away at the lead, getting to within 28-21 on their first drive of the second half, 35-31 with 12 minutes to go after a Pitt fumble, and 42-39 with 5 minutes left. After forcing a three-and-out, though, McSorley was intercepted in the end zone and Pitt was able to run out the clock.

At Least You Tried

North Carolina 48, Illinois 23

A wild first quarter featured three scoring drives of 30 yards or fewer. Ke’Shawn Vaughn gave Illinois an early 7-0 lead with a 65-yard touchdown run, and a fumbled punt set up their second score 12 minutes into the game. UNC responded with a field goal after a long kickoff return and a 19-yard touchdown drive after a turnover to take the lead back. A Malik Turner touchdown catch cut the lead back down to 31-23 on the first play of the fourth quarter. In my opinion, Illinois should have gone for two at that point to find out if they needed one more score or two (which might greatly affect strategy later in the game), but it quickly became academic, as UNC rattled off two touchdowns and a field goal while Illinois stalled out with a turnover on downs while down 15 with 7:30 to go.

Cincinnati 38, Purdue 20

Yardage totals were almost even, with the Bearcats ahead only 512-504. But when you turn the ball over five times, you almost always lose. David Blough threw 57 passes, completing 32 for 401 yards, but five interceptions, two setting up short touchdown drives for Cincinnati and two more killing scoring opportunities for the Boilers, doomed Purdue. An 80-yard drive ending in a missed field goal probably didn’t help either. On the plus side, Cincinnati might be decent and Purdue was mostly competitive on a down-by-down basis (apart from the whole “throwing to the guys wearing the wrong color” thing).

Ouch

Illinois State (FCS) 9, Northwestern 7

Okay, Illinois State is a regular fixture in the FCS playoffs, but this is still pretty awful. Both teams missed field goals in the first half, and a Montre Hartage interception ended one Redbirds scoring chance, but Illinois State managed to get on the board just before halftime with an 80-yard drive ending in a George Moreira touchdown run (but a missed PAT). The Wildcats again got into scoring range midway through the third quarter but turned the ball over on downs on a 4th and 3, eschewing a 40-yard field goal attempt. Northwestern finally got on the board with 9 minutes left on a 10-yard pass from Clayton Thorson to Austin Carr, taking a 7-6 lead. Two exchanges of punts later, the Redbirds were finally able to string together enough of a drive to get in field goal range, and Sean Slattery converted from 33 yards out as time expired.

Week 3 Games

All times Eastern. Projections will wait until next week, when there’s a little more data.

Noon Games

New Mexico at Rutgers (Noon, ESPN News)

The Lobos aren’t off to a great start, beating South Dakota (FCS) 48-21 in the opener before dropping a nailbiter 32-31 against rival New Mexico State. Still, if the same Scarlet Knights show up as the first half against Howard, this could be very ugly for them. If the second-half Scarlet Knights show up, this could be very ugly for New Mexico.

Temple at Penn State (Noon, BTN)

Remember the two-man sack Temple got last year? With PSU’s poor rushing stats and five sacks allowed against Pitt last week, the Nittany Lions’ offensive line still seems to have some kinks to work out, and that’s not good news if the Owls’ defense is as good as last year. Temple opened the season with a 28-13 loss to Army but rebounded with a 38-0 win over FCS Stony Brook.

North Dakota State (FCS) at Iowa (Noon, ESPN2)

North Dakota State has dominated FCS for years, much like Appalachian State did before their famous upset of Michigan. And they’ve taken down several FBS opponents already - Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, and Minnesota have all fallen victim in recent years. None of those are on Iowa’s level, but it would be no surprise if the Bison keep this one interesting. On the other hand, NDSU has had to go to overtime in both of their wins to start this year, over Charleston Southern (24-17) and Eastern Washington (50-44), so perhaps the dynasty is starting to show cracks.

Georgia State at Wisconsin (Noon, BTN)

The Panthers have opened the year with a 31-21 home loss to Ball State and a 48-14 demolition at the hands of Air Force. This is likely to get out of hand quickly.

Second Shift

Colorado at Michigan (3:30, BTN)

Neither team is really tested yet; like Michigan, the Buffaloes have demolished two mediocre or worse opponents to start the year (Colorado State, 44-7, and FCS Idaho State, 56-7). Still, given Colorado’s recent track record and the Wolverines’ uptick under Harbaugh, it’s hard to imagine this game is close enough for a reenactment of Kordell Stewart’s heroics.

Oregon at Nebraska (3:30, ABC)

The Ducks have had some uncharacteristic struggles against the run on defense this year; Virginia (who got beaten handily by FCS Richmond) ran for 244 yards on 34 carries (better than 7 yards per carry) after removing sacks, albeit in a losing effort (44-26). FCS UC-Davis didn’t get much going on the ground in the opener but did still manage 28 points. The Huskers should be able to move the ball effectively, but dealing with the Oregon offense may prove difficult.

Western Michigan at Illinois (4:00, ESPN News)

With one Big Ten victory already in their pockets (beating Northwestern in the opener), the Broncos will go for a second one in Champaign, and they’re actually favored by Vegas to pull it off. Last week, they destroyed FCS North Carolina Central 70-21.

Prime Time

Maryland at Central Florida (7:00, CBS Sports Network)

What on earth? Another Terrapin road trip to face a small Florida school? (Not that I have a problem with that; I’d like to see more major-conference teams willing to go on the road. But it is unusual.) Central Florida was atrocious last year but at least managed to beat FCS South Carolina State 38-0 in the opener this year before getting run over by Michigan last week.

Michigan State at Notre Dame (7:30, NBC)

Now for the main event. Notre Dame opened the season with an exciting OT loss at Texas, 50-47, before bouncing back to dominate Nevada 39-10. This rivalry has seen all sorts of wackiness, and MSU remains somewhat of an enigma with a modest win over Furman and a bye. A road win in South Bend would inspire a bit more confidence and keep playoff ambitions alive (it’s still possible with a loss but there would be no more margin for error).

Ohio State at Oklahoma (7:30, FOX)

The game we’d all be glued to if MSU was in an earlier time slot pits two potential playoff contenders. Oklahoma needs this win to remain in the hunt after a 33-23 loss to Houston in the opener; they bounced back by throttling Louisiana-Monroe 59-17. For Ohio State, a win would give them a major advantage in the committee’s eyes if it comes down to them as one of several 1-loss conference champions in the discussion. A loss wouldn’t be disqualifying, but an unbeaten run in conference would likely be needed.

Duke at Northwestern (8:00, BTN)

After a few years of the Blue Devils and Wildcats being highly competitive in conference play, it seems like both are a bit down this year. Duke mauled FCS North Carolina Central 49-6 but went on to lose to Wake Forest by a score of 24-14 (which is almost unheard of; Wake’s offense has been abominable for years). This isn’t going to be pretty, although it might be close.

Gone Fishin’

Minnesota, Indiana, and Purdue have the weekend off.