This was a rough weekend for the Big Ten, with several upsets and a general failure to beat quality opponents, save the first game I will mention:
Michigan 35, Notre Dame 31: The game of the year so far in college football. This game included the wildest final 72 seconds that I can ever recall. Understandably, there was shock and elation at Maize n Brew:
Michigan shouldn't have even been close. Notre Dame had more than doubled Michigan's offensive output at half time and probably shoul've been up 24-7 prior to the second half kickoff. Their defensive line had all but completely shut down the Michigan running game and Denard had already chucked three interceptions (two of them which were painly awful). But there they were. In a game they never should've been in, and somehow, they'd completely taken control of it. Michigan had just scored it's 21st straight point since the start of the fourth quarter and the Defense, even thought shredded in the first half had suddenly come to life, stoning the Irish running game on third and short, and setting up Denard and Smith's heroics.
Alabama 27, Penn State 11: The Nittany Lions could not get many points on the board against the 2009 national champs. There may, however, be some resolution to the QB situation, or at least there should be, according to Black Shoe Diaries:
The solution at quarterback is readily apparent to the students, the Scranton media, and every single Alabama fan who has stopped by a Penn State blog or message board since the final play on Saturday. If the coaching staff doesn't see it at this point, not much more can be said. Some are improperly getting bent about Joe Paterno's unwillingness to name Rob Bolden the full-time starter immediately after the game (why would he, at that moment?), but the proof will be on display at Lincoln Financial Field in Philly next weekend, if not printed in black and white on a mid-week depth chart. There's no sense harping on McGloin or his performance, only the questionable judgment of a coaching staff that continues to stunt Bolden's potential in favor of a player who is physically incapable of beating quality defenses. The good news, presumably, is that the charade concluded at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday. This is most assuredly not to say that Bolden getting all the first-team snaps is an express ticket to 11-1. He remains a very young quarterback with essentially a half-season of starts under his belt, still prone to both tunnel vision and assorted mental errors.
Wisconsin 35, Oregon State 0: The Badgers continue to dominate. Oregon State is a respectable program, but the Badgers simply owned the Beavers. Much better defense, says Bucky's 5th Quarter:
little over a week after the Wisconsin defense admitted they weren’t prepared for UNLV’s offensive attack, the unit shutdown the Beavers’ struggling offense and the Badgers comfortably handled Oregon State 35-0 Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium. Oregon State head coach Mike Riley used two quarterbacks in the game, switching them mid-series at times. Ryan Katz got the start, but Sean Mannion came in three plays into OSU’s first series and played the majority of the game. Quite frankly, it didn’t matter who was at quarterback. Led by defensive end David Gilbert and linebackers Chris Borland and Mike Taylor, the Badgers got a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks and stuffed the running game throughout the day.
Michigan State 44, Florida Atlantic 0: The Spartans, after a so-so performance in their opener, made easy work of Florida Atlantic. Revel in the box score, says The Only Colors:
Consider: -It was our first shutout since beating (who else?) FAU during a monsoon 17-0 in 2008. -It was our biggest margin of victory since beating Illinois by 47 back in (wait for it) 2005. -It was the fewest yards an MSU defense had given up since Biggie Munn roamed the sidelines (the mid '40s for those of you not up on your history.) -27-1 MSU on first downs gained. -In their first eight drives, before they completely shut the team down in the fourth quarter, the MSU offense went: TD, TD, FG, FG, TD, Missed FG, TD, FG on drives of 51, 73, 35, 46, 43, 51, 56, and 69 yards.Are you kidding me? .-In the first 3 quarters the MSU defense gave up: Punt (3 and out), Punt (3 and out), Punt (3 and out), Punt (3 and out), Punt (5 plays, 2 yards), Punt (3 and out), Punt (3 and out), Fumble returned for TD, Punt (3 and out), and Punt (3 and out).
Illinois 56, South Dakota State 3: The Illinois haven't faced any tough competition, but their offense continues to roll. Hail to the Orange:
The offense was running soundly, if surprisingly tilted toward the run game. The team rolled up 519 yards in the game, 364 of which came on the ground. Nathan Scheelhaase only attempted eight passes, completing six of them, but gobbling 102 yards from them. Scheelhaase once again kept the ball himself plenty more than I would have liked to see, and when he did he still wants to try and lay hits on defenders rather than step out of bounds or take a slide. Still getting 93 yards and two touchdowns on the ground isn't exactly something I would turn away, and seeing a quarterback stiff arm multiple defenders to the ground is awesome to behold. I can't complain too loudly if it works, but the season is early and those hits can add up, and I just don't want to see this kid get injured.
Ohio State 27, Toledo 22: The Buckeyes weren't pretty against Toledo, but they held on to improve to 2-0. OSU will take the win however it comes, according to Along The Olentangy:
Lefty Gomez, who played for the New York Yankees in the 1930s, once stated, "I'd rather be lucky than good.". One wonders if Gomez would have applied those thoughts to the 2011 Ohio State Buckeyes. Between now and next week's contest against the Miami Hurricanes, Ohio State fans can only hope that the Buckeyes have both attributes available as they will go into a very hostile environment, with Miami fans eagerly revisiting the 2003 Fiesta Bowl national championship game.
Iowa State 44, Iowa 41: The Hawkeyes, after a week of little brother posts, went to Ames and lost to the scrappy (yet perhaps Conference USA-bound) Cyclones. It was a tough game to watch, and the performance of the Iowa defense was predictable by the end, according to Black Heart Gold Pants:
FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU: Yeah, this was a frustrating loss. That's putting it kindly. As soon as Michael Meyer lined up for that field goal in the third overtime, every single Iowa fan knew how this game was going to end, and it wasn't going to be Iowa winning with those 41 points. Iowa hadn't actually stopped Steele Jantz in long enough that conceding a 4th and 1 was tantamount to rolling over and accepting defeat, and sure enough, that's what Iowa State sealed five snaps later. How bad was the decision to kick the field goal on 4th and 1? Consider this: Marcus Coker had rushed the ball 35 times on Saturday. He gained positive yardage on 32 of those rushes. Meanwhile, Iowa hadn't forced a punt since the opening minutes of the second quarter, and ISU had gained at least 25 yards on its last five drives/OT possessions, which had resulted in four touchdowns and one missed field goal after a 71-yard drive. Steele Jantz was in Full Heisman Mode at that point, and Iowa wasn't seriously keeping him out of the end zone without a major Cyclone error, a rarity in the game. But no, Ferentz went for the field goal...
Rice 24, Purdue 22: The Boilermakers continued their trend of losing at least one apparent gimme in the pre-conference with a bumbling late-game coaching performance against Rice in Houston. Certainly, I don't want to underestimate the intimidation factor: it appeared that all of the Rice players' parents were in the crowd, as well as a few dozen Purdue engineers from nearby NASA headquarters. Still, despite that Big House-ish atmosphere, it's hard to figure what Danny Hope and his staff were doing down the stretch. For an explanation, don't ask Hammer and Rails:
We have to be the worst team in the country when it comes to managing our timeouts or the clock in general. It manifested itself today by choosing to milk the clock with field position runs instead of go for the touchdown and the win when we were absolutely gashing them left and right on the final drive. If we're going to milk the clock, why spike it on first down there when there was no need to hurry if you're settling for the field goal? Why not try to kick on third down just in case a block does happen, then you can recover and get a second attempt? Why use your last timeout when you're already in range for a field goal and you have time run a hurry up offense? Why settle for the "rush the field goal unit on the field, sit there, and kick" option?
New Mexico State 28, Minnesota 21: This game is little remembered for the final score, and will be forever remembered for the sobering image of Minnesota coach Jerry Kill writhing on the sideline during a seizure that he suffered in the final seconds of the Gophers' tough home loss. Fortunately, Kill's life never was in danger, and he may even coach on Saturday. Still, it was scary, and the game itself wasn't much better. Like Purdue and IU, the Gophers appear very unlikely to play beyond November. Here is The Daily Gopher:
The second verse was the same as the first. The opponent was different, the venue changed but the final outcome remained the same. Once again the Gophers looked a little better in the second half and came up short losing to New Mexico State 28-21. For the second consecutive week the Gophers opened the game seemingly unprepared, uninspired and overmatched. Not exactly surprising last week at USC, but home against the team predicted to finish last in the WAC? This was just embarrassing. We over-confidently onsided the opening kickoff, did not recover and gave up a touchdown six plays into the game when New Mexico State connected on a 26-yard touchdown pass to take the early 7-0 lead. The Gopher offense proceeded to go three and out to give the ball right back to the Aggies. After last week's lackluster effort in L.A. I think we all expected a much different start against a presumed inferior opponent.
Northwestern 42, Eastern Illinois 21: The Wildcats doubled up FCS EIU. It didn't mean much either way, according to Sippin' On Purple:
Northwestern's romp over Eastern Illinois wasn't fun, or interesting, or meaningful. Your initial instinct is to watch the second game of your team's football season and walk away with some sort of insight, or ideas about how good/bad your team is. But it's difficult to do that after seeing NU win. Should we be encouraged the Cats manhandled a lesser team? Sure, but, well, the team was certainly lesser and therefore the win was nothing to be impressed by. Should we be pissed off NU gave up 21 points to a team like Eastern Illinois? Sure, but the Panthers acquitted themselves better than any FCS team I've ever seen play NU and those points were all the result of a few seemingly mental mistakes - players simply not in the right place and some pass interference calls that seemed quite bad at the time.
Nebraska 42, Fresno State 29: The Cornhuskers didn't take their first and only lead until the middle of the third quarter. Where was the usual improvement, asks Corn Nation:
Teams are supposed to make their biggest improvements between week one and week two. Fresno State clearly did that, but Nebraska didn't. Is that improvement just delayed, or is this just what Nebraska's got this season. Two weeks is too early to draw much of a conclusion, but so far, the evidence isn't terribly compelling.
South Florida 37, Ball State 7: IU's opening-week loss to the Cardinals on a neutral field doesn't look any better today. The Bulls, fresh of an upset of Notre Dame in week one, didn't allow BSU into the end zone until garbage time.
Houston 48, North Texas 23: UNT hung around for most of the game, but future Purdue coach Kevin Sumlin and the Cougars eventually pulled away. Fortunately, the UNT defense looks pretty shabby.
South Carolina State 26, Bethune-Cookman 18: IU will be heavily favored on Saturday, but South Carolina State is in the W column before the Hoosiers. After losing to Central Michigan in week 1, SCSU bounced back with a MEAC win.