Around the Big Ten, Week 2, plus non-conference foes

Sep 8, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; Indiana Hoosiers running back D'Angelo Roberts (right) is tackled by Massachusetts Minutemen defensive back Joe Colton (left) during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

Not the best week for Big Ten football. I don't like to see the conference struggling so hard, but I do have to say that my eyes were sort of lighting up at the yardage that opposing passers were laying on some of the future foes of the Hoosiers... until I saw the news about Roberson's season-ending injury. Sad, slow, knowing shake of the head. Will the Hoosier football ever stop being snakebit?

News and perspectives from around the conference below the jump:

lllinois (1-1) Lost in a 45-14 blowout at unranked Arizona State. The Illini were without QB Nathan Scheelhaase, but his presence wouldn’t have helped them shut down ASU’s passing attack, which destroyed the Illnois defense. Illinois actually notched over 300 yards of offense (231 on the ground) and held the ball for 10 minutes longer than ASU... which may have not been that hard if the Sun Devils were moving the links quickly every time they had the ball.

Iowa (1-1) Lost 6-9 to rival Iowa State. There’s not much shame in losing to a BCS in-state rival on the road, but only scoring 6 points? I don’t think the Hawkeyes’ offense has even scored a touchdown in the red zone yet, in two full games of action. From Black Heart Gold Pants:

The fourth and final Cyclone turn-over, an interception in the end-zone by Hawk-eye line-backer James Morris breathed fresh life into the flailing hopes of the Iowa foot-ballers with barely three minutes remaining in the final quarter of play. Morris, now displaying a mustache reminiscent of silver screen star Douglas Fairbanks, returned the foot-ball nearly one-half the length of the grid-iron, to the Iowa 49 yard line. Alas, the Hawk-eye offense was unable to advance the ball further, as four consecutive forward passes fell harmlessly to the Kinnick Field turf. The final throw, from Hawk-eye quarter-back and celebrated ursine assassin James Vandenberg to pass-catcher Don Shumpert, hit the latter squarely between the numerals on his chest before then rebounding off his yearning finger-tips. It was one of 8 dropped forward passes on the afternoon for the Iowa pass-catchers

Michigan (1-1) Squeaked by Air Force 31-25. Sure, it was a trap game, but for the second straight game, the Wolverine defense looks nothing like the title contender-worthy side it was hyped as. Denard Robinson does look pretty awesome, though, gaining over 200 yards in the air and over 200 yards on the ground. From Maize n Brew:

The way I see it, we will not truly know about the real substance of this squad until Michigan travels to South Bend on the 22nd. Alabama was simply a team far better than Michigan in every aspect of the game, a team that in turn is far better than anyone else on Michigan's docket; this doesn't make the loss any less palatable, but it does mitigate any notion of its instructiveness as to the worth of this team.

Likewise, Saturday's game against Air Force was almost as uninformative, in the grand scheme of things. Air Force, an option team, runs an offensive attack that Michigan will not see again this season. Michigan did not look great, sure, and I'm not going to argue that Saturday's game was an enjoyable one to watch for any reason other than the fact that it was Michigan football, a thing that we will get to watch only 12-14 times this season.

Michigan State (2-0) The Big Ten’s only shot at a champion. Went to Central Michigan and destroyed them 41-7. From The Only Colors:

Yes, CMU is a bad team, but this was arguably the biggest home game in their history. Yet, the game was never in doubt. Contrast that with the performances turned in by the rest of the conference: Iowa lost, Wisconsin is losing, and Michigan barely won. The conference is ripe for the taking, and MSU is in great shape to take it.

Minnesota (2-0) Rolled in a 44-7 romp over New Hampshire. From the Daily Gopher:

This game was never in doubt and we should be yawning at this result. This is what should be expected. Sadly this has not been the case over the last several seasons. I'm not willing to look at this win as a statement that the program is "back". This was a nice win, we did what we should have done and we need to continue to get better

Nebraska (1-1) Gave it a game effort, but lost at #22 UCLA. A major turning point was a sack of QB Taylor Martinez for a safety, which broke a tie late in the fourth quarter. And things went down from there: Corn Nation's analysis:

What was exposed was how the Huskers front seven were dominated much of the night...and by a bunch of freshman on the Bruins offensive line.... The offense wasn't bad; 439 yards and 30 points should be enough to win most weeks. Not perfect, mind you...but not bad. And when the defense is as bad as it was against UCLA, not nearly enough.

Northwestern (2-0) The Wildcats are looking good after rolling up Vanderbilt 23-13 at home. The Commodores have not been that good, especially on offense, but it’s still a solid victory on the heels of the heartstopping Syracuse win. QB time is being split right now between two QBs, as Sippin on Purple notes below:

Northwestern's saving grace thus far has been the turnover battle: Five turnovers for NU's opponents in two games, only one for the Cats. Either that's a trend that continues - which could be the case, as both Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian have shown a tendency to be safe with the ball - or we see a regression to the mean and Northwestern loses some close games. Let's hope it's the former.

Ohio State (2-0) Won 31-16 over Central Florida. Braxton Miller ran for three TDs, but I’m not particularly impressed by the Buckeyes beating the Knights at home. Still, this was a terrible week for the conference and OSU is still unscathed. Land Grant Holy Land comments:

....Orhian Johnson shined the brightest during a decidedly mixed afternoon of effectiveness by the Ohio State defense. Johnson recorded a huge pass break up, a key tackle, a tip that led to an interception, and later a pick of his own en route to the win. On the offensive side of the ball, Braxton Miller continued to showcase why virtually everyone thought Urban Meyer and Tom Herman's offense would almost be an unfair advantage for the second year signal caller. Miller completed 19-of-25 passes for 168 yards, a TD (and unfortunately his first pick of the season).

Penn State (0-2) The Bill O’Brien era has not kicked off particularly well... indeed, kicking was actually a major problem here, but it has kicked off with a combination of bad luck and good effort and generally weird things happening, and Penn State losing. PSU went down 16-17 to Virginia after missing 4 field goals and an extra point. Black Show Diaries summarizes where things went looked to recover, but went wrong again:

As the fourth quarter rolled around, though, a new script was written: the offense came back, as Allen Robinson made a sensational catch to reel in a 30-yard touchdown (but the extra point was blocked). Sam Ficken even hit a field goal! The defense stopped UVa in its tracks, and forced turnovers! And the Lions led 16-10. But the Ted Roof defense couldn't hold it, and with under a minute and a half to play, UVA took a 17-16 lead.

Purdue (1-1) Actually, the Boilers turned in one of the conference’s better efforts, despite losing at #22 Notre Dame, 17-20. Robert Marve evidently looked pretty good, but his health is a question, and I guess the doctors are waiting until tomorrow to do the MRI on his knee? No idea what that portends, but good luck to the young man. Hammer and Rails seems both encouraged by the loss, and critical of the current dual-QB approach:

Yes, this loss sucks, but it is one of the most complete games Purdue has played on the road against a good opponent in a very long time.

The biggest concern, as always, is the quarterback situation. Marve left the game hurt and I really, really hope it was not his knee again. I think today made it plain that if he is healthy he has to be THE guy. No more switching. No more rotating. He has to be the unequivocal No. 1 to give the offense the cohesion it needs.

Wisconsin (1-1) Lost in a major upset to Oregon State, 7-10. Yeah, it was a road game, but evidently the Beavers totally shut Wisky RB Montee Ball down, and the Badgers had no other answers. Bucky's Fifth Quarter notes the problem with the Badger's QB performance:

O'Brien had a tough day against the Beavers as well. The Maryland transfer looked solid last week under offensive coordinator Matt Canada's conservative game plan. When given an opportunity to open up the offense on the road this week, O'Brien was just 20 of 38 with one touchdown, and one interception.

The stats don't tell the whole story though, O'Brien looked flustered more often than not. O'Brien also had a serious issue feeling pressure in the pocket, as he was strip sacked twice. O'Brien also more than once stepped up into the pressure instead of away from it.

Roundup of Indiana’s non-conference foes:

Indiana State (1-1) The Sycamores took out their frustrations on D-II Quincy, crushing them 44-0. It’s a solid win, but won’t help the Hoosiers Sagarin numbers any.

Ball State (1-1) Lost 52-27 to #12 Clemson. BSU was hanging around sorta, but Clemson kicked a 61-yard field goal to close the half and then just knocked them out in the second half. The good news for IU? The Cardinals’ secondary got embarrassed in this game as QB Tahj Boyd completed 19 of 23 passes against them. The bad news? Cardinals’ redshirt freshman RB Horactio Banks notched 120 yards and 2 TDs on just seven carries.

Navy (0-1) Off for the week. Considering the hurt that Notre Dame put on them last week, probably a good thing.

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