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Around the Big Ten, week 2 (and a look at how IU's non-conference opponents fared).

Penn State's freshman QB Robert Bolden wasn't as impressive against Alabama as he was against Youngstown State.
Penn State's freshman QB Robert Bolden wasn't as impressive against Alabama as he was against Youngstown State.

It was a 9-2 week for the Big Ten.  Penn State lost to the defending national champs.  Minnesota...didn't.

Ohio State 36, Miami 24:

The Buckeyes pretty easily handled Miami, one of many ranked ACC teams to fall flat on Saturday.  Along the Oletangy was happy with OSU's performance, and doesn't think the numbers tell the true story of the Buckeyes' dominance:

All of that stupidity about Southern Speed and Miami Swagger was shown to be nothing but a gust of hot air upon the cool Columbus sky. Without two special teams plays, Miami is hardly in this game in the 4th quarter. And make no mistake, while those two special teams plays were fantastic displays of athleticism, they were not indicative of the game as a whole. They were the aberration to the dominance that was taking place between kicks. Ohio State (414) outgained Miami (346) by 68 yards, and even that number belies a certain level of competitiveness that was not there. Once the goal became about protecting the lead, Ohio State's defense and offense worked in cohesion to limit Miami's ability to crawl back into the game through the big play.

Michigan 28, Notre Dame 24:

This series always produces strange games and strange plays.  Notre Dame QB Dayne Crist missed almost all of the first half with a vision problem, and Michigan QB Denard Robinson again was the Michigan offense, including on the game-winning touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. Maize n Brew says that the season is playing out roughly as expected:

Going into his season the consensus opinion about the Michigan Wolverines was that their offense would be electric and their defense would not be. Through two games this season, those predictions seem right on target. Somewhere lost in all the excitement of Michigan's win is a grand narrative that can eloquently sum up your feelings, my feelings, and the feelings of Michigan fans everywhere. It's a narrative that tells us how the season will go, who will lead it and how it will all end. But I'll be damned if I can find the gumption to find it or write it just two games into the 2010 season. It's just too early to make these grand proclamations. There's so little we know about the rest of our schedule. At this point it's conceivable that Michigan will enter the conference season with four wins, but after that, what next? Big Ten play opens with Indiana's potent offense. Then Michigan sees Michigan State, Iowa and travels to Happy Valley to take on Penn State. Anything can happen between now and the end of the season, so you'll forgive me if I'm a little more cautious about making proclamations about this team and this year.

Alabama 24, Penn State 3:

The Nittany Lions traveled to Tuscaloosa to take on the top-ranked and defending champion Alabama, and couldn't find a way into the end zone.  Black Shoe Diaries isn't as depressed as the score might suggest:

Now for some perspective for Penn State. We went into this game thinking this would be a loss. We went into this season thinking this would be a loss. And here we are with a loss. Nobody should be shocked by this. Penn State has a young team with a true freshman quarterback. I keep saying this team is a two year project. We're in game two of that project, so this was to be expected. Penn State played tough throughout the game. It wasn't like they fell down by 28 points in the second quarter and Alabama still scored three touchdowns after calling off the dogs. Alabama had to work for all of their yards and all of their points. The Penn State offense moved the ball on some long drives, but like an inexperienced team playing in a hostile environment they made costly mistakes with turnover in the redzone.

SB Nation's Alabama site, Roll Bama Roll, doesn't think the Nittany Lions measure up to the SEC competition the Tide will face later in the season:

With all due respect to the Nittany Lions -- and I am admittedly fond of PSU -- they really did not impress me last night. They looked to be a solid team, but for the moment nothing much more than that. Evan Royster looked like a cog, the offensive line looked relatively weak, none of the skill position players really stood out, and Trent Richardson and our offensive line toyed with their front seven like a cat paws a ball of yarn. In the weeks leading up to this game I wrote that if we lost to Penn State we were likely in for a much longer season than most expected, and I still think that holds true. Penn State is a solid team who may have an outside chance of challenging Ohio State for the Big Ten championship, but I still believe that we have a few opponents on the schedule this year who will ultimately prove to be better than the Nittany Lions. No vitriol in that, just my honest take.

Iowa 35, Iowa State 7:

After a stretch in which the Hawkeyes lost 7 of 10 to the Cyclones, Iowa regained firm control of this intrastate rivalry.  BHGP was effusive about Iowa's first half play:

Complete and total domination. This must be the first thing said about Saturday's game: taking the competition and situation into consideration, the first half was the best half of football I have ever seen a Kirk Ferentz Iowa team play. The. best. half. I have ever seen them play. The third quarter was mighty fine too, but it's pretty clear the Hawkeyes were on cruise control by the time the fourth quarter started. I mean, Paki O'Meara carried the ball... six times. That kind of a day.

Meanwhile, Clone Chronicles says it isn't the end of the world:

Iowa State is building a program. Sometimes match ups expose our biggest weaknesses and this was evident yesterday. Our team is good enough to disguise these weaknesses against some opponents(hopefully six of them). We have to win these types of games and that is where good coaching comes into play. Recruiting will fill in those weaknesses but it doesn't happen over night.

Wisconsin 27, San Jose State 14:

The Badgers won, but in less-than-impressive fashion and with some key injuries.  Bucky's Fifth Quarter:

The truth is that the game was never in doubt. While never dominant, the defense was good enough to prevent the Spartans from ever making it a game after the Badgers took a 14-0 lead. But no one can ignore the fact that after UW took the 14-0 lead, the next six drives went like this: punt, turnover on downs, field goal, field goal, punt, interception. If the Badgers are serious about contending for the Big Ten title and a BCS bowl, that's not going to cut it and they know it. The concerns are not just limited to offensive mistakes. UW's supposedly improved secondary allowed Jordan La Secla to complete 20-of-26 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, the Spartans dropped back to pass 30 times and UW failed to register a sack.

Michigan State 30, Florida Atlantic 13:

The Spartans played FAU at Ford Field in Detroit in what technically was a home game for FAU.  The Only Colors expressed some concern about the defense:

In front of a rather somnolent crowd at Ford Field, Your Spartans upped their record to 2-0 with a victory over the Florida Atlantic Owls. MSU went up early, took a 20-7 lead at halftime, and then produced a thoroughly mediocre second-half performance. The defense struggled mightily in third down (FAU converted 7-16) and fourth down (2-2) situations, and was repeatedly gashed for chunks of yards by FAU's tight ends and underneath receivers. Oh, and the tackling wasn't the best, either. If you have visions of Kyle Rudolph putting up 100+ receiving yards next week, well, you're not the only one.

South Dakota 41, Minnesota 38:

In the worst loss for the Big Ten this season, Minnesota lost at home to I-AA South Dakota.  The Daily Gopher doesn't think it was a fluke:

Every team has bad games. Sometimes the ball bounces the wrong way, or the flu runs rampant throughout the roster. Today's loss to South Dakota was no fluke. Bad coaching decisions and terrible football fundamentals are to blame. The Gopher's problems are much deeper than a bad day, and it's going to be a long season. South Dakota played great football, but never should have scored 41 points. Minnesota has fast, strong, agile, big players on the defensive side of the ball. Yet the defensive line couldn't contain the quarterback on roll-out plays. Tackling technique was awful. The linebackers failed to recognize screen plays until the fourth quarter. Blitzes were always telegraphed. The defensive secondary was routinely deep-fried by receivers lacking in Big Ten speed. No effective adjustments were made as the game progressed. Worst of all, the defense would celebrate small victories as if they had just won the Super Bowl, all while they were still losing to a team that was in Division 2 a few years ago.

Northwestern 37, Illinois State 3:

The Wildcats made quick work of an overmatched intrastate opponent.  Sippin' on Purple:

Its okay. You're allowed to be pleased when your team curbstomps an FCS opponent 37-3. I mean, take a look around you: James Madison and South Dakota will be glad to remind you why you're allowed to be pleased. NU has played things close in the past, so be glad Saturday was not that day. But, are we allowed to be impressed? I'm going to go ahead and say yes. The Wildcats did literally everything asked of them.


Purdue 31, Western Illinois 21:

The Boilermakers won a ho-hum game, but lost star receiver Keith Smith to what looked like a serious knee injury.  Hammer and Rails thinks the psychological effect of losing Smith may have had an effect on the final score:

Then there is Keith Smith. All I can say is that it didn't look good. He went down and stayed down (on a play that didn't even count, no less). Once he was helped up, it took two guys to get him to the cart while he couldn't put any weight on his leg. Once on the cart, he waved to the crowd as it slowly took him to the locker room. To me, it looked like he knew he was done. We won't know for sure until a day or two from now, but I think he is done for the year. Star-divide On the way home the radio guys kept mentioning how deflating the injury was. I think they were on to something. Purdue was firmly in control at the point of his injury, even if they weren't moving with impunity up and down the field. Once he was gone, the offense lost any sense of cohesion it had and the second string defense gave up a pair of late scores. I don't mind the late scores as much as I mind the alarming lack of production from the offense.

Illinois 35, Southern Illinois 3:

The Illini got their first win of the year over the Salukis.  Hail to the Orange dares to hope:

Following the trend from last week, the Illini defense hit. hard. The Illini were hitting soundly and wrapping up only just about every play last night, a definite improvement from last year, and a trend I absolutely want to see continue. Fact is of course, this was all supposed to happen, no matter what many some people may have predicted. There is some talent on this Illini team and it even seems to be well coached (gasp!) I am not saying the Illini will start winning gobs of games, but at the very least there seems to be actual signs of hope for what might have been (and to be fair, might still be) a very scary season. Winning against SIU is at least a first step.

Towson 47, Coastal Carolina 45

A week after losing badly to IU, the Tigers won in overtime against Coastal Carolina.  I thought perhaps the Tigers continued their impressive offense from last week, but the score was 21-21 before the two teams played five overtimes.

Gardner Webb 38, Akron 37:  The Zips are struggling, and a blocked extra point on a late touchdown led to the decisive margin.

Louisiana-Lafayette 31, Arkansas State 24:

The Hoosiers' homecoming opponent lost a close one.

Kentucky 63, Western Kentucky 28:

The Hilltoppers never really threatened UK, but their offense may create a problem for IU.  More on this one later in the week