It was a mixed week for the Big Ten. Ohio State fell flat in the most high-profile matchup of the week, but Iowa rallied to avoid what would have been a disastrous home loss. Northwestern decided to re-establish its tradition of screwing up a winnable non-conference game. Here is a quick rundown, and some comments from the relevant SB Nation writers:
Miami 24, Ohio State 6: In a battle of scandal-ravaged programs, the Buckeyes looked very flat in losing to the Hurricanes at whatever they now call Joe Robbie Stadium. The Ohio State offense, in particular, was hopeless, and this game may have shown how much the Buckeyes miss the guys who were suspended for receiving improper benefits. If there is any justice in the world, this will be Miami's last meaningful win before the program is reconstituted in Division III in 2018. This may end the Fickell era before it begins, says Along The Olentangy:
Ohio State traveled to Miami in its quest to maintain its undefeated record, and establish an offensive identity. Losing 24-6 at Miami, Ohio State accomplished neither, in a game that rivals the 2001 Ohio State/UCLA (UCLA 13 - Ohio State 6) for offensive frustration and inadequacy. The Miami loss may have also ended any thought of Luke Fickell's chances of being named Ohio State's permanent head coach.
Illinois 17, Arizona State 14: Did I once actually think Illinois was a winnable home game for the Hoosiers? There's always the Zook Factor, but the Illini might be for real, finally. They looked very good at home in handling Arizona State. This may have been a change in luck, says Hail to the Orange:
As Illinois fans who have followed the team in the last ten years, watching those final few minutes of game time tick away were excruciating. Aside from the 2007 season, Illinois fans have watched countless games that could have been or should have been wins slip through their fingers. Wins that could either have signified a step forward for the program, (literally every game against Missouri) or could have helped keep the team from slipping back from the national radar (the last two games against Fresno State, the 2008 losses to Western Michigan and Northwestern, last year's Minnesota game.)
Iowa 31, Pittsburgh 27: The Hawkeyes, a week after losing to Iowa State, looked completely worthless for three quarters, but overcame a 24-3 second half deficit to stun the Pitt Panthers. It was surprising all around, says Black Heart Gold Pants:
That wasn't exactly the script any of us were expecting to see play out. Near the end of the third quarter, as Iowa trailed 24-3 and things looked bleak. The Iowa offense had looked dead on the table for most of the game, either shooting themselves in the foot repeatedly (the first half was an avalanche of stupid penalties that moved the offense backwards) or by being generally incompetent (they didn't string together too many decent drives). I was prepping a venting thread and pondering a recap of the game that highlighted the eerie (and unpleasant) parallels between this season and the 2007 season. A heavily-hyped new quarterback who had looked promising in cameo appearances but who had struggled upon giving the keys to the offense permanently? A multi-year skill position starter on offense back for one last go 'round? A defense loaded with new faces that struggled to stop the run and the pass? Check, check, and check.
Penn State 14, Temple 10: While the Illinois game suddenly looks less hopeful, could Penn State be vulnerable to upset when the Nittany Lions come to Bloomington a week from Saturday? Penn State needed a late fourth down conversion, reminiscent of PSU's win over IU in 2004, to avoid in-state shame and a loss to Temple in Philadelphia. The whole program is in an odd state, according to Black Shoe Diaries:
Find me a better representation of the current state of the Penn State program than offensive braintrust obscured by the tinted, reflective glass of the coaches' box. For years, nobody has really known who is running the show at Penn State. The convoluted playcalling system, weird job titles, and the waxing and waning of Joe Paterno's involvement in the program were all neatly captured by the continued ESPN camera shots of the mysterious press box.
Army 21, Northwestern 14: The Wildcats are back to their old ways, dropping a WTF nonconference game. This time, it was against the Black Knights of Army at West Point. At least the Wildcat fans made a trip to what is supposed to be one of the most charming venues in college football. Sippin' On Purple:
We were all quite optimistic about Northwestern's chances this year right after the BC game: The Cats went on the road, beat a pretty quality (or so we thought) opponent without their best quarterback. The Big Ten looked shaky and NU looked like it had a chance at a decent finish in a sub-par Big Twenvle conference. Since, BC has looked awful, and now we have NU dropping a game to a team that couldn't beat NIU or SDSU. We have a quarterback controversy as Kain Colter's throwing skills seemed inept with Trevor Siemian forced to drive an NU comeback and we have a defense that just struggled against the triple option, giving up four or five yards invariably.
Nebraska 51, Washington 38: The powerful Cornhusker offense was good enough to outscore the Washington Huskies in Lincoln. Perfectionists that they are, the Husker fans are worried about the defense. Corn Nation:
Remember just two weeks ago when we were worried about the offense and pleased with the defense? Now we've got the opposite concerns. The Husker offense looked dominant, but the defense had some issues against Washington...mostly in the fourth quarter. Let's give credit where credit is due: Washington has talent on offense and frankly, I think they are better this year than last, if only because I think that Keith Price is a better quarterback than Jake Locker.
Notre Dame 31, Michigan State 13: In a battle between to of the toughest-to-figure programs in college football, Notre Dame didn't turn the ball over quite as much as in the first two weeks, and ended up with a comfortable win over MSU. ND is good, but what's wrong with the Spartan offense, says The Only Colors:
First of all, hats off to Notre Dame. The Irish offense was very effective at moving the ball when not shooting themselves in the foot (both aspects were on full display today, with 21 points creditable to the offense - not counting the kickoff return or the field goal set up by Harrison Smith's Robert Blanton's interception return - and two offensive turnovers plus a muffed punt). What I didn't expect was for them to completely shut down our running game - not counting sacks, we had 19 carries for 49 yards. That simply won't get the job done.
Minnesota 29 Miami (OH) 23: A week after suffering a seizure on the sidelines, and then spending five days in the hospital, Jerry Kill was in charge and on the sideline for the first win of his tenure in Minneapolis, a home win against a respectable MAC team. It's nice to have a win, but perhaps not many more are forthcoming, says The Daily Gopher:
The good news is that Gopher fans were witness to an entertaining and close football game that resulted in a Gopher win. The bad news is that we were witness to two evenly matched teams in terms of overall talent. But for now, let us focus on Jerry Kill's first win coaching the Golden Gophers. For the first time this year the Gophers played consistent football for four quarters. It wasn't great football but it was consistent and we did a number of things well, and finally it was enough to win.
Michigan 31 Eastern Michigan 3: A week after an incredible win over Notre Dame, the Wolverines took care of business against EMU. Does anyone think that a program can win at the level to which Michigan is accustomed with its Antwaan Randle-El-ish reliance on Denard Robinson? Me, either. It felt like 2010, says Maize n Brew:
On a clear Saturday in September, Michigan fans had to feel like they were watching a repeat of last season. Bad defense. Denard left. Denard right. Denard up the middle. Twenty-five carries and almost 200 yards later, Michigan had topped Eastern Michigan 31-3. While a 28 point victory is usually the cause for celebrate, this weekend's jump into Marty's DeLorean created more questions about this season that generated answers.
Purdue 59 vs SE Missouri State 0: After one bad loss and another close call, the Boilermakers finally put away an overmatched opponent in a dominant win over a team that qualified for the FCS playoffs last year. It was just what Purdue needed, says Hammer and Rails:
I think everyone expected a win today, but even I was surprised that we were totally dominant against an option team (a look we really hadn't seen this year) and a team that was pretty good last year (9-3 and an FCS playoff bid). It was refreshing to see us do what we wanted, when we wanted to on both sides of the ball. It is enough to renew at least some faith in the goal of a bowl game this season. Yes, I am aware one of the biggest reasons for yesterday's rout was our simple physical dominance, but seeing us perform so well in all phases has to give the players confidence going forward. We're now a third of the way to the goal of six wins. Yes, we should be 3-0, but there is nothing we can do about it now. With some of the results around the conference yesterday we have to be at least somewhat encouraged that further growth can give us four more wins.
Wisconsin 49 @ Northern Illinois 7: The dominant Badgers made quick work of Northern Illinois at Soldier Field in Chicago. Bucky's 5th Quarter:
[Russell] Wilson accounted for 384 of Wisconsin's 621 yards on the day, completing 23 of 32 passes, and threw two touchdown passes to Toon, and one to Jacob Pedersen. Wilson also made his first mistake as a Badger, throwing an interception to NIU's Zach Anderson with 9:42 left in the fourth quarter. Wilson's interception was also Wisconsin's first turnover of the year.
And now, here is how IU's non-conference foes fared. Ball State improved to 2-1 with its first MAC win, and Keith Wenning continues to impress; Virginia moved the ball well at North Carolina but mistakes doomed the Cavaliers; and North Texas was curbstomped by Alabama in a game that will tell us absolutely nothing about this Saturday.
Late TD lifts Ball State to 28-25 win over Buffalo - College Football - Rivals.com
Keith Wenning threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Willie Snead with 29 seconds remaining to lead Ball State to a 28-25 victory against Buffalo on Saturday night. The score culminated an 18-play, 75-yard drive for the Cardinals (2-1, 1-0 MAC) after Buffalo (1-2, 0-1) took the lead. Wenning completed 24 of 36 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns. - College Football news
Richardson, No. 2 Alabama route North Texas, 41-0 - College Football - Rivals.com
Alabama's potent tailback tandem Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy took turns sprinting toward the end zone. North Texas never got there at all. Richardson and Lacy each had a pair of long touchdown runs and career rushing highs of 160-plus yards to make a little backfield history, and No. 2 Alabama's defense smothered the Mean Green in a 41-0 victory Saturday night. - College Football news
North Carolina tops Virginia 28-17, moves to 3-0 - College Football - Rivals.com
Bryn Renner threw two touchdown passes and Ryan Houston ran for two scores Saturday to help North Carolina beat Virginia 28-17. Giovani Bernard ran for 102 yards to lead a strong ground attack for the Tar Heels (3-0, 1-0), who won their first Atlantic Coast Conference opener in 11 years. Dwight Jones and Jheranie Boyd each had TD catches as the UNC offense put together an efficient and relatively... - College Football news