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Big Ten football weekend recap: Week One

The league went 10-1 in non-conference play this weekend.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Purdue Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

In a new CQ feature, each week we’ll recap the Big Ten action from the preceding Saturday (and Thursday and Friday when necessary) and offer our thoughts on the weekend’s biggest takeaways.


Minnesota 48 - New Mexico State 10: After the Gophers started slow and found themselves tied at 7 after one quarter, PJ Fleck’s team rowed the boat to 28 points in the second period en route to a 38-point opening win. The blowout was on when Antoine Winfield, Jr. took a punt return 76 yards for a touchdown in the Big Ten’s play of the week.

Northwestern 31 - Purdue 27: For months, the story surrounding Purdue football has been the excitement returning for the first time in nearly a decade. And in front of a full Ross-Ade Stadium, the Boilers were poised to announce themselves as the number-one contender to Wisconsin’s reign in the Big Ten West. But the Wildcats hung 31 first half points and hung on down the stretch, surviving a couple late Purdue opportunities to take the lead. The play that decided this one was a 3rd and 11 off tackle run by Northwestern that went nowhere, but ended with Purdue veteran defender Lorenzo Neal going Captain Insano and tossing RB Jeremy Larkin like a rag doll well after the whistle.

Wisconsin 34 - Western Kentucky 3: The Hilltoppers were never in this one and Wisconsin had to do nothing more than go through the motions. The Badgers’ sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor put up 145 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first stop on his Heisman campaign.

Michigan State 38 - Utah State 31: In the first of three dud performances by the Big Ten East’s upper echelon, Sparty trailed 31-30 with just two minutes left in this one when a 31-yard reception by Felton Davis set up touchdown four plays later to give Michigan State the lead for good. Utah State keyed on LJ Scott, holding him to just 84 yards on 23 carries and forced Brian Lewerke to beat them in what will likely be the blueprint for defending the Spartans all season.

Ohio State 77 - Oregon State 31: I hope Oregon State got paid for a buy game here. Urban Meyer or not, the Beavers don’t belong in the same NCAA division as Ohio State, let alone on the same field. What is there to really take away from this?

Maryland 34 - Texas 29: Is Texas back? No. Is Tom Herman on the hot seat? Who knows. After a gimme against Tulsa next week, in four straight weeks the Longhorns will play USC, TCU, Kansas State, and Oklahoma. They’ll be favored in just one of those, and Manhattan, Kansas isn’t the easiest place to win. If Texas is 2-4 or 1-5 through six weeks, Tom Herman will absolutely be on the hot seat. (holds finger to earpiece) What’s that? Oh, I’m supposed to be talking about the Big Ten team? Well, Maryland somehow survived week one of Head Coach Matt Canada (typing that is so wrong) and honored Jordan McNair in the weirdest missing man formation ever. Why was it weird? McNair’s negligent death seems to have been the inevitable result of an allegedly toxic environment created by the Maryland football staff.

Penn State 45 - Appalachian State 38 (F/OT): The second dud of the Big Ten East. The Nittany Lions gave up over 450 yards of offense to the Mountaineers and appeared to have some real problems that they’ll need to cure over the next three weeks before they get Ohio State and Michigan State back-to-back.

Illinois 31 - Kent State 24: I don’t know how long the Lovie Smith experiment is going to last, but at this point, it’s clear it isn’t going to work, right? He’s now 6-19 at Illinois and five of the six have come against non-conference cupcakes or whatever in the hell Rutger is these days. But the biggest problem for Illinois may be a pitiful offensive line that made the Golden Flashes looks like the Purple People Eaters for much of Saturday’s contest.

Rutger 35 - Texas State 7: Sure.

Iowa 33 - Northern Illinois 7: It’s always fun to think about what can go wrong at Kinnick Stadium early in the season when the Hawkeyes welcome a mid-major. But this one was a runaway. Even with Northwestern’s win at Purdue, Iowa looked like they could be the best of the non-Wisconsin group in the Big Ten West.

Indiana 38 - Florida International 28: Peyton Ramsey and Michael Penix, Jr. both looked the part at quarterback on Saturday night, and Mike Debord might have visited some kindergarten classes after last season to develop his creativity. The Indiana defense did what a young, talented group will do. They made some big plays and looked plenty capable for a large part of the night, but also made some huge mistakes and had trouble from keeping the bending from turning into breaking. Virginia will provide a tough litmus test for the Hoosiers next week.

Notre Dame 24 - Michigan 17: In the biggest game of the weekend featuring a Big Ten team, Michigan looked flat and, despite keeping the ultimate outcome respectable in South Bend, just never appeared to be in this one. Shea Patterson’s Wolverine debut was overshadowed by terrible offensive line play as Michigan’s offense sputtered for just 58 rushing yards, making the offensive too one-dimensional to succeed.

The Takeaways and Overreactions

  1. Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines still can’t make the jump and now his seat may heat up. Michigan is now 1-6 against Ohio State, Michigan State, and Notre Dame since Harbaugh came back to Ann Arbor. And they’re just 3-2 against Penn State and Wisconsin. If the Wolverines slip up at Northwestern or Michigan State this season, Harbaugh might be looking at just a 6- or 7-win season. If that happens, all hell might break loose.
  2. The Badgers and Buckeyes are on a collision course. Week one is for overreactions. If this one told us anything, it’s that Wisconsin and Ohio State are the class of the conference, and there won’t be many threats. Does that mean you can book them for Indy now? Not quite. But it’s hard to imagine anyone in the West challenging Wisconsin, and the three biggest hurdles for Ohio State stumbled out of the box. So, I wouldn’t bet against it.
  3. Illinois won’t win a Big Ten game. They’re bad, folks. Bad enough that Lovie Smith may get run out of town at the end of the season. Their best, and perhaps only, chance will come at Rutger on October 6. But then again, that’s not really a Big Ten game, is it?

The Standings

Big Ten East Standings

Team Wins Losses Big Ten Wins Big Ten Losses
Team Wins Losses Big Ten Wins Big Ten Losses
Indiana 1 0 0 0
Maryland 1 0 0 0
Michigan State 1 0 0 0
Ohio State 1 0 0 0
Penn State 1 0 0 0
Rutger 1 0 0 0
Michigan 0 1 0 0

Big Ten West Standings

Team Wins Losses Big Ten Wins Big Ten Losses
Team Wins Losses Big Ten Wins Big Ten Losses
Northwestern 1 0 1 0
Illinois 1 0 0 0
Iowa 1 0 0 0
Minnesota 1 0 0 0
Wisconsin 1 0 0 0
Nebraska 0 0 0 0
Purdue 0 1 0 1

Week 2 Schedule

New Mexico at Wisconsin, 12:00 p.m., BTN

Western Michigan at Michigan, 12:00 p.m., FS1

Duke at Northwestern, 12:00 p.m., ESPNU

Eastern Michigan at Purdue 12:00 p.m., BTN

Rutger at Ohio State, 3:30 p.m., BTN

Colorado at Nebraska, 3:30 p.m., ABC

Iowa State at Iowa, 5:00 p.m. FOX

Maryland at Bowling Green, 6:00 p.m., ESPN+

Virginia at Indiana, 7:30 p.m. BTN

Western Illinois at Illinois, 7:30 p.m. BTN

Fresno State at Minnesota, 7:30 p.m., FS1

Penn State at Pittsburgh, 8:00 p.m. ABC

Michigan State at Arizona State, 10:45 p.m. ESPN