The Big Ten went 8-4 against nonconference competition last weekend. I was able to see most of the games, although the evening slot was overloaded with more games than I have TV’s, so I missed a few. There was also a lone conference game that I handicapped but the game didn’t qualify as a play for me. My predictions and pre-game comments can be found on my previous post, dated 9-7 Predictions Week 2
My Current Overall Record: 0-0
Ohio St. 52 Rutgers 3
Closing Line: Ohio St. -35.5
FTC Prediction: Ohio St. 52 Rutgers 16
My ATS Pick: Pass
I called for Ohio St. to start off flat and for Rutgers to move the ball offensively at times and put some points on the board. Ohio St. may very well have been flat, hard to tell. They were just so much better than Rutgers it couldn’t have mattered. The Buckeyes have so many weapons. As you can see, I hit Ohio St.’s score right on the nose, but Rutgers didn’t move the ball offensively quite as well as I called for and could only manage three points. Rutgers QB Artur Sitkowski played ok, but left the game with an injury just before halftime. I don’t know that Rutgers came out of this game with as many positives as they’d hoped for, but can probably point to at least a few good moments during Monday film session. Again, Ohio St. is loaded with talent, so I don’t see Rutgers as the only team in this conference that will be thumped by the Buckeyes. Rutgers still has a shot at some conference wins, just not against this team.
THE NON-CONFERENCE GAMES
Illinois – Won vs. Western Illinois, 34-14. This was one of five evening games being played at the same time. I saw a bit of the first quarter, but after that I stuck with games that offered a more interesting matchup. Illinois won as they were supposed to, but by all accounts struggled early (for the second week in a row) and led by only seven at the half. QB A.J. Bush left the game with an injury. I’ve read that it’s not serious, but we’ll have to see.
Indiana – Won vs. Virginia, 20-16. This was a nice win for the Hoosiers who are now 2-0. Indiana seems to have a pretty good RB in Stevie Scott as they handed him the ball 31 times for 204 yards. The weather conditions were wet and rainy, so I’m not sure if Indiana didn’t throw very much due to the weather, or if they’re just not as comfortable passing as they are keeping the ball on the ground. Anyway, this was a different kind of win for Indiana compared to the Kevin Wilson years, or the Bill Lynch years for that matter. Ball control offense and a better than expected defense won this game.
Iowa – Won vs. Iowa St., 13-3. The Hawkeyes are 2-0 when I figured they’d have already stumbled by now. The second level of the defense was a question mark coming into the season but those questions were answered in a positive way in this game. The offense struggled a bit, but didn’t look terrible. QB Nate Stanley threw a few nice passes, but for the most part was typical Stanley – nothing too flashy but steady nonetheless.
Maryland – Won at Bowling Green, 45-14. I did not see this game. Couldn’t find it in the listings so I don’t believe I had access to this one. I’ll be keeping an eye on this team. I noticed last week they have some very good athletes.
Michigan – Won vs. Western Michigan, 49-3. Everyone would have been singing Michigan’s praises all week if this was the season opener. The Wolves looked good in all phases against a much easier opponent than last week’s ranked Notre Dame team. The Wolverines didn’t throw much (while the outcome was still in question) because they didn’t have to. I was watching three games at once and it seemed like every time I looked up at the Michigan game the Wolverines were ripping off a long TD run. A MAC opponent isn’t the best barometer, but Michigan did win in the convincing fashion that’s expected of an elite program, so that should temper some of the criticism that’s recently been directed towards the program. This game was over by halftime.
Michigan St. – Lost at Arizona St., 13-16. This game ran past my bedtime and I’d been watching football since 11 AM, so I didn’t see much of it. Tuff road trip for the Spartans as the game was pretty much past their bedtime too. I’ve been saying since the preseason that Michigan St. is a bit overrated, so this loss isn’t a complete surprise to me.
Minnesota – Won vs Fresno St., 21-14. Another nice win for Minnesota to put the Gophers at 2-0. It’s documented on this site that I had my doubts coming into the season about HC P. J. Fleck and this program, but the Gophers look well organized and the play calling/strategy seems sound. Star RB Rodney Smith left the game early with an injury, but the Gophers were able to overcome the loss in this game. Smith will be missed in the future though, if he is unable to play. Minnesota utilized the wildcat formation with Seth Green to compensate for Smith’s absence and had some success.
Nebraska – Lost vs. Colorado, 28-33. I don’t think anyone knew for sure quite what to expect as the Scott Frost era begins. This wasn’t a bad loss, and I think it’s safe to say that immediate improvement from the previous regime was apparent, but it’s also apparent that Nebraska is not going to move to the head of the class any time soon. The new QB, Adrian Martinez, looked outstanding when you consider he’s just a freshman. But he left the game with an injury, which could be a big loss if it’s serious. His replacement, Andrew Bunch, appeared to be fully capable, but again, Martinez appears to be something special.
Northwestern – Lost vs Duke, 7-21. And there it is. Just when you think the Wildcats have something special going on…. THUD. I don’t have access to ESPNU so I didn’t get to see this one, but I’ve learned over the Pat Fitzgerald years to not be surprised by surprises. Then again, maybe the Wildcats weren’t as special as I thought after being impressed by their opening win at Purdue. Purdue laid an egg this week as well.
Purdue – Lost vs. Eastern Michigan, 19-20. Certainly a step back for this program. The weather conditions were rainy, so that can be an equalizer sometimes. Purdue did seem to have trouble hanging on to the ball. Eastern Michigan QB Tyler Wiegers had an outstanding game at the Purdue defense’s expense. David Blough started at QB for Purdue, but gave way to Elijah Sindelar. Sindelar threw some nice passes but neither QB could match Wiegers’ performance. From the couch it seemed as if the Boilermakers could have gotten the ball into the hands of freshman phenom Rondale Moore more often, but then, Moore did drop the ball on a couple of occasions. And although Purdue ran the ball often as two RBs finished with over 100 yards, it also appeared as though they should have run the ball even more. But the real dagger in this one was that for the second week in a row a Purdue defender was called for unnecessary roughness on a fourth down play that would have, in this game, all but sealed a Purdue victory. I’m one who detests all of these new “player protection” and “sportsmanship” penalties, so I’d be the first to give the Purdue player the benefit of the doubt. But, like the week before, there was no doubt that the penalty should have been called. “Stupid” is the word that came to my mind, and apparently to HC Jeff Brohm’s mind as well as I believe he used that word in his post-game press conference.
Penn St. – Won at Pitt, 51-6. The game was tight in the first half, but Penn St. took control in the second half and answered any concerns fans may have had after last week’s close call. QB Trace McSorley was the catalyst as usual. HC James Franklin has instilled a winning attitude in this program that can be a difference maker in games like this.
Wisconsin– Won vs. New Mexico, 45-14. Wisconsin was on the ropes in the first quarter as New Mexico jumped out to an early lead and appeared ready to make a game of this. But after getting pushed around a bit, the Wisconsin defense began to make big plays when they needed to and started to move the ball offensively in the second quarter, mostly on the ground. Like they often do, Wisconsin simply wore their opponent down.