March 2, 2024

Grading the Big Ten after week two of non-conference play

Big Ten Football

The Iowa Hawkeyes line up against the Iowa State Cyclones before a play in the first quarter Saturday September 10, 2022 at Kinnick Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

The conference had a down weekend, with a 10-4 record.

Teams like Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska and Northwestern gave the league a black eye and got upset at home.

The Big Ten flexed its’ muscles on offense though. Several teams put up video game numbers to keep the conference afloat.

Illinois (2-1): The Fighting Illini bounced back after they lost their Big Ten opener. Illinois smothered Virginia 24-3, in a game that was dominated by its’ defense. The Fighting Illini held the Cavaliers scoreless for the final three quarters. The defense stockpiled five sacks, including two by linebacker Gabe Jacas. Cornerback Devon Witherspoon recorded a team-high, seven solo tackles. Cornerback Kendall Smith picked off a pass. All-Big Ten running back Chase Brown rushed for 146 yards, which was his fourth-straight game of eclipsing the century mark. Quarterback Tommy Devito threw for 196 yards, two scores and an interception. Illinois’ 10 penalties were very alarming though.

Indiana (2-0): The Hoosiers are off to their fourth 2-0 start under Tom Allen, and has already tied the number of wins from last season. Indiana outlasted Idaho 35-22. However, the Hoosiers found themselves down 10-0 at halftime. Indiana stormed back in the second half, with 23 points in the third quarter. Quarterback Connor Bazelak threw for 197 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Running back Shaun Shivers rushed for a career-high, 155 yards and a score. Tight end AJ Barner caught his second touchdown of the season. Cornerback Jaylin Williams generated a team-high, eight tackles. Not to mention Indiana’s 239 rushing yards were the most since its’ game against Rutgers in 2020.

Iowa (1-1): The Hawkeyes had one of the Big Ten’s worst outings. Iowa lost 10-7 to rival Iowa State for the first time since 2014. It was the second-straight game that the Hawkeyes scored in the single digits. Iowa only mustered 150 yards of total offense, which was its’ lowest output in recent memory. The rain in the second half made it a defensive slobber-knocker. Quarterback Spencer Petras only completed 12 of his 26 passes for 92 yards and an interception. Running back Leshon Williams rushed for a score. Tight end Sam LaPorta had a team-high, eight catches for 55 yards. Cornerback Cooper DeJean racked up 11 tackles and picked off a pass. Edge rusher Lukas Van Ness blocked two punts.

Maryland (2-0): The Terrapins are off to their third 2-0 start under Mike Locksley. Maryland throttled Charlotte 55-21. It was the second time in the last three games that the Terrapins scored 50-plus points. Not to mention Maryland’s offense racked up 617 yards, which was its’ highest output since game against Minnesota in 2020. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa used the 49ers defense for target practice. He completed 27 of his 31 passes, for 391 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. Wideout Jacob Copeland hauled in four passes for 110 yards and two scores. Fellow receiver Jeshaun Jones also had two receiving touchdowns. Cornerback Deonte Banks recorded a team-high, four solo tackles.

Michigan (2-0): Game two looked like a glorified scrimmage against Hawaii. The reigning Big Ten champs annihilated the Rainbow Warriors 56-10. It was the second time in the last six games that Michigan scored 50- plus points. The Wolverines were up 42-0 at halftime. Michigan stockpiled five rushing touchdowns. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy got the start and shined. He completed 11 of his 12 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Blake Corum averaged nearly 10 yards per carry and rushed for a score. Wideout Ronnie Bell had a game-high, six catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. Hawaii’s offense only averaged 3.7 yards per play against Michigan’s defense.

Michigan State (2-0): The Spartans had a laugher at home. Michigan State smashed Akron 52-0, which was its’ first shutout under Mel Tucker. The Spartans ran 19 additional plays and had 18 more first downs than the Zips. Quarterback Payton Thorne didn’t have a great performance, and threw two interceptions. Running back Jalen Berger rushed for 107 yards and three touchdowns. It was his second-straight game of eclipsing the century mark in rushing. Wideout Jayden Reed had a game-high, six catches for 76 yards. Michigan State’s defense recorded five sacks. Cornerback Ameer Speed tallied a game-high, nine total tackles, and safety Kendell Brooks added seven stops.

Minnesota (2-0): The Golden Gophers steamrolled past their FCS opponent. Minnesota laid a 62-10 beatdown on Western Illinois at home. The victory was the most points the Golden Gophers have scored under P.J. Fleck. It was also the program’s highest point total since 2006. Minnesota racked up 679 yards of total offense on the Leathernecks’ defense. Gunslinger Tanner Morgan completed 14 of his 18 passes for 287 yards and a touchdown. Running back Mohamed Ibrahim rushed for 130 yards and two scores. It was Ibrahim’s 13th career game of eclipsing the century mark in rushing yards. Edge rusher Thomas Rush had a sack, and Danny Striggow recorded his second of the season.

Nebraska (1-2): The Huskers’ 45-42 home loss to a Sun Belt team was the final nail in Scott Frost’s coffin. Nebraska’s defense struggled mightily again and couldn’t make a stop. Georgia Southern stockpiled a jaw-dropping, 642 yards of total offense on the Blackshirts. Although it was one of the worst losses at Memorial Stadium, Nebraska’s offense looked good, and moved the ball well throughout the game. Quarterback Casey Thompson threw for 318 yards and a score. Running back Anthony Grant has been Nebraska’s best player in 2022, and recorded his third-straight 100-yard game. Wideout Marcus Washington had six catches for 123 yards. Safety Isaac Gifford had a game-high, 11 tackles.

Northwestern (1-1): The Wildcats returned from their bye-week, and got spanked at home by the worst team in the ACC. Duke beat Northwestern 31-23, and swept the home-and-home series between the two programs. The Wildcats racked up 511 yards of total offense, which was enough to win the game. It’s mind-boggling that Northwestern had eight additional first downs, and ran 35 more plays than Duke, but still lost. That’s because the Wildcats committed three critical turnovers. Quarterback Ryan Hilinski threw for 435 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Running back Evan Hull caught 14 balls for 213 yards and scored twice. Safety Jaheem Joseph led Wildcats with nine tackles.

Ohio State (2-0): Coach Ryan Day proved week one’s narrow win over Notre Dame was a fluke. The Buckeyes’ offense came out inspired and scored 45 points through the first three quarters. Ohio State beat Arkansas State 45-12, but the game was surprisingly close early on. Not to mention the Buckeyes only led by 15 points at halftime. Quarterback CJ Stroud put together a stellar outing, with 351 passing yards and four touchdown tosses. Running back TreVeyon Henderson had two rushing scores. Wide receivers Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka combined for 11 receptions, 302 yards and four touchdowns. Defenders Steele Chambers and Michael Hall each generated a sack.

Penn State (2-0): The Nittany Lions are playing like one of the hottest teams in the league. Penn State crushed Ohio 46-10, and racked up 572 yards of offense. It was the most points and yards the Nittany Lions have generated since their last game of the 2020 season. Not to mention the Nittany Lions racked up 572 yards of total offense. Penn State had 11 additional first downs and ran 10 more plays than Ohio. Quarterback Sean Clifford threw for 213 yards and a score. True freshman running back Nick Singleton rushed for a career-high, 179 yards and two touchdowns. Three different players caught a touchdown. Linebacker Dominic DeLuca recorded a team-high, five solo tackles.

Purdue (1-1): The Boilermakers bounced back after their disappointing week one loss. Purdue pounded Indiana State 56-0. It was the Boilermakers’ first shutout over the past 13 games, and they dominated on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Aidan O’Connell completed 17 of his 19 passes for 211 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Devin Mockobee had a game-high, 78 rushing yards and a score. Wideout Charlie Jones caught nine balls for 133 yards and three touchdowns. It was his second-straight game of eclipsing the century mark in receiving yards. Safety Sanoussi Kane led the team with six solo tackles. Defenders Khordae Sydnor, Jack Sullivan and Branson Deen each had a sack.

Rutgers (2-0): The Scarlet Knights had the largest margin of victory of any Big Ten team in week two. Rutgers drubbed Wagner 66-7, which was the most points scored by any Big Ten team last Saturday. The Scarlet Knights’ defense held the Seahawks’ offense scoreless in the first, third and fourth quarter. Quarterback Evan threw for 156 yards and two touchdowns. True freshman running back Samuel Brown led the team in carries and had two rushing scores. Not to mention four different players caught a touchdown. Cornerback Robert Longerbeam tallied three tackles and picked off a pass. Edge rushers Kyonte Hamilton and Wesley Bailey each had two solo tackles and a sack.

Wisconsin (1-1): The Badgers were ranked 19th in the AP Poll and were heavy favorites, but still got upset at home by a rebuilding Pac-12 team. Washington State did beat Wisconsin 17-14. However, it’s a head-scratcher that the Badgers finished the game with more yards, first downs and plays than the Cougars and still lost. That’s because Wisconsin turned the ball over three times and committed a jaw-dropping, 11 penalties.