The first week of the season is over and it is time to let the hot takes burn! My personal favorite came from Kirk Herbstreit (our favorite) when he stated on national television that Ohio State wouldn’t face a better quarterback/ receiver combo than Indiana’s RICHARD LAGOW and Simmie Cobbs. Let that sink in, but we’ll get back to that next week.
Michigan fans let this column serve as your weekly guide to those things outside of Ann Arbor. No longer do you have to suffer through the 14-10, night games between Iowa and Illinois; enjoy your maize and blue themed victory party while I suffer through sobriety, and drown myself in televised mediocrity. But alas, I do love the Big 10 and want to keep you informed throughout the season.
Now, my meandering “guide” can range from interesting analytics to ScarJo level hot takes. Hell, I might even compare games to which Drake song they reminded me of the most (some games are that sad).
And with that, Week 1.
08/31 Buffalo 7, Minnesota 17
Remember the first time you watched Inception, knew you saw some great things, but still felt really confused? But instead of asking for clarity, you pretended to understand in an effort to not appear lame. The national media appears to be doing the same with Minnesota. The Gophers dominated possession (36:59 to 23:01), total yardage (408 to 262), but only won by 10 against a Buffalo team that went 2-10 (1-7 in the MAC) in 2016. There was a lot of good stuff on display in this performance, but the game generated more questions than answers.
08/31 Ohio State 49, Indiana 21
It’s peculiar to see teams open up with conference play in Week 1, but I don’t mind it. Despite the score, Ohio State is not the dominant team most were expecting. The Buckeyes’ defensive front was as advertised, but their porous secondary and lack of offensive play makers were surprising. Also, why did it take Greg Schiano so long to double Simmie Cobbs? Was it pride or does he just enjoy watching his inexperienced corners get served up as a meal?
The aforementioned Cobbs is a problem that Michigan will have to deal with. The 2015 Big 10 leading receiver has not lost a step. Fortunately, Richard Lagow is still quarterback and ‘Lagow’s always gonna Lagow.’ By this I mean make ill-advised throws and generate more turnovers than lazy-eyed Brett Favre.
09/01 Washington 30, Rutgers 14
Rutgers is no longer a dumpster fire (rejoice New Brunswick!) as they improved on their 2016 loss to Washington (48-13). This game was competitive and maybe the insertion of Jerry Kill was the injection of life this program needed. However, Janarion Grant needs more than three offensive touches if this team is to seize those elusive three wins in 2017.
09/01 Utah State 10, Wisconsin 52
After shaking off a slow start, Wisconsin dominated due to their balance (244 passing yards, and 234 rushing yards) and maturity of Alex Hornibrook (15-for-23 and three touchdowns). This was a complete showcase from the second quarter forward and I expected nothing less from a 27-point favorite.
09/02 Akron 0, Penn State 52
Speaking of big favorites, there is nothing like a week 1 cupcake. As expected, Penn State ran through and OVER a subpar, 30-point underdog, MAC team. Grass is still green, water is still wet, and Saquon Barkley is still exceptional.
09/02 Ball State 21, Illinois 24
Our Drake song of the week goes to Illinois with Doing It Wrong from 2011’s Take Care album. “So cry if you need to, but I can’t stay to watch you” is the best way to summarize this game. Illinois is the worst team in the Big 10. Ball State went 4-8 (1-7 in the MAC) last season and dominated this game in every aspect except turnovers. The basement of the Big 10 remains very low.
09/02 Bowling Green 10 , Michigan State 35
Make sure to pour some of your drink on the floor in memory of all the 3-9 jokes that are all now dead and behind us (four prepositions in that sentence, BOO-YAH). Sigh. Two Michigan State performances were surprising to me and for two drastically different reasons.
Brian Lewerke turned in a stellar performance with 22-for-33, 250 yards (69 rushing), and three touchdowns. L.J. Scott, however, averaged 2.6 yards-per-carry en route to 39 rushing yards and two fumbles (both lost). We can’t say Michigan State is BACK after one week, but we can say they have secured their first winning record since Oct. 1, 2016.
09/02 Maryland 51, Texas 41
Maryland derailed this year’s Texas hype train and won the battle of two teams destined to win six games or less in 2017. I can feel my heart softening every time I see D.J. Durkin on the sidelines (damn this ever longing Michigan support!). Please, Terrapins, don’t let him down and play the role exposer one more time on Oct. 7.
09/02 Wyoming 3, Iowa 24
Firstly, does anyone notice the similarities between Iowa and LSU? Most years, both teams feature a game manager at quarterback, productive running backs, physical defenses, and an erie home-field advantage. Okay, LSU is more talented and faster (and better), but Iowa has to at least be the goofy cousin who skips line at family reunion buffets.
Now, to the game!
No one told Iowa that Josh Allen was one of the top NFL quarterback prospects as the Hawkeyes physically overwhelmed Wyoming. Despite Nathan Stanley’s severe limitations at quarterback, he managed three touchdowns on only eight completions. Wyoming punter Tim Zaleski bobbled and whiffed on a punt attempt late in the second quarter and this accurately describes their afternoon.
09/02 Michigan 33 , Florida 17 (neutral site)
My colleagues have covered this in depth so I will leave the game to three words: puzzling, poised, and potential (gold star for the alliteration).
09/02 Nevada 20, Northwestern 31
A classic case of underestimation and arrogance plagued Northwestern in the first half as they trailed 17-7. Northwestern was my sleeper pick in the offseason and I am sticking to that. Also, Justin Jackson is my candidate for “the guy who seems like he has been in college for ten years” award. Other finalists: Baker Mayfield, J.T. Barrett, Saquon Barkley, and Royce Freeman.
09/02 Purdue 28, Louisville 35 (neutral site)
Is that a… pulse? Ladies and gentlemen, West Lafayette is alive! This was the single most impressive Big 10 performance of the weekend and it came in a losing effort. Despite being 26.5-point underdogs and facing human joystick Lamar Jackson, the Boilermakers echoed Jim Harbaugh’s mantra: “Compete, compete, compete.” Purdue has not won more than three games since 2012, but for the time being, they have reasons to be optimistic.
09/02 Arkansas State 36, Nebraska 43
Did Nebraska forget they are no longer in the Big 12? In the Big 10, teams play offense AND defense. The Cornhuskers survived after having their defense carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey by the defending Sun Belt Conference champions (similar to being the best The Hobbit movie) Arkansas State. With the inability to stop a closing door on defense, I refer Nebraska to my old friend Han Solo: “Good luck… you’re gonna need it.”
09/08 8:00 pm, Ohio vs. Purdue
09/09 12:00 pm, Cincinnati vs. Michigan, Florida Atlantic vs. Wisconsin, Iowa vs. Iowa State, Northwestern vs. Duke, Towson vs. Maryland
09/09 3:30 pm, Eastern Michigan vs. Rutgers, Indiana vs. Virginia, Pittsburgh vs. Penn State (upset alert), Western Michigan vs. Michigan State
09/09 4:30 pm, Nebraska vs. Oregon
09/09 7:30 pm, Oklahoma vs. Ohio State (sad Kirk Herbstreit when he realizes Baker Mayfield is better than Richard Lagow alert)
09/09 8:00 pm , Western Kentucky vs. Illinois
09/09 10:00 pm, Minnesota vs. Oregon State
*All times Eastern Standard Time