We are now 10 weeks into the college football season, which is absolutely wild to say. The Michigan Wolverines are still in the Big Ten East race after a win against Indiana, but how did the opposition do last week?
Let’s take a look at how Michigan’s 2021 opponents did this past weekend.
Western Michigan (Week 1, 47-14 win)
Western Michigan’s slump continued unabated last week as Central Michigan came into Kalamazoo and won, 42-30. The Broncos scored the game’s first two touchdowns, but the Chippewas forced three second-half turnovers and ran away with things after the break. The loss sent WMU to 5-4 and 2-3 in the MAC and in last place in the division, a disappointing turn of events after the Broncos looked like the conference’s best team early in the year.
The Broncos host Akron tonight. The Zips are 2-7 and 1-4 in MAC play, so this is one WMU should win.
Washington (Week 2, 31-10 win)
Where to start? First, head coach Jimmy Lake made a very avoidable blunder last Monday when he said he didn’t feel Oregon was a recruiting rival for his team because Washington was a more “academically prowess” school. Washington (4-5, 3-3 Pac-12) actually hung tough with the No. 4 Ducks, but Lake made a questionable decision to punt from his team’s own 10, down eight and with just two minutes to play. The snap went over the punter’s head and the Huskies went on to lose 26-16.
If that’s not enough, Lake is suspended for Washington’s home game against Arizona State (6-3, 4-2) this week after he got into a physical altercation with one of his players on Saturday. And offensive coordinator John Donovan was fired after the loss to Oregon.
Northern Illinois (Week 3, 63-10 win)
The Huskies have been a ground-and-pound team most of the season, but Rocky Lombardi led his team through the air in last week’s 52-47 loss to Kent State. Lombardi threw for 532 yards, 309 of them going to Trayvon Rudolph. But NIU couldn’t stop the Golden Flashes’ ground game, allowing 360 yards and 682 yards in total.
Northern Illinois fell to 6-3 and 4-1 in the MAC, but it still controls its destiny in an attempt to claim a berth in the conference championship game. The Huskies host Ball State (5-4, 3-2) on Wednesday.
Rutgers (Week 4, 20-13 win)
The Scarlet Knights have fought hard enough in every game they’ve played with the exception of their loss to Ohio State — and now this past Saturday’s 52-3 loss to Wisconsin. Rutgers’ anemic offense caught up to them, gaining just 207 yards and turning it over four times. The Badgers scored on every drive after their first drive, save for two garbage-time possessions, and the outcome was never in doubt.
Needing two wins in their last three to become bowl-eligible for the first time in seven years, Rutgers (4-5, 1-5 Big Ten) will travel to Indiana in Week 11.
Wisconsin (Week 5, 38-17 win)
The Badgers are officially back from the dead. Against Rutgers, they put up by far their highest point total of the season. Graham Mertz (11-of-16, 240 yards) was efficient, while 240-pound freshman Braelon Allen (129 yards on 15 carries) looks very much like the next star Wisconsin running back. It’s Rutgers, true, but it’s still hard to believe that the Badgers’ offense that gained 579 yards last Saturday is the same one that looked so dreadful in September.
Wisconsin is 6-3 and 4-2 in the Big Ten. The Badgers have wins over Iowa and Purdue and control their own destiny in the race for the Big Ten North, where they’re easily the favorites at the moment.
Nebraska (Week 6, 32-29 win)
Scott Frost will be back for 2022. On Monday, after the Huskers’ 26-17 loss to Ohio State, Frost agreed to a restructured contract that lowered his buyout and salary. It’s pretty similar to what Jim Harbaugh agreed to with Michigan last winter, and the mandate is clear: win, or else. Considering how close the Huskers (3-7, 1-6) have come to breaking through at times — Week 10 was their first loss by more than one score — giving Frost one final chance seems fair enough.
That said, many of Nebraska’s close losses have been punctuated by poor coaching and puzzling decisions from Frost. The Huskers attempted a 30-yard field goal on 4th-and-5 in the fourth quarter, down by six, and missed it. Ohio State put the game away shortly afterwards.
Northwestern (Week 8, 33-7 win)
Iowa is beatable. The Hawkeyes’ offense isn’t just terrible for your average 7-2 team, it’s terrible by any standard. But their saving grace has been forcing turnovers, and they picked off Andrew Marty three times to beat Northwestern, 17-12, in Week 10. Marty went 25-of-44 for 270 yards, but the Wildcats didn’t move the ball at all outside of three long second-half drives.
Northwestern fell to 3-6 and 1-5 in the Big Ten with the loss, with a road date at Wisconsin coming up this Saturday. The Wildcats’ bowl hopes are all but extinguished.
Michigan State (Week 9, 37-33 loss)
Classic Purdue. The Boilermakers scored their second Top-3 win of the season with a 40-29 win over the Spartans in West Lafayette this past Saturday. Michigan State couldn’t stop Aidan O’Connell (536 passing yards) or David Bell (217 receiving yards) and didn’t lead at any point during the game. Kenneth Walker ran for another 136 yards, but the Spartans’ secondary has been a sieve all season: after Saturday’s loss, they’re giving up nearly 330 yards per game through the air.
Michigan State (8-1, 5-1) hosts Maryland this week.
Penn State (Week 11)
It wasn’t the prettiest showing, but Penn State snapped its three-game skid with a 31-14 win at Maryland last Saturday. Jahan Dotson caught 11 passes for a school-record 242 receiving yards and three touchdowns, helping the Nittany Lions overtake the Terrapins, who were within 7-6 at halftime. PSU (6-3, 3-3) did next to nothing on the ground yet again (93 yards on 33 carries), but with Sean Clifford (363 yards) throwing to Dotson and Parker Washington, the offense can still score.
Michigan’s cornerbacks and safeties are going to be in for a big test this Saturday, as the Nittany Lions will almost certainly have to throw upwards of 40 times to win.
Maryland (Week 12)
The Terrapins (5-4, 2-4 Big Ten) are a little like Penn State right now, in that they have absolutely no rushing attack and need Taulia Tagovailoa (41-of-57, 378 yards on Saturday) to play well for any chance of winning. Maryland appears to have steadied itself following its annual October downturn, but with a road game at Michigan State coming up on Saturday followed by Michigan in Week 12, there’s no margin for error if it wants to make a bowl game. The Terrapins do get Rutgers to end the season.
Ohio State (Week 13)
The Buckeyes have now played two straight games which were closer than they’d have liked. They gained 495 yards of offense (C.J. Stroud throwing for 405 of them) against Nebraska, but on five occasions failed to score a touchdown after driving inside the Husker 30. Finishing off possessions was a problem in last week’s win over Penn State as well, and something the Buckeyes will need to polish up quite soon. For now, they’re 8-1 and the Big Ten’s only 6-0 team.
This week, Ohio State hosts (gasp!) Purdue.