Western Michigan (Sept. 4, 47-14 win)
The Broncos clearly relished playing as a heavy favorite after experiencing the other side of a massive talent disparity in their season opener in Ann Arbor. They thumped Illinois State (a pretty decent FCS team for what it’s worth) 28-0, holding the Redbirds to four first downs and outgaining them 407-57.
Western Michigan might not have been able to compete with Michigan, but it should still be one of the better teams in the MAC this season. It’s got Pitt on the road this week.
Northern Illinois (Sept. 18)
In their first game at home, the Huskies (1-1) found themselves on the wrong side of a shootout with Wyoming, falling 50-43. The game was even wilder than the score indicates: the Cowboys led 42-16 with 6:03 remaining in the third quarter, but NIU scored four touchdowns in a 15-minute span to take a 43-42 lead. Wyoming got one more shot, though, and scored the game-winning TD with 95 seconds to play.
Second-year running back Harrison Waylee will clearly be the man to watch when the Huskies enter the Big House this weekend. Waylee’s up to 323 yards this season after gaining 179 on 26 carries while finding the end zone twice against Wyoming. Rocky Lombardi threw for 233 yards but completed barely half his passes and threw three interceptions.
Rutgers (Sept. 25)
For the first time since 2014, the Scarlet Knights are 2-0, having gotten there by virtue of a 17-7 win at Syracuse. Lest you thought Rutgers’ 61-14 drubbing of Temple in Week 1 was the sign of an offensive juggernaut (Rutgers gained less than 400 yards in that game!), think again.
This was a very lousy game of football. It was scoreless at halftime. The Scarlet Knights gained 50 yards on 42 carries, the Orange 67 on 30. That’s an average of 1.6 yards per carry for both teams combined. Noah Vedral completed 22 of his 28 passes, but for just 145 yards. Somehow, this clash of former Big East rivals was nearly four hours long.
Syracuse went 1-10 last season, so while it’s fair to say Rutgers is improved, we’re probably not going to have a good idea of just how much it has until it faces Michigan. The Scarlet Knights take on FCS Delaware (2-0) next.
Wisconsin (Oct. 2)
Breaking news: the Badgers can still run the football.
What, you thought Eastern Michigan was going to stop them? Chez Mellusi gained 144 yards on 20 carries to lead a 352-yard performance on the ground, while Graham Mertz was an efficient 14-of-17 for 141 yards through the air to key a 34-7 win. On defense, Wisconsin held the Eagles to 16 rushing yards on 18 carries and 92 yards in total. This was a Wisconsin game all the way, right down to the Badgers holding the ball for nearly 40 minutes.
The Badgers are on bye this week before a Soldier Field showdown against Notre Dame (2-0).
Nebraska (Oct. 9)
The Huskers beat Buffalo and the two-touchdown spread, moving to 2-1 on the season with a 28-3 win. It was a legitimately impressive defensive showing, seeing as the Bulls had the fifth-highest scoring offense in the country a season ago. Nebraska held them to 4.5 yards per passing attempt and didn’t allow a single red zone opportunity. Linebacker Luke Reimer led the way, coming up with a whopping 16 tackles and a near pick-six.
Adrian Martinez had a monster game, going 13-of-19 for 242 yards and two scores while adding 112 yards on the ground. The Huskers rotated carries, with Gabe Ervin Jr., Markese Stepp and Sevion Morrison all getting touches. Ervin did the most with them, gaining 56 yards on 10 carries with two scores.
As someone who grew up in Norman, I think it’s great for college football that Nebraska and Oklahoma are playing once again. But I shudder to think about what the Sooners will probably do to the Huskers this weekend.
Northwestern (Oct. 23)
The Wildcats (1-1) slogged their way to a 24-6 win over Indiana State, which opted out of this past spring’s FCS season. Evan Hull tore through the Sycamore front, rushing for 126 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, while Anthony Tyus III added 71 yards on his 10 attempts. Hunter Johnson only threw for 66 yards, but it didn’t really matter.
Northwestern really dominated on defense after two solid opening drives by Indiana State that went for 69 yards. The Wildcats didn’t allow a drive of more than 12 yards for the rest of the game, save a 75-yard garbage time march. They gave up just 32 yards on the ground. They had a big game on special teams as well, with Brandon Joseph and Raymond Niro combining for 166 yards on four punt returns.
Next up for the Fightin’ Pat Fitzgeralds is a road trip to Duke (1-1), which beat North Carolina A&T 45-17 on Saturday.
Michigan State (Oct. 30)
The Spartans appear to have found a quarterback. Payton Thorne followed up a solid opener with a 15-of-21, 280-yard, four-touchdown performance in a 42-14 rout of FCS Youngstown State, finding Jayden Reed for two scores of over 75 yards. After a tremendous opener, Kenneth Walker III took a back seat to Jordan Simmons (121 yards), but still helped MSU average 7.2 yards per carry.
Vibes are good right now in Mel Tucker’s second season, but this Saturday’s game at 1-1 Miami will give us a much better read on just how much Sparty has improved.
Indiana (Nov. 6)
After failing to score a touchdown against Iowa, the Hoosiers did exactly what they should have done against FCS Idaho — a 56-14 rout, to be precise. Michael Penix Jr. threw for just 68 yards on 16 passes but accounted for three scores anyway. It was on the ground and special teams where Indiana really rolled up the yards, led by Stephen Carr’s 118 yards on 22 carries and a punt return game that had 154 yards, including an 81-yard scoring burst by DJ Matthews. Indiana’s defense was plenty stingy as well, racking up five tackles for loss in the first quarter alone.
This week it gets substantially tougher, as the Hoosiers host No. 8 Cincinnati.
Penn State (Nov. 13)
The Nittany Lions welcomed defending MAC champion Ball State to Happy Valley and sent them back with a 44-13 loss. This one was never in doubt. Sean Clifford threw for 230 yards and a score while running for 66 and a touchdown. Noah Cain, Keyvone Lee and Devyn Ford combined for a further 169 yards on the ground. The Cardinals averaged just 2.7 yards per carry and 5.0 yards per passing attempt.
Of note: despite missing a short field goal and an extra point against Wisconsin, Jordan Stout is having a heck of a season. He went 3-of-4 on field goals against Ball State but really shone on kickoffs, drilling all nine for touchbacks. And with three punts for 154 yards, he’s also averaging well over 50 yards per boot on the year.
This week Penn State hosts Auburn, which has outscored two inferior opponents 122-10.
Maryland (Nov. 20)
It’s hard to know what to make of the Terrapins at this point, but that didn’t matter in a 62-0 rout of FCS school Howard. Taulia Tagovailoa completed 22 of 27 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns, Dontay Demus caught six balls for 128 yards and a score and Maryland gained 227 rushing yards. The Bison gained just 146 yards in all.
The Big Ten is still trying to make Friday night games happen, so Maryland will head to Champaign this Friday to take on Illinois, which is 1-2 and coming off a big loss at Virginia.
Ohio State (Nov. 27)
Nothing new to report here. Why do you ask?