Saturday, August 30, 2008

Week One in the Big Ten

It's been a long time since I got see a full Saturday of college football (having worked in a sports-themed restaurant for the past 2+ seasons, it was impossible). Today was a real treat for me. I got to see large portions of more than a handful of games.

Thoughts on how the Big Ten performed today? OK, since you asked;

- Ohio State 43, YSU 0
You've seen my initial thoughts, but I'll elaborate more over the next couple of days.

- Penn State 173, Coastal Carolina 10
CC was getting clobbered from the moment they fumbled the opening kickoff. I don't think I can get a full assessment of how good PSU is from that game, but I did see a lot (and I mean A LOT) of broken tackles by Lions players. It looked to be a combination of good PSU play and bad CC effort.
Penn State had 334 yards of rushing, and they were not running up the score. 8 different players carried the ball, and nobody had more than 10 carries. Also, 13 different receivers made the box score. Yes, I said 13.

- Northwestern 30, Syracuse 10
The Wildcats have the potential and they could be a bowl team. The issue is, nobody really knows what kind of damage they can do. Since they played a lousy Syracuse team today, we still don't know what they are capable of, but I've gotta give them an "A" for playing with heart. They were losing to the Orangemen in the 3rd quarter, and they turned it up a notch. You didn't see much of that from this squad the last couple of seasons when they were down in the second half.

- Indiana 31, Western Kentucky 13
Kellen Lewis is a monster. Dude had 144 yards and 2 TDs in the air and 185 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. Those 185 rushing yards came on 9 carries. Yeah, that's correct...he averaged 21 yards a carry.

- Iowa 46, Maine 3
Kirk Ferentz needed a big win after a summer of being beaten to death by police blotters and bad news. He got it.
I didn't get to see this game, and I don't think this game was actually broadcast anywhere. It might have been kept off the air because of some obscure part of Megan's Law. I'll have to look into that.

-Wisconsin 38, Akron 17
The Badgers used a bruising run attack (404 rushing yards) to jump out to an early lead, then got a little scare thrown into them in the second quarter when Akron came back to within 7 points. It didn't last long.
The team that can slow down Wisky's running game will probably be able to beat them. Their passing game is going to struggle (they know it, too, only attempting 10 passes on the day).

-Utah 25, Michigan 23
Don't let anybody fool you. Michigan was in this game only because Utah let them stay in it. The Utes committed 15 penalties on the day, and made stupid mistakes all day long. A pass interference took away a Utah interception and gave Michigan their first TD. Then in the 4th quarter, Utah thought they had won and decided to stop playing. Plus, if somebody doesn't teach Utes QB Brian Johnson when to throw the ball away (and to actually throw it NEAR somebody when he does), they're in big trouble.
Michigan was downright awful on defense, and they have no go-to people anywhere to be found on offense (203 total yards, only 35 yards rushing, and 3-14 on third down). Johnson had over 300 yards passing against Michigan, and because he refused to throw the ball out of bounds, he had negative-66 yards rushing.
Penn State and Michigan State saw this game and are salivating.

-Minnesota 31, Northern Illinois 27
The best game of the entire day. It stayed close all game long, and when the Gophers found themselves down by 3 with 5 minutes to go, they put together a bruising drive for the game-winner (then held on against a near-miracle finish).
Minnesota won't win more than 5 games this year, but their fans found a new love. head Coach Tim Brewster sent his offense onto the field at the 4-yard line on 4th-and-2 with 30 seconds to play in a 3-point game. He could have gone for the easy tie and sent it into OT, but he wanted to send a message to his offense. the offense responded and got the first down and the win. Brewster could have been a major goat if his Gophers had failed that play, but this team needs confidence, and Brewster gave it to them. Kudos.

-Cal 38, Michigan State 31
This was a really exciting game, and MSU nearly won it. The Spartans are on the verge of being a great team. Right now, they are a good team and they will beat you because they take advantage of breaks when they go MSU's way. Sparty needed one more break tonight and couldn't seem to get it. The only problem is see with Michigan State right now is they lack defensive speed. It'll hurt them down the road, but they have the weapons on offense to make up for it.
Side note - ever seen any team thump their chest so much over basic plays like Cal did tonight? Outside of Miami, circa 1980s, of course.

-Missouri 52, Illinois 42
Damn, but I was having a tough time flipping back and forth between this game and MSU. I need a new remote control now.
Like offense? You'll love Illinois this year.
Like defense? You'll hate Illinois this year.

By the way, I think Purdue had a great weekend too. They didn't do anything wrong at all!

What are your thoughts on the Big Ten this weekend?

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