B1G Weekly Recap: Rutgers Rally, Wisconsin Collapse Headlines First Weekend Back

After a nearly eight month hiatus, college football returned this weekend and it did not disappoint. Although several high-ranked teams had slight scares (see: Florida State, Alabama, and UCLA victories), no major upsets occurred across the country and that included in the Big Ten.

For the weekend, the conference as a whole went 12-2 with both losses coming to teams from other power conferences, including three wins for teams playing away from their home stadium.

Minnesota 42, Eastern Illinois 20

Buoyed by the defense and special teams, the Golden Gophers ran away with this one that could have looked much worse if not for two touchdowns by the Panthers in the last 30 seconds, including one as time expired. Up just 14 points at halftime, Minnesota blocked a punt that was scooped up by Logan Hutton, a senior wide receiver, and ran in for his first career touchdown.

The defense was the star for Minnesota as the unit forced three turnovers (two fumbles and one interception) while holding Eastern Illinois to just 2.5 yards per carry on 39 attempts. Sophomore quarterback Mitch Leidner ran in two scores and threw for another as Minnesota easily dispatched the FCS side. Next up for the Gophers is a visit from Middle Tennessee State.

Rutgers 41, Washington State 38

In their first game as an official member of the Big Ten, Rutgers showed that maybe they’re not just here for their market size. And they showed that right from their first play from scrimmage, which was a 78-yard touchdown pass from Gary Nova to Leonte Carroo. Nova finished with 278 yards passing and two touchdowns as Rutgers went west and won in Seattle, but running back Paul James led the attack with 173 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner with just over three minutes left.

In Mike Leach’s famed Air Raid system, Washington State threw the ball all over the field. Connor Halliday ended the day with 532 yards and five touchdowns but it wasn’t enough after River Cracraft fumbled a punt that gave the ball back to the Scarlet Knights for their game-winning drive. Rutgers comes back east this week as they host Howard.

Michigan State 45, Jacksonville State 7

As expected, Sparty rolled over Jacksonville State with no problem as they sprinted out to a 21-0 lead after the first quarter and 38-0 at half. Connor Cook went down early with an apparent leg injury on Michigan State’s first score but Cook came back to throw two more touchdowns before his day was done.

The defending Big Ten champs dominated the entire game, outgaining their opponent by more than 300 yards and holding the Gamecocks to just 22 yards rushing. The Spartans have a huge test next week as they travel to the Autzen Zoo to take on the Oregon Ducks in one of the top nonconference matchups of the season.

Penn State 26, Central Florida 24

Penn State went east, way east, to take on Central Florida and they needed a last-second field goal from Sam Ficken to take the victory in front of 55,000 in Dublin, Ireland. The Knights looked poised to take this one from James Franklin in his first game in charge, going up 24-23 with just over a minute to go. That was before Christian Hackenberg came on and led the Nittany Lions down the field for the victory.

Hackenberg put in a historic performance, becoming the first Penn State quarterback to throw for 400 yards as he ended up with 454 yards to go with one touchdown toss. The Nittany Lions come back to the States and host Akron next week.

Illinois 28, Youngstown State 17

It wasn’t pretty, but then again, it hasn’t been very pretty in recent times for the Fighting Illini. Illinois needed 21 4th quarter points to stave off the upset-minded Penguins. Wes Lunt, the transfer in from Oklahoma State, had a slow start to his Big Ten career but finished strong with three touchdown passes in the final period for four total touchdowns on the day.

The Illini were outgained 380-363 by their FCS opponent, including 203-78 on the ground, and will look to improve on their performance next weekend when they play host to the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky.

Indiana 28, Indiana State 10

In their season opener in Bloomington, the Hoosiers ran, ran, and ran the ball some more as they pounded the rock 69 times for 455 yards in the victory over the Sycamores. Tevin Coleman put up 245 yards and two touchdowns on just 23 carries and D’Angelo Roberts also topped the century mark with 129 yards and a score on 24 carries.

Nate Sudfeld did not have much to do, as he ended up 11-18 for 111 yards, and Indiana easily dispatched their in-state rivals. The Hoosiers travel to Bowling Green next Saturday.

Iowa 31, Northern Iowa 23

Up by as little as a single point in the 4th quarter, Iowa held off their in-state FCS opponent as well. The Panthers shot themselves in the foot over the course of the game with 16 penalties in a game hardly anyone thought would be this close. Sawyer Kollmorgen finished with 380 yards passing and two scores for Northern Iowa, while his counterpart Jake Rudock threw for 250 and two touchdowns.

A big difference was in the run game. The Hawkeyes ran the ball for 151 yards while holding the Panthers to just 25 yards on the ground. Iowa welcomes Ball State to Kinnick next weekend.

Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32

Just kidding. There was no way the Wolverines were going to lose this game, and that was apparent right out of the gate. Devin Gardner threw three touchdown passes to Devin Funchess in the first half as the Wolverines easily put the Mountaineers away 52-14. One would have thought that would have been the scoreline when the Wolverines were ranked in the top five in the country the last time these two met.

The Wolverines ended up with 350 yards rushing, including 170 from Derrick Green. Next up for the Wolverines is Notre Dame in South Bend.

Purdue 43, Western Michigan 34

Danny Etling got his first career win as Purdue’s starting quarterback as the Boilermakers held off their MAC foe. Etling was winless in seven starts as a freshman, but played well enough to get the win this weekend as he threw for two touchdowns and ran in another score.

The Broncos were within three points in the final quarter before Akeem Hunt scored a 38-yard touchdown rush to put it away. Purdue gets another one of the directional Michigan schools next week, as Central Michigan comes in to Ross-Ade for their shot at the Boilermakers.

Nebraska 55, Florida Atlantic 7

In a game they were supposed to dominate, Nebraska did just that. The Cornhuskers rolled over FAU to the tune of 784 yards of offense, their most since putting up 787 against Utah State in 1991. Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw for 271 yards and two scores while Ameer Abdullah ran for 232 and a TD.

Of their 784 yards of offense, 498 came on the ground as Terrell Newby also topped 100 yards and added two touchdowns of his own in the rout. Things don’t get much more difficult for Nebraska next week as McNeese State comes to Lincoln for their payday.

California 31, Northwestern 24

Turns out losing two of your biggest offensive weapons can be a bit of a problem as Northwestern found out as they fell at home to Cal. Without Venric Marc and Christian Jones, the Wildcats started extremely slow, falling behind 31-7 before cutting the lead to the final tally of 31-24.

Trevor Siemian threw for 229 yards and a touchdown but also got picked off twice in the loss. The Wildcats will look to get their first win of the season next week against Northern Illinois.

Maryland 52, James Madison 7

Also in their first official game as a member of the Big Ten Conference, Maryland found things a little easier than Rutgers. The Terrapins were up 45-0 into the 4th quarter before the Dukes found the end zone for the first and only time of the game. Senior quarterback C.J. Brown led the way with 61 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns to go with 111 yards passing and a score through the air.

Former Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers is now in charge at James Madison, but he saw his offense get into Maryland territory just once in the first half. Maryland takes a trip to Tampa next weekend to take on South Florida.

LSU 28, Wisconsin 24

In a potential statement game for the conference and the Badgers themselves, Wisconsin went full Sparty, and you never want to go full Sparty. Up 24-7 after their opening drive of the second half, the wheels promptly fell off for Bucky. Melvin Gordon and the running backs did as much as they could for Wisconsin, rushing for 268 yards as a team and Gordon had 140 yards and a TD himself.

The real problem for the Badgers came in the passing game. Tanner McEvoy was nowhere near where he needed to be for Wisconsin, completing just 8-of-24 passes for only 50 yards while being intercepted twice. The loss meant starting 0-1 for the first time in 17 years. Wisconsin should have no trouble evening their record next week as they welcome Western Illinois into Camp Randall.

What were your thoughts on the B1G’s opening weekend? Let us know in the comments what you thought of the opening slate of games.

Comments

  1. Not a bad showing for the B1G, especially with the surprises of Penn State and Rutgers actually winning. It’ll look better for the conference next week if MSU can handle Oregon, OSU can dismantle VaTech and Michigan can actually beat an FBS team this time.

    (Are we calling them FBS teams anymore? FPS? I’m confused)

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