5 B1G Observations: Week 2

Well it was ugly but we got to 2-0.  Sure is nice that we get to call a 38-0 victory an ugly game, huh?  It’s a good thing we have such an easy schedule (right Bielema?).  Boy do I wish I could write up a piece on the SEC without inserting a whole bunch of expletives, but I just don’t think I could help myself.  So instead I’ll take us through this week’s slate in the Big Ten… and say BAAAHAHAHAAAHAHAAA to my friends down south.

#1: Wildcats and Illini rising from the ashes?

I’ll admit this up front, I picked Northwestern to bring up the bottom of the Big Ten this year and finish the season by finally chasing head coach Pat Fitzgerald out of Evanston.  I figured Illinois would be doing the same but they beat me to it by ousting Beckman even before the season started.  But after only two games it looks like my little predictions can go pound salt.  The Wildcats are playing like a complete team after handling #21 Stanford in the opener and then shutting out Eastern Illinois this week.  They now find themselves ranked #23 in the AP Poll and helping the Big Ten (slowly) fix its image.  All the while Illinois has only allowed three points in two games, scoring a whopping 96.  Moral of this story: don’t bet the farm on Joston’s preseason predictions.  Ever.

#2: Iowa takes care of business

Every few years Coach Ferentz puts a team together that is just good enough to threaten for a conference championship.  It’s kind of like a solar eclipse.  It’s here and it’s pretty and then it’s gone and all things go back to normal.  Well get your sunglasses ready because the boys out there in the cornfields are looking like a complete team again.  Quarterback C.J. Beathard threw for 215 yards and three touchdowns against in-state rival Iowa State and lead the Hawkeyes to a victory and the CyHawk trophy.  Iowa State may not sound too scary but this rivalry is a real deal and the trophy trades possession regularly.  If Iowa can keep it up in the weak Big Ten West Division, we might be seeing them in Indianapolis at the end of the year.  But I’ll refer you to Topic #1 as a reminder of my terrible history of predictions.

#3: Maryland makes me cringe

Maryland was never really expected to wow us when they were invited into the Big Ten in anything other than basketball and terrible uniforms.  But what the Terrapins put on the field on Saturday turned stomachs across the Midwest and beyond.  After leading Bowling Green 13-6 at halftime, the Maryland defense conceded six touchdowns in the last 30 minutes and lost to the second best team in the Mid-American Conference 48-27.  The Falcons completed touchdown passes of 27, 44, and 58 yards before it was all said and done.  The Buckeyes host Maryland on October 10th, and oh what a beat-down that should be.

#4: Sparty got mad swag

The game of the week took place in East Lansing when #5 Michigan State did just enough to avenge their loss from last season and defeat #7 Oregon.  Now no one can say for sure if this Oregon team without Marcus Mariota will be anywhere near as successful as they were in 2014.  But you can’t take away the magnitude of this win for the Spartans.  With the national limelight shining bright and many expecting the Big Ten to fold yet again, Mark Dantonio and Connor Cook beat the Ducks and earned themselves a few first place votes in the process.  The Spartan defense is legit, even without Pat Narduzzi.  I would say I’m worried but the Buckeyes have many weeks to fine tune their team before we host Michigan State, and we’re going to need it.  Sparty earned some swag this week and may not lose it before we meet on November 21st.

#5: The Bullets are back!

I know it was Hawai’i.  But I honestly don’t care.  One of my biggest gripes about Ohio State’s defense from a year ago was that they rarely had to carry the team.  The offense always did enough to win the game and control the clock and the defense could give up 28 points and still walk away victorious.  Well that wasn’t the case against the visiting Rainbow Warriors.  I could write pages about how poorly the offense played but I’m an optimistic guy and my hands are starting to hurt.  Instead I’ll point out just how good this defense was on Saturday afternoon.  After only three days of rest, the Silver Bullets pitched a shutout, only allowed 165 total yards, forced four turnovers and could have had two more easily.  Vonn Bell and Gareon Conley shut down the passing game.  Joey Bosa returned from suspension and got his first “shrug” sack of the season.  Raewkon McMillan found his place between Darron Lee and Joshua Perry.  This defense is stacked people, and they’re deep too.  I will sleep easy at night knowing that, if the offense has a rough game, the defense knows how to step it up.  Jimmy Tressel would be proud.

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