A 12-2 record and the best winning percentage among Power Five conferences? Not a bad way to start the season for the B1G. You know, that conference that won’t have any teams in the College Football Playoff at the end of the season.
There was a lot more celebration that disappointment in the first weekend of B1G football, but we still endured some letdowns along the way. Some guys didn’t quite live up to the hype that had followed them throughout the offseason.
No need to panic, though. While some individual performances may not have been up to our standards or expectations, it is only the first week of the season. All of the guys listed should be able to shake the less-than-impressive performances and get back on the B1G radar in not time.
Here’s who we expected to see a little more from in the opening week of the season:
Saquon Barkley, Penn State RB – With sky-high expectations entering the season, Barkley’s performance against Kent State was somewhat of a letdown. The sophomore did hit the 100-yard mark, totaling 105 yards on finding the end zone once on 22 carries. Maybe I’m being a little nit-picky here, but I expected a much more explosive debut for the 2016 season. With Pitt coming up on Saturday, A bounce-back game – if you can even call it that – from Barkley would be a nice boost for the Nittany Lions.
Darius Hamilton, Rutgers DT – The redshirt senior was ineffective in Rutgers’ 48-13 loss against Washington last weekend, making just three assisted stops in the contest. After a year off, getting back into football shape isn’t exactly easy. And when your first game back is against a favorite to win the Pac-12, it’s hard to ease back into things. The competition gets a little easier for the Scarlet Knights this week, hosting FCS foe Howard. Hamilton should look more like the guy who recorded six sacks and was an All-B1G Honorable Mention in 2014.
Clayton Thorson, Northwestern QB – You’ve got to tuck the football away, young fella! While scrambling to the Western Michigan 1-yard-line, Thorson had the ball poked lose by a WMU defender to turn a potential go-ahead score into a game-winning fumble recovery for the Broncos. That’s a devastating mistake in the first game of the year. Thorson was also sacked three times in the 22-21 defeat. But the sophomore should be fine. He did post the third highest completion-rate of his career, converting on 15 of his 22 passes for 196 yards. He should look much more composed against Illinois State this weekend.
Darian Hicks, Michigan State CB – Hicks did record a game-high three pass break-ups in Michigan State’s 28-13 win over Furman on Friday night. But he also committed a pair of pass interference penalties, one of which put the Paladins at the 5-yard-line and led to a field goal. The senior wasn’t terrible in the season-opener, but struggling to keep FCS receivers in check isn’t a great sign. With a week off before playing Notre Dame, Hicks will receive some not-so-pleasant feedback from Mark Dantonio and should look much better in South Bend in two weeks.
William Likely, Maryland CB – Maybe it’s unreasonably high expectations, but against bad competition, I always expect Likely to have a monster performance. He’s got five special teams touchdowns to his name, recorded six interceptions in 2014 and was the team’s sixth-best tackler last year. In the Terrapins’ dismantling of Howard, Likely tallied just one tackle in the game. Maryland didn’t really need his presence in the 52-13 win, so no harm, no foul. But you can’t keep a player of Likely’s caliber quiet for long. Watch out, FIU.