1 B1G takeaway for every team in Week 2
It was another wild weekend in the Big Ten, with several double-digit favorites going down. Here is 1 takeaway from each team after Week 2:
Ohio State — The running game is on track
If there was something that didn’t make you feel great about Ohio State’s opening win against Nebraska, it was probably that Master Teague and Trey Sermon didn’t get on track and alleviate concerns of not having JK Dobbins. They were much better in Saturday’s win against Penn State, combining for 166 yards on 36 attempts. It was a relief for Ohio State to not have to use Justin Fields in the running game, too, as he had only 6 rushing attempts (including the failed kneel) after having 15 last week.
Indiana — A sigh of relief
Indiana is the No. 2 team in the East, according to Urban Meyer. If that’s going to remain true the rest of this season, Indiana needed to get its offense back on track. Rest assured, Hoosier fans, Michael Penix Jr. and Co. looked much better against Rutgers, taking advantage of 3 interceptions to pull away against a much-improved Scarlet Knights. One week after totaling just 211 yards, Indiana had a workmanlike 345. Penix put aside those accuracy issues from the opener, completing 17-of-26 passes for 238 yards and 3 TDs. Against a Rutgers defense that forced 7 turnovers last week, Indiana played turnover-free football. That’s a recipe for success and a confidence boost heading into a big game against Michigan.
Michigan State — Mel Tucker has Spartans on the right track
The goal for Michigan State was to show improvement from the beginning of the season to the end and not worry as much about the overall record. Well, Mel Tucker accomplished this in just one week. No team showed more growth than the Spartans in just 7 days. After turning the ball over 7 times against Rutgers, Michigan State did not turn it over once. Rocky Lombardi had a career day as QB. While it wasn’t clear what sort of weapons he’d be working with, transfer Jayden Reed, Jalen Nailor and true freshman Ricky White (8 catches, 196 yards) have emerged in the first 2 weeks. Michigan couldn’t cover them Saturday.
— Spartan Athletics (@MSU_Athletics) October 31, 2020
Maryland — Taulia Tagovailoa can play
Up to this point, the only noteworthy part of Taulia Tagovailoa’s college career was that he was the younger brother of an Alabama legend. Well, Tua’s brother took the first step in making a name for himself. Tagovailoa was terrific in throwing for 394 yards and accounting for 5 total TDs and leading a 17-point 4th-quarter comeback. Sure, Minnesota’s defense looks to be terrible, but Tagovailoa made it look easy, effortlessly spinning away from pass rushers and either tucking it or throwing on target to Jeshaun Jones, Dontay Demus and Rakim Jarrett.
TAULIA TAGOVAILOA TAKES IT THE DISTANCE 💨 pic.twitter.com/Kyqa6NbtCN
— ESPN (@espn) October 30, 2020
Northwestern — Defense getting a chance to shine
The silver lining in a frustrating 2019 campaign was on defense. Now equipped with a competent offense, the Wildcats are thriving. Finally getting a chance to play from ahead, Northwestern is forcing turnovers. The Wildcats had 3 more interceptions, giving them 6 on the season; they had just 7 all of last year, since offenses with a lead play much more conservative.
Purdue — The Boilermakers are loaded at receiver
Purdue is 2-0 without Rondale Moore. Who would’ve thought that would be the case? The Boilermakers have been able to survive without him because wideout is where their high-end talent is (5 of their 10 4-star players are wide receivers). We’ve known David Bell is a stud, and now Moore’s absence has allowed sophomore Milton Wright to emerge, too. Wright, a former 4-star recruit from Brohm’s former stomping grounds of Louisville, put up 100 yards and a TD on 6 receptions, giving him 185 yards and 13 receptions this season. He has set career highs in yardage in back-to-back weeks and has given Brohm another weapon in Purdue’s high-volume passing attack.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 31, 2020
Michigan — The secondary is a problem
And not the good kind of problem that the kids talk about on Twitter. Fox broadcaster Joel Klatt was all over this from the beginning, lambasting Michigan State every time it played conservative instead of challenging Michigan’s secondary. Vincent Gray, in particular, had a tough day. It’s one thing for Justin Fields or Mac Jones to pick apart this defense, but Rocky Lombardi? He entered Saturday having completed 48.6% of his passes and had more interceptions (7) than TD passes (6).
Penn State — A star is born?
The Nittany Lions have been looking for an offensive weapon to break out to offset players lost to the draft (KJ Hamler) and injury (Journey Brown and Noah Cain), and Jahan Dotson looks to be that guy. Dotson, who moved from the slot to the outside, looked like a superstar against Ohio State, racking up 8 catches for 145 yards and 3 touchdowns. There was a 2-play stretch, in particular, that stood out. He went up and over projected first-round corner Shaun Wade to haul in a 37-yard pass to open the 4th quarter. Then on the next play, he snared a pass thrown slightly behind him with his right hand, again against Wade, for a 21-yard touchdown. Dotson entered this season with 1 game with 90 or more receiving yards. He has eclipsed that bench mark in both games this season and has 4 receiving TDs.
JAHAN DOTSON CATCH OF THE YEAR 🗣🗣 pic.twitter.com/S0Yf5XYU5A
— Football Analysis (@FBallAnalysis) November 1, 2020
Iowa — Petras not quite ready to win a game by himself
I’m not sure that having Spencer Petras throw 50 times in a game is the best game plan for the Hawkeyes, who are much more in the mold of Wisconsin than Purdue. It was the 7th-most pass attempts in a game in program history. It’s baffling to ask that of a QB making his second start, especially considering Iowa got off to a 17-0 lead and never trailed by more than 1. Petras threw 3 interceptions and finished with only 216 yards, which comes out to just 4.3 yards per attempt.
Minnesota — Only defense is Mohamed Ibrahim
Minnesota couldn’t stop the same Maryland offense that had 207 yards last week, allowing an absurd 675 and 10.2 per play. After allowing 49 and 45 points to open the season, P.J. Fleck has decided his only hope is to play keep away. Mohamed Ibrahim ran 41 times, becoming the first player since 2017 to eclipse 40 carries. Ibrahim easily leads the country with 33.5 rushing attempts per game. Even when Le’Veon Bell was at his peak with Michigan State and led the country in rushing attempts, he averaged 29.3.
Illinois — Depth is going to be a big issue
Illinois was without a big chunk of its roster Saturday due to contract tracing protocols stemming from its 2 positive tests Thursday that included starting QB Brandon Peters. The Illini had 14 players sitting out, and it will be holding its breath over the next few days to make sure there are no more positive tests. Coran Taylor actually played pretty well at QB, given the circumstances. It would’ve been fun to see Isaiah Williams get a real chance, though, but he was a victim of the contact tracing protocols, since he is often with Peters.
Rutgers — Strip away the turnovers and this is a decent team
Rutgers is 1-1 after 2 weeks and while that may seem rather unremarkable to most programs, it’s no small feat for a team that has served as the B1G’s punching bag since joining in 2014. This was another encouraging week, even in defeat, as it was a one-possession game in the third quarter. Getting off to a good start and being competitive in B1G games, which Rutgers hasn’t really done since 2014, will do wonders for Greg Schiano as he hits the recruiting trail and tries to convince recruits that his program can compete in the Big Ten. As far as improvement is concerned, the Scarlet Knights need to cut down on the turnovers, as they have 3 in both games.