Week 1 B1G Report Card
Illinois will obviously have tougher tests than Kent State. But considering the Illini had a brand new head coach and was playing in a postponed game, a 52-3 drubbing is solid by any measure.
There is simply no way you should need a defensive stand at home in the final minute against a middle-of-the-pack FCS team. The IU defense deserves an F. But major boosts from Jordan Howard, Ricky Jones and Devine Redding saved the Hoosiers from a terrible loss.
Drew Ott and the Iowa defense made life miserable for Illinois State quarterback Tre Roberson. On the other side, C.J. Beathard showed his versatility in his second career start and the Iowa tailbacks had a solid day. Some garbage time points made it closer than it actually was.
I get that this was a 29-point game. And William Likely was a monster in the return game. But Maryland was trailing with four minutes left in the first half to Richmond at home. That could’ve been the result of Perry Hills’ first start in three years, in which he was inconsistent at best.
Jim Harbaugh’s debut saw the 5-7 Wolverines hang tight against a solid Pac-12 team on the road. If not for three Jake Rudock interceptions, Michigan could’ve pulled off the upset. As it was, Thursday was an average, but promising opening game performance.
Michigan State: C+
This might seem a little harsh but a No. 5 team cannot play virtually even with Western Michigan for an entire half of football. Connor Cook wasn’t in mid-season form and neither was that vaunted MSU defensive line. They better be against Oregon.
The Gophers made a Heisman trophy candidate look awfully human. TCU might not be held to a lower offensive output all year. With the way Nebraska and Wisconsin kicked off the season, the Gophers certainly backed up their preseason West contender status by battling the No. 2 team in the country until the end.
What a difference a Hail Mary makes. That was the unfortunate final play of a second half in which the Blackshirts finally started getting stops against a talented BYU team. Tommy Armstrong did throw for 319 yards and three TD’s in his first game in a new system.
And the best Big Ten performance of Week 1 goes to…Northwestern? Holding No. 21 Stanford to six points was the tone Pat Fitzgerald’s defense needed to set. Even redshirt freshman quarterback Clayton Thorson scampered for a 42-yard touchdown run in his first career start. Color me impressed.
Penn State: D-
I still cannot fathom allowing 10 sacks in a game. Penn State’s pass protection was the most disappointing aspect of the opening weekend. If not for the Lions’ incredible 15 tackles for loss, Temple’s first win over the Lions in 74 years would’ve been an F-.
I know that Big Ten teams shouldn’t take any solace in losing to a Conference USA team. But Marshall won 13 games last year and Purdue has one Big Ten win in two years. If not for two Austin Appleby pick-sixes, the Boilermakers would’ve been walking away with the second most impressive Big Ten win.
I’m not praising Rutgers for smashing Norfolk State, but it was the Big Ten’s most lopsided Week 1 game. Kyle Flood’s weird halftime quarterback switch to Chris Laviano resulted in three second-half TD’s for Leonte Carroo after Hayden Rettig did more than enough to keep the job. The only demerit? The Scarlet Knights only had a one-possession lead at halftime.
It’s hard to truly evaluate this one because Michael Caputo and Corey Clement were both banged up. The Badgers could’ve handled that against Norfolk State and still won by 60. But against No. 3 Alabama, that was an impossible task. Joel Stave did show off his improvement against the toughest defense he’ll see all season.