No Big Ten team embarrassed itself in Week 1 of the 2022 college football season, and that should always be considered a win.

Well, other than Iowa.

But we’re not sure Kirk Ferentz is capable of embarrassment. A 7-3 win wherein the 7 points were achieved via 2 safeties and a field goal was one of the few items missing from Ferentz’s career Bingo card. The offense might have stunk up the joint against South Dakota State, but it was still a W thanks to phenomenal defense and special teams.

Here’s something I learned about each Big Ten team in Week 1 — which does not include Week 0. So nothing new has been gleaned about Northwestern this week.

Illinois: Chase Brown and Isaiah Williams are playmakers

This is more of a confirmation than thing I learned, but it’s hard to remember the last time the Illini had 2 offensive skill players who looked like all-conference playmakers. Brown went over 150 rushing yards for the second straight game with 199 at Indiana. He’s the nation’s leading rusher by average at this very early stage, and expect him to stay in the mix for that title.


Because defenses also have to respect Williams, who had 9 catches for 112 yards.

Indiana: The OL is not fixed

Connor Bazelak became the first Indiana quarterback to surpass 300 yards in his debut since Antwaan Randle El in 1998, and it’s amazing he did so considering how little time he had. Bazelak only took 1 sack, but completed just 53.8% of his throws against Illinois because he forced so many out early. Indiana also gained only 32 rushing yards on 26 carries.

This was a concern coming into the season, and it remains such.

Iowa: They are who we thought they were

In all seriousness, the season opener affirmed that punter Tory Taylor is a weapon. His ability to pin teams inside the 10 is an art, and eventually the opportunistic Hawkeyes defense will take advantage. But the offense remains a disasterpiece. And frankly there’s zero reason to believe that’s going to change.

Maryland: Hats off to… the defense?

Those expecting an explosion from Maryland’s offense against Buffalo were left disappointed. The Terps gained 446 yards, but only scored 31 points thanks to a pair of turnovers and 30.7% third-down conversion rate.

Brian Williams’ defense showed some signs of life, though, finishing with 7 TFL and 4 sacks. In the 3 games since Williams took over last season, the Terps are allowing 12 ppg. We’ll learn more when SMU visits in 2 weeks, but maybe Williams has found something here.

Michigan: JJ McCarthy wins the QB job Week 2

We’ve seen enough from Washtenaw County to declare JJ McCarthy the winner of the 2022 Michigan QB Derby.

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McCarthy’s 20-yard touchdown scamper felt like the moment that will set him up to hit the ground running in next week’s start against Hawaii and never look back. Cade McNamara showed nothing against Colorado State that would make Jim Harbaugh’s decision difficult should McCarthy play well against the Rainbow Warriors.

Michigan State: Jacoby Windmon is this year’s Kenneth Walker III

Mel Tucker went to the other side of the ball for this year’s transfer portal gold.

Windmon, the edge rusher formerly of UNLV, opened his Michigan State career with 4 sacks. Much as Kenneth Walker III did in last season’s debut at Northwestern, Windmon made his impact felt immediately. And he’s likely to do so all season.

To use a term considered offensive to Spartans fans, Windmon might even turn out to be this year’s Aidan Hutchinson. Which means the B1G defensive player of the year who leads you to a conference title.

Minnesota: Mo Ibrahim is 100% healthy

Anyone with a conscience wanted to see Minnesota’s star running back return to full health after last year’s Week 1 Achilles tear. And Week 1 of the new season provided visual confirmation that’s the case.

Ibrahim had no problem playing workhorse, gaining 132 yards and 2 touchdowns on 21 carries.

Nebraska: Anthony Grant is the new Ameer Abdullah

For the first time since 2014, the Cornhuskers have a true home run hitter in the backfield.

Though the coaching staff insists Nebraska will have a running back-by-committee approach, Grant is poised to take the ball and not let anybody else have it. He’s averaging 145 yards and 2 touchdowns per game through Nebraska’s first 2 games. And he’s tied for the early national lead with 2 carries of 40-yards plus.

Every time Grant has the ball, it feels like he has a chance to break one. And that’s an element that’s arguably been missing for the Huskers since Ameer Abdullah’s senior season.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes have a defense

How’s this for a defensive coordinator’s debut?

Yes, Notre Dame’s offense was unlikely to be crisp under a quarterback making his debut at The Horseshoe. But with the Buckeyes offense unexpectedly stuck in neutral for most of the game, the defense stepped up to win the game. That’s a huge development for Ohio State.

Penn State: Joey Porter Jr. is a first-round pick

I really can’t wrap my mind around the fact no Penn State defensive back has ever been taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. But I suppose it’s called Linebacker U for a reason.

That’s going to change next spring. Joey Porter Jr. put on a cornerback clinic at Purdue, which will be the toughest test he faces this season until the Ohio State game.

Purdue: Charlie Jones is your new David Bell

Aidan O’Connell’s former pee-wee teammate has not lost his connection with the quarterback over the years.

Charlie Jones, who transferred from Iowa to play in a post-World War II offense, was phenomenal in Purdue’s season opener. Jones had 12 catches for 153 yards and a touchdown, ably filling David Bell’s vacated shoes.

There aren’t a ton of cornerbacks of Porter’s caliber on the remainder of Purdue’s schedule, so look for the O’Connell-Jones connection to really take off in coming weeks.

Rutgers: You can’t spell Rutgers without ‘G-U-T-S’

What a win for Greg Schiano’s program.

It’s ancient history to the current crop of players, but Rutgers had lost 11 straight games against Boston College. And the Scarlet Knights went into this game dealing with plenty of adversity. So many key players were out on offense that the betting line for the game moved from 7 points to 9 an hour before kickoff.

There was in-game adversity, too. Rutgers actually punted on fourth-and-goal because mistakes moved the Scarlet Knights all the way back to the 43-yard line.

But somehow the Knights found a way to pull off the 22-21 win. Rutgers will have a shot at a bowl game because of it.

Wisconsin: Graham Mertz listened to the assignment

In the Big Ten West, 3 contenders entered the season with iffy quarterback situations: Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The situation isn’t any better for Iowa after Week 1. Minnesota remains a bit of an unknown because of how the game unfolded. But at Wisconsin, Graham Mertz showed something by merely eliminating mistakes.

Mertz was 14 of 16 for 219 yards and a touchdown pass to budding star Chimere Dike. There were no turnovers.

And that’s literally all Mertz has to do this season. Running back Braelon Allen and Wisconsin’s defense should be good enough to do the heavy lifting. A mistake-free Mertz makes Wisconsin the team to beat in the West.