Week 2 B1G report card: We saw the good, the bad and the ugly on Saturday
The most improvement comes between Week 1 and Week 2.
That old, tired coaching cliché could apply to the B1G this past Saturday, though some teams took a few big steps in the opposite direction. Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin were all dominant while Purdue, Northwestern and Michigan State had disappointing outings.
Now that the second week is in the books, it’s time to hand out the Week 2 report card in the B1G.
Penn State: A+
It’s almost like last week didn’t happen. After Penn State narrowly escaped a scare from Appalachian State, it went on the road and pummeled in-state rival Pitt in a 51-6 outing. The defense was stifling and the offense was solid. This looked like a Nittany Lions team that could compete for a championship. James Franklin and Co. receive the highest mark for such a tremendous turnaround.
An excellent bounce-back week for Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan offense. Yes, the 49-3 win came over an inferior Western Michigan team, but Saturday’s performance proves that the Wolverines are in much better shape than a year ago. This was a dominant performance from (nearly) start to finish.
Ohio State: A
The Buckeyes put together an even better all-around performance than it did in Week 1. Hard to believe, I know. Ohio State’s defense was sensational, even if Rutgers did end a nasty shutout streak. Still can’t quite give the Buckeyes that “A+” grade because these performances have come against such weak competition, but this team looks as good as any right now.
Racking up 444 yards in a 31-point win will earn you a pretty high mark regardless of who the competition is. Maryland was virtually unstoppable this week, and put together a 28-point fourth quarter to close out Bowling Green. Ty Johnson looked like his old self, rushing for 124 yards on just 12 carries.
Indiana’s 20-16 win over Virginia wasn’t pretty, but the Hoosiers had to battle harsh rain and wind conditions and were also without their top two running backs from 2017. Somehow, they still tallied 237 rushing yards. Saturday’s performance proves that IU has made some big strides on the offensive line.
Michigan State: D
Not sure how things could’ve gone much worse for Mark Dantonio’s bunch. Michigan State’s offense struggled to move the football and the defense couldn’t come up with key stops down the stretch. The Spartans had just 63 rushing yards and had nine penalties. Just an ugly performance out West.
This is like handing a kid an advanced chemistry test without giving him the opportunity to study. Rutgers was just hoping to be competitive against Ohio State, but it was obliterated for a fifth-straight season. To make matters worse, QB Artur Sitkowski left early with an injury.
Perhaps Iowa is getting the benefit of the doubt from the grading system. But as bad as the offense was, it did come up with a key touchdown late in the game to go up two scores. The Hawkeyes were fantastic defensively, allowing just 19 (!) rushing yards and 188 total yards. Iowa receives some bonus points for closing out the Cyclones.
The Badgers weren’t quite as crisp as a week ago, but they still had little trouble putting away New Mexico. Alex Hornibrook was 8-of-11 for 148 yards and Jonathan Taylor set a new career-high rushing total with 253 yards. It’s still hard to tell how good Wisconsin is based on competition, but it’s still performed well through two weeks.
More production out of Minnesota’s offense would’ve been nice, but Fresno State brought a pretty good team into TCF Bank Stadium. Kudos to the defense for holding a Bulldog offense to just 14 points one week after it dropped 79. Rodney Smith’s early injury and limited use is probably responsible for some of the Gophers’ offensive woes.
Illinois struggled in the first half for a second straight week but was able to outscore Western Illinois 20-7 in the second half for the 34-14 win. The Illini suffered two major injuries with QB AJ Bush and WR Edwin Carter both leaving the game. M.J. Rivers stepped in under center and delivered a solid performance, throwing for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
The Scott Frost era was so close to beginning with a win, but a late touchdown from Colorado and an incompletion on Nebraska’s final offensive play doomed the Huskers in the season opener. It was still a solid performance, just one too many mistakes. Nebraska had 11 penalties and three turnovers, which proved to be costly.
Not many “D’s” are handed out at Northwestern, but it’s hard to argue for anything much higher. The offense failed to find the end zone, despite totaling nearly 400 yards and the defense gave up a few big plays. The Wildcats looked hungover from that big conference win over Purdue in Week 1.
Congratulations to Purdue, the first team to receive a failing grade this year. A late personal foul against the Boilermakers and a 4th-and-15 conversion from Eastern Michigan set up a game-winning field goal for the Eagles. Purdue registered a bunch of yardage but was unable to cross the goal line. This loss really hurts the Boilers’ bowl chances.
Iowa defense: Iowa State had a 0.8 yards per carry rushing average, totaled 188 yards and made just 11 first downs. That Hawkeye defense is the real deal.
Penn State defense: After giving up 38 points to Appalachian State and being called into question all week, Penn State allowed just six points against Pitt. That’s quite the bounce-back performance from Brent Pry’s group.
Michigan offense: The 49 points against WMU was the highest total for the Wolverines since beating Maryland 59-3 on Nov. 5, 2016. Shea Patterson had three touchdown passes, Karan Higdon rushed for over 150 yards and the offensive line looked much better than a week ago.
Maryland offense: The Terrapins flirted with 500 rushing yards, registering 444 against Bowling Green. In the first two weeks of the season, Matt Canada’s play-calling seems to be working in College Park.
Michigan State offense: The struggles on the offensive line are real. Michigan State was only able to rush for 63 yards against Arizona State. That’s not going to win a lot of games in the B1G.
Northwestern offense: Seven points is unacceptable against Duke. Granted, Clayton Thorson isn’t the same quarterback he was before the ACL injury. Still, the Wildcats should’ve found the end zone more than once.
Purdue offense: Purdue’s two-quarterback system doesn’t seem to be working for Jeff Brohm. Weather was a factor in West Lafayette, but the Boilers scored just 19 points against Eastern Michigan. You have to cross the goal line more, especially when you rack up nearly 500 yards.
Rutgers defense: Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell dominated the Rutgers defense from start to finish, picking apart the Scarlet Knights. The two quarterbacks combined to complete 30-of-33 passes for 354 yards and five TDs. There’s a lot of work to do in Piscataway.