Week 3 B1G report card: We're going to need a lot of red ink
If you have an extra red pen, I might need to borrow it.
If the B1G were an actual classroom, you might offer the students an opportunity to retake the most recent exam. That’s how bad it was. But this is college football and there are no mulligans.
Yes, a few teams excelled on Saturday, but that was overshadowed by such awful performances. So I’ve broken out the red pen — actually several — and tried to be as generous as possible. It still wasn’t pretty, especially out West.
Ohio State: A
The Buckeyes looked really good in their first true test of the season, taking down TCU 40-28. Now that we’ve seen Ohio State do it against a quality opponent, we can consider it a true CFB Playoff contender. Another big day for Dwayne Haskins and the defense even accounted for a couple of touchdowns.
Penn State: A
Trace McSorley still hasn’t been as crisp as you’d like to see, but it doesn’t really matter in a 63-10 contest. For the second straight week, the Nittany Lions pitched a shutout in the second half. The improvement defensively over the last two weeks has been impressive. But Kent State was essentially an open-book test. Penn State gets a real challenge in a few weeks.
Ball State was coming off a huge defensive performance against Notre Dame and were ready to give Indiana’s offensive line trouble. That didn’t happen. The Hoosiers picked up the Cardinals, wadded them into a ball and tossed them into a trash can last Saturday. Tom Allen’s team is looking better each week.
Saturday’s 45-20 win over SMU was probably the most impressive Michigan’s offense has been this season, doing some serious damage without top running back Karan Higdon. But stumbling out of the gate and failing to reach the end zone until midway through the second quarter costs Jim Harbaugh and his team a letter grade.
If not for Darnell Savage Jr. and Jesse Aniebonam, Maryland would’ve probably flagged this week. Savage’s pick-six and Aniebonam punt block return for a touchdown were the only bright spots on a gloomy day in College Park. Those two made it somewhat interesting.
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Take your books and go sit in the corner and think about what you did. Seriously? A 55-14 loss to Kansas. I’m not convinced Rutgers put any effort into this assignment.
Michigan State: Incomplete
Michigan State enjoyed the week off.
Finally, Iowa’s offense showed some sign of life. Nate Stanley threw for over 300 yards and the Hawkeyes racked up a season-high 38 points in the win over Northern Iowa. The only problem? It happened against an FCS opponent. The Hawkeyes were still dominant defensively, as well.
Minnesota gets a little benefit of the doubt here, having to learn the new material without a key player. Quite a few hiccups for the Gophers offensively, but that’s to be expected without starting running back Rodney Smith in the backfield. Zack Annexstad and Tyler Johnson continue to impress as a QB-WR combination.
Sometimes you think you’ve done all you can do to get that “A” but you just make a few critical errors. That’s what happened to Illinois. The Illini weren’t expected to even be competitive against USF, and they should’ve won the football game. This group looks a lot better — at least right now — than it did at this time last season.
At least a penalty didn’t cost the Boilermakers the game. That’s at least a step in the right direction. The defense surrendered 40 points in another game that was decided by a field goal. Missouri is a quality opponent though. The Boilers needed to make a few more plays, and come up with a few stops, to get their first win.
Digging a 17-point hole was devastating for the Huskers. It’s kind of like not taking notes for a month in class and hoping your knowledge from the second month is enough to skate by. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for the Huskers. They were without quarterback Adrian Martinez though, and his absence was costly.
The Badgers looked like they had been looking ahead to Iowa instead of preparing for the task at hand. That’ll get you almost every time. Jonathan Taylor still eclipsed the 100-yard mark, but nobody else did much of anything. And that Wisconsin defense that had been so good surrendered some big plays. Arguably the worst performance o the Paul Chryst era.
At the half, Northwestern had a 21-3 lead over a program that hadn’t beaten a B1G team since 1894. But Akron outscored the Wildcats 36-13 in the final two quarters to end a drought longer than the Cubs World Series. Northwestern put it on cruise control, which seems impossible considering they have that strength coach who always seems to have just slugged down seven energy drinks.
Indiana offense: This was the third time Indiana rushed for over 2oo yards this season, and it did so against a Ball State defense that shut down the Notre Dame rushing attack a week ago. The offensive line has been great and Stevie Scott is the real deal at running back.
Iowa offense: 2017 Nate Stanley finally surfaced this season. Maybe the big outing against an FCS opponent was just the right confidence booster for the junior quarterback. He’ll need to have a similar performance next week against Wisconsin.
Penn State offense: Lighting up an opponent for more than 60 points will get you a hall pass pretty much every time, even if you are running up the score a bit. Trace McSorley accounted for five touchdowns to lead the way for the Nittany Lions.
Ohio State defense: The Buckeyes had a pick-six courtesy of Dre’Mont Jones and a fumble recovered in the end zone thanks to a strip sack from Nick Bosa. Those two plays were huge, as Ohio State won by two scores. Coincidence? (Insert your best Bosa shoulder shrug here).
Rutgers offense: The offense couldn’t even eclipse 300 yards against Kansas. There’s just not much else to say. Just a terrible performance all around.
Nebraska offense: Again, this could’ve been different if Adrian Martinez was healthy. Still, Nebraska was capable of scoring more than 19 points against Troy. Those three turnovers proved costly, as well.
Maryland offense: Matt Canada said himself that the offense was just plain bad against Temple. The Terrapins only totaled 11 first downs, 195 yards and had two turnovers. Oh, and the only touchdowns came on defense and special teams.
Northwestern defense: A Pat Fitzgerald coached defense somehow surrendered 36 second half points to a MAC team. Maybe he was still fired up about the whole “RPOs are the highest form of communism” thing, but it was a pretty embarrassing 30 minutes of football.
Rutgers defense: The Scarlet Knights gave up 55 points to Kansas. That’s all.