Week 3 B1G Grades
So remember how we were still waiting to judge Illinois until it faced actual competition? UNC was actual competition and losing by 34 should make the Illini go back to the drawing board. If not for Josh Ferguson’s day, this would’ve been an ‘F.’
Western Kentucky isn’t your typical mid-major. Brandon Doughty still threw for nearly 500 yards but the Hoosiers found a way to win a game that they typically lose. IU’s offense brought it in the second half and boosted its bowl chances in a big way.
Marshall Koehn gets an A for that kick, just so we’re clear. The Hawkeyes had shaky moments on both sides of the ball with Drew Ott and LeShun Daniels both less than 100 percent. But C.J. Beathard responded late again and put Iowa in position to get to 3-0.
Dare I say Maryland’s passing game didn’t look awful? Caleb Rowe made his fair share of mistakes — three picks can’t happen against better opponents — but he also threw for four touchdowns and nearly 300 yards. Even better, the Terps got back to shutting down the passing game.
I know. They won by three touchdowns, the defense was lights out again and the Wolverines gashed UNLV for big plays in the running game. Still, it was disappointing to see Jake Rudock still struggling to move the chains through the air. If there was a game he was going to do it, it was at home against the Rebels.
Michigan State: B
The Spartans have a high standard for themselves. If you’re going to be the No. 2 team in the country, you can’t take your foot off the gas in the second half. Connor Cook and Aaron Burbridge were clicking, but look at those rushing totals. The Spartans have one of the best offensive and defensive lines in the country, yet they were out-rushed 279-77. Triple option or not, that shouldn’t happen.
To be clear, the offense gets an ‘F.’ Mitch Leidner should’ve lit up a Kent State secondary that surrendered 52 points to Illinois. To only muster one touchdown against a middling MAC school is a concern. If this defense didn’t turn in a shutout, this one would’ve been a major letdown.
Well, for about three-and-a-half quarters, Nebraska was staring at a ‘C-‘ or a ‘D.’ But Tommy Armstrong showed what he can do when he doesn’t have a pass rush on him. If the Blackshirts had shown up in the first half, it wouldn’t have taken 23 points in the final eight minutes to force overtime.
Ifeadi Odenigbo said that the Wildcats were expecting to shut out Duke. They didn’t but the message was sent. This defense can win games with a freshman quarterback completing 39 percent of his passes and a ground game earning less than four yards per carry. Oh, and Anthony Walker just made another tackle.
Ohio State: C-
This is basically my Minnesota explanation on repeat. Dominant defensive effort bails out troubling quarterback play against MAC school at home. The only difference? The Buckeyes are the No. 1 team in the country, which they’ve only looked like for three of their 12 quarters of football this year.
Penn State: B+
Saquon Barkley and Akeel Lynch gave the Lions the big-play offense they’ve been missing. It came against a depleted Rutgers squad, but the running game and defense were rock solid in the B1G opener. If Christian Hackenberg, who wasn’t sacked for the second game in a row, could’ve gotten the passing game going at all, this would’ve been an easy ‘A.’
I did not see a 27-point loss coming. I thought the Boilermakers had shown signs in their first two games that they’d be able to play ball-control football and at least be competitive against a solid Power-Five program. If not for Markell Jones skewing the rushing numbers with a late 60-yard score, Purdue would’ve been staring at an ‘F.’
Maybe we were all a bit naive about how tough Saturday would be for Rutgers. Without out their coach and best offensive player, it was going to be a struggle. Add to the fact that the Scarlet Knights’ top pass rushers are still not at full strength, and the B1G opener in Happy Valley was a rout waiting to happen.
Were the Badgers perfect against Troy? No, but Chris Orr led a stout defensive effort that made a multi-score lead nearly impossible for the Trojans to overcome. And yes, Joel Stave gets bonus points for his first rushing touchdown in over two years.