What happened and what mattered in the Week 1 Big Ten games to kick off the 2018 college football season?
5. The “other” games
Yes, Rutgers really will be better this season. Texas State might not exactly be Texas – although, it might be based on the Longhorn performance against Maryland – but the Scarlet Knight O did its part in the 35-7 win. Artur Sitkowski completed 20-of-29 passes for 205 yards and a score, but he threw three picks for the improved passing game. There were too many mistakes, but the D was great, and the O opened things up.
Illinois survived. QB AJ Bush struggled with the passing game, but he ran 21 times for a team-high 139 yards in the 31-24 win over Kent State, and the defense – while rocky – came up with the stop it needed to have to close out the game. The Illini receiving corps has to get more involved, and the defense will have to figure out how to handle a mobile quarterback, but this was almost disastrous, and the Illini got out alive.
The Indiana quarterbacks did what they needed to do on the road in the 38-28 win over FIU. There wasn’t much of a ground game, but Peyton Ramsey threw three touchdown passes, and star recruit Michal Pennix hit 8-of-10 throws for 96 yards and a score. The O started to stall late, but the D came up with three takeaways – the Hoosiers were never really threatened.
It might have taken a little while to get going, but Iowa rolled in the second half to a 33-7 win. The good – the defense was fantastic. It held NIU to just 211 yards. The very good – Kirk Ferentz became the school’s all-time leading winner at Iowa with his 144th win. The bad – Nate Stanley only hit 11-of-23 passes. With key parts missing on the O line, the results were rocky. That will change next week against Iowa State.