What really mattered and what’s important from Week 1 of the Big Ten college football season?
Thursday, Friday Games
Don’t get into a twist over this being so close. South Dakota State is one of the best teams in the FCS in a relatively local game with a slew of fired up players who wanted this in a big way. It was supposed to be tight.
When the Gophers absolutely needed it, the went all Big Ten and blasted away with the running game late. The O line had a rough day, but it rose up and rocked in the clutch. However, the Gophers can’t run for just 132 yards on a regular basis.
The offense didn’t move well enough, but again, give SDSU credit for being just that good. There were a few explosive plays, but the Gophers were outgunned 367 yards to 308. That’s a problem with Fresno State’s D up next.
Michigan State in the opener went all Michigan State in the opener. It didn’t unleash the fury, it didn’t do anything crazy, and it won in a walk that was easier than the final score. You can do that when the defense is utterly dominant.
The Spartans lived in the Golden Hurricane backfield with six sacks, 13 tackles for loss, and finishing by handing the out -73 rushing yards. Good things tend to happen when you allow just 102 yards, however …
There’s some sharpening to do. The running game stalled way too easily, there were only three points in the second half, and the 14 penalties have to be cleaned up. However, QB Brian Lewerke was fine – throwing for 192 yards with a touchdown – and there weren’t any turnovers.
Welcome back, Wisconsin. We missed you in 2018. That was an attitude game that showed that the program might just have its mojo back after sleepwalking through last season. The offensive line didn’t dominate – it allowed 11 tackles for loss – but it paved the was for 5.4 yards per carry and the special day from Jonathan Taylor, running 16 times for 135 yards and two scores. And now he’s a part of the passing game, taking his two catches for scores.
And Jack Coan? Fine, he completed 19-of-26 passes for 199 yards and two scores with no picks, but he missed on a few makable deep throws. It’s as if Wisconsin isn’t used to having a terrific wide receiving corps.
There were some moments early on when the secondary looked shaky. USF shot itself in the foot more than the UW D made anything happen. But it was a road shutout against a good team – the rest is just nitpicking.
Okay, so it took a quarter. The defense was a mess in the first quarter, there were too many mistakes, and the 21-3 deficit was a hit on social media. But that’s why you play UMass to start the season – you can screw up and get past it.
Texas Tech transfer McLane Carter might have thrown three picks, but he also showed why he might be the difference-maker the offense needs. He threw for 340 yards and two scores, Isaih Pacheco ran for 156 yards and four touchdowns, and the Scarlet Knight offense exploded to get over the horrible start.
Not only did Rutgers outgain UMass by close to 150 yards, but it also held the ball for 12 minutes more. It was a controlled O the twas able to settle down, but against Iowa, it’s going to have to keep the balance and pop.
Purdue cranked up 519 yards. Elijah Sindelar threw for 423 yards and four scores, Rondale Moore was brilliant – catching 11 passes for 124 yards and a score – and … the turnovers. Moore lost a fumble, Sindelar threw two picks, and Purdue was a -5 in turnover margin.
Don’t get too grouchy about this. It was a total meltdown blowing a 31-14 lead, and it was an ugly final minute, but this looked like a Week 1 game for a team that needed to work out a whole lot of kinks. Here’s the problem: Vanderbilt, TCU, Minnesota, at Penn State, Maryland, at Iowa, Nebraska, at Northwestern, at Wisconsin. The Boilermakers needed this win.
Markus Bailey was all over the field with ten tackles, but the defensive front couldn’t get into the backfield enough and couldn’t generate enough pressure. The tackles did a decent job against the run, but there was just one sack.