Best of Week 2: Watch this matchup in Tempe
The second weekend of the season is approaching. And this Saturday is highlighted by three games vs. Pac-12 foes—all on the road: Wisconsin at Oregon State; Illinois at Arizona State; Nebraska at UCLA. And how will Penn State (at Virginia) and Michigan (vs. Air Force) respond coming off losses? There also are two rivalry games, with Purdue playing at Notre Dame and Iowa State visiting Iowa. We also have an SEC-Big Ten clash, with Vanderbilt playing at Northwestern.
Minnesota (New Hampshire), Indiana (at UMass) and Michigan State (at Central Michigan) seem to have the easiest games this weekend. But, you can’t take anything for granted.
Here is the Best of Week 2:
BEST GAME: Iowa at Iowa State. Gotta love in-state rivalries. And this is an underrated one. The Cyclones won last year’s meeting, 44-41, but the Hawkeyes have taken four of the previous six encounters. Each team is coming off a season-opening victory, with Iowa State topping Tulsa, 38-23, and the Hawkeyes slipping by Northern Illinois, 18-17.
[Related: Dienhart’s 12 questions for Week 2]
BEST MATCHUP: Arizona State offense vs. Illinois defense. Under first-year coach Todd Graham, the Sun Devils opened with a 63-6 thumping of FCS Northern Arizona. ASU notched 554 yards of offense with 305 coming on the ground for coordinator Mike Norvell. In Tim Beckman’s debut at Illinois, his defense limited Western Michigan to 259 yards with minus-six yards rushing on 19 attempts in a 24-7 victory. Credit coordinator Tim Banks.
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush. For the Boilermakers to have any shot at their second victory at Notre Dame since 1974 and first since 2004, they must get good production from the signal-caller. TerBush was suspended for the opener, but sixth-year senior Robert Marve took over vs. Eastern Kentucky and excelled. He hit 30-of-38 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns. But coach Danny Hope has named TerBush the starter for this weekend, as TerBush seems less prone to make mistakes than Marve. Still, expect Marve to play—along with third-stringer Rob Henry.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez. Can he pass as well as he did in the season-opening 49-20 win over Southern Miss when the Huskers play at UCLA? Martinez is coming off a career day that saw him hit 26-of-34 passes for 354 yards and five touchdowns. UCLA is coming off a 49-24 road victory over Rice, allowing 358 yards to the Owls with just 184 coming through the air. The Rice quarterback is nowhere near the same level as Martinez.
BEST COORDINATOR MATCHUP: Wisconsin offensive coordinator Matt Canada vs. Oregon State defensive coordinator Mark Banker. Canada is in his first season in Madison pushing the buttons, taking over for Paul Chryst. Canada’s attack didn’t hit on all cylinders in the opener in a 26-21 win over Northern Iowa that produced 387 yards. But he is a proven commodity who has had success running offenses at Indiana and Northern Illinois. Canada needs to get the pass game going. Banker is in his 10th season with the Beavers and is one of the best in the business, but this will be his team’s first game of the season. Oregon State’s secondary took its lumps last year but welcomes back three starters on a defense that has eight returning starters.
BEST COACHING MATCHUP: Air Force’s Troy Calhoun vs. Michigan’s Brady Hoke. Calhoun is a rising star in the coaching business. He has led the Falcons to a bowl in each of his six seasons in Colorado Springs. And Calhoun annually is mentioned for other jobs but does a great job orchestrating a triple-option attack with his disciplined roster. Hoke showed his coaching moxie by winning at Ball State and San Diego State. Now, he’s doing it at Michigan. The guy is special. His staff must watch running back Cody Getz, a 5-7 Air Force running back who ran for 218 yards on 17 carries last week in a 49-21 win over Idaho State. The Wolverines must play assignment-oriented defense vs. the Falcons’ tricky offense. For what it is worth, Hoke went 1-1 vs. Calhoun when he was at SDSU.
[Related: Get Brent Yarina’s Week 2 Player Rankings]
BEST QUARTERBACK MATCHUP: Vanderbilt’s Jordan Rodgers vs. Northwestern’s Kain Colter. Rodgers, the younger brother of Green Bay Packer signal-caller Aaron, is a refined passer who can slice up a defense. He has to like the fact that Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib hit 44-of-65 passes for 470 yards and four touchdowns last week vs. Northwestern. Colter is a dynamic, dual-threat quarterback. He got banged up late in the win at Syracuse, giving way to Trevor Siemian, who engineered the game-winning drive. While he isn’t the athlete that Colter is, Siemian is a better passer.
|BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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