Here’s a look at Saturday’s winners: Northwestern 23, Vanderbilt 13, Indiana 45, Massachusetts 6, Michigan State 41, C. Michigan 7, Michigan 31, Air Force 25, Minnesota 44, New Hampshire 7, and Ohio State 31, Central Florida 16. And the losers: Notre Dame 20, Purdue 17, Iowa State 9, Iowa 6, Virginia 17, Penn State 16, Oregon State 10, Wisconsin 7, UCLA 36, Nebraska 30 and Arizona State 45, Illinois 14.
Northwestern 23, Vanderbilt 13
1. The defense did a nice about-face after a poor effort in the opener at Syracuse that saw the Orange notch 596 yards vs. Northwestern. On this day, the Wildcats limited the Commodores to 326 yards, yielding just 109 yards rushing on 33 carries.
2. Maybe Trevor Siemian should be starting at quarterback. He completed 10-of-16 passes for 91 yards, guiding Northwestern to the go-ahead score late. But, if the Wildcats can combine Siemian’s passing with Kain Colter’s running, why change?
3. Venric Mark is one of the most exciting running backs in the Big Ten. Yes, he’s small (5-8, 175). But the guy is lightning quick. And the staff is finding ways to use him. I just hope he can hold up. He ran 23 times for 128 yards and a touchdown vs. Vandy.
UCLA 36, Nebraska 30
1. It’s an understatement to say that the Husker defense struggled, allowing a mind-numbing 653 yards to the Bruins. UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin ran for 217 yards and quarterback Brett Hundley threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns.
2. No way Nebraska has a shot to unseat Michigan State in the Legends Division unless the Blackshirt defense steps up. The offense is doing its part, notching 438 yards tonight, though Taylor Martinez didn’t have a great night passing by hitting 17-of-31 attempts for 179 yards and an interception.
3. I don’t think running back Rex Burkhead would have made a difference in this game—unless he played defense. The Huskers have plenty of depth at running back, as Ameer Abdullah ran 16 times for 118 yards and two scores. And Taylor Martinez ran for 111 yards and a touchdown.
Arizona State 45, Illinois 14
1. I knew Illinois would miss QB Nathan Scheelhaase, who is nursing an ankle injury. But I didn’t think he would be missed this badly. Illini quarterbacks Reilly O’Toole and Miles Osei combined to complete 14-of-24 passes for just 101 yards for an offense that generated only 332 yards and had three turnovers. It was just plain ugly.
2. The Fighting Illini need to forget this game and focus on the rest of the season. This team still has a strong defense, despite what the statistics say (511 yards allowed) about this game. Illinois can be a factor in a Leaders Division that looks to be wide open.
3. Looking for a positive? The Illini rushing game had some success. Diminutive Josh Ferguson ran for 101 yards. And a maligned offensive line was able to get a steady push for an attack that ran for 231 yards.
|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.|