Snap Reactions: Teams bounce back early

BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart is monitoring every game today and he gives his quick reactions to the early games in the Big Ten. Find every video highlight over here. The early results: Illinois 44, Charleston Southern 0, Minnesota 28, W. Michigan 23, Nebraska 42, Arkansas State 13, Ohio State 35, California 28, Purdue 54, E. Michigan 16.

Read his reactions below.

Illinois 44, Charleston Southern 0
1. Coming off a demoralizing 45-14 loss at Arizona State, Illinois needed this. Everyone knew FCS Charles Southern was overmatched in this matchup. And Illinois methodically took care of business—even with QB Nathan Scheelhaase out with an injury. This was about boosting confidence.

2. Reilly O’Toole looked good. He hit 26-of-31 passes for 331 yards with five touchdowns and a pick. This was a big turnaround from last week, when O’Toole hit 10-of-14 passes for 54 yards with four sacks, a pick and score.

3. Illinois regained some defensive mojo, limiting Charleston Southern to four first downs and 129 yards. And the Fighting lllini held Charleston Southern to 29 yards passing. Illinois allowed 510 yards last week to ASU, with 318 coming through the air.

Purdue 54, Eastern Michigan 16
1. The Boilermakers showed their ability to run the ball in notching 392 yards on the ground in the wipeout victory. Akeem Hunt ran for 106 yards on just four carries. And the offense showed big-play ability by scoring on a 40-yard run, 50-yard run, 87-yard run and 56-yard run.

2. With Robert Marve out, the offense should be OK with Caleb TerBush at the controls. He hit 16-of-24 passes for 158 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. TerBush made his debut last week after being suspended for the opener.

3. Purdue was supposed to wipe out this overmatched MAC foe. And, it did—just like the Boilermakers crushed an out manned Eastern Kentucky club it was supposed to crush in the opening weekend. Purdue notched 576 yards, and limited the Eagles to 313 yards.

Ohio State 35, Cal 28
1. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Braxton Miller had a big game, throwing a game-winning 72-yard touchdown pass with under four minutes to go. The sophomore hit 16-of-30 passes for 249 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. He also ran 12 times for 75 yards and a score.

2. Welcome back, RB Jordan Hall. Urban Meyer has said he wanted to get Braxton Miller help in the run game. And Hall saw his first action of the season after being sidelined with a foot injury. Hall ran 17 times for 87 yards in his 2012 debut. And he couldn’t have arrived at a better time, as Hall’s production helped offset 11 OSU penalties.

3. That defense may not be as great as we thought. Yes, Ohio State got pressure on the quarterback, which had been missing. The Buckeyes finished with six sacks. But Cal ended up with 512 yards of offense, compared to 412 for Ohio State. And the Golden Bears ran for 224 yards, as they missed three field goals and had a touchdown called back due to penalty.

Nebraska 42, Arkansas State 13
1. After allowing 653 yards last week in a 36-30 loss to UCLA, the Cornhuskers defense allowed only 286 yards. Nebraska muted Arkansas State’s passing attack to 138 yards on just 16-of-32 passing. That’s a mere 4.3 yards per rush, as the Huskers came out in a 3-4 look instead of their usual 4-3 scheme. Nebraska’s defense needed this on a day Bo Pelini was taken to the hospital after not feeling well.

2. Ameer Abdullah continues to be more than a reasonable facsimile for injured Rex Burkhead. Abdullah ran 30 times for a career-high 167 yards and two touchdowns today for a ground game that churned out 347 yards rushing on 59 carries with four touchdowns.

3. Taylor Martinez continues to show he’s a new and improved passer. He hit 13-of-14 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. The junior also ran 11 times for 54 yards and a score. This was vintage Martinez, who remains on course for a huge season.

Minnesota 28, Western Michigan 23
1. Max Shortell, who has starting experience, is more than adequate at quarterback. He took over for an injured MarQueis Gray late in the second quarter and completed 10-of-17 passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns, reviving Minnesota after a slow start to the game.

2. The offense continues to evolve, with RB Donnell Kirkwood running for a career-high 110 yards. But it’s the defense that has been the biggest surprise on this team. Minnesota held Western Michigan to 24-of-44 passing for 209 yards. The Gophers already have five interceptions after notching just four all of last season.

3. The Gophers are 3-0 for the first time since 2008, with a visit from Syracuse next. This is a team that’s on a roll under second-year coach Jerry Kill, as it has equaled its win total in each of the last two years.

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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