Tom's Take: My Week 2 honors, grades, top 10 & more

Michigan’s pulsating 41-30 victory over Notre Dame capped another strong week for the Big Ten, which went 11-1 after opening 10-2 last week. It also showed that Brady Hoke’s Wolverines should be taken seriously. Very seriously.

Through two weeks, the Big Ten is 21-3, the losses coming at Cincinnati (Purdue) vs. Northern Illinois (Iowa) and vs. Navy (Indiana).

Week 2 saw a lot of great performances—and some that deserve scrutiny. It’s all right here. Enjoy!

[ MORE: Enter the Buffalo Wild Wings Trip to the Football Championship Sweepstakes ]

Biggest surprise: Illinois. Let’s hear it for the Fighting Illini! I didn’t think Illinois would beat Cincinnati, not after the Illini barely survived last week vs. FCS Southern Illinois, 42-34. Plus, the Bearcats looked impressive in smashing Purdue, 42-7, in their opener. But, the Illini dominated Cincinnati, taking a 45-17 decision. The offense has come to life under new coordinator Bill Cubit after the unit was among the worst in America in 2012.

Biggest disappointment: Michigan State’s offense was a downer—again. But Purdue’s inability to dominate FCS Indiana State should set off some alarms in West Lafayette. Purdue had just 285 yards compared to 295 for Indiana State. Up next: a visit from Notre Dame.

Best play: Purdue’s Akeem Hunt took a reverse hand off on the opening kickoff and raced 90 yards for a touchdown. Good thing. Without that score, the Boilermakers would have lost, 14-13.

Play this again: Michigan 41, Notre Dame 30. It lived up to its hype—and then some—as this was the last time the teams will meet in Ann Arbor until who knows when? Devin Gardner enjoyed a coming out of sorts, passing for four touchdowns and generally looking like an all-around stud.

Never play this again: Wisconsin 48, Tennessee Tech 0. Just like eating a box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies, this game had no redeeming value—unless you are Gary Andersen. Or Mrs. Gary Andersen.

TEAM GRADES

Illinois: A

Indiana: C-

Iowa: B-

Michigan: A

Michigan State: C+

Minnesota: A

Nebraska: A

Northwestern: A

Ohio State: A-

Penn State: B+

Purdue: C-

Wisconsin: A

[ MORE: Here’s what Tom Dienhart learned in Week 2 ]

TOP 10 THOUGHTS

1. Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit. It’s time to run for president … or at least ask for a raise.

2. Nice rebound effort by the Nebraska defense. Last week, the Huskers got ripped for 602 yards by Wyoming. This week, Nebraska yielded just 284 yards in a 56-13 win over Southern Miss. Oh, and the defense even scored two touchdowns.

[ MORE: Watch Nebraska’s two first-quarter interception TD returns ]

3. Braxton Miller’s knee. In the first quarter, the Heisman hopeful got caught between two San Diego State defenders and didn’t get up. Miller suffered an apparent MCL sprain to his left knee, as he was carted off the field and didn’t return. After the game, Urban Meyer said Miller would be OK for next week’s game at Cal.

4. Wisconsin’s running backs. Another week, another trio of 100-yard rushers. Ho-hum. The same three Badger backs have done it in each of the first two weeks: Corey Clement (149 this week); Melvin Gordon (140); James White (109). The Badgers finished with 387 yards on the ground after rushing for 393 last week vs. UMass.

View the Wisconsin trio’s rushing stats:

Player Cl G Car Yds Avg TDs Yd/G
Melvin Gordon  So 2 22 284 12.9 2 142.0
James White  Sr 2 33 252 7.6 2 126.0
Corey Clement  Fr 2 29 250 8.6 3 125.0

5. Michigan State defense. It has scored four of Michigan State’s six touchdowns this season.

6. Nathan Scheelhaase for Heisman? Did I just type that?

View Scheelhaase’s passing numbers:

Passing Rushing
Date Opp Cmp Att Yds Pct TDs Int Long Car Yds Avg TDs Long
8/31/2013 SIU 28 36 416 77.8 2 1 55 7 -27 -3.9 0 8
9/7/2013 Cin 26 37 312 70.3 4 0 48 8 24 3.0 0 14

7. Mother Nature hates the Spartans. For the second game in a row, Michigan State’s game was delayed. The start of Spartans’ opener vs. Western Michigan was delayed for almost an hour in the second quarter because of lightning. And the start of Saturday’s game vs. South Florida was delayed 67 minutes because of weather.

8. Ding, dong, Iowa’s seven-game losing skid is over. The Hawkeyes snapped the skid with a workmanlike 28-14 win over FCS Missouri State. Hey, it’s a start.

9. Brent Musburger interviewing Eminem. At first I thought “Mr. You’re Looking Live” was talking to that hoops player from Ole Miss. But it was someone named Marshall Mathers? Who is that? It’s like when John Cougar suddenly wanted to go by John Mellencamp. Anyway, nothing screams “college football” more than Eminem.

[ MORE: You saw Eminem in the booth Saturday night, right? ]

10. No. 98. That’s the number of Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner. And, I love it. No. 98 was worn by Wolverine legend Tom Harmon. This is part of Michigan’s “Football Legend” jerseys program that honors players and their numbers that were retired.

[ MORE: Twitter reaction to Devin Gardner wearing No. 98 ]

TOP 5 PERFORMERS

1. Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan. The Michigan quarterback was on his game. Gardner hit 21-of-33 passes for 294 yards and four TDs, while also adding a game-high 82 yards on the ground and a rushing score. He had chemistry working with Jeremy Gallon, who was wearing Desmond Howard’s No. 21. Gallon caught eight passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns.

[ MORE: Dienhart: This was a win Devin Gardner needed ]

2. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State. Remember when there was hand-wringing about William Gholston turning pro early? Ah, memories. Calhoun has looked like Bubba Smith this year, scoring two touchdowns today—one on a 4-yard fumble return and another on a 56-yard interception return. Calhoun scored on a fumble return in the opener. He has three TDs. The MSU offense has two.

3. Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois. hit 26-of-37 passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns with no picks. He distributed the ball to 11 different players, showing a deadly efficiency. Last week, Scheelhaase hit 28-of-36 passes for 416 yards with two scores and an interception.

4. Kenny Guiton, QB, Ohio State. After Braxton Miller suffered a knee injury in the first quarter, Guiton came on to lead Ohio State to an easy win by hitting 19-of-28 passes for 152 yards and ran for 83 yards. Guiton did this in 2012, coming in vs. Purdue with OSU trailing by eight points with 47 seconds left at his own 35-yard line. He led the Buckeyes to a touchdown and 2-point conversion pass to force overtime. The Buckeyes went on to win, 29-22, to keep OSU unbeaten.

5. Northwestern quarterbacks. You can’t mention Kain Colter without mentioning Trevor Siemian. Rarely have two quarterbacks played in tandem so well. Each performed with aplomb in a 48-27 win over Syracuse. Colter hit 15-of-18 passes for 116 yards with a touchdown; Siemian completed 15-of-19 for 259 yards and three touchdowns. Bravo!

[ MORE: View BTN.com’s Leaders of Week 2 ]

NUMBERS, NUMBERS, NUMBERS

260. Yards rushing for Penn State in its 45-7 win over Eastern Michigan, averaging 6.7 yards per tote. Akeel Lynch had 108 yards rushing; Bill Belton had 107. Last week in a 23-17 win over Syracuse, the Nittany Lions had just 57 yards rushing.

3.9. Michigan State’s average yards per pass vs. USF. Three Spartans quarterbacks combined to hit 12-of-24 passes for 94 yards.

493.0. Yards per game Illinois is averaging through two weeks. Illinois ranked last in the Big Ten and 119th in the nation in offense last year, averaging 296.7. The Illini had 464 yards vs. Southern Illinois and 522 today vs. Cincy.

363. Passing yards for Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who backed up Tre Roberson in the loss to Navy. Sudfeld also threw four touchdown passes.

458. Rushing yards allowed by Indiana in a 41-35 loss to Navy, which threw just four passes vs. IU. Look, this may have been a must-win for IU’s bowl hopes. And it lost. Uh-oh. If the Hoosiers go 2-2 in non-conference action (Bowling Green and Missouri remain), Indiana would need to go 4-4 in Big Ten action, a tall task.

1. Snarky crack about Michigan from Michigan State hoops coach Tom Izzo. Pointing to a weather map that showed threatening weather on a video screen in Spartan Stadium and speaking into a mic, Izzo told the crowd to look at the “putrid yellow stuff that reminds me of Michigan” as he urged fans to leave for cover. Don’t you love rivalries?

[ MORE: Get Gerry DiNardo’s Week 2 Sunday Ruminations ]

THREE AND OUT

1. The offensive issues persist at Michigan State. In an opening win over Western Michigan, the Spartans used Andrew Maxwell and Connor Cook. This Saturday, MSU went one better by using three signal-callers: Maxwell, Cook and Tyler O’Connor in a 21-6 win over a South Florida team that allowed 53 points to FCS McNeese State last week. What’s it all mean? I have absolutely no idea.

2. Michigan looks primed to open 5-0. The Wolverines next three: vs. Akron, UConn and Minnesota. I thought this team was a year away from big things. I may be wrong.

3. Minnesota also could be 5-0. Jerry Kill’s crew faces Western Illinois, San Jose State and Iowa next. Through two games, this team has scored on a blocked field goal, punt return, kick return, fumble return and interception return. That’s impressive. You’ll win a lot of games doing those things.

[ MORE: How did we do? Week 2 Big Ten picks revisited ]

SNEAK PEEK TO WEEK 3

UCLA is coming to Nebraska. Look out! The Bruins notched 653 yards on the Huskers last year in a 36-30 win in Pasadena.

Ohio State at Cal. This is a dangerous game. Ohio State needs to ask Northwestern about the Golden Bears, who ran 99 plays against the Wildcats in Week One. This is a go-go Cal offense that can get a defense on its heels.

Wisconsin’s trip to Arizona State will be interesting. The Badgers have opened with back-to-back shutouts, which hasn’t been done by Wisconsin since 1958. Impressive. But the shutouts came vs. UMass and FCS Tennessee Tech. This trip to Tempe will be a huge step up in competition.

Iowa at Iowa State. If the Hawkeyes wanna go to a bowl, they likely need to beat the rival Cyclones, who were off Saturday after losing their opener to Northern Iowa.

About Tom Dienhart 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.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.

Find out more about:

12 Comments

Your Opinion?
Show Comments (12 Comments)
shookwriter27 on 9/8/2013 @ 10:37am EST Said:

Could Nathan Scheelhaase be the Big Ten offensive player of the week for the second week in a row?

Big Ten Fan on 9/8/2013 @ 10:38am EST Said:

Ten take aways from week two.

1. Christian Hackenberg is the league’s top passer. He isn’t the top quarterback (yet) but is the best passer.
2. Penn State could be the league’s best team by season’s end. The defense is on par with Michigan State and the offense could be the best by year’s end.
3. Ohio State is going to lose to Cal.
4. Northwestern’s defense will hold them back.
5. Michigan State will play everyone tight but the offense will cost them a couple of games.
6. Purdue will lose at least eight games.
7. Jeremy Gallon is a beast. The defense is solid, but not good by any measure.
8. Nebraska’s defense hasn’t improved between games one and two.
9. Indiana is not going bowling.
10. Yesterday’s Michigan game will feed the Big Ten officiating conspiracy theories. Very one sided.

mike on 9/8/2013 @ 11:36am EST Said:

You do realize the officiating for the Mich ND game was ACC officials right?…….. 2 Penn state has looked very good yes but i feel Mich, Ohio, NW, and Wis are all currently better teams and all three with higher ceilings then Penn state. Also Penn states defense is nowhere close to MSU’s, this is a defense that has outscored their offense…. i almost feel bad for them since their on the field more then any other defense in the BIG and getting worn out game after game and yet they’ll still probably get the best defensive stats of any BIG team(thank god their offense doesn’t exist).

Josh on 9/8/2013 @ 1:37pm EST Said:

Not to mention Michigan got called for 6 penalties while Notre Dame got called for 4 including the pass interference penalties. There should also have been at least one facemask penalty called against Notre Dame, and I was at the stadium.

bigtengrad on 9/8/2013 @ 4:10pm EST Said:

Big Ten Fan, your takeaways from week 2 were just what I needed for a good laugh this afternoon. Actually, Scheelhaase is the best passer in the conference statistically. Comparing PSU’s defense to MSU discredits you entirely. Did you watch Northwestern or Nebraska? I don’t really know how you make either of those points with a straight face. So it was an ACC crew calling the Mich/ND game? That sure will feed the officiating conspiracy theories. Good list, though. Can’t wait for week three.

Big Ten Fan on 9/8/2013 @ 5:21pm EST Said:

Didn’t realize it was an ACC crew. Never the less, the game was very one sided. Michigan’s O-line couldn’t block the ND d-line without holding. Regardless of the penalty differential, Michigan got the better deal.

Michigan and Wisconsin might be better than Penn State right now but there is no Big Ten team with a higher ceiling. And yes, the Penn State D is every bit as good as MSU and better than every other team.

Chris on 9/8/2013 @ 10:23pm EST Said:

You couldn’t possibly be a Penn State fan, could you?

Skip on 9/8/2013 @ 11:08pm EST Said:

pen state fans.. funny. PSU has no depth. They might be solid, but if hackenberg goes down, then what? if your rb goes down.. then what?? Top Teams are Ohio, Michigan, and NW. They have the best O/D combos and the best depth in the B1G. Michigan is a year or 2 from a NC. Ohio could challenge this year( I doubt it) and NW could be on a path to a couple of really solid years. Also, Nebraska is better than PSU. Illinois might surprise PSU too (Unlikely), but we don’t know enough about Illinois right now. They are a true wild card. Oh and I forgot about Wisconsin who is also better then PSU this year. Come on cat. Get real.

DCleveland on 9/9/2013 @ 9:39am EST Said:

Big Ten Fan. There were at least two times Michigan was called for holding when in fact they weren’t. Even Mussberger thought they were bogus calls. Fact is, ND brought their refs, got more calls their way, and still lost.

davecleveland on 9/9/2013 @ 9:40am EST Said:

@big ten fan: Yeah, one sided against Michigan…

Kyle on 9/9/2013 @ 12:19pm EST Said:

Ohio State will beat Cal and will be 4-0 going into the game with Wisconsin. Big Ten Fan… you are the biggest homer I’ve ever met. Stop homering Penn State and give a reasonable opinion.

Best passing QB in the B1G is Nate Sudfield. Indiana has the top passing offense in the conference.

Why do you say OSU will lose to Cal? Cal barely got by Portland State.

Aasim on 9/9/2013 @ 5:54pm EST Said:

Thoughts after Week 2 B1G action:

1. UM might be the best team in the B1G. Impressive win against a good ND team with a great coach.

2. Braxton Miller health is a major concern for OSU. That knee will probably get re-injured sometime this season. Look out for a dangerous Cal team this week.

3. Illinois looking good this week. Scheelhasue looking dangerous. But I’m not sold on the team yet – Cincy lost their starting QB – if he had not been hurt, it could’ve been a much closer game.

4. Purdue and Iowa look like bottom-dwellers this year. Indiana might win some surprise games, but I’m lowering my expectations for them after the bad showing against Navy.

5. My fantasy team would be MSU’s D and Nebraska’s O. But at least Neb’s D took a step forward this week with 2 pick-sixes. MSU’s O is still stuck in neutral.

6. I’m waiting to see if Wisconsin and Penn St. are for real. The game against ASU will tell a lot about how legit the Badgers are.