Get Tom Dienhart’s best of Week 2 in the Big Ten
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Week 2 was all about the blowouts with five teams scored over 50 points as Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Rutgers and Wisconsin all hung at least half-a-hundred on opponents in easy wins. Ohio State and Iowa came close, notching over 40 points apiece.
Saturday wasn’t so glorious for Northwestern and Purdue, as each suffered disappointing home losses. NU’s 9-7 setback to FCS Illinois State was especially disheartening for the Wildcats, who had gotten beat in the opener at home by Western Michigan.
Here is a look at Week 2:
Biggest surprise: It was a shock to see Northwestern get upset at home for a second week in a row. Last week, NU got dumped in Evanston by Western Michigan, 22-21. This week, it got worse, as FCS Illinois State clipped the Wildcats, 9-7, on a 33-yard field goal as time expired. This for a NU squad that won 10 games in 2015 and had high expectations this fall. Losing RB Justin Jackson to an apparent injury hurt, as he had just 39 yards on 11 totes. QB Clayton Thorson hit just 17-of-41 passes for 191 yards. A lack of big plays hurts NU.
Biggest disappointment: Purdue. The Boilermakers faced what many felt was a prove-it game with Cincinnati in Ross-Ade Stadium. Alas, Purdue got whipped, 38-20, as the defense got shredded for 512 yards with 262 coming on the ground. This is the type of game Darrell Hazell needs to win in his fourth season in West Lafayette. He’s now 7-31 overall—and four of those victories are vs. FCS foes.
Play this again: In their first meeting since 2000, Pitt and Penn State played a classic. Pitt led, 28-7, in the second quarter. But Penn State cut the Panthers’ lead to 42-39 late in the fourth quarter, had the ball and was driving. But Nittany Lions QB Trace McSorley made an ill-advised throw and was intercepted in the end zone to sully an otherwise stellar day that saw him complete 24-of-35 passes for 332 yards with a touchdown and a pick.
Never play this again: There were a number of blowouts that provided no drama. In fact, five Big Ten teams scored over 50 points in blowout wins. Take your pick from Michigan 51, UCF 14; Wisconsin 54, Akron 10; Nebraska 52, Wyoming 17; Rutgers 52, Howard 14; Minnesota 58, Indiana State 28. Zzzzzzzzz.
Best play: Rutgers’ Janarion Grant took a direct snap, pivoted in the backfield and shot up field for a spectacular 58-yard TD run, as the Scarlet Knights rebounded from a 14-0 deficit to win 52-14 vs. FCS Howard. His ridiculous kick return to put Rutgers on the scoreboard and his third touchdown of the day were quite nice, too. What an athlete.
Best moment: Iowa WR Matt VandeBerg caught seven passes for 129 yards and a TD. He also proposed to his girlfriend. She said “yes.” There was another Week 2 proposal, believe it or not. This one happened at Northwestern (Watch).
Did you see this? Michigan had a great day on special teams, blocking two punts and a field goal vs. UCF, all in the first quarter.
Did you see this, part II? T.J. Watt, the younger brother of J.J. Watt, and Nick Bosa, the younger brother of Joey Bosa, both made big plays Saturday, with the former tallying his first career sack (Watch) and the latter registering his first forced fumble (Watch). Yes, Bosa did his brother’s shrug celebration on his way to the sideline.
WEEK 2 GRADES
Ohio State: B+
Penn State: B-
WEEK 2 SUPERLATIVES
Offensive player of the week: Minnesota RB Kobe McCrary ran 17 times for 176 yards and two TDs, averaging 10.4 yards per carry. The JC transfer led a Gopher rushing attack that totaled 292 yards (6.6 ypc) with three scores. Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner was great, too, completing 20-of-30 passes for 295 yards and four touchdown.
Defensive player of the week: Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore picked off two of the Buckeyes’ four passes and ran one back for a TD vs. Tulsa. The Ohio State defense has scored three TDs and allowed none in 2016.
Special teams player of the week: Rutgers’ Janarion Grant has a stunning 84-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to cut Howard’s lead to 14-7. He had three kickoff returns for 119 yards (39.7 ypr).
Minnesota offense. The Gophers totaled 58 points and 592 yards vs. FCS Indiana State. Minnesota’s offensive output was the sixth-most yards in school history and its most points in a game since 2006.
Iowa QB C.J. Beathard. He hit 19-of-28 passes for 235 yards with three TDs and became the third QB in the last five years to win his first 15 regular-season starts.
Maryland. Looky here! The Terrapins are 2-0 under rookie coach DJ Durkin after whipping Florida International, 41-14. Maryland opened with a win vs. FCS Howard.
Ohio State defense. The Buckeyes allowed just 189 yards and three points vs. Tulsa and also had four interceptions among six turnovers generated.
Michigan. The Wolverines are hitting on all cylinders, moving to 2-0 with a 51-14 win vs. Central Florida. The Wolverines have won their first two games by a combined total of 97 points.
Nebraska defense. The Huskers produced six turnovers—all in the second half–including five interceptions in a rout of visiting Wyoming. One pick was returned for a TD.
Wisconsin defense. The unit had a safety, and the secondary accounted for two second-quarter turnovers as the Badgers led 30-10 at halftime vs. Akron en route to a blowout win.
Northwestern. The Wildcats are off to a thud, going 0-2 to start the season with inexpiable home losses to Western Michigan and then to FCS Illinois State on Saturday. The offense continues to sputter. Will NU get on track a season after winning 10 games? The next four games are tough: Duke, Nebraska, at Iowa, at Michigan State.
Penn State defense. The unit got ripped for 341 yards rushing (6.1 ypc) and 432 overall in a loss at Pitt.
Michigan rushing game. The Wolverines managed just 119 yards rushing on 41 rushes (2.9 ypc) vs. UCF. The long run? Eighteen yards.
Purdue defense. The Boilermakers yielded 512 yards with 262 on the ground, as Cincinnati won its first game in a Big Ten venue since 1957. The Boilermakers allowed 7.6 yards each time Cincinnati snapped the ball in the first half, when the Bearcats were 9-of-11 on third-down conversions.
WEEK 2 TOP NUMBERS
147, yards receiving with two TDs for Maryland’s DJ Moore on six catches. He also tossed a 21-yards pass to QB Perry Hills, who hit 13-of-18 passes for 210 yards with three TDs and no picks in a win at FIU.
111, yards rushing for Wisconsin’s Corey Clement, who also had two TDs before suffering an injury late in the first half.
2, Nebraska and Purdue players with over 100 yards receiving. For the Huskers, Alonzo Moore had three catches for 109 yards (36.3 ypc) with a TD. Jordan Westerkamp had four receptions for 105 yards (26.3 ypc) with two TDs. For the Boilers, Domonique Young has eight receptions for 136 yards and a TD and DeAngelo Yancey had seven catches for 113 yards and a score.
5, interceptions for Purdue’s David Blough, who threw for a career-high 401 yards.
116, yards rushing for Illinois’ Ke’Shawn Vaughn on 15 carries with a TD.
112, yards rushing for Iowa’s LeShun Daniels on 15 carries with a TD.
312, yards passing for Michigan’s Wilton Speight, who hit 25-of-37 passes with four TD throws.
5, touchdowns for Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, who ran for four and caught a TD pass. The five TDs were the most by a Penn State player since Ki-Jana Carter did it against Michigan State in 1994. Barkley ran 20 times for 85 yards.
377, yards passing for Nebraska’s Tommy Armstrong, who hit 20-of-34 passes with three TDs and a pick in a 52-17 demolition of Wyoming. He also ran for a score. He set the school career TD passing mark.
52, Unanswered points Rutgers scored after falling behind Howard 14-0.
133, yards receiving for Indiana’s Nick Westbrook on only three catches. Two went for TDs, as QB Richard Lagow hit 17-of-28 passes for 266 yards with three TDs in a win vs. Ball State.
2, pick-sixes for Ohio State vs. Tulsa, as Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore each notched one. The Buckeyes had four picks vs. Tulsa.
4, TD throws for Minnesota’s Mitch Leidner, who completed 20-of-30 passes for 295 yards in a win vs. Indiana State. He hit Drew Wolitarsky eight times for 125 yards and two scores.
231, yards passing for Wisconsin’s Bart Houston, who hit 15-of-22 passes with two TDs. WR Jazz Peavy caught seven passes for 100 yards and two TDs.
13, penalties for 99 yards against Illinois.