Montee Ball rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown, and No. 12 Wisconsin needed a big defensive play to survive a fourth-quarter scare from Northern Iowa in a 26-21 victory Saturday. Wisconsin’s defense didn’t allow Northern Iowa on its side of the 50-yard line until the 4:27 mark in the third quarter – but then the Badgers nearly melted down. Leading 26-7 in the fourth quarter, Wisconsin allowed Northern Iowa quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen to throw a pair of long touchdowns to David Johnson, cutting the lead to five.
With two Big Ten games under my belt from Thursday and Friday, I locked in on the four early Big Ten games Saturday. Here are my Snap Reactions, where I list the three things I learned from each game. What did you learn? Come tell me in the comment section at the bottom of this post.
Backup quarterback Trevor Siemian hit Demetrius Fields for a 9-yard touchdown pass with 44 seconds left and Northwestern held on to beat Syracuse 42-41 Saturday in the teams’ season opener. Siemian, subbing for starter Kain Colter, drove the Wildcats 75 yards in 10 plays, taking advantage of a critical personal foul against Syracuse defender Keon Lyn for a late hit out of bounds on the previous play.
Braxton Miller rushed for 165 yards, a record for an Ohio State quarterback, and threw for two scores including Devin Smith‘s highlight-reel, one-handed catch as the 18th-ranked Buckeyes ushered in the Urban Meyer era on Saturday with a 56-10 win over Miami (Ohio). Meyer, who won two national titles at Florida, moved to 11-0 in season-openers. The slow-starting Miller, who stutter-stepped for a 65-yard score just 17 seconds into the second half, finished 14 of 24 passing for 207 yards. He also hit Corey Brown on a 5-yard TD pass.
Penn State coach Bill O’Brien led the charge in the first home opener without Joe Paterno since 1949, his players behind him, storming the Beaver Stadium field as more than 97,000 fans kicked off a new chapter in the program’s tarnished history with a raucous and sustained ovation. But the Nittany Lions wore down in the second half, and Ohio, from the Mid-American Conference, upset Penn State, 24-14.
With quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase injured, Ashante Williams returned an interception 60 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown to help Illinois and new coach Tim Beckman hang on for a 24-7 win Saturday over Western Michigan in the season opener for both teams. The Illini opened up a 17-0 lead but their offense stalled when Scheelhaase left the game with an ankle injury late in the third quarter.
Braxton Miller is still a work in progress as a passer. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with his running. Miller showcased his ground skills throughout Saturday’s season opener against Miami (OH), and at no point were they more apparent than on his 65-yard scoring scamper to open the third quarter. Miller ran past defenders, and then used a strong stutter-step to get his way past the last couple of defenders and into the end zone to give Ohio State a 28-3 lead.