Tom’s Take: Week 2 Big Ten honors, grades, stock reports & numbers

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Tom’s Take: Week 2 Big Ten honors, grades, stock reports & numbers

Week 2 featured some exciting games, highlighted by Minnesota’s 23-20 overtime win at Colorado State and Michigan State’s 31-28 payback victory vs. Oregon.

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Oh, and Ohio State won again. That’s 15 in a row. And we got to see Paul Chryst, Mike Riley and Jim Harbaugh all notch their first wins at their schools.

Here is my spin on a fun Saturday.

Biggest surprise: There was no real shocker/surprise on this Saturday. It was a bit of a surprise to see Illinois and Northwestern win by massive margins. Same for Michigan. But for the most part, this week went according to plan.

Biggest disappointment: Maryland. The Terps got buried in an avalanche of points by Bowling Green, falling 48-27 to move to 1-1. And, with a daunting next month or so on deck, Maryland could be in for some tough sledding. The Terps allowed 28 fourth-quarter points–42 in the second half. Think about that for a moment. Maryland led, 13-6, at halftime. And BG torched the Maryland defense for 692 yards. Falcons QB Matt Johnson hit 36-of-55 passes for 491 yards with six TDs.

Play this again: Minnesota’s overtime win at Colorado State and Michigan State’s payback victory over Oregon were great. But I have to go with Washington State’s wild 37-34 win at Rutgers. How wild was it? There were five lead changes and a combined 39 points scored in the fourth quarter alone, with Wazzu tallying the winning TD with 13 seconds left after the Scarlet Knights looked to take the game after Janarion Grant ran back a punt 55 yards for a TD with 1:31 left.

Never play this again: Wisconsin blasted Miami (Ohio), 58-0. Pick a facet of the game, and the Badgers dominated. They gained 451 yards and yielded just 157 in helping Paul Chryst notch his first win as Wisconsin coach. The Badgers even held out star RB Corey Clement (groin). No problem, as Dare Ogunbowale ran 16 times for 112 yards and a TD.

Best play: Let’s go with the 95-yard interception return for a TD by Indiana’s Jameel Cook. Florida International was driving for the potential game-tying score late in the fourth quarter, when Cook picked off the 4th-and-goal pass and took it all of the way back for six points. Just like, Indiana led by 14 points.

[tweet https://twitter.com/BigTenNetwork/status/642904020231675904%5D

Most athletic play: If you like athletes, you’ll love Penn State freshman running back Saquon Barkley, who ripped off this impressive hurdle in Penn State’s 27-14 victory vs. Buffalo.

[tweet https://twitter.com/PennStateOnBTN/status/642773465729138690%5D

Best tweet: Minnesota punter Peter Mortell is one of the Big Ten’s best personalities and most accomplished social media users. Need proof? Check out the postgame tweet below.

[tweet https://twitter.com/PMortell37/status/642885641076772865%5D

Did you see this? After Urban Meyer did his BTN postgame interview, the coach photobombed his wife’s selfie with Ohio State star running back Ezekiel Elliott.

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WEEK 2 GRADES
Illinois: A
Indiana: B+
Iowa: B+
Maryland: F
Michigan: B+
Michigan State: B+
Minnesota: B
Nebraska: A
Northwestern: A
Ohio State: B-
Penn State: C-
Purdue: B
Rutgers: C-
Wisconsin: A

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STOCK UP

Michigan. Jim Harbaugh scored win No. 1 at Michigan with a convincing 35-7 win vs. Oregon State. How many more will he get in Ann Arbor? Who cares? Let’s focus on the now. This was a total win, as Michigan fell behind 7-0 and scored the final 35 points. The offense had balance with 225 yards rushing and 180 yards passing. This is Harbaugh’s formula.

[tweet https://twitter.com/UMichAthletics/status/642779925653622784 ]

Illinois. Don’t look now, but the Fighting Illini are 2-0. And 2-0 in dominating fashion. Illinois has outscored its first two foes, 96-3. Yes, it beat Kent State and Western Illinois, which it ripped for 500 yards. Still, the fast start under interim head coach Bill Cubit is inspiring. Next up: a trip to North Carolina.

[tweet https://twitter.com/IlliniFootball/status/642837915672924160%5D

Iowa. The Hawkeyes kept the mojo going with a 31-17 win at Iowa State to move to 2-0. It was an emotional week for Iowa, as former star safety Tyler Sash passed away as did the school’s all-time leading basketball scorer Roy Marble. The team wore Sash’s number on its helmets in homage. The Hawkeyes ran for 260 yards and allowed only 63 yards rushing.

[tweet https://twitter.com/BTNBrentYarina/status/642890783494832128%5D

Northwestern. Is this the best team in the West Division? NU is now 2-0 after a 41-0 drubbing of FCS Eastern Illinois. The Wildcats are doing it with defense. They limited the Panthers to 138 yards. Stanford had just 240 yards and six points last week vs. NU. That’s 378 yards and zero touchdowns allowed in two games. Wow.

[tweet https://twitter.com/NUFBFamily/status/642834482970632192%5D

STOCK DOWN

Maryland. A 48-27 home loss to Bowling Green stings. The Terps had four turnovers, yielded 28 fourth-quarter points and allowed a whopping 692 yards of offense, including 491 via the air. Things don’t get much easier for Maryland, which plays host to South Florida next and then goes to West Virginia. Then, Big Ten play opens with a visit from Michigan and trip to Ohio State.

Ohio State QBs. Both Cardale Jones (the starter) and J.T. Barrett had ups and downs. Jones hit 12-of-18 passes for 111 yards and fumbled twice. Barrett completed 8-of-15 for 70 yards. Neither tossed a TD or pick. Ohio State had thrown at least one touchdown pass in 24 straight games, which tied a school-record that was previously set by the 1994-96 Buckeye teams. As some coaches say: When you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one quarterback. Is rotating signal-callers and going with the “hot” hand the correct thing to do? Here are my thoughts.

Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights allowed a game-winning TD with 13 seconds left to fall at home to a Washington State squad that lost to FCS Portland State last week. The Scarlet Knights allowed 559 yards (478 passing) to the Cougs. Maybe this was payback, as RU won a narrow 41-38 game vs. Wazzu last year.

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WEEK 2 TOP PERFORMANCES

Iowa RB Jordan Canzeri ran 24 times for 124 yards and a TD in a big 31-17 victory at Iowa State.

Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner overcame a slow start to hit 23-of-45 passes for 233 yards and two TDs. He also ran 11 times for 47 yards. Leidner hit KJ Maye for a 22-yard scoring pass with 55 seconds left to give Minnesota a 20-17 lead. CSU tied the game at the final gun to force overtime, where the Gophers won it, 23-20.

Wisconsin’s Tanner McEvoy did it all in a 58-0 whitewashing of Miami (Ohio). Playing receiver and safety, he became the first Badger to record a catch and interception in the same game since 2003. McEvoy’s 41-yard interception return set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Taiwan Deal for a 27-point lead with 6:32 left in the second quarter.

Michigan RB De’Veon Smith provided punch for the ground game, running 23 times for 126 yards and three TDs. He’s a tough, physical runner with no quit.

Indiana’s Jameel Cook returned a late interception 95 yards to seal Indiana’s second straight late victory vs. FIU; he also added three tackles.

Rutgers’ WR Janarion Grant ran back a kickoff 100 yards for a TD and a punt 55 yards for a TD that gave the Scarlet Knights what looked like the winning points. (Grant also ran back a kickoff 80 yards for a TD in the opener vs. Norfolk State.) He had a school single-game record 337 all-purpose yards on Saturday in a tough 37-34 last-second loss to Washington State, also making five catches for 65 yards to go with five kickoff returns for 195 yards, two punt returns for 56 yards and a run for 21.

Penn State RB Saquon Barkley exploded for 115 yards rushing on just 12 totes with a TD in a 27-14 win vs. Buffalo. The true freshman could be special.

Illinois QB Wes Lunt hit 33-of-46 passes for 316 yards with a TD and pick in a 44-0 win vs. FCS Western Illinois.

Wisconsin S Leo Musso recorded two interceptions in the Badgers’ 58-0 shutout vs. Miami (OH).

Michigan DE Chris Wormley tallied six tackles, including three for loss, and a sack in Michigan’s victory over Oregon State.

Purdue QB Austin Appleby completed 20-of-34 passes for 289 yards with four TDs in a 38-14 win vs. FCS Indiana State with 10 different players catching passes. He also ran 12 times for 50 yards. Three of his scoring strikes were from over 50 yards, including a Hail Mary at the end of the first half. Last week, Appleby tossed four picks—including two that went for TDs.

Northwestern CB Matthew Harris picked off two passes, returning one 71 yards for a touchdown, and tallied three tackles in a 41-0 shutout vs. Eastern Illinois.

Ohio State S Vonn Bell did it all in a 38-0 victory over Hawaii, returning a fumble for a touchdown, making a highlight-reel interception and notching three breakups.

[tweet https://twitter.com/OhioStateOnBTN/status/642830184316465152%5D

Michigan State LB Riley Bullough registered a game-high 14 tackles in Michigan State’s revenge win vs. Oregon.

Michigan State RB LJ Scott ran for two second-half touchdowns, including the go-ahead touchdown midway through the third quarter, to help the Spartans down Oregon, 31-28.

[tweet https://twitter.com/BigTenNetwork/status/642906185708900352%5D

Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott ran 27 times for 101 yards and three touchdowns in a methodical 38-0 win vs. Hawaii. It was the seventh game in a row that Elliott eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark. Only Carlos Hyde has had a longer streak (nine) for OSU.

Nebraska RB Terrell Newby ran 28 times for 198 yards and two TDs and added two receptions for 38 yards a touchdown in a 48-9 win vs. South Alabama.

Update: We omitted Penn State DL Carl Nassib, who picked off a pass, registered three sacks and forced two fumbles in a victory vs. Buffalo.

***

WEEK 2 TOP NUMBERS

1, punt return for a TD by Maryland’s Will Likely for the second consecutive week. Likely raced 85 yards vs. Bowling Green. This a week after running one back 67 yards for a TD en route to setting a Big Ten record for punt return yards in a game with 233.

4, shutouts by Big Ten teams (Illinois, Northwestern, Ohio State & Wisconsin), becoming the second conference since 1980 to blank at least four opponents in a week, joining the SEC (2006).

96, total points in the first two games for Illinois. The Fighting Illini opened with a 52-3 win vs. Kent State and ripped Western Illinois, 44-0, Saturday.

3, touchdown passes for Iowa QB C.J. Beathard, who hit 15-of-25 passes for 215 yards in a 31-17 win at Iowa State.

138, yards allowed by Michigan in a 35-7 win vs. Oregon State.

Minus-3, yards Wisconsin allowed rushing vs. Miami on 24 carries.

225, yards rushing for the Wolverines vs. Oregon State. Michigan had 76 yards rushing last week at Utah.

114, yards receiving for Iowa’s Matt VandeBerg on nine grabs with a TD.

386, total yards allowed by Illinois in two games. That comes to 193 per game.

108, yards rushing on 21 carries for Minnesota’s Rodney Smith in a 23-20 OT win at Colorado State.

344, rushing yards for Northwestern in its 41-0 win vs. Eastern Illinois. NU finished with 496 yards overall.

477, yards passing for Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson vs. Maryland. He hit 35-of-54 attempts for six TDs in a 48-27 win.

8, receptions for Michigan State WR Aaron Burbridge vs. Oregon, going for 101 yards and a touchdown.

0, sacks allowed by Penn State vs. Buffalo a week after yielding 10 at Temple; touchdowns allowed by Northwestern through first two games.

328, yards for Penn State in a 27-14 win vs. Buffalo. Last week in a 27-10 loss at Temple, the Nittany Lions had 183 yards.

692, yards allowed by Maryland in a 48-27 home loss to Bowling Green.

124, yards receiving for Illinois’ Geronimo Allison on 8 catches.

9, catches for Minnesota WR Drew Wolitarsky for 114 yards and a TD.

5-1, Michigan State’s record vs. the last six AP top 10 teams it has faced, following Saturday night’s win vs. Oregon.

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WEEK 2 QUOTES

“Today’s victory is a rewarding end to a very difficult and challenging week for everybody. On top of that, an important chapter for our football team. I told the football team last night that we were going to have to earn this.” – Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz

“Team loss today. Offense, defense, special teams and coaching all contributed to it.” – Maryland coach Randy Edsall

“Want to give a shout out to my offensive line. They opened some holes you could drive a bus through.” – Michigan running back De’Veon Smith

“I’m proud of him. That was a hard game last week. He showed some toughness this week, both mentally and physically. – Purdue coach Darrell Hazell, on quarterback Austin Appleby

“This day, it’s not about me. The window that these guys have to play, it’s short. That’s what was fun for me to see today.” – Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst

“I had those situations happen in practice this fall and they always seemed to get away. This time it actually stuck to my gut.” – Minnesota defensive tackle Scott Ekpe, on interception in overtime that helped set up game-winning field goal

“It wasn’t a performance that I wanted.” – Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones

“We weren’t trying to run it up out there. We had Tom Hruby in the backfield. As you know he’s our hero and he’s a special man.” – Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald

“We got a great push up front, and the offense as a whole, once we get rolling, we can’t be stopped.” – Nebraska running back Terrell Newby

“Our defense did a tremendous job and this is what we’ve seen all camp, so it was good to see them kind of perform.” – Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld

“It feels like back in 2013, when we won the Rose Bowl. We won the Big Ten championship game. So I’d rank it right up there with those games for sure.” – Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook, on win vs. Oregon

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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.

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