So far, the Big Ten is 3-0.
After early struggles, Penn State throttled Youngstown State. Michigan State raced off to an easy victory against Western Michigan (continuing their winning streak against Michigan directional schools). And finally, Illinois won lost because it seems Juice Williams inspired too much boneheaded offense in his heir apparent, Sir Nathan Scheelhaase.
Penn State vs. Youngstown State
Was there reason to panic at first? Well...yes. The Nittany Lions speedily gave up an 80 yard screen pass for a TD, inspiring panic before Collin Wagner struck back with a 49 yard field goal.
Bolden's first INT made things seem worse than they actually were. The defense stood firmer than they had in the first quarter, however, and Bolden fired a gorgeous TD pass to hero of the day Brett Brackett. Penn State's defense forced a punt before the end of the half, and then Robert Bolden drove the Lions into field goal range. Wagner hit his third of the day, and Penn State had scored 13 unanswered points to take the lead.
They never surrendered it. Chaz Powell raced from one endzone to another to complete the swing and give the Nittany Lions a 23 to 7 lead. Suddenly, there was no longer reason to panic. But wait! The YSU coach challenged the play (and lost). Bolden drove the field again, finding Brackett for another long TD, and Penn State was firmly entrenched in the lead.
The 4th quarter saw the Lions up 37 to 7 after Stephfon Green blasted up the middle on a 6 yard run. Bolden went to the bench with a standing ovation before backup QB Kevin Newsome reached the endzone on a 1 yard sneak. The defense gave up a TD in garbage time, but the Nittany Lions won the day 44-14.
Aside from early defensive struggles, the team played pretty well. Bolden, in his first career start, threw a pick, but came back to find Brackett and Moye downfield for big gains. Curiously, Graham Zug did not record a reception, but Bolden was able to find other options to spur the Lions onward. Hopefully he can come up big this coming week...
But Wagner had to have been infused with the DNA of Robbie Gould. He was perfect (3 for 3) beyond 40 yards.
Michigan State ran away with their game. They started off with a Le'Veon Bell 28 yard TD run, before allowing WMU to score a passing TD (surprise surprise). But MSU battled back. After a fumble, Kirk Cousins found former QB Kieth Nichol in double coverage for a touchdown, and MSU was up 14-7. The Spartan D forced three consecutive punts, answering one with a 75 yard rush by Bell and a 7 yard TD run by Edwin Baker and another with a 2 yard run by Bell.
MSU overpowered WMU the rest of the way en route to a 38-14 victory. Cousins at one point had a Terrelle Pryor-esque stat line: 2 for 7 for 26 yards and a TD. He finished with 13 completions on 21 attempts for 186 yards and a single touchdown pass. But the Spartans running game was what powered them to victory. They finished with a pair of 100 yard rushers (Le'Veon Bell and Edwin Baker) who both scored 2 touchdowns.
MSU's secondary managed a single INT, but held WMU's starting QB (Alex Carder) to 27 completions on 49 attempts for 224 yards. Carder averaged 4.6 yards per pass attempt, completed 55% of his passes overall, and led the Broncos in rushing with 36 yards on 10 attempts.
Ron Zook's failbus The Illinois Fighting Illini crashed full-speed into the Edward Jones Dome to face the Missouri Tigers. Stunningly, the Illini led 3-0 for most of the first half before Missouri tied them with a Grant Ressel 33 yard field goal. The Illini shocked the world everyone me when they found the endzone on a Sir Nathan Scheelhaase pass to A.J. Jenkins. After an Illini sack and a Missouri punt, Illinois managed a 52 yard field goal and went into the break with a 13-3 lead.
Missouri came out the gate firing. Blaine Gabbert found T.J. Moe for a 7 yard TD on Missouri's first possession of the second half. After an exchange of punts, Gabbert found another receiver (Michael Egnew) for a 6 yard TD. For the remainder of the game, the Illini were either forced to punt or intercepted. Another Ressel field goal put Missouri put by a touchdown, 20-13. Scheelhaase threw the game away with three costly interceptions, and Missouri tacked on another Ressel field goal. Illinois ran out of time, and lost for the ninetieth sixth straight time to Missouri in St. Louis.
Zook, your guys tried. I'd insert a John L. Smith rant about how the coaches are killing the efforts of their players, but I have too much respect for myself.
Iowa pasted Eastern Illinois 37-7. Aside from a minor injury to Ricky Stanzi, the Hawkeyes marched through their FCS opponent thanks to 3 TDs from Adam Robinson and a blocked punt for a touchdown. The Hawkeyes forced a safety and Stanzi found a receiver late in the game for a 2 yard TD, allowing Iowa to pick up its tenth consecutive season opening win.