It was quite the mixture this past weekend around the Big Ten with several teams beginning conference play and others that were finishing the remainder of their non-conference slates. Certain teams with certain high expectations going into this season put up convincing performances while others well...didn't.
Wisconsin 27, South Florida 10
Things started off rather slow for the Badgers, as both teams had only managed a field goal each at the half. The second half however, saw Melvin Gordon return to his old ways, scoring a couple of touchdowns to cap off a 181-yard rushing afternoon. Sadly, there was no Steven Bench sighting at quarterback for USF, but at least we do have the Bench Dogs Twitter account to fill the void:
Big Ten Powerhouse Rutgers 31, Tulane 6
In their final non-conference tune-up, BTPR passed with flying colors, thanks to Gary Nova acting like anything but the Gary Nova we've all come to know and appreciate. Nova threw for four touchdowns (including three to his favorite receiving target, Leonte Carroo), only threw one interception, and came up just nine yards shy of 300 yards passing on the afternoon. BTPR will get a second chance at knocking off a traditional football power that has since fallen on hard times when Michigan visits this upcoming Saturday for a game under the lights.
Iowa 24, Purdue 10
What's this? Consecutive wins for Iowa? After yet another rough start which saw the Hawkeyes spot Purdue the game's first 10 points, Iowa gradually and painstakingly grinded their way back. CJ Beathard went 17 for 37 for 245 yards with a touchdown and a pick in his first career start for Iowa, while their leading rusher Mark Weisman (76 yards) pounded the rock twice into the end zone for a pair of touchdowns. Purdue coach Darrell Hazell meanwhile, is still seeking his first B1G win, ever. Perhaps his best shot will be this upcoming weekend when the Boilermakers travel to Illinois.
Michigan State 56, Wyoming 14
Five different Spartans found the end zone, including quarterback extraordinaire Connor Cook, and Jeremy Langford accounted for the majority (137 yards) of Sparty's 338 total rushing yards. Wyoming meanwhile, (presumably) got itself a nice fat paycheck for coming halfway across the US and A to get stomped.
Maryland 37, Indiana 15
Unlike their fellow B1G newcomer (Rutgers), Maryland managed to not only win its first ever conference game, but did so in dominant fashion. After a slow first quarter with the game tied 3-3, Maryland quarterback CJ Brown went to work by running for and throwing for a touchdown (to Stefon Diggs, naturally). Unfortunately for Brown, he ended up leaving the game shortly after with a wrist injury and is currently questionable for next week's game against Ohio State. Caleb Rowe however, was more than ready to fill the void as the backup QB launched for another 198 yards and two touchdowns on 12 for 18 passing. Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld had arguably the worst game of his career, throwing for a paltry 14 of 37 for 126 yards and a pick.
Minnesota 30, Michigan 14
Believe it or not, this game was still up for grabs as late as midway through the third quarter, with the Gophers clinging to a 10-7 lead. A quick series of events (a field goal, followed immediately by a pick-six) however, swiftly dashed any hope Michigan had of pulling out the win, preserving the Little Brown Jug, and more importantly for Brady Hoke, preserving his job. More than his team's performance itself, Hoke caught the most flack (and deservedly so) for leaving his starting quarterback Shane Morris in the game, even after Morris clearly showed signs of a concussion to the point where he needed help standing up.
Also, this is a sight that I don't think I'll ever get used to:
Ohio State 50, Cincinnati 28
This game ended up being quite the quarterbacking duel, with Cincy QB Gunner Kiel and OSU's JT Barrett throwing for four touchdowns and well over 300 yards, each. Cincy receiver Chris Moore also had quite the stat line: three catches, 221 yards, and three touchdowns. For those of you not quite as good at math, that equates to scoring a touchdown every time Chris Moore caught the ball, of which he did from 60, 83, and 78 yards out, respectively.
The real highlight of the evening however, had no impact on the game's outcome, as OSU assistant strength and conditioning coach (and former OSU linebacker) Anthony Schlegel body-slammed some random idiot who decided to run onto the field, which was enough to make anyone in attendance scream BAH GAWD.
Nebraska 45, Illinois 14
The Tim Beckman Farewell Tour made its latest stop in Lincoln, Nebraska for a primetime ass-beating delivered by none other than Ameer Abdullah, who really should be getting serious Heisman Trophy consideration at this point. Abdullah had yet another 200+yard game (208 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries) and Imani Cross also joined the 100+ rushing yard club for Nebraska, garnering 109 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, himself. With Illinois' starting quarterback Wes Lunt nursing a leg injury, backup Riley O'Toole got the start and threw for a touchdown and three picks on 17 of 38 passing for 261 yards. Really though, it doesn't matter who lines up under center for the Illini, as long as their defense continues to remain atrocious.