clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Big Ten Superlatives: Week 1

The best and worst from the season’s first Saturday

Nebraska v Minnesota Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Happy Labor Day. Enjoy your last day of summer and look back at some of the big performances and story lines from Week 1 in the Big Ten. Only Purdue, poor Purdue, suffered a non-conference loss in the season’s opening week. Meanwhile, Ohio State, Minnesota, and Rutgers (RUTGERS!?!?!?!) jumped out to 1-0 records in conference. To be honest, there was a lot of “meh” with the top of the league. Ohio State was flat offensively at Indiana. Michigan controlled its glorified scrimmage. West contenders Wisconsin and Iowa entered with a lot of eyeballs on their offenses, but wound up looking a lot like vintage versions of themselves.

So what was good, bad, and maybe annoying in Week 1 - here you go!

Best Win - Penn State pulls away from West Virginia

Homer alert. Sure, but Saturday night acted as a four hour infomercial for all things Penn State football. I know commenters here have dogged the first-time out NBC broadcast a bit. However, with Michael Robinson and Todd Blackledge in the house, along with Penn State facing a non-Big Ten opponent, it felt like a non-biased broadcast in the same way that this weekly column feels like a non-biased blog. Meanwhile, Penn State was the lone team to step out of conference for a P5 win. We’ll take it.

Worst Loss - Nebraska stays cursed

Nebraska, in Matt Rhule’s debut as the Huskers head coach, took the lead early in the third quarter and looked like they’d shake the “can’t win a close game” label that has haunted them the past several years. But Minnesota scored twice in the closing two minutes of the game - an amazing touchdown catch that might show up later and then a field goal as time expired. With a road trip to Boulder ahead on Saturday to face the suddenly resurgent Colorado Buffaloes, the Rhule era might be getting off to a rather…umm…Rocky start.

Offensive Player of the Week - Drew Allar

Wisconsin had a running back go for like 200 yards and there were more veteran quarterbacks who put up comparable numbers to Drew, but guess what? You don’t care. And I don’t either. Penn State smartly let Drew cook on Saturday night. The run game was fine and Allen/Singleton will be fresh entering the two-game gauntlet of Iowa/Illinois later this month. But Saturday allowed Allar the opportunity to build confidence - and chemistry with his wide receivers - in a big-game environment.

Defensive Player of the Week - Tyler Nubin, Minnesota

Minnesota’s defense was really good last year, something that probably went ignored by Penn State fans based on that White Out explosion back in October 2022. Well, the Gophers were stingy last Thursday and Tyler Nubin’s second interception of the night helped set up the home team for a game-winning field goal.

Offensive Play of the Week - Minnesota’s Daniel Jackson’s touchdown catch

Fourth down. Trailing by seven points. Game on the line. And you do this? THIS? Take a bow, sir.

Defensive Play of the Week - Miles Scott, Illinois - INT return for TD

Illinois was staring the worst loss of the week in the face until Scott turned the momentum. Toledo led 19-7 midway through the third and Illinois was reeling. The Rockets wound up retaking the lead late in the game but the Illini hit a huge fourth down pass play and ultimately kicked a winning field goal.

Most Iowa Moment of the Week - Quick start that still ends with 24 points

We mentioned Brian Feretz’s contract last week. Well, the Hawkeyes seemed determined to keep Brian around for next year based on the first quarter on Saturday. Iowa scored a pair of first-quarter touchdowns before turning back into themselves. As it stands, Iowa is currently UNDER the pace it needs to trigger a renewal for Ferentz.

Most Big Ten West Moment of the Week - Squirrel at Beaver Stadium

I know this happened at a Big Ten East stadium. But maybe some West team could get this squirrel to the portal. Great agility and a low center of gravity. At least Tim Beckman would have tried, right?

What We Hated Part 1 - The new clock rules

Less football. Same number of commercials. No major sport in the United States has such a short regular season. Few, if any sport, generates the months of offseason news, talk, trolling, gossip, hate posting, Tweeting, etc. So please, please, please tell me we are having fewer plays per game in a sport with 100 guys on each sideline?

What We Hated Par 2 - Michigan honoring Harbaugh

If you’re like me and aren’t signing up for Peacock until about 11 minutes before this Saturday’s kickoff against Delaware, you may have missed Michigan’s opening offensive play. The Wolverines lined up in a straight line and all held #4 in the air in honor of Jim Harbaugh - who was not at Michigan Stadium because he was…at home…because of a suspension. Similarly, quarterback J.J. McCarthy came off the bus, warmed up, and appeared at the postgame press conference wearing a “Free Harbaugh” t-shirt. Look, I don’t even hate Harbaugh as much as most. I also DO think college athletes should express their opinions and teams should absolutely honor people who have passed away or are sick. While this wasn’t quite as tone deaf as Northwestern’s Fitzgerald-inspired practice t-shirts, it was still a needless “look at us against the world” early season eye roller.

What We Are Looking Forward to the Most - More data points

Some coach whose pant legs were once a logo for this blog always said something about the improvement from Week 1 to Week 2 for college football teams. There was a lot to love about Penn State’s opener on Saturday, while there were other things that will cause some hand wringing. While Saturday’s game likely won’t be as tough as preseason practices, it would be nice to see Penn State be more crisp with its tackling, blitz pickup, and special teams.