Minnesota 30, UNLV 27
The game that wouldn’t end finally did in its third overtime. The final score is offensively misleading because the score was 13-13 after the final quarter of regulation football. The script played out as expected for the Gophers, so it’s impossible to determine where they stand in relation to their Big Ten brethren. MarQueis Gray was 17-of-30 passing for 269 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for an additional 68 yards – so Gray did what he does. The rest becomes murky because UNLV isn’t supposed to be very good, and it took four quarters + three starts at the 25 for Minnesota to win. But, for a program in the dumps, a win is a win and it’s better to be 1-0 than 0-1.
#13 Michigan State 17, #24 Boise State 13
My favorite game from this past weekend proved two things: Boise State isn’t going away, and Michigan State’s Leveon Bell is as advertised. Bell touched the ball 50 times for 270 yards and two touchdowns in a game that didn’t feature offense in any other direction. At 245 pounds Bell could easily be nicknamed “The Bell Cow”, except he has extremely quick feet and is elusive in space. Michigan State needs to diversify the offense and junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell needs to improve his accuracy quickly (0 TDs, 3 INTs) but the defense and Bell give this team a lot of room to error.
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Northwestern 42, Syracuse 41
Tell me if this rings a bell: Northwestern goes up 35-13, then gives up 28 unanswered points, then finally comes back to win the game in the last drive. Their secondary still appears to be a sieve, allowing 470 passing yards and four touchdowns to Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib, but when the Wildcats need plays they create them.
#18 Ohio State 56, Miami (OH) 10
Urban directed Ohio State to more points than it scored in any one game last year, but that was going to happen sooner or later. Urban Meyer can coach offense, and Ohio State already has an impressive defense. If any team in the Big Ten made a statement on Saturday it was Ohio State; they are back in business on both sides of the ball and could be the conference’s best (although sanctioned) team. Meyer unleashed quarterback Braxton Miller for the first time and he responded with 161 rushing yards and a touchdown. He also easily passed for 207 and two touchdowns.
Ohio 24, Penn State 14
I feel like I’m beating a dead horse here. Penn State is not going to be good, Ohio proved it, Virginia will probably further prove it this weekend. Penn State wasn’t talent laden before their best offensive players left the team, and now they are void of any dangerous player. They are going to find it increasingly tough to score points now that O’Brien’s game film is making the rounds, and the defense will get worse the longer it stays on the field against deeper teams.
#17 Nebraska 49, Southern Miss 20
I knew Southern Mississippi wasn’t going to stop the run, but who knew Taylor Martinez would improve enough to throw for 354 yards and five touchdowns? If Martinez can stay consistent in the pocket this year Nebraska will be impossible to stop on offense. His motion is still too inconsistent to be accurate in the long run, but he does look better and is going through his progressions like a veteran. Rex Burkhead only received three carries for 68 yards and a touchdown. Southern Miss. is a good football team, so here come the Huskers!
Illinois 24, Western Michigan 7
The Illini defense picked up where it left off last year: being dominant along the defensive front and having talented linebackers and secondary players to clean up the mess. Michael Buchanan is a stud at defensive end, finishing with a sack, two tackles for loss and an interception. The Illini offense is another story. The offensive line didn’t move anybody all day and the wide receivers and quarterbacks don’t have the mojo (or talent) to make a huge difference without a solid running game.
#12 Wisconsin 26, Northern Iowa 21
Wisconsin’s ranking may take a hit because this was a real surprise. Even with the turnover I expected the Badgers to roll. The offensive line should gel as the season progresses, but this is a real cause for concern moving forward in Madison. Russell Wilson is starting in Seattle, so maybe he it will turn out that he really is irreplaceable.
Iowa 18, Northern Illinois 17
Damon Bullock carried the ball 30 times for 150 yards and a touchdown for Iowa, who Hawkeyed the hell out of Northern Illinois. They mottled up the offensive and defensive looks and managed to slip by a good opponent in Soldier Field.
Purdue 48, Eastern Kentucky 6
No TerBush, no problem. Robert Marve stepped in to quarterback Purdue and finished 30-for-38 for 295 and three touchdowns. The Boilermakers rolled an inferior opponent, setting them up nicely for a big matchup in South Bend next weekend.
Indiana 24, Indiana State 17
Indiana’s victory ended a nine-game losing streak, so in earnest this was a big win. It was closer than it should have been, but a win is a win when your program is as poor as the Hoosiers. Tre Roberson continued to develop as a passer this offseason and put those skills on display with a high percentage effort.
#2 Alabama 41, #8 Michigan 14
Michigan isn’t ready to box with the best. Alabama made a laugher of the Wolverines in the first quarter. Besides for the beatdown, Michigan also lost a very good player for the year in sophomore cornerback Blake Countess.
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