Each week this season we will give you a synopsis of how our conference opponents did in their games. The focus will be larger on those games that have greater importance on the outcome of the season. For example, eight of this week’s 13 games were against Group of 5 opponents (half of those were against Mid-American Conference teams).
In week one, there was only one conference game, which we will discuss in some detail. We will also go deeper into games against other Power 5 opponents. Obviously we will not ignore any of the games that our brethren played, but the focus will be on those of greater import than those against Group of 5 opponents. So, here we go:
Minnesota 17 Buffalo 7
The PJ Fleck Era did not get off to an auspicious start. Taking a one-touchdown lead into the second quarter, the game was a grinding affair for the most part, moving the ball, but not scoring. Despite some kicking issues (missing two out of three field goal attempts), the final try was the icing on the cake, putting away the Bulls in the fourth quarter with a 17-7 final score. The most exciting part of the game actually was P.J. Fleck running the team onto the field.
However, interestingly, with the win, Fleck becomes the first new Gophers coach in 30 years to win their first game with the team.
Ohio State 49 Indiana 21
Many saw this divisional rivalry game as an early-season measure of both of these teams. Indiana has been talked up in many places as having a breakout season, with the expectation they will reach their third consecutive bowl game, something they have never done in their history.
Additionally, the recently-fired IU head coach Kevin Wilson was hired over the off-season to be the Buckeye Offensive Coordinator, so the home Hoosier crowd wanted to see their boys embarrass his homecoming in Bloomington.
The first quarter was Indiana giving the Buckeyes all they could handle. The second quarter died not begin any better, with Indiana stopping Ohio State on a 3rd and short play, forcing them to punt. At halftime, the score was 14-13 Indiana. That was the type of see- saw that continued until halfway through the third quarter, when the Hoosiers went up 21-20. That was it for Indiana, however, as the Buckeyes reeled off 29 straight points, winning it going away 49-21.
The game was won on the back of true freshman J.K. Dobbins, who had 29 rushes for 181 yards.
Wisconsin 59 Utah State 10
Wisconsin started horribly, and soon let Utah State score 10 unanswered points in the first quarter. Things didn't look much better in the second quarter, either. After that, things picked up for the Badgers, and they eventually ran away with it, reeling off 59 unanswered points to take their home opener 59-10. Below is the passing play that put the Badgers up for good:
Michigan State 35 Bowling Green 10
In a crazy game that saw all kinds of swings of emotion, including a 40 yard 3rd down conversion, and goal line fumble, and more, the Spartans won against a decidedly weak Bowling Green squad.
Penn State 52 Akron 0
The defending B1G Conference Champ beat a MAC opponent that had a 5-7 record last season. There’s noting more to say here. Move along...
Iowa 24 Wyoming 3
After carrying a 3-0 lead though 2⁄3 of the first half, Iowa took over and scored two touch downs in the last five minutes of the half to take a 14-3 lead into the intermission. They added another TD and field goal in the second half to come away with the 24-3 victory over their Mountain West foe.
However, the biggest muffed play all day was the Wyoming punter. I won’t even describe it, you just have to watch it:
You could watch every game the rest of the season, and you might not see this happen again. pic.twitter.com/X8pUGqltbO— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) September 2, 2017
Illinois 24 Ball State 21
This game was the nail-biter of the weekend for games that a B1G team was supposed to win, but was doing their best to hand the game to their opponent. Illinois frankly did not look good at all in this game, and trailed 21-16 well into the 4th quarter. A TD at 2:06 in the 4th quarter finally sealed the deal, and Illinois survived a real scare.
Maryland 51 Texas 41
Wow, this was a high-scoring affair! Maryland was ahead 30-14 at the half, but Texas came storming back in the 3rd quarter, scoring 20 points to only seven for the Terps. However, the fans in Austin were not giving new Longhorn Head Coach Tom Herman any slack in his debut. Boos filled the stadium before halftime, and fans were actually throwing trash onto the field before the end of the game. After scoring the first touchdown of the game, Texas let the Terrapins rattle off the next 27 points. In the second half Texas was able to close the gap to three, with Maryland leading 37-34, but it didn’t get any closer than that for the rest of the game.
Michigan 33 Florida 17
This game got a lot of focus prior to playing not only due to the weight of both teams playing, but both teams had their own controversies. Florida made it the Suspension Bowl, due to 10 of there players missing the game, with the word being they had accepted illegal benefits. With Michigan it was (particularly in NJ) due to the refusal of Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh’s refusal to release his roster until just before the game. Oh, yeah, there also was a football game.
And in what seemed to be the theme of the weekend, the Wolverines came back from a 17-13 halftime deficit to score 20 unanswered points to put Michigan up over the hapless and offensive-challenged Florida Gators, 33-17.
Northwestern 31 Nevada 20
One of the few constants of week one is the seeming inability of stronger teams to move the ball early against an inferior foe. The same seemed to be the case when Northwestern hosted Nevada in Evanston on Saturday. It took a pair of late touchdowns by Wildcat QB Clayton Thorson to top Nevada 31-20. As the tweet below suggests, Thorson can throw him some bombs!
Louisville 35 Purdue 28
This might have been one of the best games of the weekend. Purdue gave everything they had to Louisville could handle, and then some. The lead went back and forth, with six lead changes overall, until the #16 Cardinals finally overcame their own mistakes Saturday night in Indianapolis and pulled out a 35-28 win. However, kudos to the Boilermakers, who really looked solid and able to take anything Louisville tried to hand them, and a great opening for Purdue’s new head coach Jeff Brohm.
Nebraska 43 Arkansas State 36
This was a game in which it seemed the defense forgot to show up for the game on both teams. It wasn’t until the 4th quarter that Nebraska finally put a little distance between the teams, and pulled away. A final ASU touchdown in the last minute didn’t change anything except close the scoring differential one more time in this game that I’m sure Husker’s coach Mike Riley will be glad to move along and put behind him.
Overall, a strong outing by the conference in week one. The conference as a whole went 10-2 in their OOC games, and the only losses (Purdue and Rutgers) were both unranked teams losing to ranked (#16 Louisville and #8 Washington, respectively) teams. For Rutgers, there are lessons they can take away from the loss to the Huskies that can help them in Big Ten play this season. Until next week....