2014 BIG Ten – Week 2
September 6, 2014
BIG games this week across the board…
The Big Ten went 8-5 in Week 2, and we learned some things in the process. Brace yourself; this won’t be pretty.
Aside from Wisconsin-LSU, the rest of the Big Ten games were blowouts, narrow escapes against inferior teams, or upset losses. Week 2, I argued, would show what the Big Ten was capable of. Oh, did it ever.
For the second straight week, the Fightin’ Illini came back to snag a victory. This week, it was against stingy Western Kentucky.
WKU led 17-14 at the half, but then Wes Lunt carried the load, or should we say passed the load, by going for 456. Illinois scored three times to take a 42-27 lead in the fourth quarter and survive a last-minute score by the Hilltoppers. It’s not pretty, but Tim Beckman’s team is 2-0.
WEST LAFAYETTE, IN. – a sloppy loss for the Boilermakers at home against the MAC.
It was the (Cooper) Rush / (Thomas) Rawls show for the Chippewas (2-0). Rush tossed 2 TD passes, while Rawls ran for two. He finished the game with 31 carries for 155 yards, while Rush finished 11 of 16 for 172 yards with one interception.
It wasn’t even close. Another spark for the visitors came from former Mount Carmel player, Brandon Greer, who returned a 57-yard interception back for the for the first score of the game. Then in about 2-mintues later, Anthony Rice broke a tackle and scored on a 65-yard catch-and-run (14-0).
The Boilermakers got on the board when Danny Etling took the ball in from 4 yards out making the score 14-7. A few series later Rawls scored from two-yards out before halftime making it 21-7. Home team couldn’t get any closer than that.
The Chippewas beat a Big Ten foe for the second time in three seasons and improved to 6-23 against teams currently in the conference.
Purdue (1-1) failed to get its first 2-0 start since 2007 and still hasn’t opened a season with back-to-back wins over Football Bowl Subdivision opponents since 2005.
The Scarlet Knights led 31-7 at the half. Despite the late scores and routinely porous defense, Rutgers was the most impressive of the noon teams.
Akron 3, Penn State 21
You can say Penn State played down to visiting Akron, as they only had a 7-0 lead at halftime, but the Nitanny Lions got their roar in the second half to get the W.
McNeese State 24, Nebraska 31
Ameer Abdullah came to the rescue for Nebraska in an incredible last-minute touchdown reception saving the Cornhuskers from total embarrassment against McNeese State.
The Cornhuskers let McNeese State hang around far longer than they should have. Leading 14-7 in the second quarter, Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw a lazy out route that McNeese returned 98 yards for a tying score. Nebraska’s offensive line couldn’t give Abdullah holes, and McNeese tied it at 24 with four minutes remaining. With only 20 seconds remaining, Abdullah had a sensational tackle-breaking run after catch to spare Nebraska from ignominy.
NOTE: In the absence of Braxton Miller, the “Abdullah for Big Ten MVP” bandwagon is looking pretty good.
Western Illinois 37, Wisconsin 3
The game began in a weird fashion with a safety on Western Illinois’ opening kickoff return. The Badgers led 2-0 for most of the half, as neither Melvin Gordon (17 carries for 38 yards) nor Tanner McEvoy could produce. At least McEvoy recovered after halftime, completing 17 passes in a row and finishing with three touchdowns, but it was a shaky performance for Wisconsin.
Wisconsin seemed a little out of sorts through the entire first half, but recovered in the second half to produce a deceptively perilous final score.
Ball State 13, Iowa 17
Maryland 24, USF 17
Maryland was supposed to beat South Florida easily. Instead, the Terrapins had six giveaways and had to rely on a blocked punt in the fourth quarter to put away the Bulls.
Middle Tennessee 24, Minnesota 35
Once again Minnesota was out-gained by an opponent, and once again it won by double digits. Minnesota built a 28-0 lead and rode out a rough second half to beat Middle Tennessee.
Unlike Iowa, Minnesota coaches know their strengths (David Cobb, their star running back, is a powerful workhorse) and weaknesses (Mitch Leidner can’t pass) and craft an optimal offense around those limitations. It’s going to get tiring calling the Golden Gophers opportunistic every week.
In spite of Northwestern’s collapse against Cal in the season opener, the Wildcats were a 5 point favorite coming into this game. Go figure!
Like last week, the Wildcats were down early to a 23-7 lead and just couldn’t come back. In short, Northwestern was trounced on the line of scrimmage by a MAC team, an awful sign for Big Ten play.
The Ducks were trailing in the third quarter, 27-18, against Michigan State until Marcus Mariota flipped the ball to Royce Freeman (89 yards, 2 scores) and the flood gates opened up. From here, they went on to score the first of four unanswered touchdowns to knock out the Big Ten from a west coast victory.
Mariota went 17/28 for 318 and three touchdowns.
Michigan State was lead by 29/47 for 343 and 2 TDs / 2 INTs.
The Irish are for real. After seeing them week one against Rice, there game play was lowered saying who they played, but tonight, whew…. the Irish jumped out early and often knocking off what many thought was the hottest team in the Big Ten in a complete shutout.
Everything went Notre Dame’s way.
Wolverine’s Devin Gardner had four giveaways, including a pick six at the final whistle that didn’t count in the final score and resulted in him getting dinged up. Michigan running backs averaged 2.9 yards per carry.
This game also marks the last game in the Michigan-Notre Dame series, and possibly the rivalry.
NOTE: the Wolverines scoreless for the first time in 30 years.
Michael Brewer passed for two touchdowns on Saturday night and Virginia Tech’s defense stood tough at the end as the Hokies stunned the eighth-ranked Buckeyes 35-21.
”I still have confidence that we have enough skill on this football team to get by people,” Meyer said.
Indiana Bye Week
Stay tuned for next week when the Big Ten’s Week 2 winners try to restore a shred of the conference’s credibility. Iowa-Iowa State, Maryland-West Virginia, Minnesota-TCU, Illinois-Washington and the very first Big Ten game in Rutgers history ought to be worth watching.
“BIG TEN HELMET STICKERS 4 the Week”
OFFENSE: Wes Lunt, Illinois
DEFENSE: Drew Ott, Iowa
SPECIAL TEAMS: N/A
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