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Week Two Expectations And Reality: Big Ten

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Two Big Ten teams overachieved by a total of 27 points. Five underachieved by a total of 117 points. If not for the Big East, the B1G would be the clear projections loser this week.

Exceeded Expectations

Wisconsin (Proj. Scoring Margin: +19.3 | Actual Scoring Margin: +35 | Diff: +15.7)

At this point, I'm not sure how much better Oregon State is than UNLV, but Wisconsin still handled the Beavers with ease. Quarterback Russell Wilson averaged a healthy 8.2 yards per pass attempt, while Montee Ball and James White ran for 171 yards over 35 carries (4.9 per carry) and scored twice. Ball had 118. The defense, meanwhile, did just fine against an OSU offense missing leading rusher Malcolm Agnew. The Beavers averaged just 5.3 yards per pass attempt, and running back Jordan Jenkins produced all of 20 yards. Northern Illinois and South Dakota come to Camp Randall over the next two weekends before the Badgers actually face a real challenge: Nebraska visits on October 1.

Michigan State (Proj. Scoring Margin: +32.2 | Actual Scoring Margin: +44 | Diff: +11.8)

It's hard to call a 44-point win over dreadful Florida Atlantic "overachieving" in any way -- just about any BCS conference team should be able to pull off that margin (poor Howard Schnellenberger's final team is one of his worst). Still, the Spartans struck quickly and put this one out of reach after allowing Youngstown State to hang around a while last week. Poor FAU just has nothing -- they gained just 48 yards in 33 total plays (only one of their 11 drives contained more than three plays, and 10 ended in punts), and including sacks, 16 pass attempts netted ONE YARD. Yuck. FAU's offensive MVP: Xavier Stinson ... who had two carries for 14 yards. Michigan State's offense coasted -- Kirk Cousins averaged 8.0 yards per pass attempt and completed 76% of his passes. Easy, peasy.

Just About Right

Indiana (Proj. Scoring Margin: -8.3 | Actual Scoring Margin: -3 | Diff: +5.3)

It's hard to call a home loss to Virginia "just about right," but ... it was. Nothing was expected of Indiana in Kevin Wilson's first season, and so far, they've produced nothing, losing to Ball State and the Hoos. The Hoosiers can't wait for star commit Gunner Kiel to come to town -- interim QB Edward Wright-Baker completed 16 of 30 passes and averaged 4.5 yards per attempt with a pick and three sacks. The only reason this game was close was because Virginia gave away as much as they gained in the turnovers department -- UVa had four turnovers worth 16.6 EqPts, while Indiana had three worth 14.8.

Penn State (Proj. Scoring Margin: -18.8 | Actual Scoring Margin: -16 | Diff: -2.8)

Quarterback Rob Bolden actually improved his performance from last week's nothingness -- he completed only 11 of 29 passes for 144 yards, a pick, and 5.0 yards per attempt, but improvement is improvement. Matt McGloin, meanwhile, was a horror show: 1-for-10 for 0 yards. Derek Moye was a case study in the necessity of catch rates: his three catches for 51 yards seem like a decent total, until you realize that he was targeted 11 times and produced only those three catches. When you combine everything I just said with the fact that Alabama had a +12.1 Turnover Points margin ... well, I have no idea how this game was within 16 points.

Michigan (Proj. Scoring Margin: +1.6 | Actual Scoring Margin: +4 | Diff: +2.4)

I really, really like Michigan coach Brady Hoke. UM beat Notre Dame, 35-31, and after an incredibly dramatic ending that featured three separated comebacks in the last two minutes and a game-winning, three-play, 80-yard, 30-second drive by the Wolverines, Hoke was cornered by Erin Andrews for comment. Instead of talking about the excitement of the moment, all he wanted to discuss was how much improvement the Wolverines still have to do. And he was quite right. Michigan was outgained, 513-452, and produced just seven points, two turnovers and five punts in their first eight possessions. They caught fire in the fourth quarter, however. Their final five drives saw 20 plays, 322 yards, and 28 points. Denard Robinson completed less than 50% of his passes, but his 11 completions went for 338 yards and four touchdowns. Throw in 16 carries for 108 yards, and thanks to the final 20 minutes, his stat line was fantastic. On the downside, Michigan running backs produced 10 yards in eight carries, and again, Notre Dame gained 513 yards. There were plenty of pluses and minuses ... but damn, was that a fun ending.


Purdue (Proj. Scoring Margin: +7.3 | Actual Scoring Margin: -2 | Diff: -9.3)

Last week, Purdue blocked a field goal at the buzzer to beat Middle Tennessee. This week, Rice blocked a Purdue field goal at the buzzer to preserve a 24-22 upset win. Between the field goal and a turnover on downs at the Rice 2, the Boilers blew their chance to win despite a yardage advantage of 366 to 352. Antavian Edison had 76 yards over eight targets and four catches, but quarterback Caleb TerBush averaged just 4.8 yards per pass attempt thanks to four killer sacks.

Nebraska (Proj. Scoring Margin: +28.4 | Actual Scoring Margin: +13 | Diff: -15.4)

Nebraska did beat Fresno State by double digits (42-29), but there is reason for concern. First of all, the Husker defense allowed 444 yards (5.5 per play) and registered zero tackles for loss. Fresno running back Robbie Rouse rushed for 169 yards (4.7 per carry). Meanwhile, NU's major offensive issues from last year continued: the Huskers fumbled three times (losing none), and their passing game was very much all-or-nothing (two interceptions, a 48% completion rate ... and three completions of over 40 yards). Taylor Martinez ended up with 170 pre-sack rushing yards and 219 passing yards, which was enough to get the job done.

Iowa (Proj. Scoring Margin: +20.8 | Actual Scoring Margin: 0 in overtime, -3 in overtime | Diff: -20.8)

Look, Iowa. I good to you. I stick up for you. If you no help me now (a 44-41 loss to Iowa State despite 140 yards from Marcus Coker and 12 tackles, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a PBU from end Christian Kirksey), say f*** you Iowa, I do it myself.

(Okay, I have no idea what "I do it myself" means in this context, but I don't write the lines, I just recite them.)

Ohio State (Proj. Scoring Margin: +35.8 | Actual Scoring Margin: +5 | Diff: -30.8)

Bullet: dodged. Ohio State didn't miss their infinite suspended players against the junior varsity squad known as Akron last week, but Toledo's a living, breathing football team, and they almost tripped up the Buckeyes. Ohio State gained 124 yards in 12 plays over their first three drives, but averaged just 3.4 per play (52 for 177) afterward. Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith combined to gain just 100 yards in 27 carries (3.7 per carry), and Toledo drove into the Ohio State red zone with a chance to win in the final seconds despite a) averaging just 5.8 yards per pass attempt, b) averaging just 1.5 yards per rush, c) committing 14 penalties to Ohio State's two, and d) converting zero third downs until the final drive. Ohio State has to go to Florida to face a Miami team that might actually have a pulse despite the recent scandals. I'm not sure quarterback Joe Bauserman and company have what it takes to get the job done anymore.

Minnesota (Proj. Scoring Margin: +30.9 | Actual Scoring Margin: -7 | Diff: -37.9)

Obviously and justifiably, the focus of this game moved toward the seizure Minnesota coach Jerry Kill suffered on the sidelines late in the game. (He is listed in stable condition now.) To the extent that it actually matters right now, the game itself was a momentous accomplishment for a previously lifeless NMSU program. Aggie quarterback Andrew Manley (20-for-31, 288 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT, 0 sacks) averaged 9.3 yards per pass attempt, and though NMSU did almost all of their damage at the start of the game -- 235 yards in 24 plays over their first five drives, followed by 186 yards over 44 plays the rest of the way -- they pulled out a 10-play, 94-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter to pull out a 28-21 win.

Played an FCS Opponent


You never want to overreact when a team dominates a cupcake, but with so many teams struggling in such games, it certainly means something that Illinois was able to crush South Dakota State, 56-3, a week after mostly dominating a downright salty Arkansas State team. The Illini outgained South Dakota State by a mere 423 yards (519 to 96). Backs Troy Pollard, Donovonn Young and Jason Ford gained 214 yards on 26 carries, and Nathan Scheelhaase averaged 12.8 yards per pass attempts while throwing in 93 rushing yards for good measure. Nine Illini defenders had at least 0.5 TFL. Again, this means almost nothing ... but only almost. Illinois has looked good so far.


In looking at the box score of Northwestern's 42-21 win over Eastern Illinois, you can almost be misled by the fact that the Wildcats outgained EIU by only 96 yards (437 to 341). But the Panthers gained 193 yards in their last three drives versus the NU scrubs. This wasn't close. Quarterback Kain Colster gained 119 rushing yards (8.5 per carry) and 94 passing yards (6.7 per attempt) in playing perfect ball control, while backs Treyvon Green and Jacob Schmidt combined for 127 yards on 25 carries. Explosiveness is an issue for NU -- it always is -- but they're playing Northwestern Brand football, and they're 2-0.