Iowa 1-0, Unranked
The Iowa Hawkeyes went into their game Saturday unsure of the direction they were going to go at running back. They prepared for the game against Northern Illinois with three main guys competing for the job as well as two who could fill in if needed. Well, after the game, they may have found their guy. Damon Bullock put on a clinic for the Hawkeyes, and they needed every bit of it to pull out the win. Behind Bullock’s 30 carries for 150 yards and a touchdown, Iowa edged out Northern Illinois in an 18-17 nail biter.
Damon Bullock scored on a late touchdown run with just over two minutes to go to put Iowa up and eventually lead them to victory. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz was just a surprised as anyone about Bullock’s performance.
“We weren’t sure what to expect quite frankly,” he said, “but we are just really happy with the way he performed overall. There are things he can do better and he knows that as well as anybody.”
Iowa relied heavily on the run game due to the constant pressure from Northern Illinois’ pass rush. Quarterback James Vandenberg was sacked six times as their offensive line was exploited by Northern Illinois’ front seven.
When asked about which area needed most work, coach Ferentz stated, “Basically every area, there’s not an area we cannot improve on. That’s going to be paramount for any team in the country, but certainly typically that has been our m.o. We need to get better with each opportunity.”
Iowa will get their chance to show improvement next week when they welcome an in-state opponent in the Iowa State Cyclones.
Michigan 0-1, No. 19 AP/USA Today
“Roll Tide Roll” is Alabama’s motto, and they did just that this weekend. Michigan was dominated by the reigning National Champions from start to finish. Alabama’s defense smothered Denard Robinson and Michigan’s offense forcing them into three turnovers while only giving up 269 yards to what is normally a potent offense.
Alabama used physical play not only on defense, but offense as well. The Crimson Tide rushed for 232 total yards and just pushed around Michigan’s defensive line. Michigan failed to score until late in the second quarter, but the damage was already done as Alabama had put up 31 points by then.
Facing a loss such as this one, one would expect the psyche of the Michigan players to be somewhat negative. However, head coach Brady Hoke believes otherwise.
“I think our guys are mature enough to understand that it was one of twelve guaranteed opportunities we have and we have eleven left,” he said.
Michigan will welcome Air Force next week and hope to avoid an 0-2 start to the season. The Wolverines fell eleven spots in the rankings this week, but hope to bounce back and have a solid season.
Michigan State 1-0, No. 11 AP/USA Today
With Michigan State’s new starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell struggling, the Spartans turned to Le’Veon Bell to help save the day. And indeed he did. Bell rushed for 210 yards accompanied by the Spartans’ only two touchdowns of the game.
The Spartans were pushed to the limit, and in the fourth quarter put up the only score in the second half, and it proved to be the difference. Coach Mark Dantonio was pleased with his team.
“We had a great game last Friday night,” he said. “I thought we came back and played through some adversity, got the win, and that’s what is important at this time.”
The Spartans won’t have to travel far for their upcoming road game. They will be facing off against an in-state opponent in Central Michigan. Central Michigan has said this will be one of the most high profile games they have ever had.
“I think it’s going to be a historic event up there when Michigan State comes to Mount Pleasant,” said Coach Dantonio.
Both teams realize how the level of competition increases when facing an in-state rival. Coach Dantonio realizes this, stating, “There’s a history here. They beat us in ’09. There’s a history here of us having to play and play well to come away with the win.”
The Spartans will have a tough test against Central Michigan. Central Michigan gave up 120 rushing yards last week, and as the Spartans Le’Veon Bell has stepped up, they will have all they can handle. On the contrast, CMU rushed for 324 yards, so the Spartans will also have to figure out a way to stop the run. With similar styles of play, both teams will face tough tests in this contest.
Minnesota 1-0, Unranked
In one of the best games of the Legends division, the Minnesota Gophers pulled out a thrilling 30-27 victory over UNLV in three overtimes. Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray connected with receiver John Rabe for two touchdown passes and kicker Jordan Wettstein sealed the deal with a field goal in the final overtime. Talk about clutch. Coach Jerry Kill was ecstatic with his team’s performance in crunch time.
“It was good to see us make a play to win the game,” he said. “We can build on that and get better.”
Minnesota had a staggering 478 total yards, but let UNLV stick around throughout the game. However, when it counted, Minnesota was able to step up and provide some offensive support.
Coach Kill remained humble seeing several opportunities missed by his team. “We left a lot of points out there on the field,” he said.
It is important for them to keep perspective as it is a long season and one can’t look back at a single win because this will cause focus to be lost.
Minnesota will host New Hampshire next week. New Hampshire is coming off their own 38-17 win over Holy Cross. It will be a good game and Minnesota will look to continue their success on the road to improve over last season.
Nebraska 1-0, No. 16 AP/ 14 USA Today
Nebraska dominated in its season opener against Southern Miss. Taylor Martinez was named co-offensive player of the week for the Big Ten. Martinez threw for 354 yards and a stellar 5 touchdowns.
Nebraska dominated the second half giving up only three points while scoring 21. The offense clicked on every level. The Cornhuskers nearly tripled the offensive output of Southern Miss’ by amassing 632 yards compared to just 260 from the Golden Eagles.
Nebraska will be traveling to face a solid UCLA team next week. UCLA is coming off a big 49-20 win over Rice.
When asked if their players were facing any pressure, Coach Bo Pelini said, “Most of our guys have been there and done that. They have had the chance to be on the road and be in tough environments. That experience always helps.”
If Taylor Martinez can keep up this high-octane offense accompanied by Rex Burkhead, then the Cornhuskers are poised to have a great season. However, the team must take it game by game and the next goal is to go into UCLA and get the victory.
Northwestern 1-0, Unranked
Despite giving up nearly 600 yards and almost handing the game to Syracuse in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats held out and came out with a 42-41.
Kain Colter had a solid game going 14-21 with two touchdown passes. However, after leaving the game, it was replacement Trevor Siemian who came up big for the Wildcats. Siemian went 8-11 and his lone touchdown pass came with 44 seconds left to win the game.
The Wildcats feel this was a huge win and think they have a shot at having a solid year. Coach Pat Fitzgerald feels Northwestern is on the brink of rising to the elite tier of college football.
“We are proud of the fact that we have been to four straight bowl games,” he said. “We believe we are building something here to be a championship level program. Are we there yet? No, but we are working on it and I believe we have the ingredients to do that.”
However, as with most teams, their focus is just on a next-game basis. Next up: the Vanderbilt Commodores. Vanderbilt is coming off a tough loss to No. 9 South Carolina. They played them extremely competitively losing 17-13 in the end.
The Wildcats will have a lot to prepare for. If they want to reach that elite status, they need to continue to win. A win over Vanderbilt will add another quality victory to their résumé. So, next up is the Commodores, and the goal in the back of the Wildcats’ minds, as well as Coach Fitzgerald’s, is a bowl bid.
A mixed bag of emotions filled the seats in Beaver Stadium on Saturday afternoon as football was finally back in Happy Valley. 97,186 fans filled the stadium, attempting to start a new chapter for Penn State football.
A tumultuous offseason was only compounded by a lackluster performance Saturday afternoon, from what’s left of the scholarship players still on the roster.
The Nittany Lions lost 24-14 in their first game of the Bill O’Brien era, but the coach is confident his players will bounce back.
“It’s about playing the next play, playing the next game,” O’Brien said. “ We have to learn from our mistakes.”
The energy and hype surrounding this opening game is leading many to think that Penn State players simply became tired by the fourth quarter, as all that energy began to diminish.
That belief system is one thing O’Brien wont stand by, as he gives credit to Ohio for capitalizing on certain plays and making the necessary ones, as his team just wasn’t able to.
A year of first continues as the Nittany Lions go on the road for the first time. They will travel to Charlottesville to take on the Virginia Cavaliers.
It will be fascinating to see how the road crowd treats the team in making their first road appearance. It’s all curious to see how the players themselves react to traveling for the first time, as they won’t have 97,000-plus cheering them on as they storm out of the tunnel.
Ohio State #14 AP
After a scoreless first quarter, many believed that the team might still be getting used to Urban Meyer’s system, but those beliefs were quickly shot down as the Buckeyes went on to score 56 points.
A big reason for that explosion was sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller, who ended up with 207 passing yards and two touchdowns while also adding 161 yards on the ground and another touchdown.
The performance gave everyone a glimpse as to how good Miller could be under the tutelage of Meyer, who has groomed multiple first round picks at the quarterback position.
One of the touchdowns came on arguably the catch of the year, as sophomore Devin Smith made an acrobatic one-handed catch in the end zone. If you haven’t seen it yet, go check it out.
The catch reminded Meyer of when he was constantly wowed at Buckeye practices by future NFL all-pro Cris Carter.
“I finally saw some still shots of it,” Meyer said. “ And that has to be one of the best catches I’ve ever seen.”
The coach is hoping that this could be a coming out party for the young receiver, as he begins to mature into a more complete player.
This week the Buckeyes will hope to duplicate last week’s performance in their matchup against Central Florida. However, Meyer knows that’s not going to be an easy task.
“This is a Big Ten outfit on defense,” Meyer noted. “We’re going to have our hands full.”
Week two will surely be a test for the Buckeyes, lets see if they’re up for the challenge.
Wisconsin #13 in Coaches and AP Poll
In arguably the biggest surprise of all the Big Ten teams results, the Badgers nearly avoided an upset in Camp Randall Stadium to Northern Iowa in a 26-21 win. Thanks to a late defensive play by Etahn Hemer on fourth down, Wisconsin was able to avoid an upset.
Instead of focusing on only a five-point win, head coach Brett Bielema decided to focus on the positives in his teams win.
“For us to face the adversity that we had to, to win that game, Bielema remarked. “You’d much rather get that in a win then a loss.”
The positive outlook continued during his weekly teleconference as the coach commented on several things his team did well, knowing that there does need to be an improvement from his team going into next week.
Heisman hopeful Montee Ball averaged 3.8 yards a carry on Saturday, almost three yards less then he averaged during the course of last years record setting season. But he was still able to account for 120 rush yards and a touchdown to go along with 30 receiving yards.
To get that kind of production in what’s considered an “off” game, the head coach wasn’t too disappointed.
“If that’s an off day,” Bielema said. “I think we’ll take an off day every day.”
The Badgers also had four coaches on offense who were working together for the first time together in terms of game planning and calling plays which could have played a role in the slow start from the offense.
A trip to the greater northwest awaits the Badgers as they travel to face Oregon State and head coach, Mike Riley.
Bielema noted that he has great respect for Riley as a head coach and knows of the possible difficulties a team from the Midwest has in going over to the west coast.
On Saturday, Wisconsin is going to need to play a better game, as Oregon State will be gunning for the upset in their season opener.
What many pundits thought would be the case with Illinois came to fruition on Saturday. Their offense at times sputtered, which coincided with quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase going down with an ankle injury in the third quarter. However, their defense kept them in the game by only allowing seven points and returning an interception for a touchdown to seal the win.
The star of the defense was linebacker Ashante Williams, who had the pick six to go along with a career high nine tackles. Head coach Tim Beckman was happy with how he played, but not surprised.
“Ashante has had a great camp,” Beckman said. “He definitely prepared to play the game that he played this past week.”
The Illini defense also held Western Michigan to negative rushing yards on Saturday, further proof of how strong this defense can be.
Illinois’ offense is another story, however. With Scheelhaase in the game the offense had accounted for nearly 240 totals yards, but after Riley O’Toole entered the game, the offense only finished with 248.
That offense will need to do more if they want to compete with their week 2 opponents, Arizona State. The Sun Devils put up 63 points in their week 1 thrashing of Northern Arizona.
Beckman noted that he needs his quarterbacks to get their playmakers the ball more in this coming matchup, if they cant; the Illini could be in some trouble.
The Boilermakers face the most difficult opponent any Leaders division team will play in week 2 in the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Coming back from Ireland has been much the talk all week as many think Purdue has an advantage in that the Irish could be suffering from a little bit of jet lag come Saturday afternoon. Head coach Danny Hope knows it could be a factor, but is focused on other aspects of the game.
“We can’t count on that being the difference in the football game,” Hope said. “We’re not going to bank on that.”
Notre Dame has won the past four straight, but many believe the time is right for the Boilermakers to pull off the upset of No. 22 Notre Dame.
Purdue’s defense, which was strong in their win over Eastern Kentucky, will surely have to remain that way. Another break that Boilermakers will catch is that the Irish will still be without starting tailback Cierre Wood, as he serves the final game of his two-game suspension.
After serving a one-game suspension of his own for violating team rules, Caleb Terbush will make the start for Purdue even after sixth-year senior Robert Marve threw for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns.
The time is seemingly right for the Boilermakers, will they take advantage?