Clearing the Dust: Big Ten Football Week Two

September 13, 2009

Written by Jon Miller

Best of the Big Ten:  Solid showing against USC.  They did very good against what many consider to be the best offensive line in the country.  Terrelle Pryor’s throwing ability is still suspect, but his escapability is going to give the Big Ten fits again this year, and when plays break down due to his feet, he doesn’t have to be a pinpoint thrower to find wide open receivers on jailbreak plays.  But his accuracy makes Vince Young look like Steve Young at this point in time in career.  However, it might be good enough to win another Big Ten title this year.  He is still the best playmaker in the league.  Pete Carroll is still undefeated against the Big Ten.  PS:  How many true freshmen QB’s starting their first road game in the Shoe have ever won?  Matt Barkley might be the only one.

Second Best: Michigan.  Their win against Notre Dame was a lot of fun to watch.  This is a team that is going to get better as the season goes on.  They still have to win on the road with a freshman quarterback, and Tate Forcier’s first road start comes the week before he visits Kinnick when they travel to Michigan State.  Still, they were impressive today.  How good is Notre Dame’s defense?  I am not sure, but they did shut out Nevada last week, which was impressive.  I am starting to buy into the notion that if you are going to beat Michigan, you had better do it this year.

Worst of the Big Ten:  Michigan State, one week after an impressive win on opening day, they have an inexplicable loss.  This was the Michigan State of old, if you will.  A program that was helter skelter, never knowing which squad would show up, one that could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  They had this game won, but they allowed an onside kick to get recovered, Central Michigan missed a potential game winning field goal, but the Spartans were offsides and lost on the re-kick.  They also allowed over 400 yards of offense to a team that didn’t break 200 the week before at Arizona.  Talented CMU QB Dan LeFevour barely broke 100 yards passing against Arizona, but he shredded the Michigan State defense for 328.  Previous Michigan State teams lacked chemistry and would folk up like tent after a loss like this.  We’ll see if Mark Dantonio can get his team to bounce back next week at Notre Dame, a club that needs this win, too.  The outright loss to Eastern Michigan isn’t on par with Virginia losing to William & Mary, but how they lost it was bad.

The Jury Is Still Out:  Minnesota.  They beat Air Force 20-13 after entering the fourth quarter trailing 10-3.  They tied it up, and then their defense returned a fumble 51-yards to go up seven.  Air Force had 24 first downs to just 14 for Minnesota, and the Academy also had more total yards, won the time of possession battle and converted 12-21 third downs to just 4-11 for the Gophers.  Plus Minnesota’s home gold jersey’s looked hideous; like Iowa open practice gold jersey hideous.  Their new stadium looks great, but this team was fortunate to win for the second week in a row; they beat Syracuse in overtime last year.

The Jury Is Still Out Part Two
:  Penn State:  78 yards rushing on 35 carries at home against Syracuse?  Over 70 passing attempts in two weeks for Darryl Clark against far inferior competition?  41 yards rushing on 12 carries for Evan Royster?  Penn State will have a good record this year, but I remain unconvinced that it will because they are a great team; I just don’t think they are.  Their offensive line concerns are being somewhat masked by those weak teams, but against Syracuse, you have to have more than 78 yards rushing at home and more than just 318 yards of total offense.  Paper Lions?  We won’t know until Iowa pays them a visit in two weeks, as they play Temple at home next week.

Gut Check of the Week
:  Wisconsin.  They beat Fresno State by a field goal in double overtime at home.  Over 40 Badgers were stricken with flu-like systems this week and many starters were on the bench in this game.  Fresno always has athletes, as they are the West Coast’s version of Boys Town.  I am still uncertain as to how good this team is, and they do have holes, but this was a solid win given the circumstances.

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Question of the Week:  Can Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka beat you with his arm?  He was just 14-24 for 158 yards, no scores and an interception against Eastern Michigan, as the Wildcats escaped with a three point win at home.  Even though CJ Bacher’s career ended erratically, he could beat you throwing it.  Kafka is a threat with his legs, but his arm?  Not sure about that.

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Conference Reset:  Jon Miller’s Big 10 Power Poll After Week Two

1-Ohio State:  If Terrelle Pryor could throw it…I don’t want to think about that
2-Michigan:  They may not finish here, but after yesterday’s win, they deserve it
3-Penn State:  I guess until they are tested, we won’t really know
4-Iowa:  700+ yards for UNI this week; nation won’t care or notice
5-Michigan State:  That’s why they’re Michigan State
6-Wisconsin:  Not a great team, but showed great heart this week
7-Northwestern:  Perhaps not as pesky this season than in years past
8-Illinois:  No Juice this week; Eddie McGee under center in D1-AA rout
9-Purdue:  Better than I thought, good showing at Oregon
10-Minnesota:  Not much over 200 yards rushing in two weeks
11-Indiana:  With a bullet

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