AIDAN CHAMPION PREVIEWS WEEK 2 IN THE BIG TEN

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Written by: Aidan Champion

 

Week 1 of the Big Ten conference’s season began with an array of unexpected outcomes all over the board. Let’s dive in to what can be expected for Week 2, as each Big Ten team faces an out-of-conference opponent.

 

Illinois (1-1)

As of now, the season doesn’t look too promising for the Fighting Illini. Though the team defeated a below average opponent in Nebraska in its season opener in Week 0, it dropped its second game to UTSA in a 37-30 defeat.

Quarterback Artur Sitkowski took command of the offense after Brandon Peters suffered a shoulder injury against Nebraska. Sitkowski had an impressive showing, but it wasn’t enough to start the season with a comfortable 2-0 record.

Virginia shut out William and Mary 43-0 in last week’s matchup, and a team coming off a high-scoring performance isn’t exactly what Illinois might want to see right now. It will be a good test for the Fighting Illini, who are going to be looking to forget last week and get back on track.

 

Indiana (0-1)

The Hoosiers are coming off a tough blowout loss against No. 10 Iowa and will looking to get in the win column in their home opener against Idaho this weekend.

QB Michael Penix Jr. had a tough first game back in Week 1. The redshirt junior threw for only 156 yards and was picked off three times in the contest. 

Indiana’s most disappointing area of the game was its rushing yards. The Hoosiers ran for a total of 77 yards compared to Iowa’s 158. The team also received a damaging seven penalties. 

Idaho comes into the contest after toppling Simon Fraser in a 68-0 shutout. The Vandals limited the opponent to just 79 rushing yards, a stat that might unsettle Hoosier fans after last week. 

Despite this, Indiana was tasked with facing one of the Big Ten’s biggest threats in Week 1, and it’s safe to say it would be quite the shock if the Hoosiers managed to drop this game. 

 

Iowa (1-0)

Iowa entered the season as a top contender in the Big Ten, and its dominance over Indiana only strengthened its case as the Hawkeyes moved into the AP top 10. 

This week will be Iowa’s first big test of the season. The Hawkeyes will head on the road to face in-state rival and No. 9 ranked Iowa State in a matchup that will shake up the top 10 in Week 3. 

The Cyclones won a close encounter with Northern Iowa by a score of 16-10. Iowa State was held to just a field goal in the second half, but also held the Panthers scoreless after intermission. The underachieving performance bounced the Cyclones back two spots in the AP rankings, but you can count on the program playing with much more intensity in this rival game.

 

Maryland (1-0)

The road up until October is fairly open for Maryland. The Terrapins come off a narrow win over West Virginia, but QB Taulia Tagovailoa met his season-opening expectations, throwing for 332 yards and three touchdowns. His main target was two-time honorable mention All-Big Ten wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr., who notched 133 receiving yards and one touchdown in Saturday’s contest.

Maryland’s Week 2 matchup with Howard will be an opportunity for more Terrapins to show what they bring to the table, should the team get out to a big lead early on.

 

Michigan (1-0)

The Wolverines trampled Western Michigan in their home opener on Saturday, as QB Cade McNamara led the way with two passing touchdowns and 136 passing yards on nine completions in just three quarters of play.

Despite the cruise to a game 1 blowout, Michigan can’t stay satisfied for long. Washington will be coming into the Big House on Saturday with a huge chip on its shoulder, as the preseason No. 20-ranked Huskies dropped their home opener in a 13-7 loss to Montana.

Most would agree that the Wolverines should come out on top by the end of Saturday’s primetime game, considering both the home-field advantage and the momentum from last week’s victory. 

Washington still has all the assets to play like a top 25 team, though, and it certainly is no Western Michigan. Huskies QB Dylan Morris still managed to throw for 226 yards in last week’s loss, albeit costing the team three interceptions. If Morris can clean up the turnovers and capitalize on long drives, we could have ourselves quite the competition on Saturday.

 

Michigan State (1-0)

Michigan State looked the best it has looked in a long time in its victory over Northwestern in Week 1. The Spartans rotated in a number of players on both offense and defense, allowing for various key players to have a promising opening game.

Kenneth Walker III and company will get to display their talent in front of a true home crowd for the first time since November of 2019 on Saturday.

There is no reason MSU should not dominate Youngstown State from start to finish, but the Penguins will come into East Lansing with nothing to lose.

 

Minnesota (0-1)

The Gophers’ Week 2 matchup will be more of a relief for the team, as Minnesota comes off a well-fought contest with No. 3 Ohio State.

P.J. Fleck’s group will be playing its second consecutive home game on Saturday against Miami of Ohio. 

Minnesota still has a lot of upside and has the potential to finish with a Big Ten winning record. Week 2 will be an opportunity for the Gophers to show its full capability.

 

Nebraska (1-1)

It was a huge bounce-back week for the Huskers in Week 1, as Nebraska took care of Fordham in a 52-7 home-opening blowout. 

It was a big day for Husker receivers. There were four targets that averaged over 15 yards per reception. 

Nebraska will be at home once again this week when it faces Buffalo on Saturday. This will be another occasion where the Huskers could appear to look better than they truly are. 

 

Northwestern (0-1)

The Wildcats are looking to bounce back after a tough home opener against MSU last week, but QB Hunter Johnson and his crew are certainly not to be counted out yet.

Fortunately for NU, it will have another crack at a victory at Ryan Field before it heads on the road this season. The Wildcats will face Indiana State on Saturday, and the opportunity should serve as a confidence boost for NU fans who are in despair after being high on last season’s success.

Expect the Wildcats to come out hot in Week 2.

 

Ohio State (1-0)

The Buckeyes faired well in their season opener, having notched a win over Minnesota in one of the toughest stadiums in the Big Ten. QB C.J. Stroud had himself a night against the Gophers’ defense last Thursday, throwing for just six yards shy of 300 and recording four touchdown passes.

The No. 3-ranked team in the nation could meet its match on Saturday, though, as it anticipates a test from No. 12 Oregon. 

The Ducks did, however, struggle with scraping by Fresno State by merely a single touchdown.

Should Oregon come to Columbus with a more polished performance, the contest could be closer than some may predict.

 

Penn State (1-0)

No. 11 Penn State rightfully moved up eight spots in this week’s rankings, having held a talented Wisconsin offense to just 10 points.

The Nittany Lions were outmatched in nearly every statistic, so it’s important to not get too high on the team just yet.

A contest with Ball State in its home opener should allow for more exposure of Penn State’s offense, especially in the rushing game. The Nittany Lions gained just 71 yards on rushing in Week 1.

 

Purdue (1-0)

Purdue did what it had to in Week 1 against Oregon State, and that was to obviously to find a way to start the season 1-0. 

It wasn’t pretty at times, though, as the Boilermakers’ margin could have been much wider had it not been for missed assignments on the offensive line and critical dropped passes.

Week 2’s game against UConn will serve as a chance for Purdue to make adjustments and clean up the mistakes. The team is still in a good position to make some noise in the Big Ten.

 

Rutgers (1-0)

The Scarlet Knights completely handled Temple in a 61-14 vanquishing on Saturday, earning its fourth-straight 1-0 start to the season.

Week 2 will be a test, though, as Syracuse will be hosting its home-opener in front of a very rowdy crowd of Orange. 

If Rutgers can come out with the same intensity it did out of the gates against Temple, it could be looking at a strong 2-0 start at the end of the weekend.

 

Wisconsin (0-1)

No. 18 Wisconsin had high hopes going into this season, but a low-scoring 16-10 loss to Penn State in Week 1 was a bit alarming for the Badger faithful.

One of the biggest questions surrounding the matchup was the absence of Wisconsin running back Jalen Berger. The Badgers certainly could have used his running last Saturday.

The mystery behind Berger is still present going into Week 2, but it shouldn’t have an effect on what is likely to be a dominating Badger performance against Eastern Michigan. 

QB Graham Mertz will have to clean up the turnovers, though, after throwing two interceptions against Penn State.

 

 

Written by: Aidan Champion

Aidan is an MSU Journalism Student and Spartan Football writer for: impact89fm.org

 

Photo Courtesy of nfldraftdiamonds.com

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