Four Big Ten teams — Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan State and Indiana — crossed the 50-point threshold last week.
Michigan State beat Western Michigan, 51-17, Wisconsin pummeled Central Michigan 61-0 and Indiana blanked Eastern Illinois 51-0. That’s a lot of points, but none of those margins were stunning.
Maryland scoring a conference-best 63 points in its 43-point win against No. 21 Syracuse was not only stunning, but record-breaking.
The Terrapins’ margin of victory was the seventh-highest for an unranked team against a ranked team since the creation of the AP Poll in 1936. The Terrapins were rewarded with a No. 21 ranking in the new poll. It’s the first time Maryland has appeared in the AP Poll since it joined the Big Ten in 2014.
“We had a great opportunity to play a ranked team here at home and to come out with a win today,” Maryland head coach Mike Locksley said. “Really proud of our guys ... We strive for excellence in our execution and the thing we ask each guy for is the best version of themselves every time they come out and that collectively gives our team the best chance to be successful.”
In other games last week, Iowa blanked Rutgers 30-0 in the first Big Ten contest of the season. The Scarlet Knights managed only 145 yards and two first downs, and head coach Chris Ash fell to 3-25 in Big Ten games. Rutgers’ performance against Boston College on Sept. 21 could carry job implications for the fourth-year coach.
Ohio State and new quarterback Justin Fields again passed the eye test as a conference favorite with their 42-0 win against Cincinnati. The Buckeyes rolled up 504 yards and 31 first downs. Fields was 20-of-25 passing with two touchdowns and he added another 47 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Michigan and Army played to a 21-21 tie at the end of regulation before a 43-yard, go-ahead field goal by Wolverines kicker Jake Moody iced the double-overtime win.
The win preserved Michigan’s College Football Playoff aspirations but raised numerous questions about its prospects moving forward.
Michigan committed three turnovers against Army to raise its season total to five (106th in FBS). Furthermore, the anticipated Wolverine offense under first-year offensive coordinator Josh Gattis hasn’t lived up to expectations.
The Wolverines gained just 340 yards against Army. Michigan is averaging 396 yards per game through two contests, which ranks No. 72 in FBS. Those numbers will have to improve if the Wolverines are to contend for the Big Ten title.
Brown’s strong start
Meadville High product and Penn State running back Journey Brown continues to be a bright spot for the Nittany Lions. The redshirt freshman has run for 66 yards and two touchdowns through the first two games.
Brown also made his impact on special teams.
The redshirt sophomore tallied 28 yards rushing against Buffalo and also tipped a third-quarter punt attempt by Buffalo’s Evan Finegan. During the play, Brown’s tip of the football caused Finegan to twirl in the air before he dropped to the turf.
Finegan was eventually carted off the field and later underwent surgery to repair a broken fibula and tibia.
Sunday morning, Finegan tweeted, “I have been overwhelmed with the amount of love and support from family, friends, and college football fans all across the country! Your texts have been keeping me positive and encouraging.”
Penn State punter Blake Gillikin offered his support for Finegan via social media.
“Please keep @efinegan40 in your thoughts and prayers today and continue to do so throughout his recovery,” Gillikin tweeted. “God has a plan for you brother, turn this into an unbelievable comeback!”
Colorado erased a 17-point deficit to earn a 34-31 overtime win against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers ended last season on a 4-2 run and earned a few nods this offseason as favorites to win the Big Ten West.
Saturday’s loss has dampened those expectations.
While the Cornhusker defense bailed Nebraska out last week with two TDs against South Alabama, it underwhelmed against the Buffaloes, giving up up 464 yards.
Colorado quarterback Steven Montez accounted for 375 of them.
While second-year head coach Scott Frost wasn’t expected to provide overnight success to a storied, but the embattled program, his rebuilding project appears to still be a work in progress. Nebraska also looked shaky in its 35-21 season-opening win against South Alabama. The Cornhuskers will get one more chance to put it together against non-conference opponent Northern Illinois before they open Big Ten play on Sept. 21 at Illinois.
The Boilermakers rebounded from their season-opening loss at Nevada with a 42-24 victory against Vanderbilt.
Purdue, led by quarterback Elijah Sindelar and wide receiver Rondale Moore, picked up its first win of the young season. Sindelar threw for 509 yards and five touchdowns while Moore caught 13 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns.
The offensive explosion catapulted Purdue to No. 3 in FBS in passing offense (466 yards per game). However, Boilermakers head coach Jeff Brohm isn’t completely content with his offense.
Purdue’s run offense ranks 125th out of 130 in the country.
“We gotta find a way to run the ball more,” Brohm said. “I think we’re aware of that. It just seems like every time we hand it off we got minus-4.”
Saturday’s Big Ten Schedule
Eastern Michigan and Illinois, Noon
No. 21 Maryland at Temple, Noon
No. 6 Ohio State at Indiana, Noon
Pittsburgh at No. 13 Penn State, Noon
Georgia Southern at Minnesota, 3:30 p.m.
UNLV at Northwestern, 3:30 p.m.
Arizona State at No. 18 Michigan State, 4 p.m.
No. 19 Iowa at Iowa State, 4 p.m.
TCU at Purdue, 7:30 p.m.
Northern Illinois at Nebraska, 8 p.m.