The first weekend of 2013 college football is in the record books and it was wins across the board for the Leaders division, stuff minus one team. I’m lookin at you, sovaldi sale Purdue. The Boilermakers got crushed by the Cincinnati Bearcats in a brutal 42-7 loss, and they’ll go after another one of our less highly-ranked brethren this weekend when they take on Illinois (Noon on ESPN2.) Could be some bearcat scratch fever goin’ on up in here.
But Wisconsin blew out the Minutemen, Penn State beat Syracuse in a game that took off in the second half and offered up an ending that kept us watching, and Ohio State handily dismissed Buffalo, 40-20. And I gotta give a shout out to Indiana, who led the nation – that’s nation – in scoring by putting up 73 points against Indiana State last weekend. We don’t yet know just how improved the Hoosiers’ improved game is this year but for their loss-beleagured fans, that’s a hell of a great way to start your season.
There’s a sense of a small panic in the air among B1G fans, but this is your friendly reminder that it’s premature. No, we did not see some of the blowout, total domination scores we may have expected (demanded) but we did see a lot of positive in every game and overall the conference looks to be improving. Remember that teams and players are just figuring things out – they use these low-level match-ups to work out mistakes and adjust.
Our expectations and the bar we’ve set have changed too, for the way bigger and higher – we all want to be or beat Alabama. I know the nails-on-chalkboard SEC chant is unbearable for even one season longer, which bolsters a sense of urgency, but don’t get all Mark May before the second week even kicks off. Patience, young grasshopper.
11:00Am on BTN (Big Ten Network): Eastern Michigan University at Penn State
Why you should care: Penn State is riding high from their win against a good opponent in an away game and in the security that the Hackenberg Era has begun and looks to be a great one.
True freshman and starting QB Christian Hackenberg gave us a glimpse as to why he was such a highly-touted recruit by being accurate all day, showing poise in the pocket and throwing for 278 yards and two touchdowns in his very first college game ever. If you haven’t seen his 54-yard touchdown bomb to Geno Lewis, go youtube it. Sure, he’s got a lot of growing to do, but he showed a lot of promise.
The game didn’t really get interesting until the second half, when star wide receiver Allen Robinson came in after riding out a PSU-invoked first half suspension (alluded to being for disciplinary reasons.) Robinson made all the difference, compiling seven receptions and 133 receiving yards, his third-highest yardage ever recorded in a game.
EMU is coming off a 2-10 season and shouldn’t be much of a threat to the Lions at home. PSU needs to reduce turnovers, which almost cost them the Syracuse game, and improve on their 3rd down conversions. And watch out for the classic trap game – which really, all B1G teams need to do this weekend against their weaker opponents.
What to watch for: QB Hackenberg. Big numbers from WR Robinson. If RB Zach Zwinak can live up to his previous hype.
11:00 a.m. on BTN: Tennessee Tech at Wisconsin
Why you should care: Yes, Wisconsin, you blew out the Minutmen, who gave up an average 40 points per game last season. Congrats on crushing a really bad team while looking like your dominating old selves. It was good to see you keep your foot on the gas, but there are still a lot of miles to go til we know what’s really under the hood.
Quarterback Joel Stave performed well against UMass, throwing for 197 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Melvin Gordon racked up 144 rush yards and a touchdown along with RB James White’s143 yards. The Badgers didn’t make many mistakes, they caused turnovers and disrupted the quarterback. If Wisconsin can keep up this level of performance, skill and discipline, Coach Anderson could have a very good first year.
The Golden Eagles went 3-8 last season, but do have a dual-threat quarterback in Darian Stone who piled up 505 total yards of offense, with 323 on the ground, albeit against an NAIA school (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, made up of conferences you’ve most likely never even heard of.)
The Badgers take on possible PAC-12 dark horse Arizona State next weekend in what will be their first real true test. So again, beware the trap game Saturday and don’t look ahead, Badgers.
What to watch for: QB Joel Stave. Big performances from RBs Gordon and White.
2:30pm on ABC/ESPN2: San Diego State University at Ohio State
Why you should care: Speaking of high expectations, none were higher than those of the Buckeyes. And in the first quarter they were met with perfection – quarterback Braxton Miller’s first play of the game was a 47-yard pass for a touchdown, followed by a two-point conversion in lieu of the extra point. The first of two, back-to-back, two-point conversions. The offense looked much-improved, Braxton had clearly grown as a passer, and OSU’s first quarter delivered 216 yards of offense and 23 unanswered points.
And then some middle of the game sloppiness seemed to set in. An interception that was a pick-six, nine penalties for 94 yards, unexplained cramping taking players out of the game (LB Ryan Shazier and QB Miller), being outscored in the last three quarters despite the 20-point final lead – Coach Meyer himself stated that he was, ahem, “disappointed.” (Funny how there once was a time when 40 points and 500 yards on opening day would not evoke the word disappointed.)
While the young defense felt like a bit of a concern, they were operating with only one returning starter and did hold the Bulls to just 73-yards rushing. Having an off-of-his-suspension Bradley Roby back at cornerback, a hydrated Shazier at linebacker and safety CJ Barnett this weekend could make a dramatic difference in the D.
The SDSU Aztecs are coming off a surprising 41-19 loss to Eastern Illinois, an FCS team (Football Championship Subdivsion, formerly known as 1-AA schools; they aren’t eligible for bowl games.) Their star running back Adam Muema, sprained his ankle in the second quarter and was a huge loss for the Aztecs; his return to the field this weekend is still uncertain. They also struggled defensively, giving up 533 total yards. It’s the 4th meeting for the two schools, with OSU leading the match-up wins at 3-0. The Aztecs are a respectable program, but overmatched against the Buckeyes. Here’s to looking forward to four quarters of that first quarter brilliance the Bucks showed us.
“Everybody just chill out. I got this.” – Urban Meyer
What to watch for: The return of Roby on defense (and Roby against the Aztecs’ passing game.) QB Miller’s continuing improvement in passing. RBs Jordan Hall and Dontre Wilson.