Who starred for the Big Ten in Week 1? And who tops the post-Week 1 power rankings?
It began with blowouts in Minneapolis and Bloomington on Thursday night. Saturday got started with more one-sided affairs in Madison, Columbus and Ann Arbor. It all ended with an thoroughly entertaining Week 1 finale in Berkeley. And in between, there was heart-break in Iowa City and West Lafayette.
Big Ten Post-Week 1 Power Rankings:
|1.||-||Ohio State (1-0, 0-0): Urban Meyer should be ecstatic after Week 1. His team won fairly easily by nearly three touchdowns but also struggled just enough to offer his staff plenty of coaching points. Ohio State allowed Buffalo to hang around for most of the game, had nine penalties and lost the turnover battle. That said, the Buckeyes extended the nation's longest winning streak to 13 games. Next Week: San Diego State|
||-||Michigan (1-0, 0-0): The Wolverines posted its highest-scoring opener since 1905 by crushing Central Michigan. Devin Gardner made a few mistakes but was solid, and Brady Hoke was able to get plenty of key freshmen plenty of experience in the blowout. Michigan will need it when Notre Dame comes to town this weekend. Next Week: Notre Dame|
|3.||-||Nebraska (1-0, 0-0): Fans in Lincoln better hope that the scare Wyoming gave them wasn't a sign of things to come but rather a wake-up call. This team neeeds to develop toughness and killer instinct on defense after allowing more than 600 yards of offense to the Cowboys. Taylor Martinez is excellent, and his supporting cast on offense is outstanding. However, this team has to improve quickly on defense. Next Week: Southern Miss|
||-||Northwestern (1-0, 0-0): Kain Colter may have to sit out a game or two due to a concussion, but the good news is Trevor Siemian is completely capable. Pat Fitzgerald has some work to do on defense but his squad delivered in an important status win for the program on the road. Next Week: Syracuse|
||-||Wisconsin (1-0, 0-0): The Gary Andersen Era got underway in impressive fashion and the Badgers looked a lot like what fans in Madison have watched for the last few decades. The Badgers pounded the football on the ground and played stingy defense in the easy win over UMass. More importantly, quarterback Joel Stave returned to action by accounting for three touchdowns. Next Week: Tennessee Tech|
||-||Penn State (1-0, 0-0): Christian Hackenberg is officially a Big Ten quarterback. And he is 1-0 as a starter. The true freshman phenom was more than adequate as the Lions outlasted a physical Syracuse team. Allen Robinson sat out the first half on a coach's decision and exploded for 133 yards and a TD in the second half. Next Week: Eastern Michigan|
||-||Michigan State (1-0, 0-0): Michigan State looks a lot like Michigan State after one week. The defense is nasty — it scored twice against Western Michigan — and the offense looks mediocre at best — it scored one offensive touchdown. Andrew Maxwell (21 att.) and Connor Cook (16 att.) split time so the QB battle in East Lansing is far from over. Next Week: USF|
||-||Minnesota (1-0, 0-0): The all-important third year of the Jerry Kill era began slowly but ended in impressive fashion. Thanks to three combined defensive and special teams touchdowns, the Gophers pulled away in the second half against UNLV. Quarterback Philip Nelson began his first full season as the starter by scoring three times. Next Week: at New Mexico State|
||-||Indiana (1-0, 0-0): Eventually, Kevin Wilson will have to pick a quarterback, but for now, his offense is just fine. Tre Roberson got the start but both Nate Sudfeld and Cam Coffman saw snaps as the trio combined for six touchdown passes. The Hoosiers set a Memorial Stadium record with 73 points, which was just three shy of the all-time school record of 76. Next Week: Navy|
||-||Iowa (0-1, 0-0): The Hawkeyes had never lost to Northern Illinois in eight tries but the heartbreaking last-second loss to the Huskies is a horrible omen for embattled head coach Kirk Ferentz. Jake Rudock played well in his first start but threw a costly interception that cost Iowa the game. Next Week: Missouri State|
||-||Purdue (0-1, 0-0): This was as bad a coaching debut as could have been expected for Darrell Hazell. The Boilermakers were sloppy, unproductive, inefficient and didn't belong on the same field as the Bearcats. And their schedule includes three BCS bowl teams in the next four weeks. Next Week: Indiana State|
||-||Illinois (1-0, 0-0): It wasn't pretty and it was much closer than Tim Beckman would have liked but Illinois got an important win over Southern Illinois. The Illini needed a goal line stand in the final minute to beat the Missouri Valley foe, due in large part to an offense that lack any semblance of balance (415 yards passing, 49 yards rushing). The Orange Crush has to be better on the ground if it expects to improve in 2013 Next Week: Cincinnati|
Big Ten Week 1 Awards and Superlatives:
Offensive Player of the Week: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
The Wisconsin running backs were outstanding, Braxton was Braxton, so was Taylor Martinez and, I can't believe I'm saying this, but Nathan Scheelhaase led his team to victory. But it's about time the nation looked at Allen Robinson as one of the game's best. Bill O'Brien suspended the star wideout for the first half of the neutral field bout with Syracuse without so much as a peep out of the locker room as to why. His absence was felt in a big way as PSU managed only 89 passing yards and a slim 6-3 edge at the half. Robinson caught the first pass of the second half for a first down and the second for a 51-yard touchdown. He was all over the field and turned a true freshman quarterback into a veteran signal caller by catching seven passes for 133 yards entirely in the second half of the 23-17 win. Penn State finished with 296 yards of passing offense, which would've ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten a year ago.
Defensive Player of the Week: Collin Ellis, LB, Northwestern
They may have been on tipped passes but when you score two defensive touchdowns, you are the P.O.W. The first came at a critical time late in the third quarter with Northwestern down by four, when Ellis took a Jared Goff pass 59 yards to paydirt to give the Wildcats the lead. Then again, this time up by three with eight minutes to go in the game, Ellis plucked another Cal throw out of the air and went 40 yards for six points to essentially end the game. This was the best win of the weekend for the league — and for more on that...
Team of the Week: Northwestern
Most of the Big Ten either won easily against over-matched opponents or was disappointed by poor play — and, in Iowa and Purdue cases, lost. But Northwestern lost Kain Colter to an "upper body" injury (it looked like a shoulder to us) on the game's first series and managed to defeat Cal in Berkeley 44-30. Yes, the Cats allowed more than 500 yards of offense but this game was supposed to be much tougher than the 2012 records indicated. Credit Pat Fitzgerald, and possibly one questionable targeting penalty, for the way Northwestern battled adversity in a home opener for a Golden Bears team flush with energy behind head coach Sonny Dykes' debut. This was an important win and likely the best in the conference this weekend.
Coordinator of the Week: Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State
The Spartans defensive coordinator is one of the nation's best and few assistants nationally mean as much to their team's success as Narduzzi. Michigan State has what appears to be an anemic offense once again this fall and wins will have to come by way of the defense. Against Western Michigan in Week 1, Narduzzi's bunch pitched a gem. His unit allowed 204 total yards, 4-of-20 third down conversions, forced four turnovers and, oh by the way, scored more touchdowns (2) than the Spartans offense (1). This defense will be nasty once again, but one has to wonder if Sparty can contend in the Legends Division against offensively minded teams like Michigan, Nebraska and Northwestern with little to no support from the offense?
Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
By the time it is all said and done, this award might be renamed The Hackenberg. In his first career start in his first career game as a true freshman, Hackenberg led his team to a win over a BCS team in Syracuse (in a pseudo-road environment). He looked, at times, like a freshman, but his overall ability is way too impressive to ignore. He finished 22-of-31 for 278 yards, two key second-half touchdowns and two interceptions. The touted freshman has special upside and has already justified his lofty recruiting status.
The Indiana Hoosiers are looking to make it to the postseason for just the second time since 1993 and it was obvious in Week 1 that it's a distinct possibility. Indiana set a school record with 45 first-half points, a Memorial Stadium record with 73 points — just three shy of an all-time school record — and did so with three different quarterbacks. Tre Roberson started the game, threw six passes, carried the ball five times and scored twice. Nate Sudfeld then stepped in to attempt 17 passes, four of which went for touchdowns. And Cam Coffman got seven attempts. Kevin Wilson has a wealth of options under center and a host of talented skill players surrounding them. It appears the quarterback race in Bloomington will be fascinating to watch all season long.