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Around the Big Ten, Week 1: The tale of the underwhelming West

It could have been worse, but it definitely could have been much, much better.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Nevada David Calvert-USA TODAY Sports

Every Sunday, after an entire Saturday’s worth of college football, we’ll take a look around the Big Ten. As the conference as a whole fights as respectability in the non-conference, or as its power dynamics shift on a week-to-week basis this fall, we’ll follow every team and try to piece together the puzzle that is the 13-week-long season all the way up until Indianapolis.

Here are the top storylines from Week 1:

56-yard Nevada field goal takes down Purdue

This was one was perhaps the wildest game of the entire CFB weekend thus far. If you thought the Northwestern game was disappointing, at least the ‘Cats didn’t lose in the last few seconds of the game after allowing 20 unanswered points from Nevada. The Boilermakers blew a two-touchdown lead going into the fourth quarter to kick off a disappointing Week 1 for the Big Ten West.

No. 5 Ohio State tops Florida Atlantic 45-21

So it looks like Justin Fields is going to be pretty good.

The highest-rated recruit in Ohio State history lived up to expectations in his first career start since transferring from Georgia. Right off the bat, he ran for a 51-yard touchdown on the Buckeye’s first possession and he put up four touchdowns in the first nine minutes of his OSU career, the most ever for a player making his Ohio State debut. The Buckeyes’ offense was definitely not perfect and slowed down after the first quarter, but with Fields calling the shots, they should be looking at an impressive season once again.

No 19. Wisconsin crushes South Florida

After week one, it looks like Wisconsin is going to be the team to worry about in the West. Running back Jonathan Taylor came out ready to play last night, rushing for 135 yards (8.4 yards per carry) and two touchdowns while also scoring on his only two catches, totaling 48 receiving yards. His unstoppable play combined with the Badgers’ top-tier defensive unit made it a long night for Charlie Strong and the South Florida Bulls.

Other Scores

No. 20 Iowa 38, Miami OH 14

The Hawkeyes came out slow to start against the Redhawks, but eventually were able to impress after scoring 28 points in the last two quarters of the game. Their run defense thwarted Miami, who only gained 59 yards on the ground.

No. 18 Michigan State 28, Tulsa 7

Surprise, surprise. Michigan State’s defense is good. Again. They somehow came out of the game with a net minus-73 rushing yards as the MSU defense combined for six sacks and thirteen tackles for loss.

No. 15 Penn State 79, Idaho 7

This was a pretty easy one for the Nittany Lions to say the least. Penn State handles Idaho behind new quarterback Sean Clifford, who finished with 337 yards and threw for two touchdowns. PSU was up 44-0 at halftime.

No. 24 Nebraska 35, South Alabama 21

South Alabama gave Nebraska a much harder time than expected as the Cornhuskers led the game by just seven points entering the fourth quarter. Adrian Martinez failed to put up a single touchdown, running for only six yards and throwing for 178. In the words of head coach Scott Frost, “that’s as poor of an offensive performance as I’ve seen in a long time” from this Nebraska team.

No. 7 Michigan 40, Middle Tennessee State 21

After an early fumble and a Middle Tennessee touchdown within the first two minutes of the game, the Wolverines turned it around to gain control after the first quarter. Freshman Zach Charbonnet led the team in rushing, totaling 90 yards in just eight carries, while Shea Patterson threw for three touchdowns.

Minnesota 28, South Dakota State 21

Though they went into fourth quarter trailing, the Gophers were able to pull out a narrow win on Thursday after a last minute touchdown from Mohamed Ibrahim put them ahead. Add this one to the list of “eh” performances from the West. Many picked P.J. Fleck’s team to be a surprise team in the West, but they certainly didn’t look the part in their opening game.

Maryland 79, Howard 0

Not much to say about this one, except for that it was a blowout. The Terps put up 56 points in the first half, which is a school record for most point scored in a half. Virginia Tech transfer Josh Jackson made his debut as a Terrapin, amounting to 245 yards and four touchdown passes.

Indiana 34, Ball State 24

Definitely not the best game for the Hoosiers as they took on the Cardinals at Lucas Oil Stadium (ah, good NU memories!), but they came out on top despite an inconsistent performance under center from young quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

Illinois 42, Akron 3

Illinois football now has something they can hold over Northwestern: beating Akron. Congrats to the Fighting Illini!

Rutgers 48, UMass 21

Northwestern’s future opponent jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead, but Rutgers quarterback McLane Carter stole the show throwing for 340 yards and two touchdowns albeit three interceptions.