Every Sunday, after a Saturday full of college football, we’ll take a look at some of the top story lines around the Big Ten. We’ll follow every team throughout the bizarre eight-week season all the way up until Champions Week.
Here are the top storylines from Week 1:
Indiana gives No. 8 Penn State a reality check
The Hoosiers’ 36-35 upset of the eighth-ranked Nittany Lions was easily the biggest shock in college football this weekend, as Indiana played its best game in years, winning on a two-point conversion in overtime.
Indiana led for most of the game, and Penn State looked out of sorts in the first half. In the second half, the Nittany Lions settled into a rhythm and ended the game leading in basically every statistical category. However, Penn State head coach James Franklin said after the game that the amount of penalties committed by his team (10 penalties for 100 yards) were too much to overcome.
With the game tied at 28 at the end of regulation, Penn State struck first in overtime to take a 35-28 lead. However, the Hoosiers came downfield and answered with a nine-yard Michael Penix Jr. touchdown pass to Whop Philyor. On a gutsy decision, Penix dove at the pylon for a controversial two-point conversion, which ultimately won the game for Indiana.
Penn State will have to host the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes next weekend as it hopes to bounce back from a rough start. Indiana will attempt to make it two straight upsets next Saturday against Michigan.
No. 5 Ohio State proves the Big Ten is its to lose
Nebraska opened its first game of the season ready to play against Ohio State, or so it seemed for the first quarter. The Huskers shocked the Big Ten when they scored the first touchdown of the game, but after a relatively shaky start, Ohio State coasted to a 52-17 victory, proving once again why it is one of the best teams in the country.
Heisman candidate Justin Fields is the real deal, going 20-for-21 with 276 passing yards, 54 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. That said, they did give up 17 points to a weak Nebraska offense, so they’re going to need to clean things up on the defensive side of the ball to compete with the likes of Alabama and Clemson on a national stage.
Wisconsin shows it won’t give up the Big Ten West title without a fight
No. 14 Wisconsin defeated Illinois 45-7 Friday night to kick off the Big Ten season, as expected.
However, the Badgers’ redshirt freshman quarterback Graham Mertz — who earned the starting role after Jack Coan suffered a foot injury — had a standout game and exceeded all expectations. He finished the day 20-of-21 for 248 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Badgers have historically relied on a strong run game paired with mediocre quarterback play, so this year’s team could flip that script.
Rutgers 38, Michigan State 27
This game was a welcome reminder of what 11 a.m. games look like on the Big Ten Network.
Kinda new head coach Greg Schiano led Rutgers to an 11-point victory over Michigan State, snapping a 21-game Big Ten losing streak that dates back to Nov. 4, 2017 when the Scarlet Knights defeated Maryland 31-24. There were 10 total turnovers in this game, with MSU accounting for seven of them.
Northwestern 43, Maryland 3
The ‘Cats came to play on Saturday night. Northwestern dominated Maryland 43-3 at home behind an impressive performance from Mike Bajakian’s new-look offense. The offensive onslaught was led by quarterback Peyton Ramsey, who went 23-for-30 for 212 yards and two total touchdowns. The offensive wealth was shared, too — three different Northwestern running backs scored touchdowns as well.
No. 18 Michigan 49, No. 21 Minnesota 24
There was a lot of hype surrounding this primetime matchup between two ranked Big Ten teams on the rise. Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines simply outplayed PJ Fleck’s Golden Gophers on the ground and in the air, leading to a decisive victory and keeping the Little Brown Jug in Ann Arbor for the third straight year. Michigan QB Joe Milton went 15-for-22 passing for 225 yards with a touchdown.
Purdue 24, Iowa 20
A solid effort by Purdue saw them to knock off Iowa. The Hawkeyes finished the game leading in almost every statical category but once again it was their penalties (10 for 100 yards) that were too much to overcome. Iowa aims to get their season back on track next weekend when it hosts Northwestern.