In a world filled with rankings, power rankings, and superpower rankings, I’m offering a ranking for just the week behind us.
Reputations don’t matter, what you did before this week doesn’t matter. What did you do on Saturday (or Thursday, or Friday)?
Let us proceed:
1. Michigan, W 59-9 vs. Central Michigan: This was a no-nonsense pulverization of a MAC team that went to a bowl game last year. It also was the Wolverines’ highest-scoring season-opener since they hung a 65 on Ohio Wesleyan in 1905. That’s not the Ohio school Michigan wants to clobber.
Central Michigan kicked a field goal in the fourth quarter to cut Michigan’s lead to 56-9. Michigan responded five minutes later with a field goal of its own to get the points back. Quite the chess match.
2. Northwestern, W 44-30 at California. ESPN2 had a donnybrook in this game. Cal isn’t an upper-division Pac-12 squad, but it is a Pac-12 squad, and Northwestern did make the long trip. On the Wildcats’ first possession, quarterback Kain Colter suffered a concussion and was done for the night.
But instead of folding, Northwestern got good quarterbacking from Trevor Siemian. The game was tied at 27 early in the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats played like a Top 25 team down the stretch.
3. Wiscosnin, W 45-0 vs. Massachusetts. UMass is the weakest MAC team. The Badgers were 44 1/2-point favorites, so you could say they merely met expectations.
But they left nothing to chance, rushing for 393 yards and 8.9 yards per carry. Three Badgers topped 100 yards.
New Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen even briefly participated in the stadium’s “Jump Around” tradition between the third and fourth quarters at Camp Randall Stadium.
4. Indiana, W 73-35 vs. Indiana State. Hey, Kansas State and Iowa State lost to Missouri Valley Football Conference teams in Week 1.
The Hoosiers beat the Sycamores by just 24-17 a year ago. Indiana State went on to a 7-4 season. But Thursday in Bloomington, it was a squash.
Indiana racked up 632 yards. The 73 points were the most a Hoosiers team had scored since they drubbed Franklin College 76-0 in 1905. But Indiana State lost 158-6 to Millikin College in 1920, so this was nothing. Millikin was good then.
5. Minnesota, W 51-23 vs. UNLV. The Gophers’ offense was nothing special, which belies the point total. But two TDs came on special-teams plays, and another was on an interception return.
UNLV outgained the Gophers, 419 yards to 320. But that’s misleading because the Gophers kept kicking off after scoring off of blocked field goals, kickoff returns, and such.
6. Penn State, W 23-17 vs. Syracuse in East Rutherford, N.J. Penn State gave a sturdy defensive effort, and true freshman Christian Hackenberg had a good debut by hitting on 22 of 31 passes for 278 yards. He was intercepted twice, with one getting returned to the PSU 1-yard line and leading to seven Syracuse points.
The Nittany Lions are 9-4 under Bill O’Brien, which seemed nearly impossible after they started last season by losing to Ohio and Virginia.
7. Michigan State, W 26-13 vs. Western Michigan. The Spartans struggled on offense, failing to crack 300 yards. But they held WMU to 204 yards, and the Spartans rushed for 181 while holding the Broncos to a paltry 11 yards on the ground.
MSU still appears to have quarterback issues. It doesn’t appear to have defensive issues.
8. Ohio State, W 40-20 over Buffalo. Maybe we hold the Buckeyes to a higher standard. But Buffalo is no great shakes, and OSU let a 23-0 lead to get chopped to 30-20 before putting the hammer down.
Jordan Hall carried 21 times for 157 yards for the Buckeyes. Iowa uses Jordan Lomax, Jordan Cotton and Jordan Canzeri. Northern Illinois relies on Jordan Lynch. My theory: A lot of parents named their sons after Michael Jordan in the 1990s.
9. Illinois, W 42-34 vs. Southern Illinois. The Salukis had a 4th-and-goal at the Illinois 3 with :44 left, but their final pass sailed incomplete.
The Illini had a 39-17 get shaved too close for comfort. But Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase had a terrific opener, passing for 416 yards.
10. Nebraska, W 37-34 vs. Wyoming. What were the sounds coming from Husker fans as they field out of Memorial Stadium? I’m guessing they were more of the grumble variety than glee.
Nebraska allowed 602 yards and 35 first-downs. Yowsah! That took away from the fact four Nebraska players rushed for 76-plus yards.
The Huskers have won a nation-leading 28 straight openers. This wasn’t the one Nebraskans will remember with the most fondness.
“There’s nothing to celebrate,” Husker wide receiver Kenny Bell said. “I felt like we lost this football game tonight. I’m hurting.”
11. Iowa, L 30-27 vs. Northern Illinois. Had the Hawkeyes won in any way, shape, or form, I’d have ranked them third. This was the best opponent a Big Ten team faced in Week 1.
But it was a loss.
12. Purdue, L 42-7 at Cincinnati. Maybe now we know why some end zone seats to the Nov. 9 Iowa-Purdue game in West Lafayeete are going for $4 on StubHub.
OMG! The Boilermakers got outgained 425 yards to 226.
Here’s what Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star wrote afterward in this column:
Somewhere deep inside, Darrell Hazell must know the harsh, ugly truth after his first game as Purdue’s head coach: It’s going to be a long, tough, largely punchless season in West Lafayette.
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