This past weekend marked another dull slate of games in the Big Ten. The best game was either Michigan vs. Air Force as the Wolverines were keeping Air Force within a possession for most of the game or Nebraska vs. Northern Illinois where the Cornhuskers repeatedly shot themselves in the foot and lost 21-17. Outside of that everyone took care of business except for Illinois who lost to a good South Florida team. But I think the story out of the Big Ten and maybe all of college football this week came from a blowout involving Rutgers. I know, that is not surprising right? Wrong. This time Rutgers giving someone else the hands to the tune of 65-0. I don’t care that Morgan State doesn’t even have a team page on ESPN or they are an FCS team, this is a statement win for the Scarlet Knights against the 2014 MEAC Co-Champs and one that will for sure lock up those 2 and 3 star recruits. Alright back to real football this week as there are few things to observe going forward.
1. Maryland is relevant at football again. Maryland comes in receiving votes for the AP Poll which has to be a first since the likes of Darrius Heyward-Bey and Torrey Smith were catching passes for them. They are 2-0 with a win at Texas and a win against Towson. They are a run first team led by quarterback Kasim Hill and running backs Ty Johnson, Lorenzo Harrison III and Javon Leake. They have only attempted 33 passes through 2 games after an injury to their starter Tyrell Pigrome that thrust the freshman Hill into the lineup. Maryland will have a chance this week to makes its case to be put in the top 25 this week with a game against a solid UCF team. With multiple weapons able to carry the ball, Maryland’s rushing attack will something to watch this week against UCF.
2. Michigan is on upset alert this week. That pains me to say as a fan but it is true. Michigan has looked so unimpressive to start the season, especially for a team ranked 8th in the country. That might be unfair but I was expecting more from them considering some of the talent and coaching they have. Their defense has been as good as advertised, especially considering the departures after last season. The offense however has been worrisome to say the least. Speight is still inconsistent and its clear he doesn’t have the rapport with any of his weapons yet like he did last year. He was able to limit his turnovers against Air Force which is was nice to see but I am afraid that the game plan and lack of attempts downfield will bite the Wolverines in the butt down the road. In addition, leading receiver and star freshman Tarik Black will need surgery on his foot and could miss the whole season. This weeks match up against Purdue is a trap game for the Wolverines. With a bye week ahead followed by a match up against in state rivals MSU, this game at Purdue is dangerous. Purdue is averaging 38 points a game while it’s defense held Lamar Jackson and Louisville to 35 points in a tough week 1 loss and Missouri to 203 total yards this past weekend. Coach Jeff Brohm has put together a very disciplined team who is capable of pulling off this upset at home so the Wolverines need to beware.
3. Notre Dame vs. Michigan State rivalry. This rivalry first began not in this century, or last century but TWO centuries ago in 1897 and it returns this weekend. Michigan State is the current holder of the Megaphone trophy after their victory in 2016 but Notre Dame leads the series 48-29-1. Included in this rivalry is one of the most famous college football games ever played. The 1966 match up between these two teams featured ND ranked #1 and MSU ranked #2. With the game tied 10-10, the Irish decided not to try and score on the final drive and end the game in a tie. ND went on to win/share the national title in 14 polls while the MSU went on to win/share the title in just 3. Tyler will cover this years game in detail later this week.
This Week’s Match Up to Watch: Saquon Barkley vs. Josey Jewell
This week, the match up between my pick for offensive and defensive player of the year takes place. Saquon Barkley has rushed for 307 yards and 3 TD’s this season while averaging over 8 yards per carry and has added 241 yards receiving. He has looked all the bit like a Heisman contender while leading Penn State to an impressive 3-0 start. Jewell has recorded 26 tackles in 3 games and has added 2 sacks and 2 pass deflections as well. As the cornerstone in that Iowa defense, they have allowed 97 yards per game on the ground so far this year. If Jewell and the rest of that front seven can stop Barkley both in running and the passing game, Iowa has a chance to pull off the upset at home. Jewell is not the most athletic linebacker so it will be interesting how he matches up will Barkley in coverage. His defensive IQ and ability to read the play make up for his below average athleticism. Barkley is a severely underrated pass catcher out of the back field as well. I am super excited for this match up this weekend between two outstanding football players.