Now that's more like it.
The Big Ten had a far better week than its Week 1, and the 11-1 record isn't the only indicator of that. Unlike last week, the Big Ten's victories had some oomph, some credibility, some teeth.
With few exceptions, the foes that should have been blown out were. In the big games, nobody looked feckless (hey there, Florida and USC). And unlike most years, it appears that the Big Ten will escape this season without any losses to FCS schools.
With that said, here's how the Big Ten did in Week 2.
#17 MICHIGAN 41, #14 NOTRE DAME 30
In the marquee game of the evening, Michigan held off Notre Dame to win in front of an NCAA record crowd of 115,109.
After Michigan's opening field goal, Notre Dame decided to find out what tackling with no arms would look like as Jeremy Gallon took a pass 61 yards to give Michigan a 10-0 lead. Notre Dame responded with its own lucky touchdown and a tying field goal before Devin Gardner would give Michigan back the lead. In spite of Gardner throwing a horrendous interception in his own end zone and Notre Dame narrowing the lead to 34-30, Michigan would hang on to secure the Big Ten's first victory over a ranked opponent in 2013.
Gardner, who wore #98 to honor Michigan legend Tom Harmon, dominated for the Wolverines with 294 passing yards and four touchdowns against an interception and one rushing touchdown. Notre Dame fans will complain about the shaky pass interference calls on Michigan's final touchdown drive, but that's what you can expect from referees one of the biggest games in Michigan Stadium history.
Michigan plays Akron next week, and if the first two weeks of the season are any indication it'll be a slaughter.
#19 NORTHWESTERN 48, SYRACUSE 27
Thanks to Kain Colter's rushing, Trevor Siemian's passing, and a ball-hawking defense, Northwestern took care of business against Syracuse.
The Wildcats raced out to a 34-7 lead, with Siemian capping the action on a five yard touchdown pass to Christian Jones. Colter led Northwestern in rushing with 87 yards and a touchdown, while the Northwestern defense's four turnovers kept Syracuse from getting back into the game.
Northwestern plays Western Michigan next week in another late game. There's always one ranked team nobody bothers to watch, and Northwestern may be that team this season.
#22 NEBRASKA 56, SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI 13
After giving up heaps of yardage to Wyoming last week, Nebraska's highest priority was fixing the defense. The Blackshirts addressed those concerns by stymieing Southern Mississippi.
Nebraska picked off four passes on the day, returning two for touchdowns. Behind ever-efficient Taylor Martinez and Ameer Abdullah's 114 rushing yards and two touchdowns, Nebraska cruised to a 35-6 halftime lead before easing up. Southern Mississippi gained less than half of what Wyoming managed the week before.
Nebraska plays UCLA next week in what should be the conference's highlight game aside from Ohio State/California.
ILLINOIS 45, CINCINNATI 17
After a scare against Southern Illinois and Cincinnati's demolition of Purdue, Cincinnati looked like an overwhelming favorite against hapless Illinois. That's why they play the games.
Illinois jumped out to a stunning 21-0 lead thanks to Bill Cubit's spry offensive playcalling and Nathan Scheelhaase's passing. Scheelhaase finished with 312 yards passing and four touchdowns, and Illinois's 522 yards of offense were its most since the Mezozoic Era.
The turning point occurred in the third quarter: facing fourth and goal, Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux fumbled into the end zone. Cincinnati recovered it, but since offenses can't advance the ball from the spot of a fumble on 4th down, Illinois took possession on its 1 yard line. 99 yards later, Illinois had a comfortable 28-10 lead that would last the rest of the game. Well wishes to Legaux, who suffered a brutal knee injury late in the game and was taken off on a cart.
At a sterling 2-0, Illinois has now matched its win total from last season. They host Washington next week.
MICHIGAN STATE 21, SOUTH FLORIDA 6
Dantonio, we talked about this. Never expose Jim Bollman to bright light, never get him wet, and never, ever feed him after midnight. Otherwise, you get spirit-crushing Walrusball performances on the reg.
Once again, Pat Narduzzi's defense bailed out the craptastic offense with two defensive touchdowns by Shilique Calhoun. Combined with a lightning delay and heavy rain, it couldn't have been a pleasant game for Michigan State fans.
The offense needs two more touchdowns to catch up to its defense in scoring, and Michigan State will try to make that happen against Youngstown State. Settling on a quarterback would help.
NAVY 41, INDIANA 35
Navy provided the one blemish on the conference's record this week in a tight win over Indiana in Bloomington.
Much like last year's game, Indiana could not handle Navy's option running attack, with the Midshipmen rushing for 444 yards. Indiana closed the deficit to six with 3:53 left in the game, but the Hoosiers could not get a stop on Navy's final drive.
Nate Sudfield had a good day for Indiana, accounting for 396 all-purpose yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Nevertheless, as has often been the case in the Kevin Wilson era, Indiana's inability to play defense submarined its hopes. The Hoosiers will shoot for a more complete performance next week against Bowling Green.
PENN STATE 45, EASTERN MICHIGAN 7
After a slow start, Penn State put the boots to Eastern Michigan late. Christian Hackenberg had another mixed day, but he's playing well for a true freshman, throwing for 589 passing yards through two games.
Eastern Michigan took an early lead on a fumble return and managed bupkis after that as Penn State more than tripled their yardage, 574-183. Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch each ran for 108 yards, and kicker Sam Ficken also set a Penn State school record by making his 14th straight field goal.
Penn State plays Central Florida next week, which has looked pretty good so far this season.
PURDUE 20, INDIANA STATE 14
At least one school has to be the dregs of the conference, and it looks like the Big Ten's dregs are Purdue. Though Purdue avoided an embarrassing loss to FCS school Indiana State, this game did nothing to inspire confidence in the Boilermakers.
After starting the game with a 99 yard Akeem Hunt kickoff return touchdown, Purdue struggled the rest of the first half, managing only a field goal. Indiana State made it 20-14 late in the game and had chances to take the lead, but Purdue forced a late punt and intercepted the Sycamores with seconds remaining to preserve the win.
Aside from Hunt, who also had 82 rushing yards, nobody stood out for Purdue. The Boilermakers' next game is against Notre Dame, which looks to rebound from the loss to Michigan.
IOWA 28, MISSOURI STATE 14
Although Iowa snapped a seven game losing streak with a win over FCS school Missouri State, the Hawkeyes did not get the statement win many in the program were hoping for. Iowa dominated Missouri State in yardage but 11 penalties for 100 yards and several other miscues made the game far closer than it should have been.
In spite of sluggish offense and maddening conservatism, Iowa took a 21-0 lead in the third quarter on the strength of Mark Weisman's 180 rushing yards and two touchdowns. After Missouri State scored two touchdowns in ten seconds, Jake Rudock's 2 yard touchdown put the game away for the Hawkeyes.
Jokes about offensive coordinator Greg Davis's horizontal passing attack aside, it's clear that Iowa can put together a solid offense if they make good decisions and don't shoot themselves in the foot. The Hawkeyes face Iowa State next week in the Cy-Hawk Series.
MINNESOTA 44, NEW MEXICO STATE 21
Unlike last week, when it won by four touchdowns despite being outgained handily, Minnesota deserved its convincing victory over New Mexico State.
Minnesota ran over the New Mexico State with running back Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 148 and quarterback Phillip Nelson's 122 rushing yards. In addition, a 65 yard punt return by Marcus Jones pushed the Golden Gophers to an insurmountable 27-7 shortly before halftime and a 50 yard fumble return in the fourth quarter capped Minnesota's scoring.
Minnesota plays Western Illinois next week, which will hopefully allow Jerry Kill to tune up the glorious Minnesota variant of the Maryland-I.
#21 WISCONSIN 48, TENNESSEE TECH 0
Last week, Tennessee Tech played they played NAIA school Cumberland. Yes, that Cumberland. This week, Tennessee Tech played three time defending Big Ten champion Wisconsin. The results were not pretty.
Wisconsin had its way with Tennessee Tech's defense all game long, racking up 606 yards of total offense and 387 rushing yards. Corey Clement, Melvin Gordon, and James White gave Wisconsin three 100-yard rushers for the second time this season.
Meanwhile, the Badgers defense held Tennessee Tech to 113 yards of total offense. Behind a solid defense, a powerful rushing attack and an efficient no-name quarterback – Joel Stave went 24/29 passing – this team reminds me of the 2010 team, which ruined Ohio State's regular season. Wisconsin plays Arizona State next week.
Even though Maryland and Rutgers aren't in the Big Ten yet, the neighborly thing to do is to make them feel welcome; as such, their games will be recapped for the rest of the season after the Big Ten proper.
MARYLAND 47, OLD DOMINION 10
Old Dominion is a transitioning FCS/FBS school, which means it can expect teams like Maryland to cave its head in on a regular basis. Stefon Diggs had six catches for 179 yards and a touchdown, and for the umpteenth time I wish he were a Buckeye.
Maryland plays at Connecticut next week. A 3-0 start looks likely, as does a bowl bid.
RUTGERS 38, NORFOLK STATE 0
Rutgers recovered from a painful loss to Fresno State by crushing Norfolk State. Paul James had 119 rushing yards and three touchdowns, and the Scarlet Knights defense rebounded from allowing 52 points to shutting out the Spartans.
The only interesting thing from this game: pinned on its 1 yard line, Norfolk State elected to punt on a third down in the first quarter. And lo, Jim Tressel smiled.
Rutgers hosts Eastern Michigan next week.
So after a Week 2 in which everything went better than expected, Week 3 features a number of Big Ten/Pac-12 and other BCS matchups. If you're looking for tight games, I'd recommend Nebraska/UCLA, Illinois/Washington, Iowa/Iowa State (tentatively; if Iowa starts playing FerentzBall, abandon ship), and Penn State/UCF.