Big Ten Recap: Wisconsin's Self-Inflicted Wounds

By Nicholas Jervey on August 31, 2014 at 7:15a
Too close for comfort, Illinois.

Illinois LB Carol Phillips. Via @IlliniFootball


Big Ten football is back, and it's a bit like sweet and sour pork.

After eight months without football, the Big Ten's 14 opening week games are like juicy morsels of food. The sweetness comes from the loyalty and kindness for which Big Ten fans are known, and the tang comes the gleeful schadenfreude against other teams for which Big Ten fans are just as well-known. Knowing where one starts and the other stops can be tricky, but it's a fine dish no matter what.

No. 13 LSU 28, No. 14 Wisconsin 24

The Big Ten's biggest game of the week was Wisconsin-LSU, and Wisconsin came to play – for 33 minutes. Over the last 27 minutes, the Badgers blew a chance to burnish the Big Ten's resume.

Wisconsin's veteran offensive line outmuscled LSU's defensive line and provided holes for the running game from the first snap. The Badgers overpowered LSU for the first half and the first drive of the second half, building a surprising 24-7 lead in a  semi-road game. And then the lead fell apart.

The Badgers' pass defense came slightly unmoored, which the Tigers exploited for two field goals and a long touchdown pass on 3rd & 20 to make it 24-21. Wisconsin's starting QB Tanner McEvoy became erratic, throwing a pick deep in Wisconsin territory that LSU converted into the go-ahead score. The Badgers did nothing over their last two drives and made an eyebrow-raising punt with under two minutes left in regulation, after which LSU ran out the clock.

Though Wisconsin's trip to Houston could have gone worse, the Badgers could and should have won the game. Lousy quarterback play from McEvoy (8-24 passing for 50 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions) and third down failures (4 of 15) undermined a good rushing performance from Melvin Gordon (16 carries for 140 yards and one touchdown), who only got two carries down the stretch. Why didn't Gordon get the ball more during McEvoy's immolation? Good question, said Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen.

When you're the head coach, the correct response is "I made a mistake," not buck-passing.

Minnesota 42, Eastern Illinois 20

In the first of 56 nonconference Big Ten games, Minnesota earned an easy win over Eastern Illinois on Thursday night.

Aside from an athletic hurdle by Maxx Williams, Minnesota didn't do much on offense. Still, the game was never in jeopardy. Special teams blocked a punt for a touchdown, the defense held strong and it was 35-0 before Eastern Illinois got on the board in garbage time.

The Golden Gophers were outgained 409-338 on the day; winning ugly may be their modus operandi in 2014.

Rutgers 41, Washington State 38

Showing much more fight than expected, Rutgers pulled out a back-and-forth win against Washington State in Seattle.

Although the Scarlet Knights' defense was no better than it was in 2013, the offense made up for it. Paul James tore up Washington State's defense for 173 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while Gary Nova was a better field general than advertised. I'm not willing to say Nova is a good quarterback yet, but he did enough to win on Thursday night.

No. 9 Michigan State 45, Jacksonville State 7

Michigan State took over as the Big Ten favorites after Braxton Miller's injury, and he Spartans looked every bit the champs in a demolition of Jacksonville State.

Jacksonville State is bush league.
Ugly, ugly coaching. Via @_MarcusD_

The Spartans' typically dominant defense stifled the Jaguars. Connor Cook had a splendid day: 12-13 passing for 285 yards, three touchdowns and one grievous knee injury avoided.

Inexcusable cheap shots aside, Jacksonville State posed no threat to Michigan State. Oregon awaits.

Michigan 52, Appalachian State 14

At long last, Goliath has vanquished David. In a rematch from 2007, Michigan finally rectified its shame and defeated Appalachian State. 

The Wolverines accumulated 350 rushing yards, more than their last six games of 2013 combined. It was 42-0 before the Mountaineers made a sustained drive. All the key offensive players (Devin Gardner, Derrick Green, De'Veon Smith, Devin Funchess, Dennis Norfleet – save some D's for the rest of us!) had efficient days, and the defense smothered an outmatched Mountaineers team.

If it were any other opponent, the Wolverines would be getting credit for a dominating victory. For scheduling a grudge match against a school with an endowment 1/106th the size of Michigan's, they receive only ridicule.

Penn State 26, Central Florida 24

I don't understand Penn State's Ireland connection, but okay!
PSU pulled out a needlessly close win.

Penn State doubled up Central Florida on yardage and dominated much of the game, but it took a 36-yard field goal by Sam Ficken as time expired to beat the Knights in Dublin, Ireland.

Saddled with a nonexistent running game and iffy offensive line, Christian Hackenberg carried the PSU offense to a win. Hackenberg threw for school record 454 yards and a touchdown, leading Penn State on its game-winning drive in little over a minute. He did so in spite of atrocious clock management from James Franklin, who won his first game as the Nittany Lions head coach.

Indiana 28, Indiana State 10

The Hoosier offense didn't display the firepower it did in last year's 73-35 win over the Sycamores, but the defense held up remarkably well as Indiana ground out a comfortable win over Indiana State.

Led by Conn Underwood (nine tackles, three tackles for loss) and Mark Sewall (11 tackles), Indiana's defense held the Sycamores to a paltry three yards per play. The Hoosier offense couldn't convert 566 yards into many points, but Tevin Coleman ran for a career-high 247 yards and two touchdowns.

In past years, head coach Kevin Wilson's Indiana teams have been all sizzle and no steak. Do the Hoosiers finally have a complete team in 2014?

Iowa 31, Northern Iowa 23

The Hawkeyes staggered to a humdrum win against Northern Iowa in their season debut.

"I *do* believe this is a football!"
As always, Iowa plowed forward.

It was a typical Iowa offensive performance: boring and mediocre (6.1 yards per pass, 4.2 per run) while preserving a small lead for much of the game. Northern Iowa drew within 24-23 early in the fourth quarter, but a Damond Powell touchdown catch provided the final margin for the Hawkeyes.

Iowa might be concerned about allowing 380 passing yards to Sawyer Kollmorgen, though NIU's 1.0 yards per carry is a reassuring counterpoint.

Purdue 43, Western Michigan 34

In a game more exciting than Purdue would have liked, the Boilermakers held off Western Michigan for their first win against an FBS team since 2012.

The Boilermakers found some purchase with the run game, as Raheem Mostert and Akeem Hunt combined for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Danny Etling threw for an anemic 4.8 yards per pass, but his two touchdowns and zero interceptions helped Purdue control the ball.

Even though Western Michigan shredded its rushing defense, Purdue took a lead midway through the second quarter and never relinquished it. The Boilermakers won't go bowling, but any signs of life after 2013 are encouraging.

Illinois 28, Youngstown State 17

Illinois scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to survive a scare from Youngstown State.

The Illini had trouble establishing the run game early, which allowed Youngstown State to take a 9-7 lead to the half. The Penguins were in the game the whole way and even took a 17-14 lead with 10:57 remaining, but Illinois responded with two touchdowns to pull out the win. Wes Lunt performed well in his Illinois debut, passing for 284 yards and four touchdowns.

No. 22 Nebraska 55, Florida Atlantic 7

Florida Atlantic fired Carl Pelini last year for alleged cocaine use. Carl is Nebraska coach Bo Pelini's brother. The Owls should have known what was coming.

The Cornhuskers ran, ran, and ran some more: 498 rushing yards, thanks in large part to a career high from Ameer Abdullah and a strong effort from Terrell Newby. Tommy Armstrong Jr. was effective if not accurate, while the Blackshirts clamped down in the final three quarters after conceding an early touchdown to give FAU the illusion of hope.

Nebraska's 784 yards of total offense were the fifth-most in Cornhuskers history and the most since 1991. Don't cross the Pelinis.

Maryland 52, James Madison 7

James Madison's team names are the Dukes. Maryland hates Duke. In retrospect, the blowout should have been obvious.

Maryland used a strong running game to stake an insurmountable lead. Quarterback C.J. Brown ran for three first-half scores, and the Terrapins halted James Madison's only promising drive with an interception. JMU got on the board early in the fourth quarter, but by that point Maryland was giving its backups some seasoning.

Up to point, the conference sported a flawless 12-0 record in Week 1. Could the Big Ten really pull off an undefeated opening week?

California 31, Northwestern 24

B1G Power Rankings: Week 1
School W-L Rank Prev.
Nebraska 1-0 1 --
Michigan State 1-0 2 --
Maryland 1-0 3 --
Michigan 1-0 4 --
Wisconsin 0-1 5 --
Indiana 1-0 6 --
Ohio State 1-0 7 --
Rutgers 1-0 8 --
Penn State 1-0 9 --
Minnesota 1-0 10 --
Iowa 1-0 11 --
Purdue 1-0 12 --
Illinois 1-0 13 --
Northwestern 0-1 14 --

Well, somebody had to be the first to let the conference down.

After displaying all the ineptitude that made Northwestern infamous in the 1970s and 1980s, the Wildcats found themselves in a 31-7 hole early in the third quarter. They scored 17 points in the second half to get within a touchdown, but they blew numerous chances to tie or take the lead.

It's a depressing result for the Wildcats, who came into the game as a 10-14 point favorite. If Northwestern can't beat the presumed cellar-dweller of the Pac-12 in Evanston, their bowl prospects look iffy at best.

For Week 2, there's one matchup that stands above all: Michigan State-Oregon. Make sure to see as much of that and Michigan-Notre Dame before OSU takes on Virginia Tech. Consider Northern Illinois-Northwestern and Maryland-South Florida, or even Akron-Penn State and Middle Tennessee-Minnesota as well.

As for the power rankings to the side, they're a weekly ranking of how well each team performed in their most recent game and nothing else. The rankings are subject to my whims, so don't put too much stock into them.


Comments Show All Comments

dubjayfootball90's picture

I can't believe Wisky blew that lead. That cheap shot on Cook is BS. You are a defensive player about to make a hit on a QB that is throwing the ball, looking down field, and not even giving you a second thought. If you can't knock him on his ass by squaring up, you don't deserve to be playing college football. Not that hard to give someone a correct hit when they are not expecting it/focused elsewhere. What a pansy.

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

+7 HS
BuckeyeChief's picture

Wisky, SMDH! McEvoy just started chucking the ball up for grabs, but I would argue that there were 2 blatant defensive holding calls in the second half that shoud've been called on LSU...funny because the same play got called 3 times on Ok State's DB...

"2014 National with it!!!"

Byaaaahhh's picture

Reading "SMD" before the 'H' made that acronym really confusing at first. 

buckeyepastor's picture

Ah, but one of the analysts on ESPN brilliantly pointed out last night that Penn State had to contend with "an 8:30 a.m. start time."   Can someone send a memo to those geniuses at the worldwide leader how time zones work?   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

+12 HS
JohnnyKozmo's picture

Can't believe how some of these people are paid to analyze CFB.  Wish I could give you more than one UV

Pain don't hurt-Dalton

+3 HS
lamplighter's picture

covered it for you

+2 HS
THE's picture

I think I heard that start time comment on game day as well. Also doubly humorous when UCF is coming from that same eastern standard. 

Good jab at Franklin by Jervey here. 

Also, Wisco winning would have gone a long way later in the year. We still need the conference to bag some marquee W's if any of us want playoff benefit of the doubt moving forward. It's a new era in CFB, let's take back dominance. 

[[]] []-[] [] [[]]

BuckeyeChief's picture

This! My Father in law's GF got sh*tfaced drunk once after a trip to Italy while showing us pictures, she decided to give us a math lesson on how time zones worked. Even the kids in the family were like "DUH!"

As my brother in law (also Navy) put it 12PM + 5 hrs makes it 5PM, and (her) + 10 drinks makes us all idiots.

"2014 National with it!!!"

Byaaaahhh's picture

Was he maybe considering jet lag? I don't know how early they got there, maybe he was saying it still feels like an 8:30 start. Far be it from me to defend ESPiN, but hoping it just sounded better in his head and he botched the delivery rather than simply being unable to comprehend time zones.

+1 HS
Buckeyeinsc's picture

Typical big 10 blowing the big games. Ohio state needs to run from this joke of a conference and never look back. 

Fighting the good fight in SEC country. "Our honor defend"

-7 HS
Buckeyeinsc's picture

Not sure why facts are being down voted. We do not find the competition for healthy growth from big 10 play. Hence the reason we struggle in out of conference play


Fighting the good fight in SEC country. "Our honor defend"

-2 HS
mb5599's picture

12-2 is much better than 2-12, but BIG was 1-2 versus power 5 conferences. next weekend will be the make or break weekend for the BIG out of conference schedule this year (MSU/Orgeon, OSU/VaTech, UM/ND).  We need to go no worse than 2-1 next weekend. Wisconsin losing to LSU really hurt.  We need them to get blown out of every conference game from here on out. If the conference cannot win the majority of its major out of conference matchups, it will hurt us come playoff time.  We are already fighting an uphill battle in terms of perception about the strength of the conference.

Big B

+2 HS
Brutal Brutus's picture

Although Bucky Badger chocked on a Popeye's "Louisiana fast" chicken bone, anyone watching the game knows Wisconsin allowed that game to slip away. The SEC are a bunch of posers...

Fear the Nut...

+3 HS
MountainsAwait's picture

Did anyone see Wisconsin's kicker?  Some former Brazilian soccer player (looking rather overweight, might I add) who made that 51-yard FG look easy.  Said he's drained 60-yarders before.  Can't believe they let the game get away, but that is one bright spot.  That guy has a leg...

"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity..." -John Muir

GUITONISH's picture

Too bad their punter didn't have any leg...

"Everybody always wanted to gamble on 4th down, but they wanted to gamble with my chips." --Poet, President, & Philosopher Jim Tressel

Woody16111's picture

After Wisconsin's blow up, I'm not going to let other teams tarnish a Buckeye victory. 

Ohio State hasn't won all their big games on the national stage, especially struggling against the SEC, but the over all record is respectable and Ohio State played in three BCS Title games, winning one against the team of the century. That is one title more than anybody else in the Big Ten and no other team played for a title. That is a joke. 

Wisconsin really blew it - but to be fair to Wisconsin, the entire conference outside of Ohio State hasn't really done squat in terms of the national title picture. I hope MSU wins next week, but I'm all in for VaTech and that is it, let the rest of the flounders in this conference stink it up themselves. {Michigan's biggest win in 7 years was against Appy State this past week, that tells you all you need to know}

"There is nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

Completed the "Double Skully" 18-August-2015

BeatTTUN's picture

Wisconsin lost the game in the second half because their punter couldn't kick farther than 25 yards on back to back punts.

Those poor kicks gave LSU prime field position.

Couple that with their QB having no one to throw to and a glaring lack of QB skills to throw the football, Dude you learn day 1 of being a QB to never throw off your back foot. It was miserable watching Wisky up but knowing they were going to lose cause they had no chance throwing the football.

Wisconsin's Defense did keep them in the game in the 2nd half until that DT got hurt, after that it was over LSU just pounded it down their throat.

BIG going 12-2 still is respectable

Go Buckeyes Beat Michigan

BoFuquel's picture

The only two scores I like are LSU , and Cal. I have hope The Other Th'Hurteen will not fare so well next time they participate in a game. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

-2 HS
BuckeyeFanInBoulder's picture

Gary Anderson has won the Twit of the Year competition and we're not even into September yet.

GoBucksOSU's picture

Joel Stave should be the one playing QB for Wisconsin. Don't know why they started McEvoy over him just because McEvoy is a better runner.

apack614's picture

It was a good open to the season by the B1G next week is huge though we really need to go 2-1 at least to look like contenders but I like are chances all three of us (MSU, OSU, and ttun) looked pretty good so we will see! Go Bucks!

I can't wait to poop in the PL bathroom.

Eph97's picture

 Gary Anderson's rep goes down the drain in one game. Dude literally gave away the game in the second half when all he needed to do was to feed Gordon. McEvoy made Bauserman look like Peyton Manning!

+3 HS
lax20's picture

Despite going 12-2, the B1G still proved nothing.  Hats off to Rutgers, Penn St. and of course our Buckeyes winning against possibly above average D-1 programs. The two marquee games involving Wisconsin and Northwestern erased a successful day.  Cal is better than most probably thought with Sonny Dykes passing attack, but another embarrassment for the B1G due to Wisconsin's one dimensional offense.  As always the SEC owns the B1G and nothing frustrates me more.  Gary Anderson lost some respect in using McEvoy the whole game instead bringing some passing attack with Stave in the second half.  LSU stacked the line and as always speed trumps big and slow.  This was truly a coaching loss and another black mark for the B1G in the eyes of committee.

ohiobobg's picture

I'm really hoping Cal wins the rest of their game, cuz otherwise this is horrible.....

"you can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning"

+1 HS
GreatLakesBeer's picture

Wisconsin really shit themselves.......pardon my french.

If you will it dude, it is no dream

+1 HS
ohiobobg's picture

Wow - someone needs to explain those power rankings to me.
Nebraska 1-0 1 --

Michigan State 1-0 2 --

Maryland 1-0 3 --
Michigan 1-0 4 --
Wisconsin 0-1 5 --
Indiana 1-0 6 --
Ohio State 1-0 7 --
Rutgers 1-0 8 --
Penn State 1-0 9 --
Minnesota 1-0 10 --
Iowa 1-0 11 --
Purdue 1-0 12 --
Illinois 1-0 13 --
Northwestern 0-1 14 --

"you can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning"

Byaaaahhh's picture

They're a weekly ranking of how well each team performed in their most recent game and nothing else. The rankings are subject to my whims, so don't put too much stock into them.

Reading is fundamental. 

+1 HS
BUCKfutter's picture

what happened was, LSU figured out how to defend wisconsin in the second half (not sure how you don't figure that out BEFORE the game - LSU winning in spite of coaching again). you stack 9 or 10 in the box and make them beat you throwing it, especially with a first year qb. for some reason, that wasn't the gameplan from the start

the kids are playing their tail off, and the coaches are screwing it up! - JLS

TheVictoryBell45's picture

I thought overall it was a decent opening weeking for the Big Ten. Rutgers started it off with a big win in Seattle over Wazzu. Penn State got a big win over UCF. 

Wisconsin really let the Big Ten down by blowing that lead. Idk how Melvin Gordon only gets two carries in the second half. 

HilltopHustle's picture

To me, we're going to be OK after all in this conference this year. I thought Wisconsin looked like they could be elite at times, but that second half was bad. Michigan did what they had to, as did Michigan State. Penn State will only be as good as that line holds, but Hackenberg is insanely talented.

+1 HS
mb5599's picture

 I thought Wisconsin looked like they could be elite at times

It doesnt matter anymore.  Their schedule is so weak that even if they run table and win the BIG, they will be left out of the playoffs.  We need them to get beat down in every conference game from here on out.  Hopefully, Purdue, Iowa, Illinois, etc. will beat them when they play. If Northwestern or Purdue can beat Wisconsin, after they played decently against LSU, what would that say about LSU/SEC?   Unfortunately for Wisconsin, their chance at the playoffs was riding on the LSU game and they blew it. 

Big B

HilltopHustle's picture

I don't disagree. No way they make the playoff now. It'd take LSU going nearly unbeaten and Wisconsin smashing the rest of their schedule.