Big Ten Recap: Iowa Makes Its Case As the League's Best While Michigan Continues to Look Like a Real Football Team

By Jason Priestas on September 12, 2021 at 7:50 am
Iowa keeps the Cy-Hawk Trophy for the sixth year in a row
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Week Two had a little bit of everything.

Nationally, we got the pettiest of shade, a kicker getting tossed for targeting, Tallahassee shook, and America's cat, landing in an American flag.

With just a handful of exceptions, Saturday's Big Ten action was a feast on the weak as the league went 12–2 out of conference, notching a third of those wins against FCS programs and another third on Mid-American Conference schools.

There were, however, two top 15 matchups featuring Big Teams, one of which saw Iowa bag a statement win and the other—well, we're not going to say anything else about that one here.

No. 10 Iowa 27, No. 9 Iowa State 17

  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4  
#10 IOWA 0 14 10 3 27
#9 IOWA STATE 3 7 0 7 17

Formerly, it's known as the Cy-Hawk Game. On college football Twitter, the Iowa-Iowa State rivalry is lovingly called “El Assico,” thanks to scores like 15-13, 17-5, 9-6, and 13-3 in recent years.

Saturday's meeting, the 68th in the series, brought the hype, though. College GameDay was in Ames – and quickly angered Iowa State fans by inviting a Hawkeye fan as the guest picker – for the first-ever meeting between the programs as AP ranked opponents.

No. 10 Iowa turned four turnovers into 20 points to cruise to a 27-17 victory over No. 9 Iowa State and claim the Cy-Hawk Trophy for the sixth year in a row.

The Hawkeyes held Cyclone All-American running back Breece Hall to 69 yards on the ground, and for the second week in a row, scored a defensive touchdown and saw a defender record two interceptions in a game.

Now, the Iowa offense mustered just 173 yards on the day, the fewest of any team to beat a top 10 opponent in 16 years, but that defense… Man, that defense is really good.

Iowa State's Matt Campbell fell to 0–4 against his rival, evoking John Cooper vibes for one of the hottest names in coaching. Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes have now won five straight against ranked opponents, the program's longest such streak since 1960.

NEXT: Iowa (2–0) vs. Kent State (1–1)

Michigan 31, Washington 10

  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4  
WASHINGTON 0 0 3 7 10
MICHIGAN 3 7 7 14 31

Michigan's annual hopium-fueled September got another jolt Saturday night with the Wolverines' 31-10 win over the Washington Huskies in the Big House.

Running backs Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins racked up a combined 326 rushing yards on the night – 21 for 171 and three touchdowns for the sophomore Corum and 27 for 155 and one touchdown for the senior Haskins – marking only the third time in Michigan history a duo has rushed for 150-plus yards in a game. 

Defensively, Aidan Hutchinson notched 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble as the Michigan front set the tone on the very first play of the game, going on to hold the Huskies to 50 yards on the ground.

Couple this strong 2–0 start with Ohio State's loss to Oregon and Michigan Men are feeling as good as they've felt in years. However, there's reason for concern with the Wolverine passing attack that saw quarterback Cade McNamara complete just seven passes for 44 yards.

NEXT: Michigan (2–0) vs. Northern Illinois (1–1)

Rutgers 17, Syracuse 7

  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4  
RUTGERS 0 0 14 3 17
SYRACUSE 0 0 7 0 7

When it comes to Rutgers, we grade on a curve around here and the Scarlet Knights' 17-7 victory at Syracuse is Greg Schiano's second good win to start the season.

Following a scoreless first half, Rutgers cashed in on an unsportsmanlike conduct call on Syracuse coach Dino Babers to quickly score and take a 7-0 lead in the third and a fumble by Orange quarterback Tommy DeVito midway through the final quarter for a field goal and the game's final points.

The Scarlet Knights harrassed DeVito all game, sacking him five times and winning the turnover battle three to zero. Their swag is so strong right now that they blocked a punt and forced another shank of eight yards.

Rutgers is off to their first 2–0 start since 2014. Rank the Scarlet Knights, cowards.

NEXT: Rutgers (2–0) vs. Delaware (2–0)

Virginia 42, Illinois 14

  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4  
ILLINOIS 0 7 7 0 14
VIRGINIA 14 7 14 7 42

Since “upsetting” Nebraska in Week Zero, Illinois has now dropped two in a row after getting absolutely waxed at Virginia, 42-14.

Virginia racked up 556 yards of total offense, getting revenge for the 1999 bowl, as quarterback Brennan Armstrong tossed five touchdown passes on the way to becoming the third quarterback in program history to throw for more than 400 yards.

Name a more iconic duo than Bret Bielema and bad football.

NEXT: Illinois (1–2) vs. Maryland (2–0)

No. 11 Penn State 44, Ball State 13

  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4  
BALL STATE 0 6 0 7 13
#11 PENN STATE 14 10 10 10 44

Penn State jumped out to a 24-6 halftime lead on Ball State and had no problem the rest of the way, romping to a 44-13 win in front of fans at Beaver Stadium for the first time in 22 months.

Surely the opponent had a lot to do with it, but Nittany Lion quarterback Sean Clifford was solid, going 21 of 29 for 230 yards with a rushing and passing touchdown on the afternoon. Seven different Penn State players scored points as the offense piled up 493 total yards with a nice 253/240 passing to rushing split.

How good is this Penn State team? That's a great question, but they have a big one on deck.

NEXT: Penn State (2–0) vs. Auburn (2–0)

No. 18 Wisconsin 34, Eastern Michigan 7

  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4  
EASTERN MICH. 0 0 0 7 7
#18 WISCONSIN 7 17 3 7 34

Quarterback Graham Mertz was solid and running back Chez Mellusi ran for 144 of Wisconsin's 352 rushing yards as the Badgers throttled hapless Eastern Michigan, 34-7, in Madison.

Mellusi, a Clemson transfer, became the first Badger to go for over 100 yards on the ground in his first two games since Corey Clement in 2013.

Defensively, Wisconsin was stingy, holding the Eagles to a meager 92 yards of total offense. The Badgers would have notched a shutout, but the dreaded forward pass, longtime enemy of Wisconsin football, led to a 98-yard pick-six for Eastern Washington late in the fourth.

NEXT: Wisconsin (1–1) vs. Notre Dame (2–0) at Soldier Field, 9/25

Michigan State 42, Youngstown State 14

  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4  
MICHIGAN STATE 14 21 7 0 42

The good news: Youngstown State held Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker, who gashed Northwestern last week to the tune of 264 rushing yards and four touchdowns, in check.

The bad news: Everybody else got loose on the Penguins.

Spartan quarterback Payton Thorne threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns as 12 Michigan State receivers caught passes and sophomore running back Jordon Simmons went for 121 yards on 16 carries as Sparty blew the doors off Youngstown State, 42-14.

Folks, I think Mel Tucker might be the real deal. We'll find out a little more next week.

NEXT: Michigan State (2–0) at Miami (1–1)

Maryland 62, Howard 0

  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4  
HOWARD 0 0 0 0 0
MARYLAND 14 24 14 10 62

Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was pretty darn good again for Maryland Saturday, going 22 of 27 for 274 yards and three touchdowns in a blowout 62-0 home win over Howard.

This one was never really close as the Terps jumped out to a 38-0 halftime lead and piled up 574 yards of offense while holding the Bison to 80 yards through the air and 66 on the ground.

Receiver Dontay Demus Jr. turned in his second big game of the young season for Maryland, finishing with six receptions for 128 yards a week after ripping off six for 133 against West Virginia.

Yes, it's Howard, but as I said last week: Anytime a school like Maryland or Rutgers hangs 60 on an opponent, you have to take notice, regardless of how bad the opponent might be.

NEXT: Maryland (2–0) at Illinois (1–2)

Minnesota 31, Miami (OH) 26

  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4  
MIAMI (OH) 0 3 10 13 26
MINNESOTA 7 14 0 10 31

Last week, Minnesota lost star running back Mo Ibrahim for the season. This week, they plugged Trey Potts in.

Potts ran for 178 yards and two touchdowns in the sophomore's first start with the Gophers, leading his team to a closer than expected 31-26 win over Miami (OH).

Minnesota jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead, but a 23-yard touchdown pass from Brett Gabbert to Jack Sorenson cut the Gopher lead to one a little over two minutes into the fourth.

Miami would go on to top Minnesota in first downs, total yards, and passing yards, but two turnovers were the difference in this one. In fact, the RedHawks held Minnesota to zero second-half completions. Surely this result will make Ohio State fans sleep easier.

The Gophers will put their national-best 20-game non-conference winning streak to the test in Boulder next weekend.

NEXT: Minnesota (1–1) at Colorado (1–1)

Purdue 49, UConn 0

  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4  
PURDUE 7 28 14 0 49
UCONN 0 0 0 0 0

What a week for UConn football. First, head coach Randy Edsall announced he'd retire at the end of the season. Then, UConn thought about it and was like, "Hey man, the program is a tire fire. Maybe you should leave sooner.”

And so the school announced Edsall would step immediately with defensive coordinator Lou Spanos serving as interim head coach for Saturday's home game against Purdue.

The Boilermakers proceeded to rough up UConn as one does to a program that hasn't won a game since October 2019, blowing out the Huskies, 49-0. Quarterback Jack Plummer went 16 for 20 with four touchdown passes as Purdue recorded its first road shutout since 1981.

Fun fact: This game was so bad you can't even find highlights for it on YouTube!

NEXT: Purdue (2–0) at Notre Dame (2–0)

Indiana 56, Idaho 14

  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4  
IDAHO 0 7 7 0 14
INDIANA 21 14 7 14 56

Coming off a brutal loss at Iowa in Week 1, Indiana jumped out to a fast start and rolled FCS Idaho, 56-14 in Bloomington Saturday.

Michael Penix Jr. tossed two touchdowns and ran for another as the Hoosiers went up 21-0 in the first before extending their lead to 35-0 in the second quarter.

Among those five first-half touchdowns was a blocked punt for six and an 81-yard punt return to the house from D.J. Matthews Jr., giving IU its first game with two special teams touchdowns since 1969.

Alas, the Hoosiers stumbled with getting letters correct again this week:

Indian victory flag goes wrong

NEXT: Indiana (1–1) vs. Cincinnati (2–0)

Northwestern 24, Indiana State 6

  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4  
NORTHWESTERN 14 0 3 7 24

Northwestern rebounded from a home shellacking at the hands of Michigan State with a 24-6 win over Indiana State, but all is certainly not well with the Wildcats.

Pat Fitzgerald's team jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead on the FCS Sycamores but scrounged up a dismal 103 yards of total offense over the final three quarters.

That's fine for Indiana State, but won't get it done against a team with a pulse.

NEXT: Northwestern (1–1) at Duke (1–1)

Nebraska 28, Buffalo 3

  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4  
BUFFALO 0 0 3 0 3
NEBRASKA 0 14 14 0 28

Is Nebraska bad? Absolutely. They lost their opener to Illinois of all teams.

But Nebraska also has this way of making themselves look even worse than they really are, which we're just going to go ahead and call the Scott Frost Effect™.

The Cornhuskers led Buffalo 14-0 at the half and were never seriously challenged on the way to a 28-3 home win Saturday, but this miserable football team also had three touchdowns called back on penalties and missed three field goals.

Hell is life as a Cornhusker fan, eating the state food, a glorified Hot Pocket, while weeping softly about the current sad state of affairs. Chin up, Nebraska fan. You get to travel to Oklahoma this week!

NEXT: Nebraska (2–1) at Oklahoma (2–0)

B1G Power Rankings: Week 2
Rank Team Overall Conference Move
1 IOWA 2–0 1–0 ▲ 1
2 OHIO STATE 1–1 1–0 ▼ 1
3 MICHIGAN 2–0 0–0 ▲ 3
4 PENN STATE 2–0 1–0 ▼ 1
6 MARYLAND 2–0 0–0 ▼ 2
7 WISCONSIN 1–1 0–1
8 RUTGERS 2–0 0–0 ▲ 1
9 PURDUE 2–0 0–0 ▲ 1
10 MINNESOTA 1–1 0–1 ▼ 2
11 INDIANA 1–1 0–1
12 NEBRASKA 2–1 0–1 ▲ 2
13 NORTHWESTERN 1–1 0–1 ▼ 1
14 ILLINOIS 1–2 1–0 ▼ 1

Two weeks in and Iowa has a strong case as the Big Ten's best team. I think Vegas would still have Ohio State as a favorite in a head-to-head matchup with the Hawkeyes, but if you're a Buckeye fan, you can't have much faith in Kerry Coombs' defense right now.

Michigan looks good at 2–0, doing things this program hasn't done in years, but again, it's September, and the Wolverines have a suddenly semi-dangerous Rutgers in two weeks and close this season at Michigan State, vs. Indiana, at Penn State, at Maryland, and then Ohio State in the Big House.

Penn State and Michigan State round out the top five in this week's set of power rankings, though I really wanted to find a way to keep Maryland in that group. They're better than your standard grade Maryland we're so used to seeing.

Illinois holds down the cellar. The opening win over Nebraska was enough to keep them out of the bottom last week, but Bielema's team seems to be getting worse by the week.

Until next week—

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