1. (Last Week: 3) Iowa (2-0), W - 27-17 at Iowa State, Next Week: vs. Kent State
Iowa turned four takeaways (three INTs, one fumble) into 20 points and came away with a huge road victory against their in-state rival Iowa State on Saturday. With College GameDay in town, Iowa spoiled the Cyclones’ big day behind an elite performance by Kirk Ferentz’s defense.
The Hawkeyes picked off quarterback Brock Purdy three times, twice in Iowa State’s own territory, and returned a fumble back for a touchdown. Iowa now has seven total takeaways and three defensive touchdowns through their first two games, both wins over ranked opponents. Iowa’s offense was almost non-existent on Saturday (173 total yards), but it didn’t matter with their defense making plays all over the field.
The Hawkeyes will need quarterback Spencer Petras to be better if they want to challenge for a Big Ten title, but through two weeks they have the most impressive resume in the conference.
2. (2) Penn State (2-0), W - 44-13 vs. Ball State, Next Week: vs. No. 22 Auburn
The Nittany Lions took care of business on Saturday, cruising to a 44-13 win over Ball State in Happy Valley. Quarterback Sean Clifford had an efficient day through the air, completing 21 of 29 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown, while adding 66 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Through two games, Penn State’s defense looks to be one of the best in conference. The Nittany Lions finished with two interceptions, including a pick six, and held the Cardinals to just 176 passing yards on 39 attempts. Penn State will need Clifford to be at his best in a home matchup against a ranked Auburn team this upcoming Saturday.
3. (4) Michigan (2-0), W - 31-10 vs. Washington, Next Week: vs. Northern Illinois
Michigan ran all over Washington in a fairly easy win against the Huskies this past Saturday night. The Wolverines only needed to throw the ball 15 times in the win, as their rushing attack was the story of the game. Running back Blake Corum followed up his 111-yard rushing performance in Week 1 by running for 171 yards and three touchdowns, while fellow back Hassan Haskins finished with 155 yards and a touchdown. Washington’s defense is no slouch either, making Michigan’s dominant rushing day even more impressive. Michigan will turn their attention to Northern Illinois, who will visit The Big House in Week 3.
4. (1) Ohio State (1-1), L - 35-28 vs. Oregon, Next Week: vs. Tulsa
The Buckeyes’ defense let them down in a surprising loss to a talented Oregon team on Saturday afternoon. The Ducks rushed for 269 yards and three touchdowns as a team, as their offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage all game. Running back CJ Verdell rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns, including a 77-yard score, to lead the Ducks. Oregon’s quarterback Anthony Brown made just enough plays and never turned the ball over.
Ohio State’s offense was great, outgaining the Ducks in total yards 612 to 505, but the Buckeyes just didn’t get enough stops and forced no turnovers in the loss. Ohio State can still run the table in the Big Ten, but this rare, early-season loss gives the Buckeyes no room for error and makes it an uphill climb to reach the College Football Playoff.
5. (5) Michigan State (2-0), W - 42-14 vs. Youngstown State, Next Week: at No. 24 Miami
Fresh off a road win at Northwestern in Week 1, the Spartans kept it going on Saturday with a 42-14 beatdown of FCS Youngstown State. Quarterback Payton Thorne had huge day, throwing for 280 yards and four touchdowns, including a 75-yard strike to Jayden Reed on the first play of the game. Reed finished with 181 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the win. Through two games the Spartans have looked awesome on offense but they’ll have their toughest test yet in Week 3 when they travel to face No. 24 Miami.
FLEA FLICKER!— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) September 11, 2021
Jayden Reed gets open and does the rest
6. (6) Wisconsin (1-1), W - 34-7 vs. Eastern Michigan, Next Week: BYE
After a gut-wrenching Week 1 loss to Penn State, the Badgers bounced back with an easy home victory over Eastern Michigan. Wisconsin ran all over the Eagles, finishing with 352 rushing yards and four touchdowns as a team. Running back Chez Mellusi had another 100-yard rushing day (144 yards, onw TD) while Jalen Berger returned to action and rushed for 62 yards on 15 carries.
I would have liked to see Paul Chryst air the ball out a bit more (20 pass attempts) and get quarterback Graham Mertz some confidence back, but you can’t really blame Chryst for wanting to exploit their clear advantage in the trenches. Wisconsin’s defense was completely dominant in this one, holding EMU to just 92 total yards and allowing only two first downs. The Badgers get a bye in Week 3 to prepare for their showdown against Notre Dame in two weeks.
7. (7) Maryland (2-0), W - 62-0 vs. Howard, Next Week: at Illinois
Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was nearly perfect in Maryland’s 62-0 beatdown of Howard on Saturday afternoon. The junior completed 22 of 27 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns in an offensive clinic for the Terrapins. Wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr. had 100+ receiving yards for the second straight game and is turning into a special player for the Terps. There isn’t too much to take from this game, as Howard was completely overmatched, but Maryland’s offense looks legit with plenty of playmakers all over the field. Mike Locksley’s team will look to avoid a letdown game against Illinois on Friday night.
8. (8) Purdue (2-0), W - 49-0 at UConn, Next Week: at No. 12 Notre Dame
Purdue traveled to East Hartford and dominated a putrid UConn team in a 49-0 victory over the weekend. Wide receiver David Bell had another ridiculous game, finishing with 121 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Purdue’s passing attack as a whole was unstoppable, as head coach Jeff Brohm played three quarterbacks who combined to throw for 375 yards, six touchdowns, and no interceptions.
The Boilermakers didn’t leave Connecticut unscathed though, as starting running back Zander Horvath suffered a broken fibula and will be out for 4-8 weeks. Purdue travels to face Notre Dame in Week 3, and considering the Irish barely snuck past Toledo last weekend, this is a game the Boilermakers can make close with their high-powered passing attack.
Breaking: DAVID BELL IS A BAD MAN— Olivia Ray (@OliviaRayWISH) September 11, 2021
9. (9) Northwestern (1-1), W - 24-6 vs. Indiana State, Next Week: at Duke
In typical Northwestern fashion, the Wildcats used their rushing attack and solid defense to notch their first win of the season over Indiana State. Running back Evan Hull rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns, while freshman Anthony Tyus III needed only 10 carries to get 71 yards on the ground. The Wildcats’ defense had a bounce back game after getting torched by Michigan State in Week 1, holding the Sycamores to just 169 total yards and not surrendering a play longer than 17 yards. Northwestern travels to Duke in Week 3 for a game in which the Wildcats are favored by 2.5 points.
10. (11) Indiana (1-1), W - 56-14 vs. Idaho, Next Week: vs. No. 8 Cincinnati
After a disastrous Week 1 loss to Iowa, the Hoosiers got back on track with a blowout win over Idaho on Saturday. Running back Stephen Carr led the way for Indiana’s offense, rushing for 118 yards and a touchdown, while quarterback Michael Penix Jr. had three total touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing) and no turnovers, after throwing three picks last week. Indiana’s special teams also showed up in a big way, as Javon Swinton scooped up a blocked punt for a touchdown and Florida State transfer DJ Matthews Jr. had an electric punt return touchdown. The Hoosiers will have a chance to get a marquee win over No. 8 Cincinnati in Bloomington this upcoming Saturday.
11. (12) Rutgers (2-0), W - 17-7 at Syracuse, Next Week: vs. Delaware
Rutgers’ defense made just enough plays to secure a victory over Syracuse in an ugly slugfest at the Carrier Dome. The Scarlet Knights forced three turnovers (two fumbles, one INT) and finished with five sacks, while the Orange couldn’t finish drives and made some costly mistakes. Quarterback Noah Vedral was efficient through the air, completing 22 of 28 passes for 145 yards, one touchdown, and no picks. The Scarlet Knights will look to get their offense rolling in a winnable game against Delaware in Week 3.
12. (10) Minnesota (1-1), W - 31-26 vs. Miami (OH), Next Week: at Colorado
The Golden Gophers avoided disaster and squeaked out a win over Miami (OH) in their first game without star running back Mohamed Ibrahim. New starter Treyson Potts filled in admirably for Ibrahim, rushing for 178 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Minnesota was actually outgained in this game, but the Gophers forced two turnovers (one INT, one fumble) including an interception in the fourth quarter that sealed the victory. The Gophers will have a tough test this upcoming Saturday when they travel to Boulder to face a Colorado team that nearly knocked off Texas A&M last weekend.
13. (14) Nebraska (2-1), W - 28-3 vs. Buffalo, Next Week: at No. 3 Oklahoma
The Cornhuskers had a fairly easy time handling Buffalo in Week 2, as quarterback Adrian Martinez had himself a day. The senior signal caller threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 112 yards on the ground in the victory. Nebraska kept the Bulls out of the end zone on Saturday, despite allowing 359 total yards.
The special teams play was subpar for the Cornhuskers, as Connor Culp missed three field goals, and is something to keep an eye on as the season goes on. This was Nebraska’s final tune up game before they travel to Norman to play Oklahoma this Saturday.
14. (13) Illinois (1-2), L - 42-14 at Virginia, Next Week: vs. Maryland
Illinois was outclassed by Virginia on Saturday, allowing 556 total yards in a 42-14 blowout loss in Charlottesville. UVA quarterback Brennan Armstrong threw for 405 yards and five touchdowns, torching the Illini secondary all afternoon. Illinois’ offense couldn’t keep up with backup Artur Sitkowski under center and were just 6-for-17 on third down conversions in the loss. Starting quarterback Brandon Peters will return from injury and start for the Illini in their Friday night game against Maryland.