With one week of Big Ten play in the books, there was a lot of action from over the weekend. Minnesota was easily handled by Michigan, Rutgers logged a surprise win and Wisconsin may have found a new starter at quarterback.
Games of the Week:
The Hoosiers shocked the Nittany Lions, defeating them for just the second time in program history. The Nittany Lions had the game won if their running back Devyn Ford just fell down after picking up the first down; however, he ran into the endzone, giving Indiana a chance to tie the game. It is worth noting that Ford was expected to be Penn State’s third string running back, as a medical condition forced Journey Brown to sit out this season and Noah Cain got hurt on the first series of the game.
Michael Penix Jr., Indiana’s quarterback, did not play well up until the final two minutes of the game. Penix threw for 99 yards and had an interception in the first 58 minutes of play. However, when the Hoosiers needed him, Penix put on his cape and carried the Hoosiers to victory, giving Indiana its first win against a top 10 opponent in 33 years.
Rutgers, who hadn’t won a conference game since November 4, 2017 against Maryland, came into East Lansing and shocked the Spartans in Greg Schiano’s first game back as Rutgers head coach. Mel Tucker's debut as Michigan State’s head coach could not have gone any worse, as the Spartans turned the ball over seven times and failed to take the lead the entire contest. It was the first time the Spartans had turned the ball over seven times in a game since 1981.
Rutgers, who scored 14 points in total through their first five Big Ten games last season, reached that mark just over eight minutes into the game. The Scarlet Knights, who averaged 5.7 points per game in Big Ten play last year, put up 28 points in the first half alone. It was an ugly day on both sides of the ball for the Spartans, as they suffered an embarrassing loss.
Performances of the Week
The redshirt freshman quarterback Graham Mertz put on a show Friday night, as his debut was almost perfect. Mertz went 20-for-21 with 248 passing yards and five touchdown passes, becoming the 3rd FBS player over the last 25 seasons with five touchdown passes and a completion percentage over 95% in a single game. In the first half alone Mertz went 14-for-14 for 190 yards and four touchdown passes, including a 53 yard touchdown pass to Danny Davis, which was a dime. Mertz, who is stepping in for the injured Jack Coan, certainly put the rest of the Big Ten on notice that he can ball.
With Purdue’s star wide receiver Rondale Moore sidelined, David Bell stepped up big time. The sophomore wideout from Indianapolis had 13 catches for 121 yards and three touchdowns, including a game winning six yard touchdown catch with 2:15 remaining in the game.
Plays of the Week:
True freshman Jaxson Smith-Njigba made the catch of the day, leaping in the back of the end zone for a ball over his head and somehow coming down with one foot in bounds. Though the call on the field was incomplete, it was clear that Smith-Njigba kept his left foot in bounds.
With the game on the line, Michael Penix Jr. somehow found his way into the endzone to give the Hoosiers the win. Penix scrambled outside the pocket and leaped for the pylon with the football in his right hand. The ball hit out of bounds before the pylon, but the refs deemed the ball crossed the goal-line before the ball hit the out of bounds line, giving Indiana the huge upset win.
What stood out to you from the first week of Big Ten action? Any major takeaways? Let us know!