Big Ten East a B1G Uneasy in Week 1

Oh. Ver. Rated?

Herb,NEW, 8-12-18

Penn State was No. 10 in the AP Poll. Michigan State was No. 11 and Michigan was No. 14.

That was not apparent from their first games.

In one dyspeptic opening weekend, the three members of the vaunted Big Ten East looked more like the B1G Uneasy than a group in the discussion for best division in the nation.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

Michigan State: Trailing 31-30, Sparty needed a touchdown with two minutes left to beat Utah State, 38-31. The Aggies’ sophomore quick-release quarterback, Jordan Love, tossed the ball around for 319 passing yards against a defense that allowed. 202.3 yards a game last year.

Penn State: Trailing 38-31, the Nittany Lions needed a touchdown pass with 42 seconds left and escaped 45-38 in overtime against Appalachian State, which had shocked Michigan in Ann Arbor exactly 11 years to the day earlier. The Mountaineers piled up 451 yards (292 passing, 159 rushing) before a disbelieving crowd in Happy Valley.

And those are the teams that won.

Michigan: If you give up two touchdowns on the first two possessions, are you still in the conversation for best defense in the nation?

It’s not so much that the Wolverines lost 24-17 at Notre Dame—although they really could have used a win. It’s that they were pretty much on their heels for most of the game. It was a two-possession game virtually the whole night.

While their vaunted defense got pumched in the mouth, their supposedly improved offense managed no touchdowns until only 2 minutes and 18 seconds remained in the game. Their lone TD in the first 57 minutes came on a 99-yard kickoff return.

Galloping Buckeyes: Oh, and by the way, the Buckeyes put up a Red Grange on Oregon State, winning 77-38. The Galloping Ghost—or Wheaton Iceman, if you prefer—wore No. 77 at Illinois when he made hash out of a vaunted Michigan team, scoring six touchdowns in one 1924 game.)

As Brutus Buekeye and his friends survey the Big Ten East landscape heading into Week 2, they probably are feeling even more confident—if that’s possible.

Two to Tango: The two Big Ten East schools playing without their coaches were an impressive 2-0. Besides the Meyer-less Buckeyes, the D.J. Durkin-less Maryland Terrapins upset No. 23 Texas 34-29 for the second straight season.

Is that why they get paid so much? Because they’re so good they build organizations that can keep rolling while they’re sitting in the penalty box?

The Terrapins dedicated the game and their entire season to offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who died of heatstroke in June. It’s a touching but awkward tribute, since Durkin is widely expected to lose his job.

Not so fast: Yes, that was Lee Corso, standing right behind Jim Harbaugh on the Michigan sideline, and looking as befuddled as the Wolverines coach. He also was looking very Garry Shandling.

Surgeon General’s Warning: All of this snarky-ness comes with a short shelf life. In other words, Michigan State, Penn State and Michigan shouldn’t be written off just because they failed to shine in their opening games.

The two States won their games, after all. Even Alabama has the occasional close call. And losing at Notre Dame, which is looking very College-Football-Playoff-worthy, was hardly a fatal blow for Michigan.

They all could win up having seasons worthy of their lofty pre-season hype. They just didn’t show in their first games.

But hey, it wasn’t even Labor Day.[/membership]