The Big Ten’s Top Defense? A Week 1 Recap and a Look Ahead to Week 2

We had a great first weekend of college football filled with plenty of excitement and agony. Every Big Ten team has seen action now after week one and only Purdue, Rutgers and Indiana have losses. Even in their losses though, the Big Ten looked good. Purdue lost by a score to a very good Louisville team and Rutgers, yes Rutgers, hung tough with #8 Washington. Then we have Maryland who looked like a team that wouldn’t be near the basement of Big Ten in their first game at Texas. It will be interesting to see if they can keep this play up or if this game was just a fluke. That takes me into my three big takeaways from last weekend.

  1. The Big Ten has four teams that have a legitimate shot at the College Football Playoff. Ohio State and Penn State looked the part of favorites to make it while Michigan looked dominant against Florida on all sides of the ball and Wisconsin looked like a top 10 team against Utah State.
  2. Saquon Barkley affirmed himself as the Heisman favorite after his performance this week. He recorded 226 all purpose yards with 2 scores. Oh yeah, those yards are on 17 touches. He average well over 10 yards on each carry and reception he had. He is head and shoulders above anyone else in the Big Ten and is the best running back in nation.
  3. Iowa may boast the best defense in the Big Ten. It easy to get lost in the shuffle when playing in the same conference a Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin but Iowa’s defense is no joke. They held top QB prospect Josh Allen to QBR of 24.9 and Wyoming to just 3 points. Led by Josey Jewell (who I picked to win Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year) and his 14 tackles, 2 sacks and 2.5 TFL, the Hawkeye’s swarm on defense and were able to come up with two key interceptions of Allen.

Week 2 will begin Friday as Purdue takes on Ohio on FS1. We then have a pretty good slate of football highlighted by Oklahoma at Ohio State Saturday night. Keep an eye on Pitt vs. Penn State, Northwestern vs. Duke, and Nebraska vs. Oregon this week as well. All feature great matchups against other Power 5 teams and the makings to be great games. I like the Big Ten to 12-2 this week.

Week Two Matchup to Watch

Baker Mayfield vs. Ohio State’s Secondary

Last year, Ohio State marched into Norman and dominated the Sooners from the start. Baker Mayfield and company will look to do the same in Columbus this weekend.

Baker Mayfield had a game to forget last year after he only completed 17 of 32 passes and had 2 interceptions to go along with 2 touchdowns. But this is a new Buckeye secondary. They no longer have first round picks Malik Hooker, Gareon Conley and Marcus Lattimore and replace them with new starters Denzel Ward and Kendall Sheffield. Ward and Sheffield had a tough start in OSU’s first game last week against Indiana as Lagow and company racked up 420 yards through the air. Ward and Sheffield did settle down eventually as Ward ended up with 5 pass deflections and an interception while Sheffield had a couple breakups as well. They only allowed 7 second half points but didn’t erase the first half and that has to be worrisome for the Buckeyes. While Lagow and Indiana will be fighting to make a bowl game, the Sooners and Mayfield will have their eyes on Atlanta and the CFB Playoff, as well as the Heisman. Mayfield missed just one pass in his Week One matchup and looked like an early candidate for the Heisman trophy. The game this Saturday will be won or lost based on this match up.

If the secondary can lock up the Oklahoma receivers and make Mayfield force throws or hang on to the ball, the Buckeyes sensational front 7 should have a field day. If Mayfield can have the success that Indiana had, then Ohio State will be in trouble and will struggle to hang with Oklahoma. I think that the crowd and Ohio State’s defensive line will be able to give a little relief to that secondary and they should hold up just fine. This is such an even game but I think the Buckeyes get it done in a closer game than last year. Ohio State 31, Oklahoma 27

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