Big Ten: Breaking down the box scores for Week 1 games


Diving into the box score of every Big Ten game from Week 1 to get a better understanding of each team.

Each week I will look closer at box scores involving Big Ten teams and pick out the most important stats. Sometimes a score of a game can be misleading so I’ll focus on other numbers like total offense, yards per play and turnovers. Hopefully we’ll learn something about each team after every game especially as the season goes on. Here is my box score analysis for Week 1:

Michigan at Utah: Michigan lost 24-17 against Utah and failed to cover the spread. However, they outgained the Utes 355-337 and three interceptions doomed the Wolverines. One of the interceptions by Jake Rudock was returned for a touchdown. Michigan show bright spots in Jim Harbaugh’s first game and I think the Wolverines will be a team to back from a betting perspective in conference play.

TCU at Minnesota: Minnesota lost 23-17 and covered the 16.5-point closing line. However, the score was misleading if you look at the box score. TCU outgained Minnesota 449-341 and the Golden Gophers offense looks like a work in progress. Minnesota probably won’t face a better team until their trip to Ohio State.

Michigan State at Western Michigan: Michigan State led 34-10 at the end of the third quarter but gave up two touchdowns and failed to cover the 16.5-point spread. Don’t look too much into that non-cover with a huge game against Oregon on deck for the Spartans. Michigan State’s offense was impressive by averaging 6.4 yards per play.

Kent State at Illinois: Illinois won 52-3 and easily covered against Kent State. Illinois may be motivated this season with Tim Beckman gone and Bill Cubit as their head coach. The Illini had 342 yards of total offense on 65 plays, and forced four turnovers.

Norfolk State at Rutgers: Rutgers is going through off-field issues but they didn’t skip a beat on the field. They dominated Norfolk State 63-13 and averaged 8.7 yards per play. We’ll see how Rutgers fares against FBS opponents this season before making a judgment on the Scarlet Knights.

Stanford at Northwestern: The Wildcats upset the Cardinal 16-6 in an ugly early game in Evanston. Northwestern controlled the ball by running 17 more offensive plays than Stanford, and outgained them 330-240. This was not a fluke at all for Northwestern.

Richmond at Maryland: Maryland let Richmond hang around in the first half before pulling away and winning 50-21. The Terrapins outgained the Spiders 479-276. We’ll have to wait until Maryland plays a FBS team before learning more about them.

Illinois State at Iowa: Iowa outclassed Illinois State despite only being a ten-point favorite at home against the FCS school. The game wasn’t even as close as the score indicates as Iowa jumped out to a 31-0 lead and Illinois State scored two consolation touchdowns late in the fourth quarter. Iowa outgained Illinois State 431-231.

Penn State at Temple: Penn State jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and then it was all Temple after that. The Owls outgained gained the Nittany Lions 317-180 and sacked Christian Hackenberg 10 times. Unless they fix their offensive line, Penn State might be a year away before becoming a force in the Big Ten.

BYU at Nebraska: Nebraska lost on a Hail Mary to BYU in Mike Riley’s first game as coach. Despite the cruel way to lose, Nebraska were outgained 511-445 and allowed 7.1 yards per play to BYU. If the Cornhuskers defense doesn’t improve, look to pick against them once conference play starts.

Southern Illinois at Indiana: Indiana’s 48-47 win over Southern Illinois looks worrisome on paper and it’s even worse if you look at the box score. The FCS school outgained Indiana and had 659 yards of total offense. Southern Illinois also gifted Indiana two fumbles. Could be another long year in Bloomington if the Indiana defense doesn’t turn it around.

Wisconsin vs Alabama: Wisconsin dropped to Alabama 35-17 and failed to cover on a neutral site. The box score shows that the final score told the story of this game. Alabama had 502 yards on 66 plays and Wisconsin only rushed for 40 yards on 21 attempts. Wisconsin will struggle this season if they can’t run the ball but Alabama is probably the best defense they will face.

Purdue at Marshall: This was one of the craziest games of the weekend. Purdue entered this game as a seven-point underdog and if you bet on the Boilermakers, you were the unluckiest person of the weekend. Purdue gave up two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns and had four interceptions in the game. They outgained Marshall 454-397 and ran an astonishing 95 plays. If Purdue takes care of the ball this season they might do better than expected.

Ohio State vs Virginia Tech: The Buckeyes won 42-24 and covered the spread. Outside the second quarter, Ohio State dominated although they were helped out by Michael Brewer’s game-ending injury. The eye test showed plenty of mistakes by Ohio State but they still scored 42 points and averaged 10.2 yards per play. One thing I learned about Ohio State is they will cover a lot of spreads this season. Both Cardale Jones and JT Barrett will want to impress when they are in the game and Urban Meyer won’t have a problem with running up the score.

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