So, That Just Happened: Week Three

Buckeye CommentarySenior Analyst ISeptember 21, 2009

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 19:  Quarterback Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines carries the ball on a 36 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against the Eastern Michigan Eagles at Michigan Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Michigan won 45-17.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Michigan 45, E. Michigan 17
Michigan Stadium

What we knew: Michigan is drastically improved and Eastern Michigan is terrible, losing to Army and Northwestern in previous weeks by identical 27-14 scores.

What we learned: Forcier and Robinson still have plenty of work to do as passers. Sure, they did not need to do a lot of throwing but I am sure the Michigan coaching staff would have liked a bit more balance and fewer interceptions, especially ones occurring within the final two minutes of the half.

Still, the Wolverines scored on their first four possessions and really put the clamps on in the second half. The development of a second running must be encouraging.

What we think: This may be a legitimate Top 15 team. I keep waiting for the freshman bungles to kick in but these kids are pretty cool under pressure. We will not learn much more this coming weekend but Michigan State and Iowa loom the first two weeks of October.

California 35, Minnesota 21
TCF Bank Stadium

What we knew: This was the game for Minnesota’s inaugural season in their brand new stadium—Ohio State and Penn State are on the road. The crowd was going to be a boost for the Gophers, even if the University was determined to make them quieter.

What we learned: Minnesota looked a lot better than their first performance through 9 quarters had signaled. Through one quarter yesterday Minny was down 14-0 and Cal had amassed 170 yards of offense. The Gophers fought back valiantly but they were undone by turnovers on the final three possessions, the first of which gain Cal a short field to seal the game.

What we think: Without a legitimate running game Minnesota is going to struggle all season. When your longest rush of the day is 12 yards opposing defenses are 100-hundred positive there is no damage to be done there.

Penn State 31, Temple 6
Beaver Stadium

What we knew: The Nittany Lions have played their traditional wretched non-conference schedule and it is impossible to discern much from it. It is easy to imagine the players going through the motions, piling up some early yards while gaining big leads on overmatched opponents.

What we learned: The flu bug was going around in central PA but it did not seem to affect Evan Royster. The conference’s best back finally got on track.

What we think: Start paying attention this weekend as Iowa comes to Happy Valley for a night game. Penn State’s offensive line needs to continue improving this week because the Hawkeyes’ defense will be different (and better) animal than Akron, Syracuse, and Temple. Otherwise, Daryl Clark and his new receivers may feel too much pressure.

Iowa 27, Arizona 17
Kinnick Stadium

What we knew: Iowa was the luckiest team in country the first two weeks, taking advantage of Northern Iowa’s ineptitude and Iowa State’s propensity for turnovers. There was a real question about whether they could win a game where the other team actually played well.

What we learned: At least one Big Ten team can beat someone from the Pac 10. Based on the first two weeks, it seemed like Iowa was a sitting duck, but they dominated time of possession and Stanzi proved capable of leading the Black and Gold on big drives when they needed them.

What we think: Despite the improved performance against the Wildcats, a night game—a probable white-out—in Beaver Stadium seems like a tall order. It is hard to trust Stanzi in that environment.

Notre Dame 33, Michigan State 30
Notre Dame Stadium

What we knew: The Spartans were coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Chippewas and were trying to live up to the standard set by their in-state rivals. Despite the 1-1 start, Michigan State had received surprisingly good quarterback play from Kirk Cousins, who had separated himself from Keith Nichol after two weeks.

What we learned: I am not sure if the Spartans confirmed that Notre Dame’s pass defense is horrific or if they have an offense on par with the Wolverine neighbors. The Spartans are going to need a more dependable running game as it will not be as easy to slice through the defenses of the upper echelon in the conference.

What we think: The Spartans clutch defeat from the jaws of victory as well as any team in the league. Will this tough two-game losing streak cause the team to come unglued? We will find out quickly as they travel to Madtown this weekend.

Northern Illinois 28, Purdue 21
Ross-Ade Stadium

What we knew: Even though they were only 1-1, Purdue appeared to be able to score in bunches posting 52 against Toledo and 36 at Oregon. They were doing it with balance, too. Danny Hope appeared to be off to a decent start.

What we learned: That semi-positive start may have evaporated in a loss to Northern Illinois. The Huskies are improving but the Boilermakers defense was unable to stop the run on the drive where NIU bled the clock down.

What we think: Despite two close losses, the Boilermakers are staring a 1-3 start in the face. Their Big Ten schedule is favorable but their penchant for overall turnovers belies their -0.5 TO margin. Three turnovers per game in league will net a team about six losses.

Indiana 38, Akron 21
Rubber Bowl

What we knew: IU squeaked by a couple of directional teams to start the season and won each game in unspectacular fashion.

What we learned: The Hoosiers are not a good team but they were able to take advantage of Akron without their starting quarterback. The third quarter began with a tight game but the Hoosiers turned four second-half interceptions into short-field scores to blow it open.

What we think: Indiana may play a little smarter and harder this season but they are unlikely to make any noise in the absence of a playmaker like James Hardy.

Wisconsin 44, Wofford 14
Camp Randall Stadium

What we knew: Wisky was lucky to be 2-0 after holding off the same N. Illinois team that took out Purdue. As usual, the Badgers have a multi-headed rushing attack with opposing styles to choose from.

What we learned: Scott Tolzien has been a pleasant surprise for the Badgers currently sitting at second in Big Ten passing efficiency. If he can keep it up it would be a big boost for a team that has not had a quarterback with a completion percentage above 60-percent in six years.

What we think: This program is giving off a bad vibe these days and barely beating MAC and WAC teams is not the way to invoke fear in the hearts of your opponents. The Michigan State game this weekend should go a long way towards deciding which of those two teams will have a decent season.


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