We have wrapped up the first full weekend of college football, and what a weekend it was! Deion Sanders and Colorado upsetting TCU in “Coach Prime’s” first game as head coach of the Buffaloes. Florida State running away from LSU in the second half of Sunday night, while earlier in the day D.J. Uiagalelei made quite a debut with Oregon State after transferring to Corvallis from Clemson.
While there was some interesting national games over the weekend, today we are going to focus on what we saw in the Big Ten. Who would have thought that Ohio State would put up one of the more disappointing performances of the weekend, as they struggled to find any traction at quarterback in a 23-3 win over Indiana. Purdue has a new coach but it was the same old Purdue, losing an extremely winnable game. The same could be said about Nebraska, who channeled the form we have seen from them over the last few years in Matt Rhule’s first game in charge of the Cornhuskers.
It wasn’t all bad over the weekend for the Big Ten, though. While they weren’t quite at the level of the Pac-12, who won all of their games but also didn’t have any conference matchups, there were still some impressive performances by Big Ten teams. Today we want to know what Big Ten team impressed you most during the first weekend of college football.
Today’s question: Which Big Ten team impressed you most in Week 1 of college football?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s answer: Iowa
24 points might not seem like a lot to some people, but for Iowa football, 24 points feels like a normal team scoring 44 points. Michigan transfer Cade McNamara threw a touchdown pass on Iowa’s first drive of the season, marking the first time the Hawkeyes have thrown for a pass on their season-opening drive since 1991. I was six years old the last time that happened. Now I just act like I’m six years old.
One passing touchdown in the first quarter wasn’t enough for Iowa, as McNamara found fellow Michigan transfer Erick All in the end zone to give the Hawkeyes a 14-0 lead over Utah State. Iowa would add 10 more points the rest of the game and go on to beat the Aggies 24-14. Just to put this in perspective, the Hawkeyes scored more points on Saturday than Ohio State did. How many times have we been able to say that over the last decade or so? I’m guessing the number of times is in the single digits.
I’m not saying to go out and start printing Iowa Big Ten Champions t-shirts. The Hawkeyes are going to be a force in the Big Ten West, though. Iowa already had a stingy defense, now it looks like they have a competent offense, which just might be a good enough formula in the division to make it to Indianapolis in December. Plus, we are likely to see McNamara get better as the year goes on since he wasn’t at 100 percent in this game as he was fighting a leg injury that had him questionable heading into the game.
Matt’s answer: Penn State
If I’m being completely honest, no one in the B1G was especially impressive during Week 1. There were certainly brighter spots in some places than others, but in games not against each other, the conference went 6-1 against a mix of FCS, Group of 5, and middling Power 5 schools.
But, if Brett is going to force me to pick someone, I think I have to go with the Nits. Penn State beat the Big 12’s West Virginia Mountaineers last Saturday by a score of 38-15. Granted, WVU is predicted to be one of the bottom teams in its conference this season, so it is not as if they beat a team that featured Pat White, Geno Smith, or Pacman Jones. Nonetheless, it was a more impressive win than Michigan’s 30-3 victory over East Carolina, Maryland’s 38-6 win over Towson, or even Ohio State’s 23-3 intraconference victory over Indiana... and we aren’t even going to talk about Purdue.
In fairness, the win was exactly what you would want from PSU in this situation. New full-time starting quarterback Drew Allar had an impressive game going 21-for-29 for 325 yards and 3 touchdowns. Allar was always expected to be a significant upgrade at the QB position for the Nits, but until he was able to fully take control of the team, you couldn’t be completely sure that he could handle it. So far, so good.
Of course, it was just one day and there’s lots of football left to be played, but the fact that it appears that the Nittany Lions might have a pretty decent stable of wide receivers bodes well, as that was one of the primary areas of concern for the team coming into the season.
KeAndre Lambert-Smith went off for 123 yards and 2 TDs on just 4 receptions. Fellow WR Harrison Wallace III had seven catches for 72 yards and Malik McClain had 4 for 58 and a score. When you combine that with the fire from the running back position with Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen — amongst the best running back duos in the country — and for the first time perhaps, Penn State could have an offense worthy of being considered in the upper echelon of title contenders.
The Nit’s defense held WVU to 310 total yards (162 passing, 148 rushing) and had six tackles for loss, including three sacks. So, while it pains me to say it, in my opinion, Penn State was by far the most impressive Big Ten team in Week 1 of the 2023 college football season.