Big Ten Report Card: Through Week 6

For many teams, this marks the midpoint of the season. Some teams are pleased with their progress, others are ready to hit the reset button. Regardless, no Big Ten team can avoid the inevitable second quarter report.

It’s time to look at the second quarter of the season report card for Big Ten teams, now six weeks into the season. The report card will factor in each team’s success (or lack thereof) offensively and defensively, while keeping their win-loss record in mind. I’ll also provide a few games to look at over the next three games for each team.

Readers have suggested I reference the previous quarter’s report card; those grades will be duly noted. To see the first quarter report card, click here.

Illinois – Projected Record: (6-0); Actual Record: (6-0)

Total Offense: 448 yards/game; 33rd. Quarter 1-[410 yards/game; 60th.]

Run Offense: 226 yards/game; 13th. Quarter 1-[223 yards/game; 22nd.] Pass Offense: 224 yards/game; 65th. Quarter 1-[187 yards/game; 83rd.]

Total Defense: 297 yards/game; 15th. Quarter 1-[269 yards/game; 17th.]

Run Defense: 80 yards/game; 9th. Quarter 1-[63 yards/game; 7th.] Pass Defense: 217 yards/game; 56th. Quarter 1-[205 yards/game; 59th.]

Notes: Illinois had their streak of three point wins snapped, with a 21 point win over Indiana, in less than impressive fashion. The passing offense has significantly improved under QB Nathan Scheelhaase (1238 passing yards, 66.7% completion, and 14 total TD). Before the season began, I had the Illini at 8-4, but I think they are VERY capable of double-digit regular season wins. Games at home to rival Ohio and on the road at Penn State will give a better idea.

Wins: Arkansas State (33-15); South Dakota State (56-3); #22 Arizona State (17-14); Western Michigan (23-20); Northwestern* (38-35); @ Indiana* (41-20).

Losses: None.

Quarter 1 Grade: A-.

Current Grade: A-.

Indiana – Projected Record: (3-3); Actual Record: (1-5)

Total Offense: 369 yards/game; 82nd. Quarter 1-[417 yards/game; 55th.]

Run Offense: 119 yards/game; 92nd. Quarter 1-[169 yards/game; 55th.] Pass Offense: 256 yards/game; 44th. Quarter 1-[247 yards/game; 38th.]

Total Defense: 422 yards/game; 97th. Quarter 1-[373 yards/game; 73rd.]

Run Defense: 210 yards/game; 109th. Quarter 1-[177 yards/game; 87th.] Pass Defense: 212 yards/game; 48th. Quarter 1-[195 yards/game; 48th.]

Notes: The Hoosiers haven’t been .500 in conference play since 2001, so even by Indiana standards, this year will be a bad one. Indiana has tried to one-up Penn State and Ohio’s use of two quarterbacks by now employing the use of three quarterbacks, Edward Wright-Baker (925 passing yards, 62% completion, 4 TD, but 2 INT), Dusty Kiel (427 passing yards, 47.6% completion, 3 TD, but 1 INT), and Tre Roberson (148 passing yards, 64.7% completion, 1 total TD, but 1 INT), none of which have been effective. Make no mistake, if he ends up in Bloomington next year, Gunner Kiel will put the QB controversy to rest. Since the Hoosiers don’t play Minnesota, we may never know the worst team in the Big Ten, but the Hoosiers can show a lot of heart at Iowa and home to Northwestern.

Wins: South Carolina State (38-21).

Losses: vs. Ball State (20-27); Virginia (31-34); @ North Texas (21-24); Penn State* (10-16); #19 Illinois* (20-41).

Quarter 1 Grade: D.

Current Grade: D-.

Iowa – Projected Record: (4-1); Actual Record: (3-2)

Total Offense: 388 yards/game; 70th. Quarter 1-[411 yards/game; 59th.]

Run Offense: 129 yards/game; 78th. Quarter 1-[127 yards/game; 82nd.] Pass Offense: 281 yards/game; 28th. Quarter 1-[284 yards/game; 22nd.]

Total Defense: 388 yards/game; 66th. Quarter 1-[397 yards/game; 88th.]

Run Defense: 152 yards/game; 64th. Quarter 1-[157 yards/game; 76th.] Pass Defense: 235 yards/game; 80th. Quarter 1-[240 yards/game; 82nd.]

Notes: I like James Vandenberg (1264 passing yards, 60.1% completion, and 13 total TD), a lot, so pardon me when I say that he might be Iowa’s best throwing quarterback since Brad Banks. With that said, after the Penn State game, he has a lot to prove, only mustering a pathetic three points. Penn State’s defense is good, but even Eastern Michigan put three on the board. Senior leadership from WR Marvin McNutt (486 receiving yards, 16.8/catch, and 4 TD) and TE Brad Herman would certainly help. This week’s game against Northwestern will help to show the Hawkeyes’ potential.

Wins: Tennessee Tech (34-7); Pittsburgh (31-27); Louisiana-Monroe (45-17).

Losses: @ Iowa State (41-44 OT); @ Penn State* (3-13).

Quarter 1 Grade: C.

Current Grade: C-.

Michigan – Projected Record: (5-1); Actual Record: (6-0)

Total Offense: 491 yards/game; 14th. Quarter 1-[461.5 yards/game; 24th.]

Run Offense: 270 yards/game; 7th. Quarter 1-[245 yards/game; 13th.] Pass Offense: 168 yards/game; 105th. Quarter 1-[177 yards/game; 87th.]

Total Defense: 348 yards/game; 39th. Quarter 1-[374.5 yards/game; 76th.]

Run Defense: 142 yards/game; 58th. Quarter 1-[202.5 yards/game; 103rd.] Pass Defense: 206 yards/game; 39th. Quarter 1-[172 yards/game; 26th.]

Notes: Through six games last year, Michigan averaged roughly 37 points per game, and gave up an average of almost 27/game. This year, Michigan is averaging almost 1 point more per game (including the Western game), but is giving up on average only 12.5/game. The 1997 National Title team gave up, on average, 9.5/game. The defense could certainly use some help from Denard Robinson (1850 total yards, 57.3% completion, 18 total TD, but 9 INT), who is now averaging an interception per game. The Wolverines have been impressive, but they miss out on the A-, by virtue of the passing game.

Wins: Western Michigan (34-10); Notre Dame (35-31); Eastern Michigan (31-3); San Diego State (28-7); Minnesota* (58-0); Northwestern* (42-24).

Losses: None.

Quarter 1 Grade: B.

Current Grade: B+.


Michigan State – Projected Record: (3-2); Actual Record: (4-1)

Total Offense: 398 yards/game; 61st. Quarter 1-[396 yards/game; 67th.]

Run Offense: 129 yards/game; 79th. Quarter 1-[125 yards/game; 83rd.] Pass Offense: 269 yards/game; 34th. Quarter 1-[270 yards/game; 26th.]

Total Defense: 173 yards/game; 1st. Quarter 1-[192 yards/game; 4th.]

Run Defense: 64 yards/game; 3rd. Quarter 1-[88 yards/game; 28th.] Pass Defense: 109 yards/game; 2nd. Quarter 1-[104 yards/game; 3rd.]

Notes: Statistically, the Spartan defense has been impressive, improving already gaudy numbers in the past three weeks. The problem? Florida Atlantic’s offense ranks 118th, Central Michigan’s ranks 88th, Ohio’s ranks 105th, and Youngstown is an FCS team. The only good offense they faced, Notre Dame, 21st, was a game Michigan State lost. The teams Michigan State has beaten are a combined 7-15. The offensive line needs to improve for QB Kirk Cousins (1197 passing yards, 67.8% completion, 6 TD, but 4 INT) and RB Le’Veon Bell (267 rushing yards, 5.1/carry, and 6 TD). In each of the next three games, Michigan State faces teams with winning records and who are ranked. In fact, the next three opponents, #11 Michigan, #4 Wisconsin, and @ #14 Nebraska, are a combined 16-1! Needless to say, each game is key.

Wins: Youngstown State (28-6); Florida Atlantic (44-0); Central Michigan (45-7); @ Ohio* (10-7).

Losses: @ Notre Dame (13-31).

Quarter 1 Grade: C+.

Current Grade: C+.

Minnesota – Projected Record: (3-3); Actual Record: (1-5)

Total Offense: 300 yards/game; 110th. Quarter 1-[373 yards/game; 78th.]

Run Offense: 145 yards/game; 65th. Quarter 1-[175 yards/game; 48th.] Pass Offense: 164 yards/game; 107th. Quarter 1-[197 yards/game; 77th.]

Total Defense: 414 yards/game; 91st. Quarter 1-[399 yards/game; 90th.]

Run Defense: 167 yards/game; 77th. Quarter 1-[93 yards/game; 31st.] Pass Defense: 248 yards/game; 91st. Quarter 1-[305 yards/game; 112th.]

Notes: You’ve got to feel for Coach Jerry Kill. Between his well-documented health problems, secondary with almost as much experience as I have (note: I didn’t even play high school ball), and an anemic offense, its been an awful year for him. One wonders whether Minnesota’s high point was almost knocking off USC, week 1. Injury to QB Marqueis Gray (625 passing yards, 48.4% completion, 4 total TD, but 4 INT) forced freshman Max Shortell (309 passing yards, 49% completion, 2 TD, but 2 INT) into action. I’m honestly not sure that Minnesota will be able to be within 21 points of any game left on their schedule, maybe they can keep it close against Iowa?

Wins: Miami (NTM) (29-23).

Losses: @ USC (17-19); New Mexico State (21-28); North Dakota State (24-37); @ #19 Michigan* (0-58); @ Purdue* (17-45).

Quarter 1 Grade: D+.

Current Grade: F.

Nebraska – Projected Record: (5-1); Actual Record: (5-1)

Total Offense: 419 yards/game; 46th. Quarter 1-[422 yards/game; 51st.]

Run Offense: 247 yards/game; 8th. Quarter 1-[252 yards/game; 11th.] Pass Offense: 168 yards/game; 104th. Quarter 1-[169 yards/game; 92nd.]

Total Defense: 373 yards/game; 59th. Quarter 1-[364 yards/game; 67th.]

Run Defense: 168 yards/game; 80th. Quarter 1-[132 yards/game; 61st.] Pass Defense: 205 yards/game; 37th. Quarter 1-[232 yards/game; 78th.]

Notes: Ground control to Lincoln, your run defense has gotten worse. After being outscored 75-23 in 97:36 against Wisconsin and Ohio, the Huskers finally got their act together, outscoring the Buckeyes 28-0 over the last 22:23 of Saturday. Nebraska will breathe a sigh of relief, facing Minnesota in two weeks and welcoming Michigan State to Lincoln. QB Taylor Martinez (1598 total yards, 54.3% completion, 15 total TD, but 6 INT) and RB Rex Burkhead (635 rushing yards, 5.9/carry, and 10 TD) have paced the run game.

Wins: Chattanooga (40-7); Fresno State (42-29); Washington (51-38); @ Wyoming (38-14); Ohio* (34-27).

Losses: @ #7 Wisconsin* (17-48).

Quarter 1 Grade: B+.

Current Grade: C+.

Northwestern – Projected Record: (3-2); Actual Record: (2-3)

Total Offense: 387 yards/game; 71st. Quarter 1-[390 yards/game; 71st.]

Run Offense: 188 yards/game; 37th. Quarter 1-[220 yards/game; 24th.] Pass Offense: 167 yards/game; 106th. Quarter 1-[169 yards/game; 93rd.]

Total Defense: 439 yards/game; 104th. Quarter 1-[394 yards/game; 87th.]

Run Defense: 176 yards/game; 87th. Quarter 1-[205 yards/game; 105th.] Pass Defense: 264 yards/game; 97th. Quarter 1-[188 yards/game; 39th.]

Notes: Going into the Michigan game, the Wildcats went 3-1 without QB Dan Persa (454 passing yards, 72.4% completion, and 4 TD), with a surprising loss to Army. Leading 24-14 at half, Northwestern was completely shutdown in the second half, being outscored 28-0. All-purpose Kain Colter (758 total yards and 6 total TD) and WR Jeremy Ebert (324 receiving yards and 5 TD) have led the way for the Wildcats. Games at Iowa and home to Penn State will give a better idea of what kind of team Northwestern is.

Wins: @ Boston College (24-17); Eastern Illinois (42-21)

Losses: @ Army (14-21); @ #24 Illinois* (35-38); #12 Michigan* (24-42).

Quarter 1 Grade: B-.

Current Grade: C.

Ohio – Projected Record: (4-2); Actual Record: (3-3)

Total Offense: 315 yards/game; 105th. Quarter 1-[342 yards/game; 86th.]

Run Offense: 169 yards/game; 48th. Quarter 1-[170 yards/game; 53rd.] Pass Offense: 154 yards/game; 111th. Quarter 1-[172 yards/game; 91st.]

Total Defense: 308 yards/game; 22nd. Quarter 1-[263 yards/game; 14th.]

Run Defense: 167 yards/game; 36th. Quarter 1-[107 yards/game; 37th.] Pass Defense: 192 yards/game; 21st. Quarter 1-[156 yards/game; 17th.]

Notes: Who knew that Angry Michigan hating God took up residence in Columbus? Since the end of last season, the Bucks have lost a QB, a WR for 10 games, RB for 10 games, and a lineman for 5. RB Carlos Hyde (400 rushing yards, 5.3/carry, and 5 TD) has led the way for Ohio. The Bucks have also lost three games and are viewed as the biggest NCAA violators, which is saying a lot, considering Miami (YTM) is included in that group. Ohio has averaged 35 points/game in their wins, but only 14/game in their losses. If you happened to listen to Buckeye Roundtable, Jim Lachey predicts the Bucks will be lucky to win 6-7 games this season. Games at Illinois and home to Wisconsin will provide clues as to whether Lachey is correct.

Wins: Akron (42-0); Toledo (27-22); Colorado (37-17).

Losses: @ Miami (YTM) (6-24); Michigan State* (7-10); @ #14 Nebraska* (27-34).

Quarter 1 Grade: C.

Current Grade: D.


Penn State – Projected Record: (5-1); Actual Record: (5-1)

Total Offense: 374 yards/game; 81st. Quarter 1-[306 yards/game; 103rd.]

Run Offense: 162 yards/game; 53rd. Quarter 1-[148 yards/game; 66th.] Pass Offense: 222 yards/game; 66th. Quarter 1-[158 yards/game; 100th.]

Total Defense: 251 yards/game; 4th. Quarter 1-[242 yards/game; 9th.]

Run Defense: 93 yards/game; 17th. Quarter 1-[111 yards/game; 42nd.] Pass Defense: 158 yards/game; 5th. Quarter 1-[130 yards/game; 7th.]

Notes: Based on the Iowa game, it looks as if Penn State has settled on a QB, Matt McGloin (758 passing yards, 58.9% completion, and 5 TD). Workhorse RB Silas Redd (574 rushing yards 4.8/carry, and 4 TD) and WR Derek Moye (485 receiving yards, 17.3/catch, and 3 TD) have chipped in offensively between the QB competition. The Nittany Lions have key games upcoming, at Northwestern and home to Illinois.

Wins: Indiana State (41-7); @ Temple (14-10); Eastern Michigan (34-6); @ Indiana* (16-10); Iowa* (13-3).

Losses: Alabama (27-11).

Quarter 1 Grade: B-.

Current Grade: B.

Purdue – Projected Record: (5-0); Actual Record: (3-2)

Total Offense: 412 yards/game; 50th. Quarter 1-[471 yards/game; 22nd.]

Run Offense: 215 yards/game; 20th. Quarter 1-[258 yards/game; 9th.] Pass Offense: 207 yards/game; 81st. Quarter 1-[212 yards/game; 64th.]

Total Defense: 346 yards/game; 36th. Quarter 1-[321 yards/game; 43rd.]

Run Defense: 143 yards/game; 59th. Quarter 1-[109 yards/game; 40th.] Pass Defense: 203 yards/game; 32nd. Quarter 1-[212 yards/game; 63rd.]

Notes: Purdue has averaged 32.6 points/game this year. Setting aside the Southeast Missouri State and Minnesota games, who are a combined 2-9 (and Purdue beat a combined 104-17), the Boilermakers are averaging 19.6 points/game. It looks as if QB Caleb TerBush (787 passing yards, 64.1% completion, and 6 total TD) will be the starter, but QB Robert Marve (182 passing yards, 53.3% completion, 1 TD) will get his snaps. The Purdue run game has been led by the tandem of Ralph Bolden (273 yards 4.8/carry, and 3 total TD) and Akeem Shavers (242 yards 5.5/carry, and 5 total TD). Games at Penn State, home to #16 Illinois, and @ #11 Michigan should give a better idea of whether or not this is a bowl team.

Wins: Middle Tennessee (27-24); SE Missouri State (59-0); Minnesota* (45-17).

Losses: @ Rice (22-24); Notre Dame (10-38).

Quarter 1 Grade: C.

Current Grade: C-.

Wisconsin – Projected Record: (5-0); Actual Record: (5-0)

Total Offense: 523 yards/game; 9th. Quarter 1-[505 yards/game; 14th.]

Run Offense: 243 yards/game; 9th. Quarter 1-[238 yards/game; 17th.] Pass Offense: 280 yards/game; 29th. Quarter 1-[267 yards/game; 27th.]

Total Defense: 264 yards/game; 7th. Quarter 1-[271 yards/game; 18th.]

Run Defense: 103 yards/game; 22nd. Quarter 1-[77 yards/game; 18th.] Pass Defense: 161 yards/game; 6th. Quarter 1-[193 yards/game; 44th.]

Notes: Wisconsin has continued to destroy teams, increasing their MOV from 37 points/game to 38.2/points game. QB transfer Russell Wilson (1391 passing yards and 13 passing TD; 140 rushing yards and 2 TD) has played pitch-and-catch with WR Nick Toon (447 receiving yards, 17.9/catch, and 6 TD) and TE Jacob Pedersen (224 yards 16.0/catch, and 4 TD). RB Montee Ball (511 yards 5.5/carry and 14 total TD) and James C. White (329 rushing yards, 5.59/carry, and 3 TD) have led the running attack. Wisconsin faces their first road test in two weeks at #23 Michigan State; Wisconsin hasn’t won at Michigan State since 2002, losing three straight in East Lansing.

Wins: UNLV (51-17); Oregon State (49-7); vs. Northern Illinois (49-7); South Dakota (59-10); Nebraska* #8 (48-17).

Losses: None.

Quarter 1 Grade: A.

Current Grade: A.


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