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Big Ten weekend review: Week One

The Big Ten had an eventful weekend to kick off the college football season.

Penn State v Wisconsin Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Fans finally returned to the stands in College Park for Week One and Maryland football did not disappoint. The Terps picked up a big-time win, 30-24, against West Virginia, as head coach Michael Locksley continues to take the program to the next level.

Big Ten teams went a total of 9-6 this week, including some commanding victories and some not-so-great losses. Here’s what stood out from this weekend.

*Rankings are from the time that the games were played, not this week’s AP Top 25.

Big Ten East

Team Conf. Record Overall Record Weekend Outcome
Team Conf. Record Overall Record Weekend Outcome
Michigan State 1-0 1-0 W, 38-21, Northwestern
Ohio State 1-0 1-0 W, 45-31, Minnesota
Penn State 1-0 1-0 W, 16-10, Wisconsin
Maryland 0-0 1-0 W, 30-24, West Virginia
Michigan 0-0 1-0 W, 47-14, Western Michigan
Rutgers 0-0 1-0 W, 61-14, Temple
Indiana 0-1 0-1 L, 34-6, Iowa

Big Ten West

Team Conf. Record Overall Record Weekend Outcome
Team Conf. Record Overall Record Weekend Outcome
Illinois 1-0 1-1 W, 30-22, Nebraska and L, 37-30, UTSA
Iowa 1-0 1-0 W, 34-6, Indiana
Purdue 0-0 1-0 W, 30-21, Oregon State
Nebraska 0-1 1-1 L, 30-22, Illinois and W, 52-7, Fordham
Minnesota 0-1 0-1 L, 45-31, Ohio State
Northwestern 0-1 0-1 L, 38-21, Michigan State
Wisconsin 0-1 0-1 L, 16-10, Penn State

Biggest surprise: No. 18 Iowa vs. No. 17 Indiana

The Iowa-Indiana game was a ranked matchup that almost everyone had circled coming into Week 1 as it was one of the more entertaining Big Ten contests. With Indiana and Iowa returning a solid amount of its respective key players, both teams were bringing in rosters that have high expectations for the 2021 season. Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras are big reasons as to why these programs are so highly regarded within the conference.

The expectation was that this game would be a more defensive-minded contest between both squads, but Iowa controlled most facets of the matchup, which was a little bit surprising despite the Hawkeyes being the home team.

Iowa blew the doors off Indiana right away, scoring the opening two touchdowns of the game in the first quarter. Running back Tyler Goodson took a 56-yard rush to the house to put the Hawkeyes up 7-0, then a pick-six pushed Iowa ahead by two possessions.

Indiana fought back with a first-quarter field goal, but Iowa ran away with it soon after. The Hawkeyes scored another 17 points in the second quarter, including their second pick-six, to take a commanding lead that Indiana couldn’t crawl back from.

It was a strong 34-6 victory for Iowa at home, but Indiana’s weak performance was something for concern for the Hoosiers. Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. had an off-day to say the least as he tossed for just 156 yards on 31 attempts to go along with three interceptions.

Indiana was one of the Big Ten’s best teams a season ago and this loss to Iowa should serve as a wake-up call.

Statement game: Maryland vs. West Virginia

Maryland’s six-point win against West Virginia set the tone for what’s to come for Maryland football, not just for this season but for seasons to come. The program’s offense was explosive, as star junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa’s big-play ability was the story of the game. Tagovailoa finished the game completing 26-of-36 passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns, and more importantly, no turnovers. He looked comfortable in the pocket and made the plays necessary to help the Terps to their first win of the season.

Tagovailoa connected with wide receivers Dontay Demus Jr. and Rakim Jarrett for long touchdowns. Demus finished with 133 yards and a score, while Jarrett finished with 122 yards and a touchdown. Running back Tayon Fleet-Davis added 123 yards on the ground to round out what was a solid day for Maryland as a whole.

West Virginia was led by senior running back Leddie Brown, who finished his day with over 100 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. The Mountaineers were able to move the football but two interceptions from the Maryland defense is what ended up separating the two teams in the score column.

This was a big win for Maryland, especially after recording a 2-3 record back in 2020. Locksley is building something special in Maryland, and this one might just be the beginning of an upwards trend for the Terps moving forward.

The victory also avenged Maryland’s 2015 loss to West Virginia, when it fell 45-6. The Terps also lost nine of the last 10 meetings with the Mountaineers and therefore this triumph was a clear statement win.

Upset game: No. 19 Penn State vs. No. 12 Wisconsin

There weren't any major upsets to note of in the Big Ten this weekend, however, Penn State’s 16-10 victory against Wisconsin in Madison, Wis., was certainly a surprising result to note of after the opening weekend.

Both offenses stalled and struggled to get anything going early on in this one, which was a surprise considering each program’s quarterback returned from last season. The game remained scoreless all the way up until halftime, even though Wisconsin had some chances to get on the board early on but it ultimately couldn’t capitalize in the first half.

After each side managed to score a touchdown in the third quarter, it would eventually be Penn State that pulled away late. Running back Noah Cain plunged forward for a 2-yard touchdown run, and even though there was a review after the play, it counted and Penn State recaptured a lead that it wouldn’t relent the rest of the way.

In the second half, the Nittany Lions got the most out of senior wide receiver Jahan Dotson, who had 102 yards and a touchdown on five receptions over the course of the game.

Similar to Indiana, Wisconsin was another Big Ten team that disappointed. Badgers’ quarterback Graham Mertz struggled in the opener, throwing for 185 yards and two interceptions on 37 pass attempts.

Both teams have easier matchups next weekend, which should help both offenses find some rhythm, but until further notice, these teams will need to show more if they want to be true Big Ten contenders.