Post-Mortems: Big Ten – Wk. 1

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My high-volume approach to making picks requires me to watch as many games as possible. Picture-in-picture works overtime and tablets get worn out.

Not every game gets seen as it unfolds, but I have to go back and take a look at what stood out in games I didn’t catch.

This is my post-mortem for Week 1. I can’t divulge all my secrets, so you only get a few lines per game. They’re listed in chronological order (as listed on the board):

Northwestern at Purdue (-1/53.5): Pat Fitzgerald’s handling of platooning a still not in-form Clayton Thorson and backup QB T.J. Green played a huge role in the Wildcats’ win. Although he’s smaller, any doubt Jeremy Larkin would be able to adequately replace all-time leading rusher and current L.A. Charger Justin Jackson, should be gone now even though he won’t be as proficient a blocker. The Boilermakers did blow a great opportunity to pick up a win though. Purdue shouldn’t have lost in Rondale Moore’s unveiling. Doesn’t seem right. Result: Northwestern 31-27. ATS: Underdog/Over

New Mexico State at Minnesota (-22.5/49.5): True freshman Zack Annexstad made mistakes but gave guys a chance to make plays around him. He and fellow freshman Rashod Bateman have a shot at breaking school records and better start this year since teams are going to stack the box to try and stop RB Rodney Smith. The Aggies have been held scoreless in five of eight quarters thus far. Result: Minnesota 48-10. ATS: Favorite/Over

Utah State at Michigan State (-23.4/52.5): The Spartans didn’t play to their potential and Brian Lewerke looked shaky but the Aggies looked fantastic. There’s no way Michigan State expected to be punched in the mouth the way it was. To think, USU’s Jordan Love didn’t even throw a touchdown pass. Credit Sparty for surviving and expect Utah State to be a factor in the Mountain West since this didn’t appear to be a fluke Result: Michigan State 38-31. ATS: Underdog/Over

Western Kentucky at Wisconsin (-36.5/52): It was hard to tell much from this one since the Hilltoppers were so overmatched. WKU HC Mike Sanford, Jr. has a lot of work to do with his team to play at the tempo he desires, while the Badgers looked like they were just going through the motions. We’ll see if they’ve got a receiver dynamic enough to help replace Quintez Cephus in case he doesn’t make it back from suspension. They’ll need to open up the passing game at some point. Result: Wisconsin 34-3. ATS: Underdog/Under

Oregon State at Ohio State (-40/62.5): The Buckeyes bullied the Beavers and showed off a different style given new QB Dwayne Haskins’ ability to sling it. He got into an immediate rhythm and was fun to watch. The weather delay made it hard to pick this game back up since it was already decided but the ease with which Oregon State’s Artavis Pierce broke off a pair of long touchdown runs is disconcerting, but Ohio State will be more focused down the road. Oregon State lost starting QB Jake Luton early and was still effective moving it with backup Conor Blount, but everyone should be rooting for the concussed Luton to return given his long road back from a spine injury that ended his junior season. Result: Ohio State 77-31. ATS: Favorite/Over

Appalachian State at Penn State (-24.5/54): The Mountaineers performed nicely early, took their third-quarter lumps like most teams that collect a paycheck this time of year in games like these often do and then flipped the script. Instead of going quietly, Appalachian State rallied from a huge deficit, recovered an onside kick and took advantage of major miscues. The Nittany Lions saw Trace McSorley prove he doesn’t need Saquon Barkley as a crutch with the game on the line, converting a 4th-and-2 on a game-tying drive to avoid disaster and then leading the way in overtime. Miles Turner scored to get over his own Barkley hump. Defensively, Penn State missed suspended DT Kevin Givens. App State is likely still in no mood for consolation prizes but got proof that QB Zac Thomas, who passed for just 60 yards as a freshman, will make a fine successor to Taylor Lamb. Result: Penn State 45-38, OT. ATS: Underdog/Over

Akron at Nebraska (-26/54): Postponed due to awful weather in the Lincoln area, the ‘Huskers get to save any tricks for Colorado, which now has no tape to watch unless you count Scott Frost’s cool entrance, realizing a life-long dream and all of that. Result: Postponed. ATS: No action

Kent State at Illinois (-18/57): In a chicken or the egg conundrum, do we applaud Lovie Smith’s Illini for rallying from a 17-3 halftime deficit or criticize the fact they put themselves in that position in the first place? The expectation here is that the defense would be too much for the Golden Flashes, who were kicking off the Sean Lewis era with a different system and some new personnel. Illinois only held Kent State scoreless in the fourth quarter. Both teams are likely to bring up the rear in their respective conferences. Result: Illinois 31-24. ATS: Underdog/Under

Texas State at Rutgers (-16.5/48): Art Sitkowski’s debut was what all eyes were glued on here. The freshman made some nice throws, converting third downs, throwing out of his own end zone and zipping the ball around confidently. We’ll see how he fares against more pressure but he got the ball out quickly. One of his three interceptions resulted in the Bobcats’ lone score. Texas State mustered only 169 yards of total offense and finished 1-for-13 on third down. The Scarlet Knights aren’t expected that dominant, so that’s not a good sign even though TSU won’t play another Power-5 this season. Result: Rutgers 35-7. ATS: Favorite/Under

Indiana (-12.5/55) at Florida International: Hoosiers QB Peyton Ramsey showed why he beat out Arizona transfer Brandon Dawkins for the job, consistently moving the offense. Freshman backup Mike Penix had a nice debut as well, but the Golden Panthers rallied from a 35-14 deficit to pull off the cover when Indiana failed to score on four attempts from inside the 10-yard line as the team was running out the clock. The last play had to be frustrating if you laid the points since it was a straight run up the middle on fourth down with no intention to really score. FIU had broken through on a James Morgan TD pass to put itself in position for the backdoor cover. He looked like the more competent of the new QBs. Result: Indiana 38-28. ATS: Underdog/Over

Northern Illinois at Iowa (-10/46.5): The Hawkeyes led just 3-0 at the break here. Despite both quarterbacks having gained experience as starters last season, Iowa’s Nate Stanley and NIU’s Marcus Childers threw the ball erratically. They’ll have better days. The Hawkeyes closed the door on third down and set the defense up to pour it on before finally surrendering a score with just over two minutes remaining. This was one of those games that was a lot closer than the final score indicated. Result: Iowa 33-7. ATS: Favorite/Under

Texas (-13/54.5) at Maryland: Don’t be so disappointed with Tom Herman’s Longhorns that you lose sight of how great it was to see Kasim Hill pick right up where he left off after last season’s misfortune. If he can stay healthy, the Terps have a shot a reaching a bowl following a tumultuous offseason, giving Matt Canada a great chance to keep the head coaching job moving forward. As for Texas, it seems like Sam Ehlinger misses too many throws to be the unquestioned starter over Shane Buechele, so we’ll probably see that controversy arise again. Freshman running back Keaontay Ingram was one bright spot for a ‘Horns team that will host USC and TCU after this week’s home opener vs. Tulsa. Things could get ugly. Result: Maryland 34-29. ATS: Underdog/Over

Michigan (-3/47.5) at Notre Dame: Jim Harbaugh has himself a competent passer in Shea Patterson and still went with a tired conservative game plan that allowed the Fighting Irish to dig in and get comfortable teeing off. Donovan People-Jones didn’t get enough touches and the absence of Tarik Black was indeed felt. The Karan Hibdon-led rushing attack was shut down, so credit Notre Dame’s new defensive coordinator Clark Lea for a dominant debut. ND QB Brandon Wimbush really demonstrated growth, confidently executing the offense. The wrinkle of utilizing Ian Book in the red zone since he’s the better passer should be effective. Notre Dame’s toughest opposition, Stanford and Florida State, comes into South Bend this season, so the opportunity to outperform expectations certainly exists. Result: Notre Dame 24-17. ATS: Underdog/Under

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