The first full week of the Big Ten season is in the books and for the most part it was a successful week for the conference, much more so than say the ACC, a future alliance partner that took it on the chin, not only with a Clemson loss to UGA but a Duke loss to Charlotte and a Georgia Tech loss to Northern Illinois.
The Big Ten had six out of conference games and went 5-1 in those games and then had four games that matched league foes, Ohio State and Minnesota being one of those games.
You can’t win the conference in week one of the season but you sure can put yourself behind the eight-ball if you drop a week one conference game, meaning that teams like Wisconsin, Indiana and Northwestern all have some work to do.
It got us thinking about some numbers from week one as we go and look around the conference as well as for Ohio State specifically.
Let’s take a look By the Numbers and see what the week officially brought us.
3: Three teams in the league ran for more than 300 yards in their games, two of those games taking place against weaker out-of-conference foes while Michigan State put up 326 yards on the ground against Northwestern. Michigan led the way with 334 yards versus Western Michigan in a laugher while Nebraska bounced back after a terrible week one and put it to Fordham with 329 yards. There also were three teams that did not rush for 100 yards with Penn State checking in at a dismal 50 yards in its game against Wisconsin. Indiana had 77 yards and Purdue had 88, but that is consistent with last year as neither of those two teams could move the ball on the ground.
5: A staggering five teams in the Big Ten did not break the 200-yard mark passing in their games, in September with no cold, windy weather to really speak of. Iowa and Rutgers both checked in with only 145 passing yards, but it did not matter as the Hawkeyes did it on defense with a pair of pick-sixes and Rutgers still managed to score more than 60 points in a win over Temple. Michigan State, Wisconsin and Indiana all joined the list of teams held below 200 yards as well. On the other side only three teams threw for more than 300 yards with Maryland leading the way with Nebraska and Purdue right there. Ohio State came close, just six yards shy at 294.
4: With all of the concerns about Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, he led the way in terms of passing touchdowns for Big Ten teams with his four against Minnesota. No other team had four with four other teams checking in at three. Wisconsin, Indiana and Iowa all had zero passing touchdowns on the day, all surprising as people all have been talking up the likes of Graham Mertz, Michael Penix and Spencer Petras over the course of the off-season.
1.79: This is the average number of sacks that Big Ten teams had in week one with Michigan State, Rutgers and Maryland leading the way with three and Minnesota checking in with zero. Was it a matter of offensive lines playing better than expected, defensive lines just not getting home, offenses getting the ball out of their hands quicker? It is yes on all three fronts but with some pretty big names on the defensive line in the league, it is a little bit surprising that no team really produced, especially with some obvious mismatches occurring outside of league play.
And to just a couple of Ohio State vs. Minnesota specific numbers:
18: That is the difference (in minutes) in time of possession between Minnesota and Ohio State with the advantage going to the Gophers. That goes to show that possessing the ball means little if you can’t move it. It is just rare that Ohio State sees such a vast difference in TOP but as long as the scoreboard is in favor of the Buckeyes, it matters not.
10.3: That was Ohio State’s average gain per play against the Gophers, almost twice as much as Minnesota’s 5.4 per play. Yes, Ohio State benefitted from a lot of long plays that skew the average to a certain extent, but the Buckeyes only punted twice in the game and only one of those was a three-and-out.
14: The longest drive (by number of plays) that Ohio State had during the game. In fact, it was twice as long as the next closest series. That 14-play drive resulted in Ohio State’s only field goal of the day. The average length of drive for Ohio State on its five touchdowns was just 3.6 plays, showing that the Buckeyes were able to strike fast.
34: Work with me on this one. Ohio State’s 45 points scored against Minnesota keeps a streak of scoring 40 or more points in every season opener going all the way back to the 2014 season when Ohio State scored just 34 against Navy in a 34-17 win. We won’t discuss what went down in week two of that season. Ohio State has not loaded up on playing a lot of Group of Five teams in the season opener since that win over Navy either. In the six games leading up to Minnesota, Ohio State has played four against the Power Five including two league games with Indiana and Nebraska. The two G5 games took place against Bowling Green and Florida Atlantic.