Except for Ohio St. the reputation of the conference took a significant hit as division leaders were upset (Wisconsin) and other teams looking to establish themselves suffered losses at the hands of inferior teams (Northwestern and Maryland.)
Big Ten East Division:
Indiana Hoosiers 3-0 (0-0)
On the strength of four rushing touchdowns and a punt return, the Hoosiers easily defeated the Ball St. Cardinals 38-10 to remain undefeated. Freshman Stevie Scott rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns and looks to be the next in line as an uber-productive IU running back. Linebacker Raekwon Jones and DB Jonathan Stewart both finished with five tackles, one sack, and two tackles for loss.
Maryland Terrapins 2-1 (0-0)
Just when we thought that the Terrapins had finally turned the corner as a legitimate team this season, the 35-14 loss to the Temple Owls showed that the program still has a long way to go if it wants to be taken seriously. Kasim Hill and Tyrrell Pigrome combined to complete only 8-of-21 passes for 63 yards and two interceptions. Running back Anthony McFarland rushed for 107 yards but just had 11 carries for some reason. Linebacker Tre Watson had a team-high 15 tackles, but the big play doomed the Maryland defense as it allowed six plays over 20 yards including three plays over 40. This is the worst time to lose momentum as conference play is right around the corner.
Michigan Wolverines 2-1 (0-0)
After a slow first quarter, the Wolverines got it together to easily defeat the SMU Mustangs 45-20. Quarterback Shea Patterson and receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones look to be developing big-play chemistry as DJP caught four balls for 90 yards and three touchdowns. The running game had its moments as Chris Evans filled in for the injured Karan Higdon and rushed for 85 yards on 18 carries. Defensively there still is a lot to clean up before conference play. Despite another great game from Chase Winovich and Devin Bush Jr., the unit had too many missed tackles and assignments that allowed the Mustangs to sustain long drives.
Michigan St. Spartans 1-1 (0-0)
No Game Scheduled
Ohio St. Buckeyes 3-0 (1-0)
The Buckeyes trailed the TCU Horned Frogs 14-13 at halftime only to outscore TCU 27-14 to comfortably win 40-28. Quarterback Dewayne Haskins continues to show that he is the best quarterback in the conference as he passed for 344 yards and two touchdowns. Texas native running back J.K. Dobbins had a great homecoming as he rushed for 121 yards on 18 carries. The only reason for concern if you are a Buckeyes fan is the fact that the defense allowed 511 yards. Defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones did what he could as he finished the game with six tackles, one sack and an interception return for a touchdown. Jones may have to take on a more prominent role on the defensive line as Nick Bosa left the game with an injury and could miss significant time.
Penn State Nittany Lions 3-0 (0-0)
Another ho-hum victory for the Nittany Lions as they defeated the Kent St. Golden Flash 63-10. PSU piled up 643 total yards — including 229 passing yards from quarterback Trace McSorley — and seemed to coast after getting out to 21-7 first quarter lead. Senior running back Jonathan Thomas had his best game in a PSU uniform as he rushed for 84 yards on three carries. Freshman receiver Daniel George scored the first touchdown of his PSU career — a 95-yard reception in the fourth quarter. Shareef Miller and Jayson Oweh combined for four of the Nittany Lion’s seven sacks for the game.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights 1-2 (0-1)
SIX TURNOVERS… enough said. The Scarlet Knights are not good enough to overcome that many mistakes, and even against the lowly Kansas Jayhawks, it cost them in the 55-14 loss. Three of those turnovers came at the hands of freshman quarterback Artur Sitkowski. Running back Raheem Blackshear did rush for 104 yards on 18 carries, but it wasn’t enough as the Rutgers offense struggled to find any consistency. The defense didn’t fare much better as it allowed 400 yards rushing. If this game is any indication, this season will be a lot longer than what many expected
Big Ten West Division:
Illinois Fighting Illini 2-1 (0-0)
Despite the game ending in a loss, the Fighting Illini showed a lot of fight in the 25-19 loss to the USF Golden Bulls. Running back Mike Epstein rushed for 113 yards on 19 carries and freshman quarterback MJ Rivers III completed 20-of-29 passes for 168 yards. As well as the offense played the defense couldn’t stop the Bulls from throwing all over the field and surrendered 411 yards passing. Del’Shawn Phillips and Jartavius Martin each had an interception. If somehow the Illini defense can stop someone they could pull off an upset in conference play because there is talent on the offensive side of the ball.
Iowa Hawkeyes 2-0 (0-0)
Iowa used a 308-yard performance from Nathan Stanley to easily defeat the Northern Iowa Panthers 38-14. In addition to the air assault running backs Toren Young (14 carries, 82 yards) and Mekhi Sargent (15 carries, 72 yards, two touchdowns) led the way as the Hawkeyes rushed for 207 yards as a team. Defensive back Michael Ojemudia had an interception for an Iowa defense that only had three tackles for loss. If Iowa wants to contend for the Big Ten West title, they will have to make more plays defensively.
Minnesota Golden Gophers 3-0 (0-0)
Despite inexperience at the quarterback position, the Golden Gophers continue to find ways to win. This week it was a solid 26-3 win over the Miami (OH) Redhawks. The Gophers defense limited the Redhawks to 199 total yards, forced three turnovers and allowed only 10 first downs. Running back Bryce Williams ran the ball 33 times for 141 yards, and receiver Tyler Johnson had eight catches for 133 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Zack Annexstad’s stats may not be eye-popping, 12-of-20 for 142 yards and two touchdowns, but he is playing well enough to win, and that’s all that matters.
Nebraska Cornhuskers 0-2 (0-0)
Despite him being a true freshman the importance of quarterback Adrian Martinez was quantified in his absence as the Cornhuskers loss to the Troy Trojans 24-19. Andrew Bunch did what he could in the absence of Martinez, but it was a reason he was the backup. Running back Maurice Washington rushed for 92 yards on 14 carries, but the offense never seemed to find a real rhythm all afternoon as the first five offensive series ended up with zero points. This was a loss that no one in Lincoln, NE expected and the road to bowl eligibility will be steep if Martinez is not healthy.
Northwestern Wildcats 1-2 (1-0)
If you are playing a MAC team and throw for over 400 yards, there is no reason why you should lose. But that’s precisely what happened as the Wildcats had an inexcusable loss to the Akron Zips 39-34. Quarterback Clayton Thorson passed for 383 yards and three touchdowns but also had two interceptions — both of which were returned for touchdowns. Another issue in the loss was the lack of a rush offense; Northwestern rushed for only 86 yards on 36 carries. While three of Akron’s touchdowns came directly off turnovers, the Northwestern defense should be ashamed of itself for applying no pressure (zero sacks) and allowing 367 total yards. At this stage in the program losing to a MAC school should be unacceptable if you are head coach Pat Fitzgerald.
Purdue Boilermakers 0-3 (0-1)
The Boilermakers have struggled with inconsistency at the quarterback position the last few years. One week the starter looks like an NFL caliber prospect, the next week he looks like he shouldn’t be starting for a high school JV team. Despite losing to Missouri 40-37, quarterback David Blough was closer to the former as he passed for 572 yards and three touchdowns. Three Boilermakers receivers — Rondale Moore, Brycen Hopkins, and Isaac Zico — each had at least 100 yards receiving. As good as the offense was for Purdue, its defense was just as bad as it allowed 608 total yards. At some point, the Boilermakers are going to have to start winning these type of game, or the seat will begin to get warm for head coach Jeff Brohm
Wisconsin Badgers 2-0 (0-0)
Wisconsin’s college football playoff hopes took a significant hit as the Badgers were defeated by the BYU Cougars 24-21. Despite outgaining the Cougars 394-311 and winning the time of possession battle by nine minutes, the Badgers somehow found a way to lose its first home game against a non-conference opponent since 2003. Jonathan Taylor did his part by rushing for 117 yards but quarterback Alex Hornibrook had another untimely interception that led to a touchdown in the third quarter. There is still hope of winning the Big Ten, but the Badgers have to play a lot better on both sides of the ball.
Sports Q&A Big 10 Player of the week:
David Blough QB – Purdue
Despite losing to Missouri, the Purdue quarterback showed that he has the arm talent to lead the Boilermakers back to respectability, the question is will the rest of the team get in line and follow him?
Game of the Week
Wisconsin vs. Iowa
This game will go a long way in deciding who wins the Big Ten West. The Hawkeyes have one of the best rush defenses in the nation and the Badgers have the best running back in the conference in Jonathan Taylor… so something has to give. The loss to BYU may be the wake-up call that the Badgers need, and the Hawkeyes will be an unfortunate victim
Wisconsin 30 Iowa 23
Ohio State 36 TCU 24
Week 4 Picks: (Week 3 record: 9-4)
PSU over Illinois
Michigan over Nebraska
Boston College over Purdue
Buffalo over Rutgers
Maryland over Minnesota
Ohio St. over Tulane
Michigan St. over Indiana
Wisconsin over Iowa
BYE WEEK: Northwestern