1 B1G takeaway for every team in Week 3
Another week, another shocking slate of results in the Big Ten. Most believed that the 2020 season would be unpredictable, but after just 3 weeks, the B1G is next-level crazy.
This is the third straight week that a 2-touchdown underdog has won on the road (Rutgers, Michigan State and Maryland) and the second straight week in which a 24-point underdog has won. There have been 10 double-digit favorites in the B1G so far, and 4 have lost (Michigan State, Minnesota, Michigan and Penn State). If you gamble on B1G football, good luck to you.
Here is one takeaway for each B1G team, starting with the 6 winners.
Ohio State — Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave may be the best WR duo in the country
Ohio State may have the best wideout duo in the country — especially with Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle on the shelf. Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave cannot be stopped. Wilson has made the leap from role player to star in his sophomore season and has now topped 100 yards in all 3 games. Olave, already a potential 1st-round pick, is averaging nearly 100 yards per game and has back-to-back 2-TD games. It helps to have Justin Fields as your QB, but these wideouts are clicking.
Indiana — The offense is back on track
Despite the early-season victories, Indiana was off to a slow start offensively. And that was a bit to be expected with offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer taking the head coaching job at Fresno State and 32-year-old Nick Sheridan taking over. Fortunately for the Hoosiers, they looked sharp on that side of the ball in the 38-21 win over Michigan. Michael Penix Jr. looked like the player he was in 2019, throwing for 342 yards and 3 TDs.
Iowa — The Hawkeyes haven’t quit, after all
You may scoff at Iowa’s 49-7 win over Michigan State and not think much of it because Michigan State is in a rebuilding year, but look at what’s happening around the Big Ten. Each week, a heavy double-digit favorite loses. Think of it this way: Iowa embarrassed the team that embarrassed Michigan. While the Hawkeyes lost their first 2 games by just a combined 5 points, it was fair to wonder which direction this season was going to go. This game made it clear that Iowa isn’t giving up on 2020.
Minnesota — The Golden Gophers aren’t asking Tanner Morgan to be a star
Tanner Morgan was a huge part of Minnesota’s breakthrough 2019 season, but it’s become abundantly clear that the QB isn’t being asked to carry the Golden Gophers this season. Mohamed Ibrahim shouldered another huge workload in Minnesota’s 41-13 win over Illinois, running 30 times for 224 yards and 4 TDs. Ibrahim has more than 25 rushing attempts in each of Minnesota’s 3 games. Morgan, meanwhile, attempted 27 passes. He has 73 pass attempts this season, while Ibrahim has 93 rush attempts.
Maryland — WR Rakim Jarrett is ready for primetime, already
Maryland was the only non-Ohio State team to get a 5-star recruit in the 2020 class, and he is already making a major impact. Rakim Jarrett, the No. 27 overall player in 2020, was unstoppable in the 35-13 win over Penn State. Jarrett was a monster after the catch and made Penn State’s defense look incredibly slow. On his 42-yard TD, he ran about 30 yards after the catch; on his 62-yard TD, he ran about 50 yards to the house. If Jarrett and Tagovailoa — 2 highly regarded prospects getting their first taste of college football — can develop a connection, Maryland is going to be a very fun team to watch over the next few years.
How are you all enjoying the @RakimJarrett breakout party? 😜
— Maryland On BTN (@MarylandOnBTN) November 7, 2020
Northwestern — Winning ugly is an art
Northwestern has won twice by scoring 21 or fewer points this season — tied for the most times in the country. Defense doesn’t win championships anymore (ask Georgia about that one), but it can still win some games. Northwestern’s games aren’t always the prettiest, but it does enough on offense to win. That’s because its defense is as tough as any in the B1G. Look at what Maryland and Iowa, Northwestern’s first 2 opponents, did Saturday in putting up a combined 84 points. The Wildcats held them to a combined 23. Northwestern will eventually need to put up a few more points if it wants to win the West, but for now, it’s been enough.
Michigan — The running game is non-existent
According to College Football Reference, Michigan’s 13 rushing yards against IU would rank as the 5th-lowest output of the last 20 years. The Wolverines ran the ball just 18 times, which is the 2nd-fewest attempts of the last 20 years. Michigan never led, which obviously has a big impact on the play calls. Michigan didn’t run a ton of plays (52, just 2 more than Penix had pass attempts).
Penn State — There are issues all over the field
It’s tough to narrow it down to one thing with Penn State. Do I start with a defense that has now allowed over 30 points in 4 straight games dating to last season? Or a QB in Sean Clifford who completed only 6-of-20 passes in the first half and finished 20-of-48? Or a running game that clearly misses Journey Brown and Noah Cain and hasn’t had a back break 70 yards in a game yet?
Nebraska — The Huskers are a mess in the red zone
Nebraska actually moved the ball pretty well, outgaining Northwestern 442-317, but the Cornhuskers were a dumpster fire in the red zone. They could have put the Wildcats away in the first half, 3 times settling for field goal attempts — and only making 2 of them. Nebraska’s lone TD was after an interception return to the 3. And the Huskers threw 2 interceptions in the end zone, the latter of which from Luke McCaffrey sealed Nebraska’s fate. Running back Dedrick Mills didn’t mince words after the game, telling reporters, “we’re not all giving 100 percent in the red zone.” You don’t win games by settling for field goals.
This @NUFBFamily defense makes big-time plays.
Zero second-half points allowed this year, too, by the way. pic.twitter.com/K94nNbkaCS
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 7, 2020
Michigan State — There will be days like this
I’m not overreacting to Michigan State’s blowout loss to Iowa. The Spartans obviously put everything they had into the Michigan game, which is their Super Bowl. When you have a roster with not much talent, like Michigan State does, there are going to be some weird weeks where they have a lot of trouble.
Illinois — Can’t play preferred style with early deficits
It’s hard to be too tough on Illinois when it is playing its 4th-string QB, but playing from behind does not suit its run-first style of play. The Illini have trailed at least 13-0 in all 3 of its games, and the early holes have been too much to overcome. It’s also more difficult to play Lovie Ball and force turnovers when offenses get more conservative with leads.
Rutgers — It may not win, but it’s going to be fun
Rutgers isn’t going to win the Big Ten, but the Scarlet Knights have been entertaining. They pulled off a direct snap for a 66-yard gain and a screen pass to an offensive lineman for a TD. Lastly, they pulled off a trick play on a punt return, resulting in a TD. And to the delight of gamblers, they covered. This game should’ve been a dud, but Rutgers made it fun. Thank you, Greg Schiano!
RUTGERS IS PULLING OUT ALL THE STOPS.
Trick play punt return TD 😱 pic.twitter.com/OvMALS4zx7
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) November 8, 2020