1 B1G takeaway from every team in Week 3
Week 3 is in the books, and the Big Ten had another good day, picking up non-conference wins over ranked opponents in the SEC (No. 22 Auburn) and ACC (No. 24 Miami). The upset bids of No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 8 Cincinnati and No. 12 Notre Dame ultimately kept this from being a great day.
The biggest win belonged to Penn State, which represented the B1G very well on the national stage. But don’t sleep on Michigan State, which continues to impress.
Here is a takeaway from every team in Week 3, starting with the winners:
Penn State — Tight ends add another dimension to offense
With Jahan Dotson commanding so much attention and Penn State’s running game struggling so far, No. 10 Penn State got the tight ends involved in the 28-20 win over No. 22 Auburn. Brenton Strange went for 71 yards and a TD, Theo Johnson caught a 37-yard pass to set up a Dotson TD and Tyler Warren scored a TD running the Wildcat. Yes, a tight end running the Wildcat! This offense needed a spark, and the tight ends delivered. It will give future opponents plenty to think about when preparing to play Penn State.
TE Wildcat? 🤯
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) September 19, 2021
Michigan State — Payton Thorne is up to the task
What other takeaway is there after the Spartan QB threw for for 261 yards and 4 TDs in the 38-17 win at No. 24 Miami? Thorne finished last season strong by throwing for 325 yards and 3 TDs at Penn State, but let’s be honest, there wasn’t anything on the line other than personal pride at that point. I know Miami isn’t considered a hostile environment for a road team, but by playing at this level for a Michigan State team with everything in front of it, Thorne proved a lot. He has justified Mel Tucker’s decision to start him over Temple transfer Anthony Russo—and then some.
Iowa — This may be the Hawkeyes’ year
I don’t have a major takeaway from No. 5 Iowa’s 30-7 win over Kent State. The defense is great, blah, blah, blah. The offense needs to improve, blah, blah, blah. How about this… the rest of college football’s best teams all look vulnerable, and this may be wacky enough of a season to where Iowa can win the Big Ten and make the College Football Playoff. The most dominant programs in the country that were the popular preseason picks for the CFP all looked beatable on Saturday: Ohio State struggled against mighty Tulsa, Oklahoma barely beat Nebraska, Clemson held off Georgia Tech and Alabama survived Florida. There isn’t a dominant team in college football, and Iowa keeps humming along.
Ohio State — The Buckeyes are no lock to win the Big Ten
For anyone who thought last week’s game against Oregon was just a fluke or an off game and thought the Buckeyes would just turn it on, I present to you their 41-20 win over Tulsa (0-3) that was much closer than the final score indicated. The Golden Hurricanes had the ball in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie the game. The Buckeyes led for double digits for 17:56, not the type of performance they wanted against a team that lost to UC-Davis in the season opener. If not for TreVeyon Henderson running for a ridiculous 277 yards and 3 TDs, Ohio State probably loses.
Michigan — The Wolverines are ready for Big Ten play
Ho hum, nothing to see here. Just a Wolverines team that is clicking and feeling great heading into the Big Ten opener against Rutgers next week. After demolishing Northern Illinois 63-10, No. 25 Michigan (3-0) couldn’t have navigated the non-conference portion of the schedule any better, and that gives a huge boost to a program that didn’t exactly emanate good vibes after a down 2020. The Huskies (1-2) already upset Georgia Tech, but they had no chance at the Big House. How do I know Michigan is better than last year? The Wolverines finally shut down former Michigan State QB Rocky Lombardi, who is now the starter at NIU. I’m only kind of kidding.
Minnesota — The run defense has improved
Remember last year when Minnesota had one of the worst run defenses in all of FBS? Well it’s a new year and apparently a new defense, as was evident in the 30-0 win at Coloardo. The Golden Gophers (2-1) held Colorado to minus-19 rushing yards and just 63 total yards, which is the 8th-worst total in program history. And it’s not like the Buffaloes are some anemic offense—they came in averaging 227 rushing yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry. Minnesota whooped a team that lost to No. 5 Texas A&M by 3.
Maryland— Terps can win ugly
Maryland has a flashy offense; it’s an uber talented QB with talented wideouts. So what happens in a bit of an offensive struggle? The Terrapins still found a way to overcome a 7-point deficit in the final minutes to win 20-17 over Illinois. They won’t feel great about it, but the bottom line is that it counts all the same. West Virginia, a team that Maryland beat in the opener, picked up a win over No. 15 Virginia Tech, further strengthening the Terrapins resume. This is a team that should enter a game with Iowa in 2 weeks at 4-0. Maryland has been plagued by inconsistency in years past, but so far, so good.
Rutgers — The offense does, in fact, have a pulse
Rutgers had won its first 2 games of the season with its offense doing the bare minimum, but the Scarlet Knights piled up 499 yards in the 45-13 win over Delaware. Noah Vedral got a major confidence boost in throwing for 323 yards and 2 TDs before a big game with Michigan next week.
Indiana — This offense is broken
What happened to Indiana’s offense? In the 38-24 loss to No. 8 Cincinnati, Michael Penix Jr. threw 3 more interceptions, giving him 6 through 3 games. He had 8 in 15 career games coming into this season. The Hoosiers had 3 trips in the red zone that resulted in no points. The most baffling thing about Indiana’s rise under Tom Allen is that it has coincided with the offense becoming increasingly inefficient. The Hoosiers came into Saturday 116th in total offense, and it isn’t likely to improve much at all after this performance. Iowa and Cincinnati have good defenses, but Indiana supposedly is a really good team with a really good QB. It needs to be better, because the defense is really, really good.
Nebraska — The Huskers can play in the Big Ten, especially the West
It’s one thing to come close at Illinois. It’s an entirely different thing to nearly upset No. 3 Oklahoma. I already covered the disappointing aspects of Nebraska’s 23-16 loss, so let me be positive here. The Huskers have made a ton of strides in 3 weeks since that loss at Illinois and look much more prepared to compete in the Big Ten West. This defense is for real, and the offense has potential. If it could stay out of its own way with penalties and special teams miscues, Nebraska could finally start winning games.
Purdue — The defense actually is improved
The focus for Purdue this season was elevating the defense on a similar level as the offense. In the 27-13 loss to No. 12 Notre Dame, the Boilermakers held a good offense in check, allowing only 343 yards and 120 rushing yards (51 of which came on a late Kyren Williams TD run). Purdue registered 4 sacks. This is a great sign for the Boilermakers. More importantly, David Bell is reportedly OK after taking a big hit and laying on the ground for several minutes.
Northwestern — QB situation is once again a mess
Northwestern fell behind 30-0 to Duke before losing 30-20. Yes, 30-0. To Duke. This game was a mess, as the Wildcats committed 5 turnovers and the Blue Devils racked up 10 penalties for 104 yards. The bad news is that Northwestern is hurting at QB again after Hunter Johnson (6 of 16 for 75 yards, 3 INTs) struggled, Andrew Marty left with an injury and Ryan Hilinski (2 of 7 for 34 yards) wasn’t great either to close it out. That’s not a good sign. Northwestern sure misses Peyton Ramsey.
Illinois — The center should try out at WR
Week 0 seems like ancient history as the Illini allowed 6 sacks and blew a late lead. Brandon Peters (10 of 26 for 185 yards, INT) struggled all night to complete passes—except to his center.
— Follow @TPortalCFB (@LiamBlutmanSzn) September 18, 2021