If you thought Week 3 would provide clear-cut answers as to which team is best equipped to challenge Michigan atop the Big Ten East, and thereby the Big Ten as a whole, no such luck.

The gap between Ohio State and Penn State looks negligible.

After a sluggish first 2 weeks against Indiana and Youngstown State, the Buckeyes were back to their old ways with 562 yards and 63 points in a win over Western Kentucky.

Kyle McCord, finally given full rein as Ohio State’s starting quarterback, showed no signs of ever giving up the job. He was 19 of 23 for 318 yards and 3 touchdowns before Devin Brown took over late in the third quarter of the blowout.

Penn State starter Drew Allar, on the other hand, finally showed some signs of mortality in his first career road start. Allar completed 48% of his passes and averaged 5.7 yards per attempt in a still-comfortable 30-13 win at Illinois.

All things being equal, the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions look like they may be equals — as you’d expect of teams ranked 6th and 7th in the country, respectively.

Luckily, it won’t take long for us to get some clarity added to this picture. Both teams should get their first real tests next week against top 25 opponents.

Ohio State has the bigger test, visiting No. 9 Notre Dame. But Allar faces his greatest challenge as a starter when Penn State hosts No. 25 Iowa’s always-feisty defense at Beaver Stadium.

The outcomes of both games won’t tell us everything. But they will show us something.

Kyle McCord’s road challenge

The Buckeyes should be thankful that they got their first road test out of the way in Week 1 — particularly in a season in which they’re debuting a new starter.

You can get away with mistakes against Indiana, which did not have the offensive ability to make Ohio State pay for them. McCord was 20 of 33 for 239 yards and an interception against the Hoosiers, who could only manage a field goal against the Buckeyes.

Notre Dame, which saw its scoring average actually go down in a 41-17 win over Central Michigan, will be a bit more unforgiving if McCord isn’t sharp.

Had the Buckeyes faced the Fighting Irish in Week 1, as was the case last season, it probably results in a loss. A month into the season, though, there’s far greater chance we see McCord look like the quarterback of a CFP contender.

Such is the value of playing the likes of Western Kentucky early in the season. The Hilltoppers are a competitive Group of 5 program; but play a style that allows a young quarterback like McCord to get on track against a spotty defense and say, “You know, I’ve got this.”

That confidence boost will matter at Notre Dame Stadium.

Drew Allar’s ‘keep it clean’ challenge

Three weeks in, Allar is 1 of only 2 Big Ten quarterbacks yet to throw an interception this season. (The other, perhaps shockingly, is Rutgers’ Gavin Wimsatt.)

Iowa will put that to the test.

The Hawkeyes are off to a slow start by their standards — 2 interceptions in 3 games — but naturally they’ve already turned 1 of those into a pick-6. Iowa has finished in the top 3 in the B1G in interceptions every year since 2017.

Penn State’s offense has yet to put its defense in a “sudden change” scenario this year. The Nittany Lions have 7 takeaways without a turnover of their own. But that can’t last forever, and it will be interesting to see how the Penn State defense responds when it is eventually forced to defend a short field.

The Hawkeyes, who started 4 drives on the plus side of the 50 against Western Michigan, are a likely candidate to be the first team to put Penn State’s defense in such a scenario.

Of course, Illinois was also plenty capable of accomplishing that against the Nittany Lions and failed to do so. The Illini led the country with 24 interceptions a year ago but came up snake eyes against Penn State. And that was ultimately the most impressive aspect of Allar’s first road start.

Was he great? No. It was an average showing against a tough defense.

However, Allar did the most important thing a quarterback can do against an upset-minded opponent. He kept Penn State out of harm’s way.

Illinois was capable of making it a game — or even springing the upset — if Allar was as out of sorts as counterpart Luke Altmyer, who threw 4 largely unforced interceptions.

But Allar kept his poise even when he wasn’t at his best. That trait will be essential a week from now as he faces a defense built on making the other team blink first.