We’re not too deep into the season yet, but we’ve gotten a pretty good preview of some of the strengths, weaknesses and concerns for each team in the B1G. It’s still too early to define each team but there are certainly some tendencies and patterns that have developed.

Most teams have completed the first quarter of the 2017 season. There’s still a long way to go for sure, but with the start of the B1G season coming this week, there are some major questions we still have about each team in the conference.

Here’s one major question for every team in the B1G West three weeks into the season.

Illinois

Question: Can the penalty issues be remedied?

Penalties were an issue a year ago and have continued to be a concern in Lovie Smith’s second year, at least early on. The Illini are one of the most penalized teams in the country following a 15-penalty day against South Florida that cost Illinois 138 yards. The Illini simply aren’t good enough to overcome those mental mistakes. This is an area that needs to be corrected quickly.

 

Iowa

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Question: Is Nate Stanley capable of playing this way all year?

No B1G quarterback has more touchdown passes than Stanley through the first three weeks of the season. The Iowa gunslinger is completing passes at a 61 percent clip and has 10 touchdown passes with just one interception. Those are fantastic numbers for the Hawkeyes, especially considering the concerns in the passing game coming into the year. But how will Stanley perform against B1G defenses? Iowa’s success in the West hinges on that question.

Minnesota

Question: Can the defense continue to shut down the run?

Quietly, the Gophers have had one of the nation’s best against the run, allowing an average of 59 yards per game. That’s the top in the B1G and fourth-best in the nation. Yes, even against Buffalo, Oregon State and Middle Tennessee, that’s impressive. Can P.J. Fleck’s crew keep up that kind of effort with B1G play right around the corner? Obviously the Gophers will surrender a little more yardage through the year, but if this run defense is the real deal, Minnesota will be a contender in the West.

Nebraska

Question: Will the sluggish starts continue?

The Huskers have been outscored 56-14 in the first halves of the last two games. That doomed Nebraska against Oregon and Northern Illinois and it will certainly be an issue moving forward if it continues. The Huskers have made valiant comebacks in the second halves of those contests, but digging into a deep hole is a habit that needs to be broken. Nebraska doesn’t have the talent to overcome a sluggish half in every game.

Northwestern

Question: How well can a young, inexperienced secondary adjust?

Injuries have severely depleted Northwestern’s secondary before even playing a conference game. Keith Watkins was done before the season started and Roderick Campbell and Brian Bullock have been ruled as out for the remainder of the season. Marcus McShepard has also been nicked up. Those absences really hurt the Wildcats in a 41-17 loss at Duke and life won’t get any easier unless some players start maturing quickly.

Purdue

Question: Will a unique approach work against more talented teams?

Jeff Brohm has the Boilermakers playing at a high level early in the year, but Purdue’s success has come against some inferior opponents. Purdue’s unique approach has led to a high volume of points and an entertaining brand of football. But will it work against teams with much more talent like Michigan, Wisconsin and others? It’ll be interesting to see just how competitive Purdue is when conference play roles around with this new look.

Wisconsin

Question: Can the offensive balance be sustained?

After three weeks, Wisconsin actually has the top offense in the B1G and it’s all thanks to some incredible balance. Jonathon Taylor has been an unexpected surprise in the rushing game and Alex Hornibrook has been accurate and effective early. Typically, the Badgers are known for their stout defense and prominence on the ground. But if Wisconsin can maintain this offensive balance, Wisconsin has a real shot to claim another B1G title.