Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, September 14, 2014
How will history remember Week 3 of the Big Ten season? Not too fondly.
The league suffered some tough losses a week after the Big Ten dropped three high-profile games (Michigan State at Oregon; Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech; Michigan at Notre Dame). The big story was seeing Penn State notch a big win at Rutgers to show it will be a factor this season.
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Here is a look at the Saturday that was.
Biggest surprise: Penn State. It was impressive to walk into a hostile stadium at Rutgers and get the victory vs. a fired-up Scarlet Knights team. The Nittany Lions are suddenly 3-0 and look to be a factor.
Biggest disappointment: Unfortunately, there is a lot to choose from here. Let?s go with Iowa. The Hawkeyes finally fell after notching less-than-impressive wins vs. Northern Iowa and Ball State. The issues with the ground game persist and threaten the season.
Play this again: West Virginia?s 40-37 win at Maryland had a bit of everything. Big plays in the running (75-yard TD run by C.J. Brown) and passing game (77-yard TD grab by Stefon Diggs), special teams heroics (William Likely 69-yard punt return for a TD), big leads (28-6, WVU), blown leads (37-30, Maryland) all topped by a last-second game-winning field goal (Josh Lambert from 47 yards).
Never play this again: Ohio State 66, Kent State 0. And, honestly, this game wasn?t even that close. The Buckeyes led 45-0 at halftime and never looked back. This sums up the lopsided affair well: OSU had 628 yards; Kent State had 126. Not sure if anyone benefits from a game like this. It was the third meeting between the teams, with Ohio State winning by an average score of 55-7. Maybe they shouldn?t play anymore. For what it?s worth, Kent State got $850K.
Ohio State: A
Penn State: B+
TOP 10 THOUGHTS
1. Nebraska looks good. After an uneven effort last week vs. McNeese State, the Cornhuskers dominated Fresno State, 55-19, in every phase. Impressive.
2. Where would Iowa be without QB Jack Rudock? He has been the centerpiece of the offense. But his efforts weren?t enough on Saturday, as the Hawkeyes fell to Iowa State, 20-17, as the Cyclones kicked a 42-yard game-winning field goal with two seconds left to win. Iowa was outgained, 337-275, and scored just three second-half points.
3. Don?t read too much into Maryland?s loss to WVU. Yes, the Terps bled a lot of points and yards in a 40-37 home loss to the Mountaineers. Still, Maryland could be a factor in the Big Ten East. This team has talent. And, it?s well-coached.
4. Wes Lunt is human after all. The Oklahoma State transfer hit just 17-of-27 passes for 224 yards with two touchdowns and a pick in a 41-19 loss at Washington. He missed some open wideouts. Lunt tossed a pick-six and lost a fumble that was returned for a score, as Illinois was just 1-of-12 on third downs with 11 penalties and three turnovers.
5. Indiana has work to do on defense. The arrival of new coordinator Brian Knorr offered hope, as he installed a 3-4 scheme. Alas, the Hoosier defense of 2014 looked a lot like the Hoosier defense of 2013 in a 45-42 loss at Bowling Green. Indiana allowed 574 yards and let the Falcons drive 88 yards on 11 plays for the game-winning touchdown with nine seconds left in a 45-42 loss. Oh, and BG was playing with a backup quarterback.
6. Minnesota?s need for a passing attack never was more apparent in a 30-7 loss at TCU. The Horned Frogs sat on Minnesota?s ground game, limiting it to 99 yards. Golden Gophers had 268 yards offense with 169 coming through the air. Unless this changes, it?s difficult to imagine Minnesota contending in the West.
7. J.T. Barrett needed a confidence-builder. Barrett hit 23-of-30 passes for 312 yards with six touchdowns and a pick vs. Kent State. Last week vs. Virginia Tech, he completed just 9-of-29 passes for 219 yards with three interceptions and a TD.
8. Michigan showed some life in the rushing game. The Wolverines ran 45 times for 276 yards to average 6.1 yards per tote. It was good to see Derrick Green rush for 137 yards to lead the way. Still, this was vs. a Miami (Ohio) club that rode an 18-game losing streak into the game. Let?s see if Michigan can run like this next week when Utah visits.
9. No coach likes moral victories. But that?s what Purdue has to settle with in its 30-14 loss to Notre Dame. The Boilermakers were shutout in the second half and continue to struggle running the ball with 25 carries for 51 yards.
10. Penn State may not win the East, but it may be the second-best team. Yes, better than Ohio State. Look for this team to be 5-0 when it plays at Michigan on Oct. 11.
TOP 5 PERFORMERS
Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett. Honestly, you could have picked several Buckeyes. But let?s go with Barrett, who hit 23-of-30 passes for 312 yards with six touchdowns and an interception. He became the first Ohio State quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards since Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith did against Michigan in 2006.
Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg. He hit 25-of-44 passes for 309 yards in a tough win at Rutgers. Best of all, he engineered a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. He is a franchise quarterback.
Michigan RB Derrick Green. He carried 22 times for 137 yards and two touchdowns in a win vs. Miami (Ohio). This was a breakout performance of sorts for Green, who needs to be a big cog in a Wolverines? attack in search of a consistent rushing game.
Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong. He hit 12-of-21 passes for 260 yards and three TDs in the win at Fresno State. He also ran for 69 yards, becoming the first Nebraska quarterback to top 300 yards of total offense in the first three games since 2008 (Joe Ganz). Armstrong needed an effort like this. He may be OK.
Maryland DB William Likely. Likely did it all for the Terps, but it still wasn?t enough. He had eight tackles, a forced fumble and an interception, to go along with a game-tying 69-yard punt return for a touchdown.
276, yards rushing for Michigan, as it averaged 6.1 yards per carry.
2.9, yards per carry for Iowa.
113, plays ran by Bowling Green vs. Indiana, just two off the FBS single-game record.
694, yards allowed by Maryland. Hard to believe last year, Maryland beat WVU, 37-0.
12, penalties for 116 yards for Indiana in its loss at Bowling Green
3, losses for Iowa to rival Iowa State in the last four years.
39, wins in a row over in-state foes for Ohio State dating to a 1921 loss to Oberlin.
3, games the Big Ten lost in the waning seconds. The league lost two on last-second field goals. Iowa State kicked a 42-yarder with two seconds left to beat Iowa. West Virginia kicked a 47-yarder as time expired to beat Maryland. Bowling Green topped Indiana with a game-winning two-yard TD pass with nine seconds left.
562, yards for Nebraska. And it was split almost evenly with 282 via the air and 280 on the ground.
5, wins by the Big Ten vs. the MAC. The bad news? The MAC has three wins vs. the Big Ten this season.
6, TD passes by Ohio State?s J.T. Barrett, which tied a school record.
578, yards offense for Indiana.
Next week is the last one to feature full-blown non-conference action. There are a handful of interesting clashes. But most of this week?s games are tune-ups for the Big Ten action that kickoffs off the next week. The big game will be Miami (Fla.) at Nebraska.
|About Tom Dienhart
|BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.
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