Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, September 14, 2014

This will be the Saturday we remember Penn State breaking out with a big road win at Rutgers to show it will be a factor in the Big Ten East. And Nebraska had a vintage Nebraska effort in taking a 55-19 decision at Fresno State. Otherwise, there wasn?t much for the Big Ten to remember from Week 3.

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Here is what I learned.

1. Is the Big Ten East really that much better than the Big Ten West? It doesn?t look like it. Yes, Michigan State is a cut-above the teams in the West. But one could argue the rest of the West stacks up with its East counterparts.

2. Tommy Armstrong and Nebraska have plenty of big-play ability. The Huskers scored two touchdowns in the opening three minutes at Fresno State, including a 70-yard Armstrong TD pass to Jordan Westerkamp on the fourth play. They racked up four scores of at least 50 yards, the most exciting of which was freshman De'Mornay Pierson-El's 86-yard punt return for a TD. This offense is great, and it's absolutely scary when Armstrong is on top of his game.

3. Penn State?s Christian Hackenberg continues to build his legacy. The super sophomore led his second fourth-quarter, game-winning drive of the season in a gutty 13-10 win at Rutgers. Hackenberg was under constant pressure and got little support from the ground game. But he stood and delivered when it mattered most by hitting two big passes on the game-winning drive to move the Nittany Lions to 3-0 with a good shot to start 5-0. The guy is special.

4. Another tough Saturday for the Big Ten. Indiana?s loss at Bowling Green was the conference?s third vs. the MAC this season. Add it up, and the Big Ten is 5-3 vs. the MAC this season. It also stings that the Virginia Tech team that won at Ohio State last week lost at home to East Carolina on Saturday. Just not much to celebrate on the heels of a tough Week 2.

5. I still don?t know what to make about Ohio State. Did we really learn much about the Buckeyes in a 66-0 win vs. an overmatched Kent State team? Not really. Ohio State dominated in every facet of the game, notching 628 yards and allowing only 126. You can say the Buckeyes did what they were supposed to do. But the sting of last week?s home loss to Virginia Tech lingers. OSU is off next Saturday and then Cincinnati visits. That should be a nice measuring stick.

6. Iowa is going to continue to struggle until it can run the ball. The Hawkeyes dodged a bullet last week when they slipped by Ball State. Alas, Iowa got dumped this week, falling 20-17 at home to an Iowa State team that was 0-2. The Hawkeyes ran 44 times for 129 yards (2.9 ypc). At least QB Jake Rudock didn?t lead the team in rushing; Mark Weisman did with 49 yards. But Rudock was second with 39 yards. By the way: Kirk Ferentz is 7-9 vs. the Cyclones.

7. Minnesota looks lost with a poor passing game. The effort at TCU was tough to watch. Mitch Leidner hit just 12-of-26 passes for 151 yards with no TDs and three interceptions before leaving the game in the fourth quarter after a hard tackle. The Gophers were able to manhandle their first two foes in Eastern Illinois and Middle Tennessee. But it couldn?t just line up and run over TCU. And Minnesota figures to have similar issues in Big Ten play unless the passing game evolves.

8. Rutgers QB Gary Nova is what he is: an average quarterback. With the Scarlet Knights? ground game largely bottled up by Penn State, Nova needed to make some big throws. But, he struggled by hitting 15-of-30 passes with five interceptions. The game vs. the Nittany Lions was there for the taking with a few key passes. Christian Hackenberg hit some; Nova didn?t. And, Penn State won.

9. Indiana will be hard-pressed to make its first bowl since 2007. The 45-42 loss at Bowling Green showed the Hoosiers? defense is still flawed, allowing 571 yards overall, 395 through the air and 176 on the ground to fall to 1-1. And the Falcons were led by a backup quarterback who was making just his second career start. Up next: a trip to Missouri followed by a visit from Maryland. IU may be favored in just two more games: vs. North Texas and Purdue.

10. I don?t want to be harsh on Maryland for losing to West Virginia. This is a solid Mountaineers? squad that gave Alabama a good effort in the opener. The Terrapins showed resiliency in battling from a 28-6 hole, making adjustments and roaring back before falling on a last-second field goal. Maryland can build off this. This is still a sleeper team in the East.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, 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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