Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, September 20, 2015

Week 3 was all about the ACC, as the Big Ten played five games vs. the eastern league. Final score: ACC 3, Big Ten 2. Northwestern (at Duke) and Iowa (Pitt) were the only two Big Ten teams to win. Illinois (at North Carolina), Nebraska (at Miami) and Purdue (Virginia Tech) all lost.

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The conference also took the lid off Big Ten play, with Penn State downing Rutgers.

Here my weekly Big Ten roundup.

Biggest surprise: Did you think Iowa would be 3-0 back in August? I doubt you did. But, here are the Hawkeyes, sitting atop the Big Ten West with fellow 3-0 Northwestern after a heart-stopping last-second win vs. Pitt, courtesy of Marshall Koehn's strong right foot.

Biggest disappointment: Illinois. Pffffttttttt. So much for all of that mojo from a 2-0 start. The Illini looked like a paper tiger in getting ripped at North Carolina, 48-14. Guess beating Kent State and Western Illinois was no big whoop.

Play this again: Iowa?s last-second win vs. Pitt was exhilarating. But the Nebraska-Miami game takes the cake. Nebraska looked like it was ready to be read its last rites, trailing at Miami (FL), 33-10, with 11:14 left in the contest. Game over, right? Wrong! The Cornhuskers proceeded to score three touchdowns in the final 8:36, tallying a two-point conversion after TD No. 3 to forge a tie and overtime. Alas, Miami won, 36-33, in OT. It was the second heart-stopping game of 2015 for Nebraska, which lost its opener to BYU on a last-second Hail Mary pass.

Never play this again: Virginia Tech thumped Purdue, 51-24. And, it really wasn?t even that close. The game was tied, 17-17, with 2:24 left in the first half. From there, the Hokies outscored Purdue, 34-7. The Boilermakers were out gained, 471-265. QB Austin Appleby was 9-of-28 for 110 yards with no TDs and two interceptions.

Best play: There's two this week. How could there not be? You probably know the two, too. They would be Michigan State wide receiver Aaron Burbridge's circus touchdown grab, tapping a foot just inbounds after soaring high into the sky vs. Air Force, and Iowa kicker Marshall Koehn's game-winning 57-yard field goal as time expired.

Best moment: Former Iowa standout defensive back Brett Greenwood was the honorary captain Saturday night. Greenwood, who led the Big Ten in interceptions in 2010, collapsed during a workout in 2011 and was in a coma as a result of suffering an anoxic brain injury caused by heart arrhythmia. Well, Greenwood, along with strength and condition coach Chris Doyle and former Iowa teammate and friend Pat Angerer, led the Hawkeyes onto the field Saturday night vs. Pitt. It was a fantastic moment.

Weirdest moment(s): The Troy-Wisconsin game saw two Badgers ejected for targeting and a fire drill. No, there was no fire in Camp Randall Stadium. It was an interesting day in Madison, to say the least.

Here is one of the targeting calls:



Illinois: F
Indiana: C+
Iowa: A-
Maryland: B
Michigan: A-
Michigan State: B-
Minnesota: C-
Nebraska: B-
Northwestern: A-
Ohio State: C
Penn State: B+
Purdue: F
Rutgers: D-
Wisconsin: B+



Northwestern. The Wildcats moved to 3-0 with a workmanlike 19-10 win at Duke. NU had just 271 yards of offense, but the defense continued to play well, allowing 327 yards and forcing three turnovers. The Wildcats have allowed just 16 points in three games.

Michigan. Don?t look now, but the Wolverines are looking good. After opening with a 24-17 loss at Utah, Michigan has clobbered Oregon State (35-7) and UNLV (28-7). The 2-1 Wolverines are gaining confidence and mojo with BYU coming to Ann Arbor next week. Michigan is running with power and playing good defense.

Maryland. The Terps rebounded from a humiliating 48-27 home loss to Bowling Green in which they allowed 692 yards overall and 42 second-half points. But Maryland swapped QBs for this game and rolled to a needed 35-17 win vs. South Florida, allowing just 300 yards for a defense that saw nine tackles, a forced fumble and two interceptions from DB Sean Davis.

Iowa. Remember when questions swirled around this program in the offseason? Had Kirk Ferentz lost his touch? Well, Iowa is silencing its doubters with a 3-0 start. The last-second win vs. Pitt will be talked about for years and could be the spark for a big season. The Hawkeyes are 3-0 for the first time since 2009, when they began 9-0. Are you thinking what I am thinking?


Minnesota. This season is beginning to look a lot like last year-all defense, little offense. Read my full take. Even worse, this year?s attack appears less equipped than last year?s without RB David Cobb. The Gophers tallied just 288 yards and 10 points vs. a Kent State defense that allowed 52 points to Illinois in the opener.

Illinois. That 2-0 start? Ancient history. The Fighting Illini took a big step up in competition this week after opening with easy home wins vs. Kent State and Western Illinois. But a trip to North Carolina resulted in a sobering 48-14 loss.

Michigan State. Coming off one of the biggest wins in school history last week vs. Oregon, the Spartans beat Air Force, 35-21. But Michigan State didn?t impress. The Spartans gained just 324 yards with only 77 coming on the ground. Safety RJ Williamson had five tackles, a pick and a scoop and score, but MSU allowed 428 yards to the Falcons with 279 coming on the ground. A win is a win is a win, right?

Ohio State. Is this really the No. 1 team in the nation? The Buckeyes didn?t look overly impressive in beating Northern Illinois a week after a sleepy victory vs. Hawaii. Even worse: There still is no clarity to the quarterback situation. Is it time to start worrying a little bit?



Northwestern?s Anthony Walker registered an eye-popping 19 tackles in Northwestern's win at Duke.

Iowa?s Marshall Koehn nailed a game-winning 57-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Hawkeyes to a 27-24 win vs. Pitt, which had scored a game-tying TD with 52 seconds left. Koehn added a 43-yard field goal, as well.

Michigan State?s Aaron Burbridge caught eight passes for a career-high 156 yards and three touchdowns vs. Air Force.

Michigan State's Riley Bullough tallied 16 tackles in a 35-21 win vs. Air Force.

Michigan?s Ty Isaac carried only eight times but went for 114 yards with 76 of them coming on a TD jaunt vs. UNLV.

Maryland's Sean Davis posted nine tackles, one forced fumble and two interceptions.

Penn State?s Saquon Barkley ran 21 times for 195 yards and two touchdowns vs. Rutgers.

Penn State's Jordan Lucas registered nine tackles, including one tackle for loss, a sack and a forced fumble vs. Rutgers.

Indiana?s Nate Sudfeld completed 20-of-27 passes for 355 yards and three touchdowns, to go with zero interceptions, in a comeback win vs. Western Kentucky.

Indiana's Jordan Howard, the Big Ten's leading rusher, ran 31 times for 203 yards vs. Western Kentucky.

Wisconsin freshman Chris Orr had 14 tackles vs. Troy.



48, points allowed by Illinois in a loss at North Carolina. The Illini entered the game having allowed three points. And the defense was No. 2 in the Big Ten (193.0 ypg). But the Tar Heels ripped through Illinois? defense today for 471 yards.

300, yards allowed by Maryland in a win vs. South Florida. The Terps yielded 692 last week in a home loss to Bowling Green.

16, wins in a row for Ohio State, the longest active streak in the nation.

142, yards allowed by Minnesota vs. Kent State, which had just 63 yards passing. The Gophers also forced three turnovers.

4, touchdown throws for Michigan State QB Connor Cook.

254, yards rushing for Michigan vs. UNLV. Last week, the Wolverines ran for 225 yards vs. Oregon State after notching just 76 vs. Utah in the opener. This is something Jim Harbaugh wants to do each game. If the power running continues, Michigan will have a good season.

.909, Wisconsin?s winning percentage (70-7) at home since the start of the 2004 season. Nationally, only Boise State (70-3, .959) has won a higher percentage of its home contests than UW during that time frame.

5, turnovers for Ohio State vs. Northern Illinois.

3, comeback wins for Indiana. Yes, the Hoosiers have rallied from halftime deficits in all three games.

126, yards receiving for Indiana's Ricky Jones, on five receptions, one which went for a touchdown.

2, picks for Iowa?s Desmond King vs. Pitt.

107, yards receiving on eight catches for Maryland?s Levern Jacobs vs. USF.

255, yards allowed by Wisconsin in its 28-3 win vs. Troy.

11, games in a row Michigan State has scored at least 30 points, extending a school-record stretch.



"I've been here for a year without playing, doing a lot of practice-squad stuff. "I know that stuff helps your team, but it feels a lot better when you can put it on the scoreboard and help your team win." - Michigan RB Ty Isaac

"We don't ever talk about any running back controversy – just so you know – from here on out. Quarterback controversy, I'll address that. Whenever you want to know who the starting quarterback is, I will talk to you about that." - Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh

"Amazing. To see him go up and reach back, and to still keep his foot inbounds – a circus catch." - Michigan State QB Connor Cook, on Aaron Burbridge?s first TD catch

"I don't have the magical answer right now, but I better get it, or I don't deserve to be here." - Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, on team?s struggling offense

"Everybody (in the locker room) really is not concerned with what other people think of us. We've been a part of that roller-coaster ride for a couple years. We tore down that roller coaster. Burned it." - Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald

"I didn't really see the corner. That's on me. I made throws. Some were great. Some were bad. That one cost us the game. There were three guys on the pattern. There was only one I could throw to. I underthrew it." - Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong, on interception to open overtime

"Good question. And I don't know that right now. I haven't had time to think about it." - Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, on who will start at QB next week

"Two ejections, which I've never seen before, a fire alarm. Yeah, it was a strange afternoon." - Wisconsin QB Joel Stave

"I feel like as the game goes on I get stronger. I guess the defense just gets tired of tackling me for the power I'm giving them." - Indiana RB Jordan Howard

"I think Saquon Barkley has brought something to our offense. I think him and Akeel are a nice one-two punch right now." - Penn State coach James Franklin

"What an unbelievable kick by Marshall. Just tremendous composure." - Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz


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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