Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, September 17, 2017
This was an upsetting Saturday for Nebraska. For Michigan, Penn State, Minnesota and Purdue, it was a chance to continue to shine. Ohio State got back on track.
Here is my Best of Week 3.
Biggest surprise: Purdue. The Boilermakers were an underdog at kickoff at Missouri. But they played like a heavy favorite, waxing the Tigers 35-3. And, it wasn?t really that close. In just three games, Jeff Brohm is flipping the script in West Lafayette. Purdue is 2-1 and thinking bowl.
Biggest disappointment: Nebraska. The first leaf hasn?t even fallen off a tree, and the Cornhuskers are already at a crossroads following a stupefying 21-17 home loss to Northern Illinois. This comes on the heels of a not-that-close 42-35 loss at Oregon and a hold-your-breath 41-36 win vs. Arkansas State in the opener. Three turnovers hurt NU on Saturday, as did a ground game that generated only 85 yards on 36 totes (2.4 ypc). The 1990s seem like 100 years ago in Lincoln.
Play this again: Northern Illinois at Nebraska. Yes, Nebraska came out on the short end, but its 21-17 loss at home to Northern Illinois had some drama in an otherwise drama-free week. The Huskers had two chances to score the winning points after Northern Illinois went ahead with 8:52 left in the game. But NU failed on both occasions. Nebraska had been 3-0 against MAC teams, as the Huskers were held scoreless in the first half at home for the first time since 2007. NU head coach Mike Riley was given a one-year extension through 2020 earlier in the week. This is the second time in three seasons under Riley that the Huskers have lost two of their first three games.
Never play this again: Morgan State at Rutgers. This one was over before the opening kickoff. The Scarlet Knights got a much-needed 65-0 blowout win and notched 478 yards while allowing just 145. It was good to see RU OC Jerry Kill back a week after he had suffered a seizure.
Best play: Saquon Barkley vs. Georgia State. Yes, it was against lowly Georgia State. Still, the cut and speed Barkley exhibited on his Beaver Stadium record 85-yard touchdown reception was something else.
Best moment: Iowa's "Wave." We spotlighted this when it debuted in Week 1, but ESPN was in the UI Children's Hospital next to Kinnick Stadium to provide the patients' perspective of Iowa's new tradition between the first and second quarters. This is something that needs to be spotlighted and covered every Iowa home game. Have to spotlight Urban Meyer presenting J.T. Barrett with the game ball after the latter broke the Big Ten record for career TDs accounted for.
Best quote: This one needs no set up.
Best fashion statement: Minnesota went all out for Goldy Gopher's birthday, what with the alternate lid and all-gold uniform, worn for the first time since 1974. Then, there was P.J. Fleck's mascot-themed kicks.
Did you see this? In one of the most absurd calls you?ll ever see, Iowa?s Akrum Wadley had a 65-yard TD scamper nullified by a high-step late in the jaunt.
Did you see this, Part II? BTN veteran and former two-sport Northwestern student-athlete Lisa Byington became the first woman to call a football game in BTN history, announcing Northwestern's easy win vs. Bowling Green. Watch her intro at the top of this post.
There's no category for this one. I just think everyone will want to see the Missouri punter celebrating a punt with his team trailing Purdue by 32 points.
WEEK 3 GRADES
Ohio State: B+
Penn State: A+
WEEK 3 SUPERLATIVES
Offensive Player of the Week: Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook. He hit 18-of-19 passes for 256 yards with four TDs in a 40-6 win at BYU. Also: His .947 completion percentage set a program record.
Defensive Player of the Week: Michigan LB Devin Bush. He made 11 tackles (seven solo) with a sack and TFL, as he helped hold Air Force to 232 yards.
Special Teams Player of the Week: Michigan K Quinn Nordin. He tied a school record by booting five field goals vs. Air Force. Also have to mention the Wolverines' Donovan Peoples-Jones. He ran back a punt 79 yards for a TD. Michigan didn?t lead by more than three points until the run back.
Purdue. What a difference a good coach makes. Jeff Brohm has the Boilermakers one win from equally last year?s total of three. And it?s only mid-September. The 35-3 win at Missouri is further notice to the Big Ten that Purdue no longer is the Big Ten patsy. Michigan comes to West Lafayette on Saturday. Interesting.
Minnesota. The Golden Gophers are 3-0, and looking better with each passing week. The 34-3 win vs. Middle Tennessee was dominating. The three points allowed were the fewest for Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium since it opened in 2009. Minnesota is off next week before welcoming Maryland on Sept. 30.
Wisconsin. The Badgers were supposed to be tested ? at least a little ? in their trip to BYU. But they blasted the offensively inept Cougars, 40-6. UW had 491 yards and yielded just 192.
Illinois. A 2-0 start buoyed spirits in Champaign. But a trip to South Florida brought a mega-dose of reality for this young team. The Illini allowed 680 yards. And the offense floundered with just 67 yards rushing. Jeff George took over for Chayce Crouch and provided some life in the second half.
Nebraska. Now what? An ugly 21-17 home loss to Northern Illinois could turn this season on its side. The Husker defense played better, but the offense had issues vs. Northern Illinois. You kept waiting for Nebraska to take over this game ? but it never happened. The Huskies are the first team not in a Power Five conference or major independent to win in Lincoln since Southern Mississippi beat the Cornhuskers in 2004.
WEEK 3 NUMBERS
232, yards Michigan allowed to Air Force, which hit just 1-of-9 passes for 64 yards.
31, combined penalties called in the South Florida-Illinois game.
680, yards allowed by Illinois vs. South Florida in a 47-23 loss. USF had 376 yards rushing. Last week, the Illini allowed just seven points and 244 yards in a 20-7 win vs. Western Kentucky.
10, touchdown passes for Iowa's Nate Stanley in the first three games.
2, Penn State shutouts on the season after blanking Georgia State, 56-0.
107, J.T. Barrett's career touchdowns responsible for, topping Drew Brees' all-time record
107, yards rushing for both Kobe McCrary *and* Rodney Smith in Minnesota?s 34-3 win vs. Middle Tennessee. McCrary ran for three TDs.
1, TD in the red zone this season for Michigan. The Wolverines have had 10 drives inside opponents' 20 and haven't taken advantage.
11, consecutive losses for Rutgers before it throttled Morgan State.
438, Wisconsin freshman Jonathan Taylor's rushing total after racking up 128 yards at BYU. He also has five touchdowns.
.947, Alex Hornibrook's completion percentage (18-19), a Wisconsin record, in the Badgers' rout at BYU.
435, yards for Iowa in a 31-14 win vs. North Texas.
6, incomplete passes for Purdue QB David Blough, who hit 22-of-28 attempts for 187 yards and a TD. Thirteen different Boilers caught passes, as Purdue had 477 yards.
3, picks by Nebraska QB Tanner Lee, two of which were returned for TDs in a home loss to Northern Illinois. He has tossed a national-high seven interceptions. Lee also was sacked three times.
370, career-high passing yards for Northwestern?s Clayton Thorson, who hit 23-of-30 passes with two TDs.
4, rushing TDs for Rutgers freshman QB Jonathan Lewis. He ran 11 times for 58 yards and hit both of his passes for 12 yards and a TD.
150, yards receiving for Northwestern?s Garrett Dickerson on nine catches, both career highs.
172, yards rushing for Ohio State freshman J.K. Dobbins on 13 totes with two TDs to help the Buckeyes notch 586 yards vs. Army.
3, points allowed by Purdue in a 35-3 win at Missouri. It was the fewest points surrendered by Purdue since a 59-0 victory over Southeast Missouri State in 2011.
142, receiving yards for Penn State RB Saquon Barkley on four catches with a TD. His 85-yard TD catch was a Beaver Stadium record.
121, rushing yards for Northwestern?s Justin Jackson on 18 carries with three TDs.