Football Around the Big Ten: Week 3
Tyler King, Matt Freiler and Dylan Huberman discuss this week's football matchups around the Big Ten conference.
Week 2 did not produce the most ideal results for the Big Ten on the national stage. Ohio State fell victim to Mayfield Madness, as the Heisman contending Oklahoma quarterback tore apart the young Buckeye secondary in the second half of the Sooners’ 31-16 win in Columbus. In the West division, Northwestern was dominated by underdog Duke and Nebraska gave up six touchdowns in the first half against Oregon. To ice the cake, outcast Rutgers continued to embarrass the conference with a home loss to Eastern Michigan. How can the Big Ten bounce back in a Week 3 filled with underwhelming non-conference games?
The Big Ten did feature some impressive triumphs from its teams in Week 2. For Iowa, first-year quarterback Nathan Stanley threw five touchdown passes, leading the Hawkeyes to a nail-biting 44-41 overtime win over rival Iowa State. Minnesota made the trip to the Pacific Northwest, blowing out Oregon State 48-14. The defending champs also represented the conference well, getting the job done in a 33-14 win over Pitt.
Purdue handled Ohio on Friday night in West Lafayette, 44-21. Michigan put away Cincinnati in the second half, winning 36-14. Wisconsin pounded their way to a win over Lane Kiffin and FAU, 31-14. Indiana won on the road at Virginia, 34-17. Illinois, Michigan State and Maryland all defeated non-AQ schools at home.
Looking ahead, Week 3 will probably put Big Ten football fans to sleep. All four conference teams in the AP Top 10 are heavily favored on Saturday. Penn State welcomes cupcake Georgia State (7:30/BTN), a chance for the Nittany Lions to have one final tune-up before league play. Ohio State and Michigan play a pair of service academies this week. Air Force swoops into the Big House (12:00/BTN) and Army marches into the Shoe (4:30/FOX). Wisconsin is the lone ranked Big Ten team who might be challenged, but their matchup with BYU (3:30/ABC) got significantly less sexy after the Cougars lost two straight. With the conference’s heavyweights playing in glorified scrimmages, what should fans watch for around the Big Ten on Saturday?
There are a few less-than-interesting games that might headline Big Ten action this week. Purdue is the lone conference team facing a Power 5 foe as they travel to Columbia to take on Missouri (4:00/SECN). Vegas lists the Tigers as touchdown favorites over Jeff Brohm’s Boilermakers, even with Missouri coming off a tough home loss to South Carolina. The Boiler offense has shown some flashes in the first two weeks; however, can the defense step up to get Purdue a win over an SEC team? A lower-echelon Big Ten team beating a lower-echelon SEC team would sure help the conference’s case in the great debate.
One more off-the-radar game to keep an eye on is Minnesota hosting Conference USA foe Middle Tennessee State. The Blue Raiders recorded a big win over a Power 5 school last week, topping Syracuse 30-23 in the Carrier Dome. There is no question that veteran QB Brent Stockstill and NFL prospect WR Richie James have a great chance to lead their team to another upset win on the road.
Lastly, Rutgers hosts Morgan State in their best and maybe only chance to a win a football game this season. If the Scarlet Knights can do enough to beat a winless FCS team, the Big Ten has a good chance at going a perfect 10-0 on Saturday. There is conference action on Friday night as well, with Illinois visiting No. 22 South Florida (7:00/ESPN).
Matt Freiler is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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