Around The Big Ten: Week Three
Illinois: So far so good for the Fighting Illini as they have done exactly what they should have in their first two games, winning handily against lesser opponents. A week two 44-0 shutout over Western Illinois once again showcased a strong defense and a methodical offense that took care of a sub-par defense. The Illini will have their first real test Sunday as they take on a high powered offensive North Carolina team. This game should give us our first indication as to if this team is for real or not.
Indiana: You bet they miss Tevin Coleman, but the Hoosiers are still 2-0 after their first two games. Much like Illinois, they have played lesser competition (Southern Illinois and Florida International). However, unlike Illinois they have won in far less convincing fashion. Indiana was behind until the fourth quarter when Nate Sudfield took over on the ground and through the air. Then, just like in week one, defense sealed the deal for the Hoosiers as a 96-yard pick six was the icing on the cake. Their opponent this week: Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers are 2-0 and have won their last five games dating back to last year.
Iowa: A balanced offense and a stout defense has Iowa at 2-0 as well. The team relies heavily on the run game but can also beat you through the air. They put up matching efforts of 31 points against Illinois State and Iowa State. Their matchup against Pittsburgh (2-0) this weekend will most likely test Iowa the most. The Panthers love to run the ball and with a mix of physical and elusive runners they will test Iowa’s front seven.
Maryland: All seemed okay for the Terrapins until they we’re outscored by Bowling Green 28-7 in the fourth quarter last week. Not only that, but the Falcons exposed a weak secondary, torching Maryland for almost 500 yards through the air and six touchdowns. They will have a fairly tough matchup this week as they take on University of South Florida, who obliterated Florida Atlantic in week one and then hung tough against Florida State.
Michigan: After a rough start to the Harbaugh era, Michigan’s home opener lived up to the hype with a 35-7 dismantling of Oregon State. It seems that De’Veon Smith will be the focal point of Harbaugh’s offensive attack and he will use Jake Ruddock as more of a game manager. Michigan has probably the most favorable matchup of any Big Ten team this week, as they take on a UNLV team that allows more than 500 yards of offense per game.
Michigan State: In case you didn’t know how good this Spartan team is, now you do. Granted Oregon isn’t the Oregon of years past, but they are still a pretty good football team. Because of the win, the Big Ten now has two teams in the top four nationally. Up next for Sparty is, at first glance an easy matchup against Air Force. However, with Air Force running a triple-option offense, one can never be sure. Given the caliber of Michigan State’s defense this game still shouldn’t be a problem.
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers played TCU tight and then almost lost to Colorado State. Granted CSU isn’t a bad team, but based on the week one performance put together by Minnesota you would have thought they would win by more than three. They should have no problem this week as they face a Kent State team that allowed 52 points to Illinois in week one.
Nebraska: Week one was a heartbreaker for Nebraska. Week two was a blow out. Week three should be a good test against an unranked Miami team that can always be dangerous. The Cornhuskers miss Ameer Abdullah, but Terrell Newby has averaged 6.3 yards per carry so far this year and Tommy Armstrong has been very solid. Nebraska should match up well.
Northwestern: This team has been very impressive so far. Taking down Stanford week one was big and proving it wasn’t a fluke by dismantling Eastern Illinois this past weekend was equally as important. They will face a Duke team that has been better than usual in years past and has averaged almost 600 yards of total offense per game so far this year. Something will have to give with Duke’s high powered offense and the Wildcats stout defense.
Ohio State: I’ll keep this short. This is still the best team in the nation. Ezikiel Elliot will most likely be a Heisman contender. They still don’t have a true starting quarterback, although Cardale Jones has seen the majority of the snaps. Braxton Miller has been a revelation as a receiver and in the backfield. Northern Illinois should pose no threat.
Penn State: In the only matchup between Big Ten opponents, Penn State takes on Rutgers in a primetime game that promises an electric environment. The Nittany Lions suffered a bad loss week one, but bounced back with a solid win over Buffalo in week two and seemed to figure out their offensive flow in the second half. Christian Hackenberg hasn’t yet broken out this year, but he has the ability to do so at any time.
Purdue: The Boilermakers were a team on the upswing last year, but they have gotten off to a somewhat slow start this year. Granted they are 1-1 but they haven’t played the brand of football that they did to end the season last year. It all stems from Austin Appleby’s play at quarterback. He was phenomenal to end the season last year and has just been mediocre this season. Virginia Tech will provide the best opponent that Purdue has seen so far this year and it will be interesting to see how they respond.
Rutgers: Suspension on suspension has hit this Rutgers team early on this season. After demolishing Norfolk State, the Scarlet Knights fell in the last minutes to Washington State. Now their top receiver and possibly best player, Leonte Carroo, has been suspended indefinitely for an off the field incident. With a big game against Penn State coming up, Rutgers is going to have to dig deep in order to come out of Happy Valley with a win.
Wisconsin: This is a very solid team that ran into a buzz-saw in Alabama week one. They did what they were expected to against Miami (OH) and now they have what should be an easy matchup against Troy. Corey Clement, the replacement for Melvin Gordon, has only seen eight carries so far this year and missed last game due to injury. His status is uncertain for this week, but his presence will be needed if the Badgers want to make some real noise this season.
Jack Milewski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.