In the third week of the college football season, the Big Ten took care of business against teams they were all favored against — for the most part.
Nebraska was the biggest disappointment of the week for the conference, as they lost to a Mid-American Conference school in Northern Illinois 21-17. Illinois was embarrassed by South Florida 47-23 and Indiana had its game canceled against FIU.
Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin all took care of business against Army, Georgia State and BYU. Rutgers steamrolled (yes, you are reading that right) Morgan State 65-0, respectively; and Michigan struggled once again at home against Air Force but nevertheless is 3-0.
Other than bye weeks for Michigan State and Maryland, that sums up a majority of Big Ten play this weekend. With that, I give you the Week 3 power rankings.
No. 1 Penn State (3-0)
The Nittany Lions’ offense has to be the best within the conference to this date. Well they havent had the toughest competition this year, Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley is arguably the best running back and quarterback combination in the nation. They dusted GSU on Saturday 56-0 in front of a sold out Happy Valley crowd in a night game. Next up is a visit to Kinnick Stadium for a night game against Iowa, which is never an easy task, but Penn State looks tough to stop right now.
No. 2 Wisconsin (3-0)
Alex Hornibrook seems to be coming into his own as one of the better quarterbacks in the Big Ten. He threw for 256 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions in a 40-6 win against BYU on the road. Even if the Cougars aren’t the stiffest competition around, the numbers speak for themselves and the offense seems to work well through the Big Ten offensive Player of the Week. Northwestern, coming off a great performance, will roll into town next for the Badgers.
No. 3 Michigan (3-0)
Michigan once again didn't really get the stunning results that they wanted against Air Force, but still won by double-digits. Coming into the game as 26-point favorites, the 29-13 win with a late touchdown once again made the score not reflect the actual game. The offense and quarterback Wilton Speight still have a lot to figure out and the play calls are catching a lot of heat. However the defense looked stellar once again while the special teams was good for the most part. Quinn Nordin went 5-for-5 on field goals and Donovan Peoples-Jones returned a punt for a 79-yard touchdown. Michigan heads to Purdue for its first true road game of 2017 next.
No. 4 Ohio State (2-1)
The Buckeyes struggled out of the gate against Army, but wound up routing them 38-7 for a bounce-back win. J.T. Barrett responded well after his embarrassing performance against Oklahoma, throwing for a pair of touchdowns and 270 yards. The freshman J.K. Dobbins also added a pair of rushing scores and 172 yards on the ground. Ohio State gets UNLV next, so they shouldn't move much in the standings pending on how the teams do in front of them.
No. 5 Iowa (3-0)
Iowa was able to top North Texas 31-14 without starting running back Akrum Wadley for a good amount of the second half. They proceeded to score 21 points on the back of Hawkeye quarterback Nate Stanley throwing for just under 200 yards and two scores. While they were losing 14-10 at halftime, the response out of the gate to start the second half says a lot about this team. A lot like Michigan, 3-0 is 3-0 and thats what keeps them in the top-five of the conference. This upcoming clash with the Nittany Lions will clear a lot up.
No. 6 Maryland (2-0)
Maryland will stay in the middle as they are coming off a bye week and will take on UCF at home this Saturday. After beating Texas and plowing over Towson 63-17, D.J. Durkin seems to have this team trending in the right direction.
No. 7 Michigan State (2-0)
Different team, same story. The Spartans are also coming off a bye week and will host Notre Dame this weekend at Spartan Stadium. Its two programs that are in desperate need of a significant win after last seasons results. Mark Dantonio and Brian Kelly will both be on the hot-seat if they can’t produce a solid season this year, so this game means a lot in those terms.
No. 8 Purdue (2-1)
The Boilermakers were the most positive surprise of the weekend for the conference. Missouri is going through a lot of problems right now but a 35-3 win on the road is still impressive for Purdue. Head coach Jeff Brohm and company are only trending upward and now have homecoming with the Wolverines heading to West Lafayette. The defense held the Tigers to just 203 yards of total offense and they only lost to Louisville by seven in Week 1. Point is, they will challenge Michigan and are hungry.
No. 9 Minnesota (3-0)
Head coach P.J. Fleck is in a situation that he is very familiar right now in his first season with the Gophers. No one really knows how good this Minnesota team is because of the competition they have played to open the campaign. They beat Middle Tennessee State 34-3 on Saturday and will now have a bye week before the first Big Ten test in Maryland. That is one to circle on the calendar for Gopher fans to see where this team is really at.
No. 10 Indiana (1-1)
The Hoosiers had some bad luck with scheduling this past weekend. Hurricane Irma stood in the way of FIU coming to town resulting in a cancelation of the game. Purdue is simply playing great and deserved to move into the top-10 while Minnesota is 3-0 and is arguably better on paper. Barring anymore oddities, Georgia Southern will come to town this weekend for Indiana.
No. 11 Northwestern (2-1)
Bowling Green isn't exactly a football power, but beating any team 49-7 looks good. The Wildcats played their best game of the season against the Falcons as did quarterback Clayton Thorson, throwing for 370 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Justin Jackson also had his best game out of the Northwestern backfield, rushing for three scores and 121 yards. After getting punched in the mouth by Duke, this blowout of BGSU was needed. The Wildcats head into a bye week.
No. 12 Rutgers (1-2)
It is hard to separate these teams at the bottom of the conference, but blowing out Morgan State 65-0 will keep them ahead of the two losers this past weekend. After losing to Eastern Michigan (the schools first power-five conference win ever), this win was essential to show there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Freshman quarterback Johnathan Lewis ran for four scores and threw for one in the victory, showing there is hope for a leader on this team in the future. The program needed a win like this and they will try to carry that momentum into a game at Memorial Stadium versus Nebraska on Saturday.
No. 13 Illinois (2-1)
The Fighting Illini didn't show much “fight” this past weekend in a blowout loss to South Florida. They have a bye upcoming this week and will attempt to prepare for Nebraska who isn't in any better position than they are currently. Lovie Smith needs to shoot some energy into this team and program before questions start to arise on him being the right guy for the job.
No. 14 Nebraska (1-2)
As a program that came into the conference making some noise with a lot of promise, its somewhat shocking to now find them at the bottom of the standings. The lost to Northern Illinois 21-17 on the back of two interceptions returned for touchdowns thrown from quarterback Tanner Lee. Lee has now thrown seven interceptions on the season and might not be the right guy for the job, only problem is there might be no one that is on the roster. The offense has major questions moving forward and will need to improve significantly to turn this year around.