There’s no getting around it. The Big Ten is the worst Power 5 conference this year.
After three weeks, five teams have lost to Group of 5 squads, with four of them happening this past weekend. The West favorites lost to a BYU team that went 4-9 a year ago. Overall, the conference went 6-7 on Saturday.
You get it. The Big Ten sucks. Let’s start with the positives, at least!
OHIO STATE 40, TEXAS CHRISTIAN 28
Sorry, Michigan fans. I’m sure this is still seen as a negative.
The Buckeyes survived the Ryan Day tenure unscathed, besting the Horned Frogs in Dallas behind three touchdowns in four minutes in the third quarter.
Starting at the 6:26 mark above, Ohio State scored on a 63-yard screen to Parris Campbell, an intercepted shovel-pass returned for six by defensive tackle Dre’mont Jones and a botched punt snap setting up a 24-yard touchdown pass to K.J. Hill.
Outside of that disastrous stretch, TCU racked up 511 yards with a blazingly up-tempo offense and held the potent Buckeye offense to six offensive points in the first half. While Ohio State compiled 526 yards of their own, TCU’s aggressive blitzes made Dwayne Haskins uncomfortable for large stretches.
In last week’s Eyes on the Nation, Michigan’s — and really the rest of the conference’s — fans wanted to see some chinks in the scarlet and gray armor. Despite pitting a JUCO-transfer left tackle against Nick Bosa, the Horned Frogs passed for over 300 yards due to quick throws and screens. Teams like Penn State with Trace McSorley — and possibly a fully-developed Shea Patterson — will look to replicate that formula despite wobbly pass protection.
Next game against Tulane (3:30 p.m., BTN)
PENN STATE 63, KENT STATE 10
McSorley and the Penn State offense started slowly in its first two games, only scoring a total of 24 points in the first halves against Appalachian State and Pitt.
After 220 yards and 37 points in the second half last weekend in Pittsburgh, the Nittany Lions rolled with the momentum to 28 first half points en route to a rout.
Overall, first-year offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne’s unit have amassed 863 yards and 110 points in the last six quarters.
Next game at Illinois on Friday (9 p.m., FS1)
IOWA 38, NORTHERN IOWA 14
The Hawkeyes rolled to a 38-0 lead before taking their foot off the pedal in the fourth quarter.
Behind a lethal defensive line consisting of A.J. Epenesa, as well as Anthony and Matt Nelson, Kirk Ferentz wields a top-5 defense that yields less than 200 yards of offense a game.
One of those dominant defensive efforts came against Iowa State, who just pushed College Football Playoff contender Oklahoma. The front allows just 60 yards a game on the ground and less than two yards a carry.
With Jonathan Taylor and Wisconsin coming to Kinnick Stadium fresh off their loss to BYU — more on that later — Iowa can leap ahead in the Big 10 West race this Saturday night.
Next game against No. 18 Wisconsin (8:30 p.m., FOX)
INDIANA 38, BALL STATE 10
The Hoosiers navigated through non-conference season unblemished for the first time since 2015.
Before you scoff at a win over Ball State, Tom Allen’s team dominated the Cardinals better than Notre Dame the week before. While the Fighting Irish mustered less than three yards a carry in week two, running back Stevie Scott and company gashed Ball State for 255 yards and 5.8 yards a pop.
They look to go stay undefeated — and reclaim the Old Brass Spitoon — this Saturday against No. 24 Michigan State, who comes off a bye. The last time Indiana hosted a ranked Spartan team?
Next game against No. 24 Michigan State (7:30 p.m., BTN)
MINNESOTA 26, MIAMO (OHIO) 3
P.J. Fleck undersold his team this summer, preaching patience for a team that only returned 11 starters.
For Michigan fans, the win over MAC Miami only has one nugget of significance: transfer quarterback Alex Malzone failed to complete any of his three passes for the Redhawks.
Next game at Maryland (noon, BTN)
THE UGLY STUFF
BYU 24, WISCONSIN 21
Lou Groza Award candidate Rafael Gaglianone missed a game-tying 42-yard kick to clinch a 24-21 Badger loss to BYU.
The specifics of the loss are head-scratching, outside of the fact that the previously No. 6 team in the country lost to the unranked Cougars at home. BYU won despite getting only 89 yards passing from 28-year old quarterback Tanner Mangum. Cougar running back — and Soundcloud rapper — Squally Canada out rushed Jonathan Taylor 118 yards to 117.
This game may signify the beginning of the end of Wisconsin’s long run of defensive prowess. The Cougars — the No. 121 S&P offense in 2017 and scorers of only 18 points against Cal — manufactured 24 points with a ball-control offense.
The Badgers highly-touted offensive line — with All-Americans David Edwards, Beau Benzschawel and Michael Deiter — get a chance at redemption against the stingy Hawkeye front at night in Iowa City. Paul Chryst suddenly finds himself in a must-win scenario, as the Badgers desperately want to avoid on 0-1 hole in Big 10 West play.
Next game at Iowa (8:30 p.m., FOX)
KANSAS 55, RUTGERS 14
Rutgers lost by 41 to Kansas. A program that failed to win a road game since Sep. 2009 until this season’s 31-7 victory over Central Michigan. Also, a team that lost to FCS also-ran Nicholls State.
Rutgers. Lost. By. 41. To. These. Guys.
Fortunately, the game was only seen on a local Fox Sports Network affiliate. Unfortunately, this likely ends the Scarlet Knights’ run to a bowl game before conference season.
Next game against Buffalo (noon, BTN)
TROY 24, NEBRASKA 19
An incredibly intelligent and handsome person once said this about Scott Frost and Nebraska.
Without freshman starting quarterback Adrian Martinez, walk-on Andrew Bunch threw two picks to stunt scoring chances against the Trojans. It overshadowed a defense that actually seems to be coming together, holding Troy to just 253 yards.
Frost confirmed today Martinez is practicing, so expect him to return for the Michigan game this weekend. Will that be enough to lift a team that still lost to a Sun Belt team at home?
Next game at No. 19 Michigan (noon, FS1)
TEMPLE 35, MARYLAND 14
Maryland is perfectly following their 2017 script, so far.
Step One: Beat Tom Herman and a ranked Texas on opening weekend. Step Two: Bully an overmatched team from a lesser conference. Step Three: Lose to an American Athletic team by multiple scores at home.
The Terrapins, who averaged just under 40 a game heading into Saturday, failed to score an offensive touchdown against the Owls, who entered College Park 0-2 after losses to Villanova and Buffalo.
Next game against Minnesota (noon, BTN)
SOUTH FLORIDA 25, ILLINOIS 19
Poor damn Lovie Smith.
Illinois is quietly beating USF 16-7 at the half, and Lovie Smith is quietly growing an amazing Santa beard pic.twitter.com/4uvUbmjcHj— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) September 15, 2018
That’s how he looked with a lead. The Illini built a 19-7 lead, only to cede 18 fourth-quarter points. Imagine how he looked after that...
The Bulls inexplicably trailed by two scores despite 626 total yards, including 411 passing yards from transfer quarterback Blake Barnett. Illinois running back Mike Epstein returned from a foot injury to gain 113 yards. Illinois has a semblance of offense with him healthy.
With a win, Illinois could have replaced Rutgers in their quest for a low-tier bowl. They host Penn State for a likely beating before that dream continues.
Next game against No. 10 Penn State Friday (9 p.m., FS1)
MISSOURI 40, PURDUE 37
How do the Boilermakers lose with David Blough throwing for 526 yards?
Oh, that’s right. They let up 608 yards of their own. Jeff Brohm’s team is now 0-3 after three losses by a total of eight points.
Next game against No. 23 Boston College (noon, ESPN2)
AKRON 39, NORTHWESTERN 34
Shameless SB Nation plug, but the mothership posted a great article about the last time Akron beat a Big Ten team. They were Buchtel College at the time.
Akron knocks off Northwestern 39-34 for its first win against a Big Ten team since 1894 - yes, 1894— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) September 16, 2018
Also, Clayton Thorson — who gets some NFL Draft love from Mel Kiper, Jr. — submarined the Wildcats with three turnovers returned for touchdowns (one fumble, two picks).
They get a bye before hosting Michigan Sept. 29.