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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 3 of Big Ten Football

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The Big Ten was a pathetic 3-6 out of conference this week.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It was another tough week for the Big Ten. A third loss to the MAC puts the conference just one away from tying the record for most losses to that conference in a single season. At least we don't have a bowl game with them anymore. Next week present three more chances for MACrifices, but they would be stunning upsets with Penn State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin playing MAC teams.

The Big Ten also lost rivalry games this week with Maryland, Purdue, and Iowa losing to non-conference rivals. On the plus side, with the Big Ten West looking especially bad there might be a chance for Purdue to grab some victories later on. Northwestern, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota have all not looked that great. Assuming Purdue beats Southern Illinois the Boilers would only need to beat four of those. Just getting two would be a major step forward.

Here is the week that was in the Big Ten:

West Virginia 40, Maryland 37

West Virginia is much improved over last season. They were pretty solid in a season opening loss to Alabama and built a big early lead here. The Terrapins came back to tie it, but Josh Lambert hit a game-winning 47-yard field goal as time expired for the Mountaineers. It was heartbreaking according to Testudo Times:

Given solely that West Virginia had 694 yards of total offense and scored 40 points, it wasn't a good day for Maryland's defense. But Brian Stewart's unit stood tall several times, bending but not breaking to the tune of forcing turnovers (or a special teams blocked field goal) on six different possessions inside the Maryland 40-yard line. The Terps gave up plenty of points, but they could have given up so many more. Given solely that West Virginia had 694 yards of total offense and scored 40 points, it wasn't a good day for Maryland's defense. But Brian Stewart's unit stood tall several times, bending but not breaking to the tune of forcing turnovers (or a special teams blocked field goal) on six different possessions inside the Maryland 40-yard line. The Terps gave up plenty of points, but they could have given up so many more.

Bowling Green 45, Indiana 42

This game was 14-12 at halftime in favor of the Hoosiers, so defense was completely optional in the second half. There were nine second half touchdowns and the lead changed hands on each one. Indiana went ahead with 2:04 left on a sneak by Nate Sudfeld, but the defense gave up an 88 yard drive in 1:55. Your final assessment: Tevin Coleman is awesome (190 yards and 3 TDs), and the IU defense still sucks out loud:

The Latin phrase nihil novi sub sole literally means "nothing new under the sun." After yesterday's loss to Bowling Green, it's the perfect phrase to describe IU football. As a result of the loss, Indiana drops to 1-1 on the season. For the past three years, we have been told to be patient with this football team, much like we were told to be patient in the first three years of the Tom Crean era. After a certain time, however, you have to start producing the type of results that are indicative of a steady, rebuilt program. Such results include not losing to a MAC school that is starting its backup QB. In year four, Crean started to produce those results (and now might have to do so again in year seven to keep his job secure). After yesterday, I'm not convinced that Kevin Wilson will get to that point in his fourth season at the helm.

Ohio State 66, Kent State 0

Blood. Just blood everywhere:

This one was in the books long before the final whistle. The Buckeyes jumped out to an early lead, and refused to take their feet off the gas during the first half. Going into the break, OSU led 45-0, a margin that only got bigger in the 2nd half. The Buckeyes needed a decisive victory at home after last week's debacle, and they got it. After a few early drops, the receivers looked sharp, with Michael Thomas and Devin Smith each taking a long reception to the house. The running game also showed some serious pop for the first time this season, adding another dimension to an offense that looked decidedly lackluster last week against Virginia Tech's defense.

Michigan 34, Miami (OH) 10

The nation's longest losing streak reached 19 games, but for awhile the Redhawks put a scare into the Wolverines. They tied things 10-10 midway through the second quarter before Michigan woke up:

Although the score was relatively close for the majority of the first half, the statistics did not reflect the scoreboard. Michigan's defense allowed only 198-yards to the RedHawks, 33-yards on the ground and 165-yards passing. However, the turnovers Miami caused set itself up for quick scores.

Iowa State 20, Iowa 17

I cannot do this game justice, so I will defer to Black Heart Gold Pants:

Iowa has three kickers and two punters on the team, three of which are on scholarship.  The punters were fine today.  The kickers have been so bad that Iowa wouldn't even allow them to kick a field goal in the first half. When Iowa needed a field goal to tie in the fourth quarter, BOTH KICKERS RAN ONTO THE FIELD.  You are reading this correctly: Iowa momentarily sent out two kickers to kick a field goal like it was a 35-yard free kick in the fucking Premier League.  Marshall Koehn made it, thankfully.  The guy with the scholarship did a nice job on two extra points, and probably shouldn't expect to have to kick any more than that in coming weeks given the offensive coordinator and head coach.  Iowa didn't recruit the local guy who just beat them, by the way.

TCU 30, Minnesota 7

So much for me saying that Minnesota should win and I couldn't understand why TCU was a double digit favorite. As always, I am an idiot:

Well then. Not the prettiest game ever, but ultimately I feel more deflated by it than upset. The QB was more than suboptimal, but I don't feel terrible about how the defense did given the short fields they were given or all the times turnovers put them right back into it. Defensively the big lesson is that this is a defense that can probably help the Gophers hold their own for a while when the offense is struggling, but it is not a defense that can make up for too many turnovers and an offense that is struggling.

Washington 44, Illinois 19

Yeah, Illinois still kind of sucks:

As Shaq Thompson ran back a 52 yard fumble recovery to the endzone, you could actually feel the energy and life being sucked out of the Illini.  The defense and special teams had just come up with a big stop on 3rd down forcing the Huskies to punt deep in their own end zone.  But when the snap bounced past Korey Durkee and the end line for a safety, a breeze of momentum shifted into the Illini's sails.  Two plays later, Thompson was taking Lunt's fumble to the house giving the Huskies a 35-5 lead midway through the 2nd quarter.  From that point, the Illini wouldn't catch Washington as the Huskies prevailed 44-19.

Notre Dame 30, Purdue 14

J Money and Boilerdowd were in Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday night, so let's see what they saw:

While the Boilers didn't stay within a TD as long as they did last season, they played 30 solid minutes (or at least it looked that way from a distance), forcing Notre Dame to build a small lead that eventually became a 30-14 win. In that first half - where Purdue actually led from Etling's second TD pass until Golson scored with less than 15 seconds in the second quarter - Purdue went toe-to-toe with Notre Dame, not showing much of the weak play that bedeviled them against both MAC teams. I think Etling was 15 for 17 in that half, nothing like the scatter-armed performances that got him hooked against Central Michigan. The defense forced consecutive three-play drives, one a three-and-out that gave Purdue the ball in ND territory (although it ended on a failed fourth-down try) and one a third-down fumble that led to that go-ahead touchdown. Even the interceptions came late enough in the game that they were likely a product of trying to force things to happen when there was no other choice rather than locking onto receivers or simply making bad throws.

Nebraska 55, Fresno State 19

Is McNeese State better than Fresno State? Probably:

Fresno State opened their scoring on a Safety by Husker LB David Santos misplaying a punt and batting it through the back of the end zone. However, Nebraska had the next three scores. The most exciting of the three was a Punt Return by Pierson-El for 86 yards, which was the first PR touchdown since Abdullah's effort vs. Idaho State in 2012. It was also the longest PR for a Husker Freshman in the program's history. Two Drew Brown Field Goal's sandwiched Pierson-El's TD. A Kody Kroening Field Goal ended the scoring for the first half, as the Huskers took a 27-5 lead into Halftime.

Penn State 13, Rutgers 10

Gary Nova threw five interceptions, but his team still led 10-6 with under two minutes to go:

I do find a lot of fault with Nova.  He had a decent first half, as Kevin writes, but his meltdown in the second half was a killer.  He only had to be adequate and make a couple (maybe only one) decent throw in the half to lock up the game for the Knights.  As stated, the punting was barely adequate and how, Mr. Federico, do you open the game with a kick out of bounds?

Black Shoe Diaries didn't care, as Christian Hackenberg brought them back for a win:

Two, the offense is going to be learning on the job. BTPR was able to get to Hackenberg early and often last night, while keeping the Lions' rushing game in check. The frustration among the players (and fans) was apparent. But to give credit where it's due, John Donovon and the offensive staff were able to make adjustments during halftime to at least slow down the Scarlet Knights' pass rush and get the offense on track and moving the ball, and ultimately, score the winning touchdown.

Non-conference opponents:

Western Michigan 45, Idaho 33 - The Broncos match last season's win total! Jarvion Franklin also lit up the Vandals for 211 yards and 3 TDs.

Syracuse 40, Central Michigan 3 - The Chips led 3-0, then got drilled. Ugh, this makes our loss look that much worse.

Southern Illinois 50, Southeast Missouri State 23 - We're definitely on upset alert this week. SIU is 3-0, averaging 44 points per game, and in the top 15 in the FCS.