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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 3 of Big Ten Football

Purdue was the biggest surprise in a big week for the Big Ten.

NCAA Football: Northern Illinois at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

I am still stunned from Purdue’s 35-3 win at Missouri. Rarely have we seen the Boilermakers so dominant against even FCS teams, let alone a power conference team on the road. The craziest thing is that this might only be the beginning. My guard is up because, well, I am a Purdue fan, but so far coach Brohm has surprised us each week. Hopefully that keeps going this week.

Purdue 35, Missouri 3

Normally I feature the Boiled Sports guys here, but Rock M Nation is officially rending garments and it is strange to see what they are going through being caused by us as opposed to the other way around:

In 10 years running this site, I’ve developed the reputation of a sunshine pumper, but really, all I’ve tried to deliver is perspective. Short-term perspective blinds us from what is actually good in the long-term. But there’s no sunshine pumping here. There was no fight, there was no tactical vision, there was minimal effort. It’s hard to imagine a team, or a coach, coming back from that.

Purdue didn’t even have to shift into second gear to build a lead. The Boilermakers dominated in trenches (where they hadn’t yet proven they were capable of dominating) and needed only basic offensive concepts — things Mizzou had to have seen on film — to move the ball at will. Missouri had no answer to things it had to have known was coming.

South Florida 47, Illinois 23

Speaking of what we have seen before, is there a more shaken 2-1 team in America than Illinois? Chayce Crouch was replaced by Jeff George Jr., but the slow starting Bulls rolled and never trailed in this one. A youth movement might be a good sign of things to come for Illinois, however:

It’s not like Lovie has a choice, by the way. There are a grand total of nine seniors on the Illini roster. Jaylen Dunlap was injured for the first two games, James Crawford has been suspended, Nathan Echard left the Western Kentucky game with an injury and Kendrick Foster has been passed by Epstein. There just isn’t a lot of experience on this roster.

And the Illini are relying on true freshmen in major areas. Epstein has already assumed the role of feature back and recorded two of the Illini’s three touchdowns Friday. Williams led Illinois with 12 tackles, while Gay blocked a field goal and has been one of Illinois’ most consistent players for the first three weeks. Adams had a sack and an interception.

Penn State 56, Georgia State 0

Maybe one day Penn State will play a real team:

With 11 seconds to play in the ball game, Georgia State coach Shawn Elliot lined up for a short field goal on fourth and one to try to end Penn State’s 56-0 shutout. The decision did nothing to help Georgia State and was generally a petty move. Well, James Franklin was having none of it. Franklin called a timeout in order to ice the Panthers kicker and, guess what, it worked! Franklin’s pettiness, which I am ALL THE WAY HERE FOR, paid off and gave Penn State its second shutout in three weeks. Penn State has now recorded multiple shutouts in a season for the first time since 2007.

Michigan 29, Air Force 13

Quinn Nordin needed to kick five field goals and already has 11 on the season. The Falcons did push a little, but Purdue’s next opponent had the game under control at all times:

The Michigan offense scored a single touchdown on Saturday, and it came late in the game. The redzone issues continue and it comes in the form of breakdowns at almost every level.

The offensive line is inconsistent, and often times flat out terrible. Wilton Speight continues to overthrow passes and not give his receivers chances to make plays, and the running game outside of a few rushes was largely stopped.

Ohio State 38, Army 7

Michigan’s biggest rival also was in firm control over a service academy:

It was a solid performance all-around, and a much needed comfortable win after last week’s disheartening loss to Oklahoma.

Wisconsin 40, BYU 6

The Badgers did not drink Provo dry, but they did cruise to a very easy win:

In a performance that set the tone for Wisconsin (3–0) throughout the afternoon, Hornibrook broke the single-game record for completion percentage by a Wisconsin quarterback. He eclipsed the mark set by Darrell Bevell against Northwestern in October 1993, when the Rose Bowl-winning quarterback (and current Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator) hit the mark on 17 of 18 attempts.

Northern Illinois 21, Nebraska 17

The Huskies have now beaten 5 of the 7 Big Ten West teams, but not Illinois, surprisingly enough. As expected, all was horror in Lincoln:

Nebraska’s offense was anemic and inconsistent throughout the game. The offensive line had difficulty blocking in the run game and in protecting the quarterback Lee in the passing game. Nebraska had 36 rushing attempts for 85 yards, resulting in a 2.4 yards per carry average. Lee lost 18 yards, mostly by being sacked three times. Mikale Wilbon played hard enough that it was indicative of his wish to be a starter,

The defense played a pretty decent game, not giving up any points until the fourth quarter. Unfortunately it was in the fourth quarter after Nebraska had taken a 17 - 14 lead that they needed to not give up any points. They held Northern Illinois to 253 total yards, which is usually a good outing.

Minnesota 34, Middle Tennessee State 3

PJ Fleck has a pretty good defense, and his offense is starting to come around too:

And they have yet to allow a single point in the second half of any game this year. Again...they have not yet allowed a second half point in the first three games of the year. Today, MTSU managed just 98 total yards in the second half and a total of 46 yards rushing for the game.

After the Huff pick-6, this game was never in doubt and really just an exercise in execution. Connor Rhoda, the unquestioned starter, was 11/18 for 122 yards. It was nice his most crisp game but he did his job. And that job was to run the offense by primarily handing off the ball and letting the offensive line open things up for the running backs.

Iowa 31, North Texas 14

Twitter was telling me this was a close game and it really was. Iowa only led 17-14 entering the 4th quarter before pulling away:

But it wasn’t just me. Like most of you, I laughed, and poked, and Tweeted, and ripped Nebraska for leaking fluids down their pant legs against Northern Illinois. I giggled, and Facebooked, and shamed Michigan for struggling with the always tough but vastly overmatched Air Force team.

I should’ve been smarter than that. I should’ve known that the football God’s see and hear everything and they always get their revenge.

Rutgers 65, Morgan State 0

At least Rutgers will not go unwinfeated:

Rutgers ended their eleven game losing streak with a 65-0 victory over Morgan State on Saturday afternoon. While this win doesn’t erase the disappointment of last week’s loss to Eastern Michigan, today’s performance was exactly what Rutgers needed. They were dominant on both sides of the ball, a few true freshmen made some big plays, and they gained some confidence ahead of next week’s Big Ten opener at Nebraska. Here are a few takeaways from today win.

Northwestern 49, Bowling Green 7

A week after getting panted at Duke Northwestern finally looked like the team they were supposed to be:

After three non-conference games, it’s clear that Northwestern needs to get its big play, downfield passing game going to reach any level of competency. In the second half against Nevada and the first against Bowling Green, Northwestern’s offense started clicking once Clayton Thorson started airing the ball out downfield. The holes begin to open for the running game, and the offensive line can start to feel comfortable as teams are forced to drop into coverage. Northwestern’s explosiveness clearly breeds offensive efficiency.

Non-Conference Opponents:

Clemson 47, Louisville 21 – The Cardinals had game day and the defending champs in town, but got blown out.

Ohio 42, Kansas 30 – The Bobcats got Kansas to come to Athens and were able to pull off a win over a power 5 team.