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The Whistletop Tour: Week 3 of Big Ten Football

The Big Ten sucks this year.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Purdue Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

It was a bad week for the Big Ten. The MAC got the best of Northwestern. Nebraska and Maryland lost ugly home games. A playoff contender in Wisconsin went down at home. Then Kansas beat the holy hell out of Rutgers.

Oh, and Purdue is 0-3.

Missouri 40, Purdue 37

Missouri fans were frustrated with this one, as the tigers were never able to really put the game away until the last play:

This is just my reaction immediately after the game, but the problem really seemed to start up front. Missouri got no consistent pass rush, which was especially detrimental because early in the game, Purdue ran a lot of play-action where a decent pass rush COULD have had some time to disrupt things. So, by not forcing David Blough off his reads and out of his passing lanes, he had time to operate, and he found his receivers again and again and again in space.

Ohio State 40, TCU 28

The Buckeyes have navigated their wilderness without Urban Meyer at 3-0 and now have an impressive non-conference win to their credit. They look ready to just roll the entire Big Ten:

When the OSU defensive line gets going, my condolences to whatever offense comes up against them. Between Nick Bosa, Dre’Mont Jones and Chase Young, the frontline is a force to be reckoned with.

TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson learned that lesson the hard way on Saturday night. Early in the first quarter, Bosa fought his way past the Horned Frogs’ offensive line, and hit Robinson, who had his back to him. Making matters worse for the signal-caller was that he fumbled the ball as he was preparing to make a throw; making matters worse still, he was on his own goal line. That sack and strip led to a recovery in the end zone by Davon Hamilton, and six points for the Buckeyes.

BYU 24, Wisconsin 21

This was absolutely stunning, as the Badgers left a lot of points on the field in an upset loss:

Wisconsin’s success starts in the trenches and on paper Saturday’s offensive line performance looks ok. The Badgers rolled up over 200 yards rushing and three rushing touchdowns. But the Badgers averaged 4.7 yards per carry, a season low. BYU managed to get pressure on Hornibrook, grabbing two sacks. The Cougars also seemed more physical than Wisconsin, and the Badgers did not get their typical push up front.

Penn State 63, Kent State 10

Yeah, Kent State sucks:

Hoo boy, these boys are looking good! Ryan Bates looks barely even bothered by defensive ends. CJ Thorpe spelled Steven Gonzalez a fair bit in the second half, and his nasty reputation was on display. Michal Menet adjusted to a legit nose tackle right on his head, after an early false start, and Will Fries & Connor McGovern played nearly mistake-free ball.

The results? Seven rushers combined for 297 rushing yards and a 6.6 yards per carry average. Miles Sanders took the most advantage, with 14 carries for 86 yards, and softened the Kent State D so much that McSorley’s three keeper scores looked effortless. Oh, and 6 for 6 in Red Zone touchdowns.

Michigan 45, SMU 20

It was a Michigan win, so apparently we’re supposed to be in absolute awe that they beat up a winless team:

The big surprise of this game was Michigan’s defense simply wasn’t that good. It was solid in the first half, allowing just seven points and scoring a touchdown of its own, but was sloppy in the second half.

The secondary in particular couldn’t slow down SMU wide receiver James Proche, who caught 11 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns. Safety Brad Hawkins blew coverage on Proche in the second quarter, allowing him to score SMU’s first points on a 50-yard pass and catch.

Kansas 55, Rutgers 14

The Kansas team that lost its opener to FCS Nicholls State beat the brakes off of Rutgers. Does anyone have the Rutgers receipt for Jim Delaney? This was just bad:

Athletic director Pat Hobbs officially has a major problem on his hands. The Chris Ash era is ahead of schedule in the completely wrong direction. No one thought they’d be in worse shape performance wise than Rutgers was in Ash’s first season. Ash inherited a short-handed roster with little Big Ten talent. Facilities were way behind the rest of the conference and the perception of the program was terrible. None of those facts had anything to do with such a disturbingly bad performance against Kansas. It all falls directly on Ash, which makes it an issue for Hobbs.

Indiana 38, Ball State 10

Indiana Football is officially better than Notre Dame Football, just as, ironically, Notre Dame basketball is better than Indiana basketball:

But while Rutger, Maryland, Purdue, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Northwestern, and Illinois all take walks of shame this morning, what stands out in Bloomington is that the Hoosiers may, finally, be set up for sustained success.

Now, success has to be defined carefully for Indiana football. What it realistically means is winning between six and eight games every year, and having an opportunity to jump up and shock a couple of the big boys and win nine or 10 once in a blue moon.

We may be seeing the first such year right now. As the team sits at 3-0 right now, you’d expect them to be favored at Rutger in two weeks, at Minnesota, at home against Maryland, and in the Old Oaken Bucket game. On top of that, the opening lines this week against Michigan State and for Homecoming against Iowa (barring disaster in the next couple weeks) will surely be within one score. Even leaving Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan off the table, eight wins are achievable if the Hoosiers can get Sparty or the Hawkeyes at home.

Temple 35, Maryland 14

While you’re looking for that Rutgers receipt can you find the Maryland one too, please? The Terps laid a complete egg at home:

Even the most pessimistic Maryland football fans didn’t see it happening like this.

After scoring 34 and 45 points in their first two games, the Terps were embarrassed on home turf by Temple on Saturday. Maryland entered as a 16.5-point favorite and lost 35-14, with neither Terps touchdown coming from the offense.

The team turned heads with 444 rushing yards against Bowling Green, but in the follow-up performance, Maryland had eight rushing yards at halftime. The Terps were outgained 240-61 in the first 30 minutes, then ran six plays for two yards (negated by a five-yard penalty) in the third quarter. Maryland’s 123 yards of offense in the fourth quarter were offset by two interceptions. The Terps were horrendous on third down, converting just 1 of 12.

Troy 24, Nebraska 19

At least the trip to Nebraska in two weeks looks winnable if Purdue can get things together:

This season has not gone according to plan and ever since the rainout three weeks ago it just felt like the football team and its fan base is in a funk.

Things are tough now, and I’m not sure it is going to get much easier anytime soon.

I am frustrated by the play of the team and the numerous mistakes which has held this team back, but the most disheartening revelation is the lack of “fan toughness.” I know the concept of “fan toughness” sounds ridiculous but it is the best I can do on this Sunday morning.

Minnesota 26, Miami (OH) 3

The Golden Gophers are very quietly 3-0 and have done it with a stout defense:

The Gopher defense forced three turnovers and held Miami to under 200 yards for the game.Jacob Herbers had his best game as a Gopher pinning Miami inside their own 5 twice while still averaging 42.7 yards per punt. And the offense was efficient on the ground and in the air with Bryce Williams rushing for 141 yards and Tyler Johnson with 133 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns. Coach Fleck was less enthused with this offense than the final numbers would suggest.

South Florida 25, Illinois 19

The Illini performed a little better than we expected, and that might mean the door is slightly ajar for a bowl game:

It wasn’t pretty at the end and many of the suspended/injured players would have made a huge difference. However, Illinois proved that, even short-handed, they can compete with teams on their level of competitiveness. South Florida has more talent on both sides of the ball, and they outgained Illinois by over 300 yards (mainly due to Blake Barnett’s 411 passing yards).

Illinois gave the Bulls all they could handle for three quarters. The defense created turnovers, the special teams were phenomenal and the offense ran roughshod over the Bulls’ suspect run defense.

Iowa 38, Northern Iowa 14

With consecutive wins over in-state teams it is truly the Hawkeye State once again:

The Iowa football team put out its most complete offensive performance this season in a convincing 38-14 win over Northern Iowa.

The Hawkeyes had a shaky start to kick things off. Noah Fant left the field on the third play of the game with what looked like a hip injury. An overthrow to Nick Easley followed a Nate Stanley sack on first down to make it 3rd and 17. A delay of game penalty made it 3rd and 22. An 8 yard draw to Mehki Sargent brought out Colten Rastetter early.

Akron 39, Northwestern 34

Since beating Purdue the Wildcats have turned in a pair of lackluster home games:

The Northwestern Wildcats played Akron in football today. They also played them last week, and they played them last year, and they’ll play the Akron Zips a few more times this season. The details of this game were familiar and unimportant because we will see them again as we have seen them before. It’s all so tiresome.

There is blame aplenty, and I can show you statistics and posts and articles and think pieces and plaintive pleas and desperate shrieks from the past weeks or months or years that have ably laid out that blame before. The nameplates change, but the story stays the same, and Northwestern lost to Akron again.

Non-Conference Opponents:

Buffalo 35, Eastern Michigan 28 – Way to build off of that momentum, Eagles. Thanks.

Boston College 41, Wake Forest 34 – This week’s opponent one a tricky road game moved up due to a hurricane.

Quickie Big Ten Power Rankings:

1. Ohio State (3-0) – The Buckeyes are a playoff contender and look like the best team in the conference by far.

2. Penn State (3-0) – The Nittany Lions have definitely woken up after the App. State scare.

3. Iowa (3-0) – The Hawkeyes have been impressive defensively and could take the West.

4. Michigan (2-1) – The Wolverines have won a pair of bodybag games and now get a deeply flawed Nebraska team.

5. Wisconsin (2-1) – The Badgers are still favorites in the West, but not by as much as before.

6. Michigan State (1-1) – Sparty is back in the top 25 this week without even playing.

7. Indiana (3-0) – Too high for the Hoosiers? They are at least taking care of their business, which is better than most of the conference.

8. Minnesota (3-0) – Minnesota is about the same as Indiana. They haven’t really beaten anyone, but the point is they have won.

9. Maryland (2-1) – I have no idea what that was against Temple.

10. Northwestern (1-2) – The good news is that the Wildcats still lead the West.

11. Illinois (2-1) – yeah, I thought they were going to be abysmal too, but they are 1/3 of the way to a bowl and they still get to play Rutgers, Purdue, and Nebraska.

12. Purdue (0-3) – We’re probably the best 0-3 team in America, but that is like being the STD with the lowest mortality rate.

13. Nebraska (0-2) – Given what Akron did to Northwestern it might be a good thing that game was a rainout.

14. Rutgers (1-2) – No, really, what the hell was that?