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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 3 of Big Ten Football

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Purdue is 1-2 after the non-conference season again.

TCU v Purdue Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The bye week comes at a very good time for Purdue. Injuries have piled up and after a pretty good TCU team steamrolled us not he ground fan confidence is low. I don’t think it is time to panic, however. The rest of the Big Ten has plenty of questions as we will see today. Sure, I think winning at Penn State or Wisconsin is pretty unlikely, but the remaining seven games are against teams that have had moments of not looking that great, either. Can we win five of those if Elijah Sindelar comes back healthy?

There are also some real questions being asked of Jeff Brohm, too. He has done a lot of good in West Lafayette so far. This team has already made major strides away from the Hazell error. Still, there were some questionable coaching choices that led to the collapse at Nevada, which now looms even larger with us needing to win five Big Ten games. The offensive line situation is dire at best and he has had three years to find a more permanent solution. The complete lack of a running game is also a concern.

In the long run this could all be minor. Purdue is playing a ton of younger guys this year. Inexperience this year becomes depth next year. Despite all the injuries I still felt the defense played mostly well Saturday night. It did enough to keep it a game into the second half and had the offense been able to move the ball and give it more rest the second half could have been very different. This was more of a “wear down over time” type of loss as opposed to the “Get gashed immediately and often” like the 2016 loss at Maryland. The game was still competitive into the second half despite no running game and a freshman quarterback making his first start.

I don’t think it is time to panic. We’re only 1-2, and in the next quarter of the season we need to go 2-1. I think we lose at Penn State, but beating Minnesota and Maryland at home is definitely possible. A healthy Sindelar, maybe the return of Matt McCann and Tario Fuller, plus getting Lorenzo Neal back would be a huge boost towards that.

Meanwhile, let’s look around the rest of the league.

Ohio State 51, Indiana 10

It is nice to see a struggling program get its mojo back during a regular season game in the state of Indiana. The Buckeyes had no issues whatsoever in this one:

It was another masterclass performance on both sides of the ball for Ryan Day’s Buckeye squad. Dobbins had a career day, while Fields found open receivers at will. Defensively, the Bucks had another multi sack contest, with Chasey Young getting two. Additionally, a big interception return was brought back for a touchdown in the final seconds of the third quarter—nailing home the fact that, yes, this Buckeye team wasn’t playing around versus this Big Ten East division foe.

The Hoosiers had no answers without their starting quarterback. In fact, Crimson Quarry didn’t even bother to recap it.

Penn State 17, Pittsburgh 10

It would be very on brand for Purdue to lose to Nevada then upset Penn State, but the Nittany Lions didn’t exactly impress against Pitt:

Like just about every team in the country, Penn State will learn and get better as the season progresses. This game was the first real test for the offensive line and new starting quarterback that it is there to protect. While the pass protection was not stellar in the first half, and Clifford got hit consistently for the first time in his collegiate career, we can rest easy knowing that corrections will be made.

Arizona State 10, Michigan State 7

This game was headed to overtime around the time we kicked off, but Michigan State forgot how to count to 11:

How do you not have the field goal team and offense ready with 11 seconds left in the game? How does that sequence end with Coghlin lining up his kick with three seconds left on the play clock as the offense fails to even get off the field?

Iowa 18, Iowa State 17

Because of weather delays and such I am surprised this game is still not going on, but the Hawkeyes pulled another assy El Assico win:

Two rain delays that totalled nearly three hours. Thunder and lightning and hail and rain and dumbass Iowa State students rushing the field. I mean hell, Michael Ojemudia apparently even took a 45 minute nap during the rain delay.

And then, the grand finale. The ending. A play that sums up the entire woebegone, nationally irrelevant and inherently nauseating team that Iowa State is.

Temple 20, Maryland 17

The Terrapins got not one, but TWO safeties and still lost:

Down 20-15 with under five minutes left in the fourth quarter, No. 21 Maryland sat at Temple’s 1-yard line. A heroic DJ Turner 55-yard punt return had taken the Terps to the 4-yard line a few plays earlier.

But with a new set of downs inside of Temple’s 4-yard line, Maryland was unable to convert on a fourth-and-1 that would have given them the lead late. It was the second time this afternoon that the Terps were unable to convert on fourth and goal, and their fifth failed fourth down conversion of the game.

Eastern Michigan 34, Illinois 31

That’s three Big Ten wins in three years for the crew from Ypsi, and Chris Creighton now has more Big Ten wins than Lovie Smith:

After starting the season 2-0, the Illini dropped their final non-conference game of the season to Eastern Michigan, 34-31, on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. Illinois hasn’t swept its non-conference slate since 2011.

Northwestern 30, UNLV 14

The Wildcats won a non-conference game for the first time in two years, but were hardly dominating in doing so:

Drake Anderson certainly took advantage of the opportunity he was given on Saturday. Though he didn’t rip off any big runs, the son of former Northwestern legend Damien Anderson showed off his ability to make attackers miss on nearly every play in which he got the ball. His longest carry on the day was just 13 yards, allowing him to showcase a measure of consistency alongside his evident panache.

Minnesota 35, Georgia Southern 32

The Gophers might be the ugliest 3-0 team in America, but they are 3-0:

Woof. I repeat: Woof. The Minnesota Movers allowed five sacks and 11 tackles for loss against Georgia Southern, bringing their season total to 11 sacks and 24 tackles for loss through the first three games. To state the obvious, that is not good. Tanner Morgan’s pocket presence (or lack thereof) does not escape at least a portion of the blame for the sacks, but the Gophers’ offensive line has been an equal opportunity offender in both pass protection and run blocking. The aforementioned injuries at running back did not help an anemic rushing attack that is having to grind out every single yard, averaging 2.6 yards per carry this season. But the lack of push up front is making life difficult for a banged up running back corps.

TCU 34, Purdue 13

Our friends from Fort Worth were all smiles after this one:

The Frog offense had a sneakily mediocre game, outside of grinding the Purdue run defense into a fine powder. Max Duggan had a QBR of 21.6, well below average, with a 7/18, 70 yards night, averaging 3.9 yards per attempt. That’s... not great, especially when you consider that 34 of those yards came on two passes on the same drive. Duggan (and Delton, in his limited minutes) still suffered at the hands of their WRs, but the passing game is lagging - so, of course the Frogs are running this much against a bad Purdue rush defense; you’d like to see them take more opportunities to iron out the passing game before Big 12 play starts, but hey, a win is a win.

Nebraska 44, Northern Illinois 8

This was a very quiet game. So quiet I didn’t even see the score until this morning:

Northern Illinois read all of the quotes about Scott Frost wanting Adrian Martinez to run the ball and was more than ready. My big takeaway was watching Martinez look beyond Spielman and Wan-dale Robinson to throw to Mike Williams and Kanawai Noa to help open up the passing game. It was a good performance...but not great, because there were way too many missed opportunities to make even more plays on the night.

Non-Conference Opponents:

Nevada 19, Weber State 13 - I am not what you would call encouraged that Nevada trailed an FCS team at halftime.

Vanderbilt - ON BYE