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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 3 of Big Ten Football

It’s a mixed bag of results.

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer via Imagn Content Services, LLC

It was a very interesting weekend for the conference with a lot of “prove it” games. Teams like Minnesota and Penn State proved it. Teams like Indiana and Purdue did not. Let’s hop on the train and hit the whistlestops.

Notre Dame 27, Purdue 13

Brian Kelly got his first win at Notre Dame against Purdue and is now tied with Knute Rockne thanks to beating Purdue:

Brian Kelly is going to be the all-time wins leader soon enough, and it should be enough to forever place his name as one of the all-time greats at Notre Dame. In a ridiculous amount of ways, he already has done that, but the record helps the narrative. If BK were to ever win a title at Notre Dame — in this day and age — then we need no preambles. He is just great.

Maryland 20, Illinois 17

This game on Friday was pants-on-head stupid at times, but Maryland got 10 points in the final minutes to steal the win:

Maryland’s offense gets plenty of attention as the better of the two sides of the ball, deservedly so given its terrific performances to open the season. However, that wasn’t the case against Illinois as the Terps put up just three first-half points against an Illinois defense that has had difficulty getting stops in recent weeks.

Purdue’s next opponent is the Illini, who are definitely not doing well:

But it was mostly the same ol’, same ol’ dreck from the offense — that’s now four straight games without scoring in the first quarter. Other than a big gain on a somewhat-busted pass play to Josh McCray, a dart to Isaiah Williams, and a screen pass with some fancy footwork along the boundary by Chase Brown, there was barely anything worth noting in the first half. Brandon Peters went 6-for-17 in the first half in his return from injury. BP wasn’t much better in the second, finishing 10-of-26 for 185 yards and an interception. And super senior QBs should know not to hold on the ball too long, not to take a sack, and not to throw the ball to YOUR GODDAMN CENTER.

Michigan State 38, Miami (FL) 17

The Spartans really controlled this game and opened it up late with a 21-3 fourth quarter:

The Spartans only out-gained the Canes 454 yards to 440 yards, and gained six fewer first downs (23 to 29). But, the Spartan defense forced two fumbles and two interceptions, while holding Miami to only 52 yards on the ground. Kenneth Walker led all rushers with 172 yards on 27 carries.

Oklahoma 23, Nebraska 16

This one was at least closer than originally thought, but like Purdue, Nebraska could not cash in on its chances:

On the one hand, Nebraska made a fair amount of mistakes. Lots of penalties, although we overcame them most of the time.

Obviously, Connor Culp missed some field goals and the special teams kicked was a mess.

Connor Culp wasn’t the issue. Missing field goals wasn’t the issue. Those are merely symptoms.

The PROBLEM was not scoring in the red zone. Nebraska does well when moving the ball down the field. Inside the 20, not so much.

Iowa 30, Kent State 7

Now that is Iowa football! The Hawkeyes started the week with a safety, which is always great:

The No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes got all they could handle from the Kent State Golden Flashes, but another strong performance from the defense and timely plays by the (still struggling) offense still proved enough to propel Iowa to the Win column with a 30-7 win in Kinnick Stadium.

Cincinnati 38, Indiana 24

The Bearcats spotted the Hoosiers a 14-0 lead, then woke up and dominated the second half:

Michael Penix Jr. and co opened up the scoring with two first half touchdowns against the sturdy Bearcat defense. Penix Jr., who ended up going 17-40 for 224 yards, two TDs and three INT’s on the day, recorded those two (lonesome) first half scores to Peyton Hendershot and Stephen Carr.

His defense held the house down for nearly the entire half, keeping the Bearcats offense at a whopping zero points through the first 25+ minutes from scrimmage. But Cincinnati — being led by the versatile Desmond Ridder —showed no signs of worries in the waning moments of act I. The offense answered the opposition’s “overrated” chants with a quick ten on the board, first striking back through a six-yard TD from star running back Jerome Ford.

Ohio State 41, Tulsa 20

Tulsa, who lost to an FCS team, threw for 400+ yards and were down only a touchdown with 5 minutes left:

When Ryan Day became the head coach at Ohio State, he immediately brought an entirely different energy than Urban Meyer. His team was aggressive on both offense and defense, because he had confidence in his players to execute creatively designed plays.

That has slowly, but certainly, been fading over his two+ year tenure at the helm, and it is hitting rock bottom here in 2021. Obviously Day calls the plays on offense (despite what literal idiots Tim Brando and Spencer Tillman told you on the broadcast), but the head coach is also responsible for the philosophy on defense as well.

Michigan 63, Northern Illinois 10

Passersby were amazed at the unusually large amounts of blood:

The Michigan Wolverines moved to 3-0 on the 2021 football season with arguably their most impressive victory yet, a 63-10 win over the Northern Illinois Huskies. This team has rounded into form and has proven through the first quadrant of the season that it has much higher expectations than the ones other people set for them in the leadup to the season.

Minnesota 30, Colorado 0

A week after the Buffaloes took Texas A&M to the brink (and only scored 7 points) they get shut out at home:

A near perfect day with the sun shining and the Rocky Mountains as the backdrop for a college football tilt between your Golden Gophers and Colorado. The day was so perfect, one could almost forget there was a game to be played. Of course there was and the perfection continued for your Gopher football team (nearly). As the Gophers notched a road, shutout win over Colorado 30-0.

The Gophers earned their first road shutout against a Power-5 opponent for the first time in 44 years. The last such event was a 21-0 win at Illinois in 1977.

Rutgers 45, Delaware 13

Don’t look now, but the Scarlet Knights are 3-0:

Rutgers did what good teams do and that’s not let the underdog hang around. The Scarlet Knights didn’t allow the Blue Hens to gain confidence or belief that the glass slipper would fit in this game and that was important. I thought it was going to be a closer game and the way Rutgers started the game was the reason it wasn’t. The offense played its best half of the season and defense didn’t allow any big plays.

Duke 30, Northwestern 23

What a mess of a game, as Duke led 27-0 in the second quarter and did not score in the second half after a 50 yard field goal to end the half:

It was a valiant comeback effort, but for the second time this season, Northwestern dug itself into a hole that was too big to overcome.

The Wildcats (1-2, 0-1 B1G) fell 30-23 to the Duke Blue Devils (2-1) on Saturday afternoon in a matchup that featured all three quarterbacks on the depth chart, a 27-point first-half deficit and eight total turnovers.

Penn State 28, Auburn 20

So that’s what happens when Auburn is not running windsprints on you:

This game was, in a word, cathartic. It had been 2 years since a White Out was held, and every ounce of the crowd’s energy was needed to help lift the Lions over the pesky Tigers. Serious props to Auburn, they came to play today. Ultimately the Penn State offense was able to do just enough against a strong Tiger defense, and the PSU defense was able to ride the crowd’s energy to a top 25 win.

Penn State is 3-0, having played one of the toughest schedules in the country thus far, and have the White Out to thank for their latest victory. Great work, Penn State fans, you brought the noise, and ultimately, the win.

Non-Conference Opponents:

Oregon State 42, Idaho 0 - The Beavers cruised to an easy home win to move to 2-1.

Army 52, UConn 21 - UConn finally scored on an FBS level team.