Each week, I will review the previous week for the rest of the conference and do a preview for the week ahead—highlighting a few games and what to look for.
Well, we made it through three weeks of the season and now the competition ramps up. Ready or not, it’s Big Ten Conference season! Every week means more and more and everyone knows everyone in the B1G. Before we get into week four, let’s take a quick look back at week three:
Michigan State and Ohio State looked like the class of the conference—both going into hostile territories (at night) and dominating their opponents. Nebraska had a very nice win against Oregon as well, and it looks like they’ll compete for the West title. Michigan and Wisconsin struggled with their opponents before pulling away in the second half. The Big Ten East looks dominant early on, only taking two losses in the first three weeks. The West, however, ooooohhhhhhh boy we have some issues. Make it two weeks in a row a West team lost to a FCS team, as Iowa couldn’t get out of their own way against North Dakota State. Illinois was smacked by Western Michigan, Row That Boat baby. But hey! Northwestern finally got one in the win column against Duke. Besides the two FCS losses, the Big Ten has been the best conference in football so far in this early season.
With that, here’s five things you need to know about week three in the B1G:
2. How’s this for a stat line everyone?
28 total tackles
173 punt return yards (1 TD)
81 kick return yards
24 rushing yards
That’s in three games, btw. Any guesses? Take a look:
3. One of the surprises that no one seems to be talking about is the Maryland Terrapins. They’re undefeated and had a nice road win at UCF this past weekend. No one is expecting an undefeated season, but bowl eligibility seems to be in sight. Kudos to DJ Durkin for making progress in year one.
4. At the beginning of the year, many thought Iowa would represent the West in Indy, but after the first three weeks, there seems to be four teams that could fill the spot. Aside from a week three scare, Wisconsin looks the most impressive, but my goodness that conference schedule is rough. Iowa still has a good team, but struggled to put Miami (OH) away in week one and failed to beat FCS powerhouse North Dakota State. Minnesota has an outside shot, but an easier conference schedule allows an easier path to get there. Nebraska is a fun choice because if they stick to running the football, they are a legitimate threat. The West will be wild, and sometimes very bad, so get your popcorn ready.
5. Is it me, or do you think it’s time North Dakota State joins the FBS ranks? If they were to join the FBS ranks, would the B1G open their doors and try to bring in another school to make it 16? It may be extreme, but they prove year in and year out they can compete with the bigs. Just some food for thought..
Now to look ahead to a couple games for week four in the Big Ten. (Note: Michigan is always a must-watch)
1. Wisconsin at Michigan State, noon BTN: This game is a nice start to your Saturday. Two top 11 teams are going to go after it. Will Wisconsin redshirt freshman QB Alex Hornibrook be able to handle a very tough Michigan State defense—one that kept projected first round pick Deshone Kizer in check? Will Michigan State be able to get a ground game going against a great Wisconsin front seven? This has the potential for a classic, low-scoring B1G football game. Also, another finish like this would be exciting:
2. Nebraska at Northwestern, 7:30 BTN: This has all the setup of a classic trap game. A hungry and angry Northwestern team that’s off to a rocky start, hosting a team that’s 3-0 and coming off a huge win in Nebraska. This game will test Nebraska. If they’re legit, they’ll go into Ryan Field and take care of Northwestern. However, every game these teams play, it’s always close. I don’t see why this one will be any different.
3. Wake Forest at Indiana, 3:30 BTN: I get it’s a non-conference game, but this game has huge implications for Indiana’s bowl eligibility. Wake Forest seems like a bad team, and they have been in recent years, but this year they are 3-0 and that defense looks really good. I’m not sold on IU yet, and if they take Wake lightly, they’ll be 2-1 going into conference play. This isn’t FIU and Ball State. This could be Wake’s coming out party. Don’t sleep on this game.
There aren’t many great games to watch as last week, but that’s okay. There’s still football on, and I’d take that over no football at all.