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COLUMBUS, Ohio- Winning nine of 11 matchups in Week 3, the Big Ten continued to do very well against non-conference opponents. Here is a look at some of the highlights.
B1Ggest Game of the Week: No. 4 Penn State 56, Georgia State 0
With attention on Top 10 teams like Ohio State and Michigan within the Big Ten, No. 5 Penn State has not made much noise in the 2017 season. The Nittany Lions outscored their opponent by at lease 50 points for the second time in three games, defeating Georgia State 56-0.
After throwing interceptions in his first two games, quarterback Trace McSorley was the star of the Penn State offense, throwing for 309 yards and four touchdowns. Without much of a running game, Saquon Barkley turned into the No. 1 Nittany Lions receiver, bringing in 142 yards on four catches including a touchdown reception at the end of the first quarter.
This was by no means the closest or most competitive game in the conference this week. Penn State’s dominance over Georgia State shows why the Nittany Lions are firmly planted as the top Big Ten team and as the No. 4 team in the AP Poll.
Runner Up: Purdue 35, Missouri 3
Purdue has quietly been one of the more complete teams in the Big Ten conference during non-conference play. The Boilermakers showed that again on Saturday when they defeated Missouri 35-3.
Offensively, David Blough played very well against the Tigers defense. Completing 78.6 percent of his passed, Blough threw 187 yards with a touchdown. In the past two weeks against Missouri and Ohio, he has thrown for 422 yards and four touchdowns.
The story of the day for the Boilermakers was not the offense, but the defense. Facing a SEC offense that combined for 1,238 yards of offense in the first two games, the Purdue defense limited the Tigers to only 203 yards of offense and 10 first downs. Quarterback Drew Lock threw two interceptions in the 32-point loss while throwing for only 133 yards.
With the kind of performances that the Boilermakers have had in the first three weeks of the season, their matchup with No. 8 Michigan could be one to watch out for.
Worst Game of the Week: Northern Illinois 21, Nebraska 17
First of all, Northern Illinois had no business winning this game. Nebraska recorded more yards, had the ball longer and had more first downs than the Huskies in the game. However, in typical Cornhuskers fashion, they gave away the game.
The Nebraska offense turned the ball over three times; three interceptions by quarterback Tanner Lee. Two of those interceptions were returned for touchdown by the Huskies defense.
Lee may have some trouble knowing which team to throw to. He has thrown seven interceptions in the past two weeks combined.
If you enjoyed watching a Big Ten team shoot themselves in the foot, I bet you enjoyed this one.
Stat of the Week: 172 rushing yards
For those of you that need a refresher, what freshman running back J.K. Dobbins is doing in the Ohio State backfield is not normal. He is second in the conference; behind Wisconsin back Jonathan Taylor, in rushing yards, with 425 in his first three collegiate games.
Despite only rushing the ball 13 times, Dobbins had his second career game of rushing for over 170 yards, picking up two touchdowns as well against Army West Point.
Averaging 141.7 yards per game rushing the ball, Dobbins does not seem to be stopping anytime soon. The Buckeyes will finish up its non-conference schedule against UNLV on Saturday afternoon.
One to Look Forward To: No. 8 Michigan at Purdue
With the start of conference play, this one has upset written all over it.
Both Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight and Blough are at the bottom of the Big Ten in terms of passing yardage. However, Blough, despite the low passing numbers, leads the Big Ten in terms of pass accuracy, completing 76.1 percent of his passes.
Also, the Boilermakers have been one of the most underrated pass defenses in the conference this season. Giving up an average of 244.7 passing yards per game, Purdue has only allowed two passing touchdowns this season, which is the same as Michigan State, Northwestern and Ohio State.
The only thing that Michigan may have the upper hand on is the rushing game. Running back Ty Issac has done everything for the Wolverines in the backfield except score, rushing for 89 yards in the 29-13 win over Air Force. Purdue has given up three touchdowns on the ground this season and has opposing backs average 4.1 yards per carry against them.
Boilermakers running back Tario Fuller is no slouch though either. After rushing for only 29 yards against Louisville in the season opener, Fuller has rushed for over 90 yards in his last two games, scoring once in each of those outings.
With the way that Purdue has been playing, expect the Boilermakers to make this game against Michigan competitive on Saturday afternoon.
Big Ten Schedule- Week 4
Saturday, September 24th
UNLV at No. 10 Ohio State- 12 pm ET on BTN
UCF at Maryland- 3 pm ET on FS1
Georgia Southern at Indiana- 3:30 pm ET on BTN
Rutgers at Nebraska- 3:30 pm ET on BTN
No. 8 Michigan at Purdue- 4 pm ET on FOX
No. 4 Penn State at Iowa- 7:30 pm ET on ABC
Notre Dame at Michigan State- 8 pm ET on FOX