Big Ten breakdown | Week 3

Sep. 15—There's just one league game on the schedule this week, as nonconference play continues across the country. But beat writer Scott Richey is still forecasting plenty of wins for the Big Ten:

Friday's game

Virginia (0-2) at Maryland (2-0), 6 p.m., FS1

Who's on the call: Eric Collins (play-by-play) and Devin Gardner (expert analysis).

Who wins: Maryland, 42-13. The Terrapins are a two-touchdown favorite Friday night in College Park, Md. That's probably fair given Virginia is allowing nearly 450 yards per game and is one of the worst rushing teams in the country.

Saturday's games

No. 7 Penn State (2-0) at Illinois (1-1), 11 a.m., FOX

Who's on the call: Gus Johnson (play-by-play), Joel Klatt (expert analysis) and Jenny Taft (sideline reports).

Who wins: Penn State, 38-17. Anything is possible. Nobody picked Illinois to beat also No. 7 Penn State two years ago. Let alone in nine overtimes. But the Nittany Lions should have a clear upper hand on a still-finding-itself Illini defense.

Louisville (2-0) at Indiana (1-1), 11 a.m., BTN

Who's on the call: Connor Onion (play-by-play), Brock Vereen (expert analysis) and Meghan McKeown (sideline reports).

Who wins: Louisville, 38-10. The Cardinals make it perfectly clear why Indiana has no desire to fulfill the rest of what was supposed to be a three-game series. The Hoosiers axed the 2024 and 2025 matchups earlier this week.

Georgia Southern (2-0) at Wisconsin (1-1), 11 a.m., BTN

Who's on the call: Mark Followill (play-by-play), Matt Millen (expert analysis) and Elise Menaker (sideline reports).

Who wins: Wisconsin, 30-17. For all of the Air Raid talk heading into the season, the Badgers' offense has been fairly balanced through two games behind new quarterback Tanner Mordecai and the running back duo of Chez Mellusi and Braelon Allen.

Minnesota (2-0) at No. 20 North Carolina (2-0), 2:30 p.m., ESPN

Who's on the call: Beth Mowins (play-by-play), Kirk Morrison (expert analysis) and Stormy Buonantony (sideline reports).

Who wins: North Carolina, 32-24. Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye, the 2022 ACC Player of the Year, received rumored name, image and likeness offers of $5 million to transfer this offseason. The Gophers will wind up wishing he did.

Northwestern (1-1) at No. 21 Duke (2-0), 2:30 p.m., ACCN

Who's on the call: Chris Cotter (play-by-play), Mark Herzlich (expert analysis) and Sherree Burruss (sideline reports).

Who wins: Duke, 42-10. The Blue Devils flipped the series in 2017. After losing five of six to Northwestern between 2002-2016, Duke has won four straight. Make it five come Saturday given the Wildcats' disaster of a program.

Western Michigan (1-1) at No. 25 Iowa (2-0), 2:30 p.m., BTN

Who's on the call: Lisa Byington (play-by-play), Anthony Herron (expert analysis) and Shane Sparks (sideline reports).

Who wins: Iowa, 23-7. The Hawkeyes have yet to hit the 25-point mark in either game this season that will keep offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz employed in that same role in 2024. Failing to do so again puts Ferentz even further behind.

Virginia Tech (1-1) at Rutgers (2-0), 2:30 p.m., BTN

Who's on the call: Joe Beninati (play-by-play), Adam Breneman (expert analysis) and Taryn Hatcher (sideline reports).

Who wins: Rutgers, 23-20. Virginia Tech lost at home last week to Purdue, and the Hokies' questionable defense will mean doubling down on Big Ten defeats this week.

Western Kentucky (2-0) at No. 6 Ohio State (2-0), 3 p.m., FOX

Who's on the call: Jason Benetti (play-by-play), Brock Huard (expert analysis) and Allison Williams (sideline reports).

Who wins: Ohio State, 35-10. The Buckeyes have yet to put together a truly dominant performance this season in beating Indiana and Youngstown State. The defense has been lights out, but the offense just isn't rising to Ohio State-level expectations.

No. 8 Washington (2-0) at Michigan State (2-0), 4 p.m., Peacock

Who's on the call: Brendan Burke (play-by-play), Chris Simms (expert analysis) and Caroline Pineda (sideline reports).

Who wins: Washington, 42-24. This was a game the Spartans were going to lose even before they became 161/2-point home underdogs in the wake of Mel Tucker's suspension. The Huskies' passing game will carve MSU up.

Northern Illinois (1-1) at Nebraska (0-2), 6 p.m., FS1

Who's on the call: Jeff Levering (play-by-play) and Mark Helfrich (expert analysis).

Who wins: Nebraska, 20-17. NIU could win this game. Easily. The Huskies already beat Boston College, which is getting closer to a true comp given how Nebraska has fallen. But the 'Huskers manage to eke one out to give first-year Matt Rhule his first win.

Bowling Green (1-1) at No. 2 Michigan (2-0), 6:30 p.m., BTN

Who's on the call: Cory Provus (play-by-play), Jake Butt (expert analysis) and Brooke Fletcher (sideline reports).

Who wins: Michigan, 48-13. No Jim Harbaugh, no problem? The Michigan coach will return next week following his three-game suspension, and the Wolverines will be 3-0 having played a Charmin-soft schedule.

Syracuse (2-0) at Purdue (1-1), 6:30 p.m., NBC

Who's on the call: Noah Eagle (play-by-play), Todd Blackledge (expert analysis) and Kathryn Tappen (sideline reports).

Who wins: Syracuse, 35-28. Three weeks into his first season as coach is probably too soon for Ryan Walters to have installed the kind of defense he ran at Illinois. Which is unfortunate because the Orange's offense has lit teams up the past two weeks.

Awards season

Big Ten MVP


1. J.J. McCarthy Quarterback Michigan

2. Tyler Nubin Defensive back Minnesota

3. Roman Wilson Wide receiver Michigan

4. Nate Carter Running back Michigan State

5. Drew Allar Quarterback Penn State

Scott Richey's comment: McCarthy started the season with the Big Ten's best odds to win the Heisman Trophy, and the former News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year hasn't done anything to hurt his chances. He has thrown for 558 yards and five touchdowns and has completed a remarkable 87.3 percent of his passes.

Big Ten coach of the year

1. Greg Schiano Rutgers

2. P.J. Fleck Minnesota

3. Ryan Day Ohio State

4. James Franklin Penn State

5. Mike Locksley Maryland

Scott Richey's comment: Rutgers is unbeaten and tied with Ohio State at the top of the Big Ten East with one league win apiece. Did the Scarlet Knights' Big Ten win come against a team that hadn't won in the United States in more than a year? Sure, but they still beat Northwestern and could get halfway to bowl eligibility.

Illini MVP


1. Luke Altmyer QB

2. Johnny Newton DT

3. Caleb Griffin K

4. Xavier Scott NB/CB

5. Miles Scott FS

Scott Richey's comment: Altmyer leading Illinois in rushing in the season opener was a surprise. That the Mississippi transfer did it again at Kansas, with a 72-yard touchdown run bolstering his total, seems to reinforce the Illini have a playmaker running their offense. The Illini quarterback has completed 68.5 percent of his passes for 408 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.

Big Ten Bowl Outlook

Rose Bowl (CFP) Penn State

Orange Bowl Michigan

Citrus Bowl Ohio State

Music City Bowl Minnesota

Gator Bowl Wisconsin

Pinstripe Bowl Maryland

Guaranteed Rate Bowl Michigan State

Las Vegas Bowl Iowa

Quick Lane Bowl Illinois

Scott Richey's comment: The only way a Big Ten team makes it to the Rose Bowl this season is qualifying for the College Football Playoff, since it's time for the "Granddaddy of them all" to take its turn as a CFP semifinal host. Of course, will the Rose Bowl be the Rose Bowl moving forward? Hard to imagine what's typically been an annual Big Ten vs. Pac-12 clash existing in that form when a quarter of the soon-to-be defunct Pac-12 is actually in the Big Ten.