Week 2! Ohio State abdicates the throne of the Big Ten, and Rutgers moves right back into the basement.
ILLINOIS 20, WESTERN KENTUCKY 7
- After an underwhelming opening win over Ball State, the Illini came into Week 2 as 6.5-point underdogs to Western Kentucky, who joined the FBS in 2010. The Illini promptly shut the Hilltoppers' high-powered offense down, taking a pick to the house and not ceding a point until the fourth quarter. It's not time to start worrying about the Illini improving just yet — they won't be favored against anybody in the Big Ten West — but this is what rebuilding looks like.
Illinois Week 3: at South Florida (Friday)
INDIANA 34, VIRGINIA 17
- Happy to see Indiana bounce back, but keep an eye on the QB situation in Bloomington. Senior Richard Lagow was benched after a scoreless, 3-for-10 start, and freshman Peyton Ramsey took over for the rest of the day and sparked a solid victory. Also, doesn't it seem like Indiana always transitions its starting QB over the course of a season? I'm not going to research this, but it seems like it. Anyway, weird game and a solid victory for the 'Siers.
Indiana Week 3: vs. FIU
MARYLAND 56, TOWSON 7
- America's favorite team in Week 1, Maryland followed up its decisive victory at Texas by beating the pants off Towson in its home opener. Freshman Kasim Hill was downright capable taking over the offense after the season-ending injury for Tyrrell Pigrome. The fast-paced offense kept up, with only one TD drive lasting more than three minutes—and that was a fourth-quarter effort that ended with a touchdown scored by a guy named "Bortenschlager." You gotta pay extra for a Bortenschlager in Munich, I'll tell you that much.
Maryland Week 3: idle; Week 4 vs. UCF
MICHIGAN 36, CINCINNATI 14
- Wilton Speight threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns in Michigan's win over the Bearcats, which was not quite the statement Wolverine fans were probably hoping for. Speight's good but not great, which we began to learn when Michigan visited Iowa last November, and now some of his best weapons from 2016 are in the NFL. Does this team have another gear? It'll probably need one.
Michigan Week 3: vs. Air Force
MICHIGAN STATE 28, WESTERN MICHIGAN 14
- Knowing that this team is too talented to let 3-9 happen again, it's still tough to tell whether MSU is back to normal. The defense looked the part Saturday; WMU was held under 200 total yards and its points came off a fumble return and a kickoff return. QB Brian Lewerke is less of a sure thing thus far, and if the parade of NFL-caliber quarterbacks in East Lansing really is over, it's fair to wonder whether MSU's about to revert to Just Another Team status.
Michigan State Week 3: idle; Week 4 vs. Notre Dame
MINNESOTA 48, OREGON STATE 14
- Everyone should be aware by now that Oregon State is what the French call "le terrible at football," but going to any Power 5 school and laying the wood like that deserves respect. Easy to say you should do it, harder to go and actually do it. The run-heavy Gophers (eight pass attempts on Saturday) will find heavier static in conference play, but there's an opportunity to adjust the offense accordingly.
Minnesota Week 3: vs. MTSU
OREGON 42, NEBRASKA 35
- You know it's a bad sign when your team scores the last 21 points of a game, and the highest your chances of winning ever got was "glimmer of hope." I can't name a single thing Nebraska does better than when it fired Bo Pelini, most certainly including defense, and the hype surrounding Tanner Lee will likely hang as a shadow over his actual career. He threw four picks with his three touchdowns Saturday, and it's eminently fair to say Mike Riley's future in Lincoln depends on his ability to turn Lee into a high-level quarterback.
Nebraska Week 3: vs. Northern Illinois
DUKE 41, NORTHWESTERN 14
- Evanston's Big Ten Team [tm] was a hot mess for the second straight week, and with an extremely front-loaded conference slate, the Wildcats' bowl hopes really might be cooked by the first weekend in November. Clayton Thorson was god-awful, going 11-for-29 for 120 yards and two interceptions, and until one final garbage-time TD drive by backup (and 4-star washout) Matt Alviti, Northwestern had just 119 yards of total offense. This offense is better when Thorson's not throwing, and it ran for 22 net yards on Saturday. Duke's pretty good, but had it not been for a certain Piscatawegian squadron, this would have been the Big Ten's worst Week 2 performance by a mile.
just Northwestern Week 3: vs. Bowling Green
OKLAHOMA 31, OHIO STATE 16
- Sooners looked good as hell, didn't they? Baker Mayfield and his guys carved up the Buckeye secondary in the second half, turning a 13-10 deficit into a 31-16 victory. We could talk about how OSU's reliance on athleticism instead of execution is a problem for both the coaches and players, or how nobody knows who the best team in the Big Ten is now, or how Mayfield tried to stick a flag into artificial turf, but we'll instead land on this world-class shade:
If you don't like people posting strange flags on your field, maybe don't call your city Columbus.
— Dan Wade (@15Deloreans) September 10, 2017
Ohio State Week 3: vs. Army
PENN STATE 33, PITTSBURGH 14
- The Trace McSorley Adventure Time offense is alive and well at Penn State; McSorley averaged 19 yards per completion in his team's easy win over Pitt (or, as James Franklin pronounces it, "Akron"). PSU is probably licking its chops at a suddenly wide-open Big Ten East, but don't you think that if Penn State had scheduled Oklahoma and Ohio State was facing Pitt, we're probably talking about what PSU needs to do to recover from the loss and get on OSU's level. Probably.
Penn State Week 3: vs. Georgia State
PURDUE 44, OHIO 21
- Apparently Jeff Brohm was a bit of an upgrade from Darrell Hazell. The Purdue offense looked flashy and fun again Saturday, featuring 558 yards, 25 first downs and a reverse-flea flicker for a touchdown. It was fun. No idea what awaits David Blough and company on this week's trip to Missouri, but if the Boilermakers can play as well there as they did in their first two weeks, we may have a reason to pay attention to Our Most Hated Rival. And have you noticed? That's a lot of lower-tier Big Ten teams looking substantially better than last year. We might have a nine-week rock fight on our hands come conference season. Well, except for one team....
Purdue Week 3: at Missouri
EASTERN MICHIGAN 16, RUTGERS 13
- The worst team in the Big Ten played like the worst team in the Big Ten and lost to Eastern Michigan. Rutgers had two drives into field goal range after the Eagles took the lead; one was intercepted, and the other was pushed right back out by an illegal hands to the face penalty. Perfect, Rutgers. Absolutely perfect. It was EMU's first-ever win over a Power 5 school, running a 0-58 record to now 1-58. We gotta send them back to the Big East. I know it doesn't exist anymore; that doesn't change my argument.
Rutgers Week 3: vs. Morgan State
WISCONSIN 31, FLORIDA ATLANTIC 14
- Every year, Lane Kiffin captivates the imagination of millions of college football fans before demonstrating that he's still as mediocre as ever. Wisconsin cruised in this one, and it really should have been a bigger blowout. Jonathan Taylor ran for a preposterous 223 yards and three touchdowns on just 26 carries; yes, it's easy to look good behind that offensive line, but there's plenty of backs in the Big Ten who wouldn't be able to put up over eight and a half yards per rush in this situation.
Wisconsin Week 3: at BYU
Psst: Read the first letter of each bulleted blurb for a special reminder on what This Is.