IU Sport Com’s Will Chukerman takes an in-depth look at the B1G Leaders division.
Penn State (1-2)
Usually Gatorade baths are reserved for bigger wins then one over Navy in mid September, but after Bill O’Brien’s first victory as head coach of Penn State, he was drenched thanks in part to a few of the seniors who stayed through the turmoil of this past offseason.
In a 34-7 thrashing of Navy, Penn State was able keep their option attack out of the end zone for most of the day, allowing a touchdown in thefourth quarter for the Midshipmen’s only points on the afternoon.
When being asked what it was like to get his first win as the Nittany Lion head coach, O’Brien was quick to focus on his players.
“I felt great for the players,” O’Brien said. “It was great to see those guys happy and with smiles on their faces.”
The unselfish attitude has been a big part in changing the overall attitude of this football program in the recent months, and its clear that their head coach exudes that approach.
Through their first three games, the one thing that has remained strong in all three has been the defense. That defense was rewarded this past week as senior linebacker Michael Mauti was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, registering 12 totals tackles and one sack.
“He has had an excellent year,” O’Brien noted. “He’s a great representative of Penn State.”
With this past week’s victory, things seem a little brighter in State College. The Nittany Lions week 4 matchup will be against the 1-1 Temple Owls.
Penn State has beaten Temple 29 straight times. They’re hoping that streak reaches 30 on Saturday afternoon.
Ohio State (3-0) #16 AP Poll
When Urban Meyer was talking about wide receiver Devin Smith having that coming out party, it seems like Saturday’s performance was what he was talking about. Smith caught five passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner.
With just over three minutes remaining, Smith hauled in a 72-yard touchdown pass from Braxton Miller, cementing the 35-28 victory over California. Earlier in the game, Smith made another great touchdown grab, going up above the Cal defense for a 25-yard touchdown catch.
Meyer was very impressed with where Smith is and how far he’s come.
“He’s one of the most improved players on our team,” Meyer said “His whole approach to the game has drastically changed.”
With such high praise from his head coach, its evident that Meyer expects a lot from him and also looks to see improvement down the line, as this is only Smiths second season.
Braxton Miller’s incredible season also is also being rewarded, as he was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, accounting for five total touchdowns.
After a tough test from Cal, Ohio State should have a little easier time getting past 0-2 UAB in advance of them starting Big Ten play.
However, the Buckeyes can’t look past the Blazers, as they’ll be looking for a signature win for their program.
Wisconsin (2-1) #24 Coaches Poll New attitude, same old problems. Last week, head Brett Bielema said that he had already sensed a new attitude in the locker room after the firing of offensive line coach Mike Markuson. After their performance on Saturday, it doesn’t seem like that carried over to the field.
Wisconsin escaped another upset on Saturday, beating Utah State in Camp Randall Stadium,16-14. Things just don’t seem right with this team as they’re averaging a mere 16 points a game compared to last year’s 44.
With Russell Wilson moving on to the NFL, Danny O’Brien, a transfer from Maryland, assumed the role of starting quarterback. After this past Saturdays game, it seems O’Brien took his biggest step backwards, throwing the ball only 10 times and being pulled at half.
With that poor performance, it has also cost O’Brien his starting job for the time being, as redshirt freshman Joel Stave will get the start Saturday versus UTEP.
“When we made the transition to Danny as the starter, we thought we had three quarterbacks who could play winning football,” O”Brien said.
This marks the second straight week that the Badgers have made a change surrounding their offense. Right now it looks as if Bielema is trying to find the magic potion to get this offense going. He just hasn’t been able to find it yet.
As UTEP travels to Camp Randall this weekend, it doesn’t seem out of the question for the road underdog to pull of a win.
With the most recent shakeup on offense, watch to see if this Badger team can get the ball moving in the right direction.
After a loss in which they allowed 45 points and had communication problems on defense, things changed for the Illini on Saturday as they shut out Charleston Southern, 44-0.
The offense wasn’t too shabby either; Riley O’Toole filled in for oft-injured Nathan Scheelhaase and threw for five touchdowns and 333 yards. This offensive explosion is something the team hasn’t seen all season as they’ve had trouble moving the ball downfield in their first two games.
Head coach Tim Beckman was happy what he got from O’Toole, and also noted how the team is dealing with a few other injuries on their team.
“He’s been performing very well,” Beckman said. “We’re excited about how much he progressed in one football game.”
The passing yards and touchdowns were a career high for O’Toole as he’s seen action the past years filling in for Scheelhaase due to injury and inconsistent play.
O’Toole’s favorite target was junior wideout Ryan Lankford as he caught seven passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns. Beckman was very impressed with the game Lankford had, and noted how important it was for a young quarterback to have a go-to wide receiver to throw to.
The defense will again need to be on top of its game as Louisiana Tech comes to town, boasting one of the highest scoring offenses in college football. The Bulldogs are averaging 56 points in the two games that they’ve played.
Illinois will have to have another offensive explosion if they hope to keep up with the Bulldogs, so a lot will be put on O’Toole’s shoulders if the game becomes a shoot-out.
Purdue running back Akeem Hunt had 32 yards on seven carries coming into last week’s game. With Only four carries in the Boilermakers 54-16 romp over Eastern Michigan, Hunt rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown.
On the day, the team rushed for a combined 392 yards and six touchdowns. That rushing total is more then 300 yards more then they had against Notre Dame just a week ago.
The Boilermakers don’t have a featured running back per say, but having the performance he had on Saturday will certainly help his cause in getting more carries down the road.
“When he gets the ball in his hand, he’s always a threat to take it the distance,” Hope said of his explosive tailback.
An explosive run game spells bad news for the rest of the Big Ten as Purdue already features one of the best defensives in the conference.
That very defense is 20th in the country in points allowed, only allowing 14 points per game. Defensive tackle Kawann Short is leading the defense up front, as he already has six tackles for loss and three sacks.
This week the Boilermakers will get some much needed rest as they have their bye week. A week from Saturday the Boilermakers will host the Marshall Thundering Herd in their final non-conference game.
With a 2-1 record heading into their bye, Boilermaker fans should be optimistic as there only loss came to a Norte Dame team who has shown that they will be a force to be reckoned with all season.