Big Ten

Crisis in Columbus? Ten big things from the weekend in Big Ten football

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USA TODAY

Crisis in Columbus? Ten big things from the weekend in Big Ten football

Things aren't going so hot in Columbus right now.

The Buckeyes were beaten by Oklahoma over the weekend in a highly anticipated matchup that did not at all go Ohio State's way.

The offense is stuck in the mud. The defense is getting thrown all over. What's Urban Meyer going to do?

Read all about the Buckeyes' woes and everything else that happened with these 10 big things from the weekend in the Big Ten.

1. Ohio State ain’t dead … but boy are they ailing

Saturday’s most-anticipated game turned into a real clunker for the Buckeyes, who were blasted by Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma Sooners. Mayfield looked like a Heisman winner carving up the Ohio State pass defense, which believe it or not is statistically college football’s worst.

But the greater share of attention will go to the Buckeyes’ offense, which looked ghastly against the Sooners, only reaching the end zone once. J.T. Barrett looks a far cry from his redshirt freshman season, when he was breaking records and running a well-oiled machine of an offense. That’s nowhere near the case through the first two weeks of this season, and he continues to look out of sync with his receivers, who certainly deserve as much blame as he does for this mess. Urban Meyer said he’s going “fix the damn thing” and even fielded questions about making a potential quarterback change — his answer, unsurprisingly, was a short “no.”

Of course, none of this means Ohio State has been eliminated from Playoff contention. The Buckeyes could still run the table in the Big Ten and wind up back in the final four. But the confidence level is dropping like crazy as this team has played uninspiring football for six of the eight quarters in this 2017 season.

The Buckeyes aren’t out of this by a long shot. But panic is starting to set in, and it looks, at the moment, somewhat justified.

2. The greatest battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy of all-time!

Has there ever been a more entertaining rivalry game between Iowa and Iowa State? A quick look at the rivalry history digs up a triple-overtime win for the Cyclones way back in … 2011. But still, Saturday’s battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy was electric.

And it made a star out of new Hawkeyes quarterback Nate Stanley, who became the first Iowa quarterback with more than 300 passing yards and five touchdowns in 30 years. Stanley was terrific in the overtime victory, and the rest of Iowa offense shone along with him. Receivers Matt VandeBerg and Ihmir Smith-Marsette made remarkable diving catches in the end zone. And Akrum Wadley was sensational, rushing and receiving for 190 total yards and two touchdowns, the more spectacular of which was the play of the game: a 46-yard catch and scamper in the final 90 seconds in which he broke three tackles and dragged a fourth would-be tackler into the end zone.

The Hawkeyes haven’t played the greatest competition in the world through the season’s first two weeks, but they’ve definitely exceeded expectations, first silencing Wyoming’s star quarterback, Josh Allen, and now scoring 44 points and winning a shootout with a quarterback starting just his second game. Crank up that Victory Polka!

3. Jonathan Taylor Touchdowns

Wisconsin has another star running back. Ho hum.

While it’s no shock that the Badgers would keep their running back factory humming at top speed, you can’t help but be wowed by the latest highlight-reel ball-carrier up in Madison. Meet freshman Jonathan Taylor, who has already been given a JTT-style nickname: Jonathan Taylor Touchdowns. In Saturday’s win over Florida Atlantic, he racked up an astonishing 223 yards and scored three touchdowns (hence the nickname).

But it wasn’t just the numbers. Watch the touchdown runs:

Impressive, right?

Wisconsin’s running back legacy is absolutely incredible, and of course it goes hand in hand with a great tradition along the offensive line. There’s no reason that should be any different in 2017, and, per usual, there’s depth, too. Chris James also had a 100-yard day as the No. 2 running back. And that’s with Bradrick Shaw and Taiwan Deal out with injuries. Never change, Wisconsin.

4. Penn State has no problem with Pitt

Last year’s rivalry bout between Penn State and Pitt was an instant classic — and a loss that might have been the reason the Nittany Lions couldn’t get a spot in the Playoff. This year? No such trouble. The Penn State defense had a great afternoon and made sure it was an easy day for James Franklin’s team in a 33-14 win.

The number weren’t as huge as we’ve come to expect on the offensive side of the ball. Saquon Barkley didn’t hit 100 yards rushing (he was at 123 overall if you throw in his receiving yards), and Trace McSorley threw three touchdowns but only passed for 164 yards and threw an interception. The reason? Well, two of the team’s four touchdown drives were less than 10 seconds in length. McSorley is a home-run hitter, after all.

But the defense was the star of the show, keeping Pitt to just 14 points despite the fact that the Panthers had the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game. The Lions took the ball away three times. After Michigan’s somewhat shaky day at the office Saturday and Ohio State’s loss, it looks like Penn State — right this second — is the king of the Big Ten hill after a pair of easy wins.

5. Feature back emerges for Michigan?

Watching Michigan’s win over Cincinnati and reading the box score from Michigan’s win over Cincinnati were two dramatically different experiences this weekend. As a viewer, it sure seemed like the Wolverines didn’t look too dominant against a team that barely beat Austin Peay the week prior. As a reader, the Wolverines had more than double the yards, came away with two interceptions and had a balanced offensive attack.

Regardless, the one story both digestions of this game told is that there might be a feature back emerging from the committee of carriers in the Michigan backfield: Ty Isaac. The Chicagoland area native and USC transfer, Isaac has looked great in the first two games of the season, and he really broke out Saturday, carrying the ball 20 times for 133 yards. There are obviously an abundance of options on the depth chart, as Jim Harbaugh showed last season. But Isaac got a heavy workload Saturday, perhaps a signal that Harbaugh & Co. have picked out a true feature back.

6. Maryland is invincible!

The Terps lost their starting quarterback in Week 1. But that didn’t stop them at all from following up their 51-point performance at Texas with a 63-point blowout of Towson, bringing the grand total to 114 points through eight quarters of football. Any room at the top of the Big Ten East for the Fightin’ Turtles?

Kasim Hill was great in his first collegiate start, completing 13 of his 16 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns, and that D.J. Moore fellow is pretty good, too, catching seven passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns. But as they were last season, the Terps are about that ground game and they showed it Saturday. Maryland churned out 367 rushing yards, with Ty Johnson’s 124 yards and two scores leading the way.

I know what you’re thinking: “It’s Towson. Who cares?” But look how improved this Maryland team, look how capable it is compared to just two years ago when Randy Edsall was fired in the middle of that gross 3-9 season. DJ Durkin doing work.

7. Cats crushed

Ohio State had a high-profile loss and didn’t look good doing it, but there were worse days in the Big Ten. One of them belonged to Northwestern, which was absolutely dominated down in Durham in a 41-17 pounding at the hands of Duke. The Dukies have put up more than 100 points through the first two weeks of the season and are perhaps better than the experts think. But this was a disastrous day for the Cats, who are banged-up on defense, a partial explanation for Duke quarterback Daniel Jones cutting them up all day long.

But what’s going on with this offense? The 1-2 punch of Justin Jackson and Clayton Thorson helped overcome a bad-looking day in the Week 1 win over Nevada, but they didn’t do much of anything against Duke. Jackson was supposedly also a little dinged up, as Pat Fitzgerald explained after the game. He had to be real bothered to only get seven carries and rush for just 18 yards. Northwestern as a team had just 22 rushing yards! And Thorson wasn’t much better, throwing two interceptions compared to zero touchdowns.

The high hopes of the preseason seem like a long time ago at this point, as the Cats have turned in two underwhelming performances to kick off what was supposed to be a season in which they could compete for a Big Ten West title. It sure doesn’t look that way right now.

8. Does anyone in Nebraska want to play defense?

The revamped defense under new coordinator Bob Diaco is off to an awful start for the Huskers. After allowing 36 points in Week 1’s home win over Arkansas State, Nebraska was run out of Eugene, the Oregon Ducks dropping 42 points and racking up 566 total yards.

That needs to come with the qualifier, of course, that the Ducks didn’t score a point after halftime and spent the second half turning the ball over and missing a field goal. But this game was well over by the half, when Oregon led 42-14 and was doing absolutely anything it wanted against this Nebraska defense. The first half featured the Huskers surrendering touchdowns on six of eight drives including each of the final three. Tanner Lee’s pair of first-half interceptions surely didn’t help.

But man this transition is going anything but smoothly, with Diaco’s defense demolished in each of the season’s first two weeks. You wonder how much of that will be blamed on Mike Riley, who had to revisit the demons of Autzen Stadium from his days at Oregon State. And if the blame is laid at Riley’s feet, how much longer before the patience runs out in Lincoln?

9. Illini look much better

Things went much better for Lovie Smith’s group in Week 2 than they did in Week 1, when the Illini somewhat miraculously pulled out a comeback win to beat Ball State. Against pass-happy Western Kentucky, Illinois' defense looked much better, shutting down the Hilltoppers and taking advantage of turnovers. After getting consistently marched on by Ball State, the Illinois defense allowed just two third-down conversions to Western Kentucky and had a pick six.

The offense still left a bit to be desired, scoring just one touchdown and barely reaching triple digits in passing yardage. But Mike Dudek had more catches in this one, and Mike Epstein continues to be the season’s bright spot. The freshman once more got the bulk of the carries, rushing 21 times for 111 yards.

10. All aboard the Purdue train!

Following up that strong performance against Louisville in the season-opener, Purdue was excellent in Week 2, crushing Ohio. David Blough and Elijah Sindelar teamed up to throw four touchdowns, and Tario Fuller broke out as a ball-carrier, rushing for 142 yards and a touchdown. All in all, the Boilers racked up 558 total yards.

Now, no, Ohio is no powerhouse. But that’s now two great efforts in as many weeks for a Purdue team that hasn’t been able to do that in some time.

And the rest!

— Do we have a quarterback competition on our hands in Indiana? The Hoosiers used Peyton Ramsey an awful lot in the win over Virginia, and he delivered with three total touchdowns.

— Michigan State beat Western Michigan, a good sign considering the points the Broncos produced a week earlier at USC. Sparty’s D came to play, holding Western under 200 yards.

— Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers. A week after a great showing against a top-10 Washington team, the Knights lost to Eastern Michigan, giving that program its first-ever win over a Power Five team. Smh.

— There’s that boat-rowing we were promised! P.J. Fleck’s boys broke out the oars and rowed right through Oregon State, beating that lowly program by five touchdowns.

See how they stack up: Week 3 college football top 25 rankings

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USA TODAY

See how they stack up: Week 3 college football top 25 rankings

With Week 3 in the books, here’s my top 25.

1. Clemson (3-0)

The defending champs are looking like repeat candidates in the season’s early going, following up a lockdown of Auburn with a throttling of a Louisville team that boasts the reigning Heisman winner.

2. Oklahoma (3-0)

Baker Mayfield and the boys didn’t slow down the Sooner Schooner one bit after the win at Ohio State. Mayfield added 331 yards and four touchdown passes to his Heisman resume in a win over Tulane.

3. Alabama (3-0)

The Tide keep rolling, even if Clemson and Oklahoma have turned in more impressive wins. Bama blew out Colorado State this weekend and gets a surprisingly undefeated Vandy team in its SEC opener.

4. Oklahoma State (3-0)

The competition has been anything but fierce, but Okie State looks unstoppable. Mason Rudolph added nearly 500 yards and five more touchdowns to his Heisman resume this weekend. Bring on Bedlam.

5. Penn State (3-0)

The Lions have two Heisman candidates in their backfield, and they keep turning in monster days. Things could finally get tricky for Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley with Iowa in the Big Ten opener.

6. USC (3-0)

The double-OT win over Texas was one of the best games of the young season. You might have seen shaky play against a bad team. I saw the clutch-est of strips from Christian Rector, a season-saver.

7. Wisconsin (3-0)

The Badgers are absolutely blasting every team they come into contact with these days, the highest-scoring offense in the Big Ten. And now they have a passing attack? Look out.

8. Virginia Tech (3-0)

Things didn’t start so hot for the Hokies against East Carolina, but they ended up dropping 64 points on the Pirates. Josh Jackson has nine total touchdowns and zero interceptions this season.

9. Georgia (3-0)

A 3-0 record and a true freshman at quarterback? Impressive. If the Dawgs can beat their fellow canines in Saturday’s matchup against Mississippi State, then they’ve got something special going on.

10. Michigan (3-0)

The Wolverines’ offense is making folks nervous, and rightfully so with Wilton Speight’s unit not doing much impressing. But the defense continues to look awesome, so stay away from the panic button.

11. West Virginia (2-1)

Since looking good in a one-possession loss to Virginia Tech, the Mountaineers have scored 115 points in their last two games. Will Grier is already over 1,000 yards on the season. In three games!

12. Mississippi State (3-0)

This was supposed to be LSU’s breakout game, but it was Mississippi State’s instead. A jaw-dropping pounding by the Bulldogs, who held the Bayou Bengals to 270 yards.

13. Ohio State (2-1)

If only the Buckeyes could play Army every week, right? The offensive problems have not been exorcised, one must imagine, but Ohio State has a star in running back J.K. Dobbins. Feed him the ball.

14. TCU (3-0)

So much for TCU’s defensive dominance, giving up 36 points to SMU. But the Frogs’ have an offense, too, scoring 56 points on 619 yards. TCU’s outscored opponents 147-43 in three games.

15. Oregon (3-0)

It’s becoming obvious that Josh Allen just isn’t very good when he plays good teams, but still give the Ducks credit for thumping Wyoming. This is really looking like the Oregon teams of old.

16. Vanderbilt (3-0)

Is it up to the Dores to stand in the way of Bama’s annual conquest of the SEC? Vandy's been a feel-good story so far and beat a very good Kansas State team to stay perfect.

17. Duke (3-0)

The Devils can’t stop scoring, and it appears they won’t stop scoring. Three games in and Duke has scored 135 points. Oh, and the Duke defense forced four turnovers in the win over Baylor.

18. Maryland (2-0)

An off week for the Turtles, but Maryland still has the No. 2 scoring offense in college football, averaging 57 points a game!

19. Louisville (2-1)

I don’t blame the Cards for losing to Clemson, but there’s clearly something up with the Louisville defense. It’s allowed 28, 35 and 47 points in three games against Purdue, North Carolina and Clemson.

20. Miami (1-0)
21. Florida State (0-1)

The aftermath of Hurricane Irma postponed what would’ve been a much-anticipated matchup between these two rivals. They’ve still only played one game apiece.

22. Washington State (3-0)

Mike Leach’s team has been predictably good at scoring points. In three games, it has put up 130 of them. A USC-Oregon-Cal stretch, however, lies on the other side of Saturday’s game against Nevada.

23. Iowa (3-0)

The Hawkeyes have been mighty impressive through three games. New quarterback Nathan Stanley leads the Big Ten with 10 touchdown passes, and Iowa has 99 points in three wins.

24. Cal (3-0)

It wasn’t the prettiest game between Cal and Ole Miss, with a bunch of turnovers. But the Golden Bears won the second half 20-0 and came back to move to 3-0.

25. Auburn (2-1)

Auburn’s lack of offense against Clemson is looking more and more understandable. But only beating Mercer 24-10 is going to take some explaining.

Others receiving votes:

San Diego State (3-0)

CSNChicago.com White Sox Insider Dan Hayes will appreciate the Aztecs love. They’ve got two wins over Pac-12 teams already this season, including a takedown of Stanford — Stanford! —this weekend.

Washington (3-0)

You’re almost there, Huskies. Win at Colorado like you won easy home games against Montana and Fresno State and you’ll be ranked.

Texas Tech (2-0)

The Red Raiders will never not score a million points. The strength of schedule has actually been decent, too, 108 points in two wins over strong FCS program Eastern Washington and Pac-12 foe Arizona State.

Memphis (2-0)

Through three weeks, the Game of the Year award goes to Memphis’ win over UCLA. The highly entertaining four hours featured a billion points — and some key defensive plays by Memphis.

Kansas State (2-1)

Narrowly missing out on a big road win at Vandy. K-State is still a good team and held a 3-0 SEC team to 270 total yards.

South Florida (3-0)

You don’t get too much love for beating up on the Illini, but USF’s offense has been very good so far in 2017 — despite the slow starts. Nearly 700 yards in Friday night’s win.

Purdue > SEC: Ten big things from the weekend in Big Ten football

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Purdue > SEC: Ten big things from the weekend in Big Ten football

Choo choo!

The Big Ten better look out because here comes the Purdue train rolling down the tracks.

We'll see if the to-this-point impressive Boilermakers can remain competitive once Jeff Brohm gets his first taste of Big Ten football. But through three games, Purdue has looked a new team and a new program, most recently going on the road and blowing out an SEC team.

So, yeah, Purdue > SEC.

Read on for more about the Boilers and the rest of the 10 big things from the weekend in Big Ten football.

1. It just means more

Allow me and the rest of Big Ten Country some schadenfreude when the Big Ten’s supposedly bottom-feeding program rolls into an SEC stadium and rolls out with a 35-3 blowout win … even if it did come against my alma mater.

While it’s clear the Chase Daniel-Jeremy Maclin glory days are long, long gone at Mizzou, could we be witnessing the dawn of a new golden era of Purdue football? Jeff Brohm has three games under his belt as the Boilermakers’ head coach, and his team has impressed in all of them. First there was the hanging tough with Louisville, followed by a Friday-night beatdown of Ohio and now a shocking 30-point smoking of an SEC team. Holy Boilermakers, Batman!

Sure, the Fighting Tigers are not what they used to be. This is a team that allowed 43 points to an FCS school in Week 1 and fired its defensive coordinator after a Week 2 loss to South Carolina. But Purdue hadn’t won back-to-back games in half a decade. Let that soak in.

With the Purdue defense keeping Mizzou completely out of the end zone, things get real interesting for Week 4’s conference-opener against Michigan, an offense that hasn’t been all that impressive through its first three games. Are the Boilers going to upset the Wolverines? A wild thought that you would have laughed at three weeks ago all of a sudden seems not that impossible.

Boiler. Up.

2. It’s getting hot in Lincoln … so fire your head coach?

Mike Riley’s hot seat is getting real hot. He can thank his hand-picked quarterback for that after Tanner Lee threw a pair of pick sixes in Nebraska’s ultra-embarrassing home loss to Northern Illinois on Saturday. While NIU has made a habit of going into Big Ten stadiums and coming out with shocking wins (four of ‘em in the last five years, to be precise), Nebraska had no business losing this one — and yet it did.

The problems have been myriad over the season’s first three weeks for the Huskers. They were defensively inept in their first two games, surrendering 78 combined points to Arkansas State and Oregon. Then came Saturday’s disaster, in which the offense fell off a cliff and was stopped on two late drives by a MAC team. Lee threw three interceptions in all, including one on fourth down on the team’s final possession, an absolutely abysmal quartet of plays.

And so Riley’s job status is obviously a big topic of conversation this week. Riley’s hiring is not aging well. Made the main man in football-mad Lincoln after a career of middling mediocrity at lowly Oregon State, Riley getting the gig was a bit of a head-scratcher then. And it’s still one now, meaning maybe athletics director Shawn Eichhorst has some blame to shoulder for the state of Nebraska football.

Rutgers and Illinois in back-to-back games to start conference play could turn a sour 1-2 start into a slightly more acceptable 3-2 beginning heading into the Wisconsin-Ohio State gauntlet in early October. But it’s hard to see Nebraska emerging from the other side of that with a better-than-.500 record. Meaning Riley’s seat is going to stay hot.

3. Best way to fix the Buckeyes’ offense

Truthfully, the best way to fix Ohio State’s seemingly broken offense was to play Army. Mission accomplished. A week after getting trucked by an unstoppable Sooner Schooner, the Buckeyes easily dispatched of the Black Knights from West Point. So, problem solved?

It unfortunately won’t be that easy, as the Big Ten doesn’t have too many Army-caliber teams for J.T. Barrett and company to beat up on. But there seemed to be one obvious solution reached in Saturday’s win: Give the ball to J.K. Dobbins. The true freshman running back is already starting over last year’s freshman sensation in the backfield, Mike Weber. Weber’s been a bit banged up at times, which partially explains Dobbins’ ascension, but Dobbins’ play likely did most of the convincing when Urban Meyer was given the possibility of Dobbins topping the depth chart.

Saturday, Dobbins got 13 carries and did incredible work with them, rushing for 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Give the kid the ball. Like all the time.

Barrett was back, kind of, after that horror show against Oklahoma, completing all but eight of his 33 passing attempts, racking up more than 300 total yards and accounting for three touchdowns (two throwing, one rushing). He’s now the Big Ten’s all-time leader in touchdowns responsible for, a mouthful of a stat but a remarkable accomplishment, nonetheless. Guy whose record he broke? Drew Brees. Ever hear of him?

4. Lack of offense a reason to panic in Ann Arbor?

Last season’s string of blowout wins? That doesn’t look likely to be repeated by this year’s Michigan team, which through three weeks has an offense that can’t seem to move the ball or produce many points. Problematic, as those are the two main goals of a college football offense.

While Wolverines fans weren’t too enamored with Wilton Speight last season, he’s inspiring little to no confidence without last season’s cadre of pass-catching weapons like Jake Butt, Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson. Instead, with a new receiving corps, Speight isn’t doing much of anything. The Michigan offense only accumulated 359 yards in Saturday’s win over Air Force. Through three weeks, the Wolverines rank an unimpressive eighth in the conference in scoring offense.

Now, do these offensive woes mean it’s time to freak out? Not at all, really, because it seems that Michigan’s defense is better than anyone could’ve hoped considering it had 10 starters to replace this season. That defense looks as good as any in the conference right now (it ranks second in the league, allowing 208 yards a game) and seems like it could win any game for the Wolverines.

Michigan is very much in the hunt for a conference title, especially with Ohio State looking so vulnerable. But get used to the reality that if wins start stacking up, they’ll come in sweat-em-out fashion as compared to last year’s blowouts.

5. Cats back!

After a couple of rough showings in the season’s first two games, Northwestern woke up and responded to a beatdown of a loss at Duke last weekend, crushing Bowling Green by six touchdowns on Saturday. Those ugly performances against Nevada (a win) and Duke (a loss) featured a struggling offense. In Week 1, the Cats were trailing in the fourth quarter. In Week 2, the Cats couldn’t do much of anything, with a banged-up Justin Jackson limited to seven carries and Clayton Thorson throwing two picks.

Well, those struggles were distant memories Saturday night, with the Northwestern offense doing just about whatever it wanted under the lights at Ryan Field. Jackson was back to his usual self, rushing for 121 yards and three touchdowns. Thorson was 23-for-30 for 370 yards and two touchdowns, a huge day. As for the preseason mystery of who’d be catching Thorson’s passes? Well, Thorson found a couple go-to guys Saturday: Garrett Dickerson went for 150 yards on nine catches, and Bennett Skowronek caught three passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns.

It might have just been a cleansing matchup against Bowling Green. Back-to-back games against Wisconsin and Penn State will be monumental challenges for this team. But the Cats looked far closer to what was expected in the preseason than what we saw in Weeks 1 and 2.

6. #TraceTheHeisman

Back at Mizzou, we had the phrase “Chase the Heisman” to support the now twice-mentioned Chase Daniel’s Heisman campaign. Well, maybe Penn State should adopt “Trace the Heisman” for its quarterback. While that phrase makes no sense, the notion that McSorley is one of the Big Ten’s more legit Heisman candidates does make some sense.

The Penn State signal-caller — and home run hitter — had another big day in the Nittany Lions’ 56-0 blasting of Georgia State on Saturday. He needed just 18 completions to rack up 309 yards and four touchdowns, also getting into the end zone on one of his three carries. Through three weeks, McSorley has led Penn State’s high-octane offense to the tune of 753 yards and nine touchdown passes, plus a pair of touchdown rushes.

Thing is, McSorley, as it’s well known, might not even be the top Heisman candidate in his own backfield. Saquon Barkley might have rushed for only 47 yards this weekend, but he’s an obvious threat in the passing game and he racked up 142 receiving yards and a touchdown catch. Let’s check in on Barkley’s Heisman resume through three games: 548 combined rushing/receiving yards and five total touchdowns. So, you know, pretty good.

7. Does Wisconsin have the Big Ten’s best offense?

Don’t look now, but the most electric offense in the Big Ten through three weeks belongs to the Wisconsin Badgers, who despite not really playing anyone terrific are blasting every team they come into contact with. You might not have believed your eyes this past weekend, with the Badgers doing work through the air.

While the Wisconsin ground game is the stuff of legend, the passing attack has been hit-or-miss in recent years. Not so Saturday at BYU, with quarterback Alex Hornibrook throwing four touchdown passes in the 40-6 romp. He was nearly perfect, too, completing 18 of his 19 passes.

Combine Hornibrook’s big day with a to-be-expected huge day from a Badger running back — Jonathan Taylor went for 128 yards and a touchdown — and you’ve got an offense that’s racked up 130 points in three weeks. Wisconsin’s offense is tops in the conference and 16th in the country with 511 yards per game.

8. The Illini continue to be young … and that’s about it

Illinois is going through some growing pains. The Illini are a very young team, and their trend of throwing that youth on the field continued this weekend. They started 10 true freshmen in Friday night’s loss to South Florida, breaking a program record set just a week earlier.

Thing is, that youth isn't having much success out there in its first taste of college football. Illinois was throttled by USF, losing by 24 points. A defense that started five true freshmen gave up almost 700 yards of offense. The Illinois offense didn’t fare much better, with starting quarterback Chayce Crouch plucked from the game and replaced with Jeff George Jr.

The point that I’ve been making throughout the season’s first three weeks remains the same: All this youth is a good thing, in that it shows Lovie Smith is recruiting guys who are better than the players who were there when he was hired. But the flip side of that is it takes those guys a while to get their footing. And in the meantime come games like Friday’s — games that haven’t necessarily been rare for the Illini in recent seasons.

9. Is Nathan Stanley already one of the Big Ten’s best quarterbacks?

Iowa’s quarterback position was a big ol’ mystery following the graduation of C.J. Beathard. But Nathan Stanley has solved that mystery in a hurry, and in three games he’s already become one of the conference’s most-productive signal-callers. He threw just nine passes in 2016, but he’s been pretty fantastic during Iowa’s 3-0 start.

The sophomore Hawkeye — who being from Menomonie, Wisconsin, managed to elude both the Badgers and nearby Golden Gophers — leads the conference with 10 touchdown passes in three games. He’s passed for 655 yards and only thrown one interception. And all the while the Iowa offense has kind of been a point-producing machine, scoring 99 points in those three games. That includes the 31 points and two Stanley touchdowns from this weekend’s win over North Texas.

10. No running on the boat

If you’ve yet to be impressed by Minnesota, that’s OK. The Fightin’ Flecks narrowly beat Buffalo in the season-opener and then blew out Oregon State and Middle Tennessee State. But they’re 3-0 and don’t figure to be in a game where they’re a big underdog until at least the end of October.

What you do need to know about the Golden Gophers, though, is that they have a remarkable run defense through three weeks. Again, that level of competition hasn’t been super great. But Minnesota is allowing an average of just 59 rushing yards a game, tops in the conference and fourth in the nation.

And the rest!

— Rutgers bounced back nicely after that embarrassing loss to Eastern Michigan, putting a 65-0 whooping on FCS foe Morgan State.

— Indiana’s game against Florida International was canceled in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

— Michigan State and Maryland were off this weekend. Both remain undefeated.