Every Sunday, after a whirlwind autumn Saturday of college football, we'll be taking you around the Big Ten to keep tabs on the rest of the conference. As it fights as one for respectability in the non-conference, or as its power dynamics shift on a week-to-week basis in October and November, we'll follow the narrative to give you a better idea of where Northwestern fits into the 14-team puzzle.
Here are the top three storylines from Week 3:
Top three storylines:
1. Ohio State survives a scare
Northwestern 19, Duke 10
Northwestern 19, Duke 10
The Buckeyes, surprisingly, were tested by a pesky Northern Illinois team in a game where Cardale Jones got benched and was not all too happy about it. Jones threw two picks before being replaced by J.T. Barrett, and then went to Twitter to let people know about his displeasure. On the day, the Buckeyes had five turnovers, but the defense bailed them out (sound familiar?).
For a team that thought it had two outstanding quarterbacks, Ohio State is simply looking for one that can be counted on. Ohio State hadn't looked impressive the previous week, either. Urban Meyer said he doesn't know who will start after the game. Those aren't exactly inspiring words.
Nevertheless, the Buckeyes won thanks to a game-winning pick-six from Darron Lee. They might not have looked good doing it, and they might lose their spot at No. 1 in the polls, but the Buckeyes are still undefeated, and at the end of the day, that's what matters.
2. Miami hangs on to top Nebraska
If you turned off the TV with Miami up 33-10 with 8:36 left in the ballgame, you missed out on an incredible finish. Tommy Armstrong threw three touchdowns in that eight-plus-minute span — and four on the day — to bring the score to 33-31. He then converted a two-point conversion to Jordan Westerkamp to stunningly send the game into overtime.
But in OT, Armstrong was picked by Corn Elder. Corn on corn crime!!! The Hurricanes booted a 28-yarder to get to 3-0.
It was an incredible comeback from the Cornhuskers, and it showed just how good Tommy Armstrong can be. The Cornhuskers are 1-2 now on the young season, but are seconds away from being 2-1 and an overtime loss away from 3-0. The record may not look great, but the talent is surely there.
3. LOLinois gets rolled
Remember when people were saying that, after two weeks, Illinois might not actually be a dumpster fire? Well, that talk ended Saturday, when Illinois must have accidentally scheduled a real team in the non-conference portion of the season.
Illinois was dominated in all three aspects of the game Saturday in a 48-14 beatdown at the hands of North Carolina. It now sits at 2-1 on the season. But rest easy, Illini fans. Your team might get to three wins this season — they've got Middle Tennessee State next week before Big Ten play opens.
In other news, Illinois is a complete dumpster fire.
- Penn State ran all over Buttgers to open Big Ten play with a win. Saquon Barkley had 195 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries for the Nittany Lions.
- Michigan eased past UNLV 28-7 and the Wolverines might have found another star for their already-impressive running back stable. De'Veon Smith got most of the carries in the first two games and played well, but it was Ty Isaac, who had to sit out last season after transferring, racking up 114 yards, including a 76-yard touchdown run. Still, Michigan has quarterback issues as Jake Rudock threw another pick and in general looked sluggish.
- Caleb Rowe got his shot at starting quarterback for the Maryland Terrapins and proceeded to throw for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns. The Terps beat South Florida 35-17 in College Park.
- Aaron Burbridge had eight catches, 156 yards and three touchdowns to help Michigan State beat Air Force. He also did this:
- Minnesota won a very Minnesota game against Kent State, holding on for a 10-7 win. Kent State freshman corner Demetrius Monday forced a fumble and ran it back 80 yards to bring it to 10-7, but his team could not ever take the lead. Minnesota was showered with boos after yet another poor offensive performance.
- Iowa is 3-0 for the first time in six years. After Pitt star wide receiver Tyler Boyd tied the game up at 24 apiece with 52 seconds left on an 8-yard touchdown reception, Iowa kicker Marshall Koehn drilled a 57-yarder (!!!) to give the Hawkeyes the win. Kickers are people too!
- No. 24 Wisconsin beat Troy 28-3 after struggling early.
- Indiana snuck by Western Kentucky 38-35.
- Virginia Tech railed Purdue, 51-24. Virginia Tech is starting their backup quarterback. It doesn't matter. It's Purdue.
Elsewhere around the country...
- Stanford — whom Northwestern beat and kept out of the end zone in Week 1 — upset No. 6 USC 41-31. Suddenly — and half-jokingly, but also half-seriously — people started to take Northwestern a bit more seriously.