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Around the Big Ten, Week Three — The East rolls on while the West flounders

The Big Ten East now has four ranked teams.

Syndication: York Daily Record Dan Rainville via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The third full Saturday of the 2021 season featured just one game between Big Ten teams, as well as a handful of contests between the conference’s squads and a couple big name opponents. In the end, the East won six of its seven matchups, cementing themselves as the superior division. Here’s your Week Three look around the Big Ten:

Penn State topples Auburn in Happy Valley White Out

I think we can all agree that the White Out Game at Penn State always makes for one of the best atmospheres in college football. Pair that with a ranked SEC opponent coming into town, and well, just see for yourself:

Pretty crazy, right? Anyways, the Nittany Lions came into this game sitting at No. 10 in the country while Auburn came in at No. 22. Both teams were 2-0, with Penn State’s prior win over conference foe Wisconsin being what vaulted them up the rankings. Ultimately, the Nittany Lions would walk away with the victory in this one over their SEC opponent, but the game was fairly balanced throughout, with no team blowing out the other at any point.

For Penn State’s offense, Sean Clifford and Jahan Dotson were the heroes. Clifford completed all but four of his 32 pass attempts for 280 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Dotson was Clifford’s main target on the night, pulling in 10 receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown.

On the opposite side of the ball, the Nittany Lions’ defense largely shut down Auburn quarterback Bo Nix, allowing him to complete 21 of his 37 pass attempts for 185 yards and no touchdowns. Additionally, he ran for just 29 yards. Running back Tank Bigsby was the big story for the Tigers, as he finished with 23 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, Penn State is shaping up as a very formidable team out of the East this year.

Michigan State just keeps getting better

While Michigan State looked impressive in their first two wins over Northwestern and Youngstown State, their first true test came against No. 24 Miami at Hard Rock Stadium, and they passed it with flying colors.

Whether or not you think Miami is overrated, you have to admit that Michigan State’s 38-17 shellacking of the Hurricanes was a sight to behold. The Spartans’ offense, behind Payton Thorne and Kenneth Walker III, looked near unstoppable, with Thorne throwing for 261 yards and four touchdowns on just 18-of-31 passing and Walker III carrying the rock 27 times for 172 yards (he now averages 8.6 yards per carry on the season).

Defensively, the Spartans weren’t super adept at slowing down Miami quarterback D’Eriq King through the air aside from two forced interceptions, as he threw for 388 yards and two touchdowns on top of that. However, MSU did nearly knock out Miami’s ground game entirely, as the Hurricanes carried the ball 24 times for a mere 52 yards as a team. In the end, Michigan State came out on top in decisive fashion, and is now ranked at No. 20 in the newest AP Poll as a result.

Minnesota impresses in victory over Colorado

Just one week ago, Colorado’s defense gave up just 10 points and just under 300 yards of offense in a near upset of No. 5 Texas A&M. While many were saying the game showed off the flaws of the Aggies, I took it as Colorado maybe being a bit better than what everyone expected this past offseason.

Boy, did Minnesota make that read of the situation invalid.

While both teams started out slow in this one, ending the first quarter in a 0-0 tie, the Golden Gophers came out firing in the second and were up 13-0 heading into halftime. By the end of the third, it was 20-0 and looking like a dominant performance. At the end of the game, Minnesota had pitched a 30-0 shutout.

The Gophers’ defense clearly deserves a ton of the credit here. They held Colorado to -19 rushing yards as a team in this one. Yes, that stat is correct. Yes, Colorado carried the ball 21 times to get to that number. If you factor in its passing performance, Colorado had 63 total yards in the entire game. Minnesota outgained the Buffs 441 yards to 63! Either CU’s offense is horrifically putrid, or the Gophers have figured it out defensively.

Maryland quietly gets out to a 3-0 start

Brace yourselves for what I’m about to say.

You ready?

The Terrapins are 3-0.

I know, I don’t fully believe it either, but they are. After defeating West Virginia in week one (a win that now looks quite impressive considering the Mountaineers just knocked off No. 15 Virginia Tech), Maryland has gone on to beat Howard 62-0 and then squeak by Illinois 20-17 this past weekend.

Now, the Terps performance against the Illini was far from special on Friday night. It took a last-second field goal to win the game when it really shouldn’t have, considering Illinois isn’t all that good. In the end, however, a conference win is a conference win, and the Terrapins currently sit tied for first place in the Big Ten East. They’ll have a chance to get to 4-0 with a win against Kent State this Saturday.

Nebraska *almost* did something right... but they didn’t

Coming into this weekend, everyone thought the Nebraska-Oklahoma affair would be a bloodbath going in the favor of the Sooners. That wouldn’t really wind up being the case.

In reality, Nebraska kept it somewhat close throughout, never letting Oklahoma’s lead grow to more than two scores. Adrian Martinez completed 19 of his 25 pass attempts for 289 yards and one touchdown, throwing one interception that came on this insane play by D.J. Graham.

The Cornhuskers’ ground game was virtually nonexistent throughout, but their defense did a good job of limiting Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler, holding him to just 214 yards and one touchdown through the air.

In the end, Nebraska got one last shot to tie the game, trailing 16-23. With just 40 seconds left and the ball on their own 17-yard line, Adrian Martinez completed two passes and was sacked twice in their final four downs.

Silly Nebraska, you almost convinced us you were a real football team for a second.

Other scores:

No. 5 Iowa 30, Kent State 7

Indiana 24, No. 8 Cincinnati 38

No. 9 Ohio State 41, Tulsa 20

Purdue 13, No. 12 Notre Dame 27

No. 25 Michigan 63 (!), Northern Illinois 10

Rutgers 45, Delaware 13

Northwestern 23, Duke 30