Big Ten Notebook: Buckeyes save day in nonconference play
It was not a particularly good week for the Big Ten. With the exception of Ohio State's win at Cal, teams facing decent competition fared poorly. And other conference teams that played weak opponents failed to come away with convincing victories.
Nebraska was whipped at home by UCLA. Wisconsin lost on the road at Arizona State. Illinois was taken down in Chicago's Soldier Field by Washington. That's three losses to solid Pac-12 teams.
Nebraska and Wisconsin, in particular, were disappointments considering both teams hope to be contenders in the Big Ten division races and at least make some noise on the national scene. The loss knocked the Cornhuskers out of the Top 25 this week. A bizarre ending robbed the Badgers of a potential winning field goal attempt at Arizona State.
Penn State stumbled at home to Central Florida. Michigan was humbled in the Big House, barely beating Akron a week after the Wolverines defeated Notre Dame. Purdue took on the Fighting Irish this week and almost pulled off the upset before falling in West Lafayette -- an encouraging sign for the Boilermakers after two dreadful performances to start the season.
Iowa showed some signs of life with a victory at rival Iowa State. Minnesota, Northwestern, Michigan State and Indiana won as expected. The Gophers, Wildcats and Spartans are now 3-0.
A concern for Minnesota is the health of Jerry Kill, who suffered another seizure during Saturday's win over Western Illinois and was hospitalized.
Ohio State did nothing to diminish anyone's view that it is the best team in the Big Ten so far. The offense rolled against Cal with backup quarterback Kenny Guiton filling in admirably for injured starter Braxton Miller.
Guiton was so good, in fact, that there might be somewhat of a quarterback controversy in Columbus. Miller or Guiton? It's a luxury that most Big Ten teams would love to have and shows just how much depth and talent that coach Urban Meyer has assembled.
FIVE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM WEEK 3 IN THE BIG TEN
1. Michigan State appears to have settled on a quarterback with sophomore Connor Cook. If Cook can elevate the play of the offense close to the level of the defense, the Spartans will be a formidable contender in the Legends Division.
2. Kenny Guiton is good -- and so is Ohio State's offense. What a luxury to have a talented backup perform to the level of Heisman Trophy hopeful Braxton Miller. The Big Ten's most prolific offense figures to get even better with the return of senior running back Carlos Hyde from a suspension.
3. Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner is talented but erratic. Gardner made the wow plays against Notre Dame but almost threw the game away on Saturday against Akron with three interceptions and a fumble. Those mistakes could end up costing the Wolverines against better teams.
4. Nebraska is not a Top-25 team at this point. The Cornhuskers fell out of the AP rankings this week after a disappointing loss at home to UCLA. The defense was supposed to be a strong suit but is letting the Cornhuskers down so far.
5. Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon looks like the real deal. Carrying just 15 times against Arizona State, the sophomore rushed for 193 yards and two touchdowns. The Badgers have a shaky passing attack and will need to lean heavily on Gordon. More touches could be coming for Gordon.