In two weeks, the Big Ten went from five ranked teams to three: Wisconsin dropped out of the rankings after Week 2, and Michigan State was eliminated this week after a poor performance in Washington (final 39-28).
However, the three teams that remain in the top 25 – (3) Ohio State, (4) Michigan and (14) Pennsylvania State – looked great in Week 3 matches, including Michigan’s 59-0 shutout against UConn and an impressive 41-. 12 Penn State wins on the road at Auburn.
Luckily for Michigan State, their loss to Washington, perhaps better than we thought, wasn’t their worst performance at the conference last Saturday; that honor goes to Nebraska, whose loss to No. 6 Oklahoma was not as close as it looks, 49-14.
In Week 4, eight Big Ten teams will play their first conference games of the season, including Michigan and Ohio State, both playing at home.
Maryland’s trip to the Big House should be indicative of Michigan’s No. 4.
The Michigan Wolverines (3-0) won their first three games 166-17 overall, and it’s still unclear how good the team is. His home schedule against Colorado State, Hawaii and UConn hasn’t put Michigan to the test yet – they’re knocking out teams that should be knocking out, which doesn’t tell us much.
This doesn’t mean that Michigan is likely to lose to Maryland (3-0) on Saturday; Michigan is better on paper across the board, and it’s unlikely they’ll give this game to the terps, who also haven’t lost (albeit less convincingly) in three out-of-conference games. But a No. 4 ranked team will make it easy to win and stop Maryland’s offense (Michigan allows a third 194 yards per game), and an unranked team… won’t.
Main coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t reveal much when asked about how Michigan prepared for their first conference test, only commenting on the excellent work ethic and leadership he saw from his players. But he noted that they are on guard after winning the conference last season: “There is a big goal [on our backs]. Whenever you become the reigning champion, it will be there.”
Maryland coach Mike Loxley lay out the Terrapins’ mental approach simply on Tuesday when he said, “We have nothing to lose.” He noted that Michigan was more disciplined than his team over three games, citing penalty kicks: Michigan ranks third in the FBS in penalty yards this season (65); Maryland is third (271). “We’re always talking about trying to close the gap on teams like this,” Locksley told reporters on Tuesday. “It gives us a chance to see how and where we fit.”
“[We’ll] try to play to the best of your ability, keep the game very tense and bring it to the fourth quarter. And you never know what might happen.”
Ohio State No. 3 puts attack on first big test against Wisconsin
Third-placed Ohio State (3-0) faces the first test of the conference hosting Wisconsin (2-1), which finished 19th.th before losing in a Week 2 upset to Washington State. Ohio State opened with a big home win over Notre Dame, a win that lost some of its luster after Notre Dame lost to Marshall in its second week.
However, the Buckeyes are the best offensive team in the nation in three weeks with a 565.3 yards per game average, and Wisconsin is expected to be the best defensive team the team has faced so far. After OSU scored Toledo’s 77 points in Week 3, the offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said: “As good as the offense looks, it won’t be good until the end of the year and you can see how tough and consistent it is.”
“Wisconsin represents Big Ten football,” OSU Coach. Ryan Day said Thursday, noting the Badgers’ physical style of play and calling Wisconsin QB Graeme Merz and RB Brelon Allen “the best we’ve seen” on both positions.
The Badgers rebounded in Week 3 with a 66-7 win over New Mexico State, but that didn’t change their underdog status ahead of Saturday’s The Shoe, where Wisconsin hadn’t won since 2004.
Wisconsin Coach Paul Christ praised the Buckeyes’ formidable attack, calling CJ Stroud “a damn good quarterback” and noted that his defense would run into trouble at OSU: “They’re great at threat and using the whole field.”
Ohio State will wear blackout uniforms for the prime-time game, which will be the team’s fourth consecutive home game.
Michigan State looks to bounce back against Team Minnesota with momentum
Of all the Big Ten contests in Week 4, this one proved to be the most intriguing. Michigan State (2-1) is out of the rankings for the first time this season after the Spartans struggled to perform in Washington last week, which could turn a home game against Minnesota (3-0) into a rematch or place for disappointment.
Main coach Mel Tucker called Washington’s result “very disappointing” after minor Spartans were devoured by Huskies led by QB Michael Penix Jr. Tucker listed the main problems as poor communication and missed assignments rather than schematic problems, and said he took failure personally: “Now I’m a football coach.”
“We will be defined by how we respond,” Tucker said. “We have to increase the level of intensity in what we do… You have to learn from adversity.”
Minnesota has three solid non-conference wins so far, balanced with big numbers on either side of the ball: the Golden Gophers are second in FBS in offensive yards per game (554.7) and second in yards allowed per game. (170.3).
“We know it’s going to be a hostile environment… It’s a dangerous football team,” Minnesota coach. PJ Fleck said this week, highlighting the strength of Michigan’s defensive front, which lost just 30 yards to Washington last Saturday.
Minnesota will need performance on the ground, especially after a wide receiver. Chris Othman-Bell suffered a season-ending leg injury in Week 3 against Colorado that prompted him to undergo surgery on Wednesday. Othman-Bell led the Gophers with 11 receptions and 214 receiving yards.
The Gophers are averaging 312.7 yards per game so far, but the Spartans represent the first big defensive challenge of their season.
With Michigan State adjusting its defensive approach and Minnesota adjusting offense, this game is expected to be close: Minnesota is a slight favorite on the road early into the weekend.
Iowa Heads to Rutgers for Defensive Game
The Iowa Hawkeyes (2-1) and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-0) go head-to-head on Saturday night, with Rutgers at home looking to start the season 4-0 for the first time in a decade (2012).
It won’t be an easy road for the Scarlet Knights, whose quarterback position leaves a lot to be desired. Evan Simon as well as Gavin Wimsat 59 total passing yards against Temple in Week 3 – and who is most likely not to catch a break against an Iowa defense that has allowed 13 points in three games this season.
Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said there were “a few” offensive things he wanted to fix and also said that the injured QB Noah VedralStatus will be decided during Saturday’s game. The team’s recent passing numbers make Vedral’s return all the more appealing to Rutgers loyalists.
In contrast to Iowa’s famous defense, Rutgers also boasts strong defensive stats – the team is second on the FBS in yards allowed (under 33 per game), and Iowa has scored three of their modest four touchdowns this season on the ground.
Iowa picked up an easy but long 27-0 victory over Nevada in Week 3: a nearly four-hour delay due to weather caused the game to last almost seven hours.
Main coach Kirk Ferenc acknowledged the parallels between his team and Schiano’s, noting the defense as well as the strong players that both teams will bring to the game.
“They don’t do stupid things,” Ferenc said of the knights. “They make you earn whatever you get.”
Howard University picked up their first win of the season, 31-0 over Morehouse College, at MetLife Stadium over the weekend at the HBCU NY Classic. As more than 35,000 fans filled the stands, the piercing sounds of Howard’s Showtime Marching Band and Morehouse’s House of Funk serenaded.
“It was a real pleasure for me to play in the New York classics,” said Greg Coleman, member of the Showtime Marching Band. “The audience had a lot of energy and I’m so happy that Howard’s students were able to tour and support the band.”
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Although there were no goals in the first half, the enthusiasm and excitement of the fans at MetLife remained high. Aaron Bickert score a field goal for Howard. wide receiver Antoine Murray took it from there, securing the win for Bison with 116 receiving yards and two touchdown catches.
This year, the Howard University Student Association began taking students to various games in hopes of improving the team’s performance. So far, they have traveled to Atlanta to compete in the MEAC/SWAC competition and have managed to attract 150 students to the HBCU NYC Classic.
“During the election campaign, I set myself the task of developing a relationship with the coach. [Larry] Scott, said Jordin Allen, Howard’s student council president. “I just wanted to create an experience for the students that would get them to go out and support our sports teams.”
Coach Scott and Allen rallied around the idea of creating a larger student-athlete community.
“The whole concept is that we are all one, one Howard, and the more we can pull together at this end of the rope, the stronger we all become on and off the field,” Scott said. “In any endeavor that Howard puts his name on, it must be synonymous with elitism, greatness across the board, and the only way to do that is to make sure we’re all united.”
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