The Notorious B1G – Week Three Review
Each week, after all the Big Ten games are through, Phil Harrison recaps the action in the weekly, off-the-wall Notorious B1G. Time to look at week three.
We are snaking our way through the early, mostly non-conference part of each team’s schedules, and that means a lot of cupcakes, and of course some upsets. Let’s look at some of the more intriguing action in the league after week three.
Airing of B1G Grievances
Okay, look — I get it Penn State. You feel great about being inserted back into the minds of all that know the college football world, and the play on the field says you deserve it.
However, could you please, please, please schedule a team all of us college football junkies can get excited about already? If you are considering yourself a big boy now, then schedule like one.
And no, Pittsburgh doesn’t count. It might in your neck of the woods, but not anywhere else outside of the hills of Pennsylvania. The Panthers are a meddling program at best these days.
So, what do we get? This year we get Akron, who scored as many points to match its mascots name (Zips), and then Georgia State. Yes, Georgia State. And it doesn’t get much better over the next three years.
In 2018, the Nittany Lions play Appalachian State and Kent State. In 2019? How about rockin’ Happy Valley with Idaho and Buffalo. I mean, you can cook potatoes a thousand ways, including in a Lion’s Den apparently.
At least we finally get to see a step up in perceived competition with a home and home with Virginia Tech, Auburn and West Virginia, but that’s a ways off. Those teams start appearing on schedules beginning in 2020 and run through 2025.
Until then, it’s not exactly made for TV type stuff like Ohio State and Michigan are attempting.
B1G Man on Campus
Trace McSorley, Penn State RB – Others in the league had fine days as well, including McSorley’s backfield mate Saquon Barkley, but the nod goes to the 6-0, 195 pounder. Not only did he throw go 18 for for 23 (78.3%) for 309 yards and 4 TDS, but he also did it on the ground too — rushing for 48 yards and a TD. That’s 5 home run celebrations for the senior in just one game. That’s all you need to know.
B1G Defender of the Week
Mike McCray, Michigan LB – The Wolverine defense continues to impress thanks to efforts like linebacker Mike McCray. His linebacking mate Devin Bush also had a day, but McCray totaled 11 tackles (7 solo), with 2 TFLs.
More than that, he was all over the field creating havoc together with Bush. He led a Michigan defense that surrendered just 232 yards of total offense to the Falcons, and it’s a good thing too, because the Maize and Blue offense sputtered just a wee-bit yet again.
B1G Team of the Week
Purdue Boilermakers – New head coach Jeff Brohm continues to put his stamp on the ‘Boilermaker program. We are just three games in, but already Purdue looks like a much more formidable foe than the last few years. In week three, Purdue beat an SEC opponent like a drum, taking care of Missouri 35-3.
It was a complete game for the ‘Boilers, the likes of which we’ve not seen in a long, long time. The Big Ten has been put on notice that games against this squad will not be an easy out any longer.
B1G gest Surprise
If you knew the name Tuf Borland before last week, raise your hand. Okay, now all folks that aren’t tied to the Ohio State program put them down. The freshman linebacker out of Bolingbrook, Illinois stepped in for injured senior middle linebacker Chris Worley and had himself a game.
In less than a full four quarters of action, he totaled 12 tackles, nine of them solo, and one for a loss. Yes, I said he’s a freshman. His future could be bright in Columbus.
B1G gest Disappointment
At what point does panic begin to set in with Michigan’s inability to do much on offense? Wilton Speight has made a few plays when needed, but hasn’t been the guy to go out and win one when the team will need against more superior competition.
He continued his average performance against Air Force, throwing for just 169 yards on 14 of 23 pass attempts, and also misfired on some key third downs.
The rest of the offense didn’t fare much better.
To date, against less than stellar competition, the Wolverines are averaging a very mundane 402 yards of total offense — good for 72nd in the country. That might work against the non-conference part of the schedule, but not when things get crankin’ against teams in the Big Ten East.
B1G gest Clunker
Paging the Nebraska Cornhuskers… Look, nobody really expected Nebraska to be a dominant force this season, but losing to Northern Illinois was not supposed to be in the cards. Yet, there it was. A shocking 21-17 final … AT Home.
The defense was more than fine enough, but if the ‘Huskers can’t move the ball against NIU, then how does it expect to flip those down markers over multiple times against real, live Big Ten teams?
Tanner Lee throwing two pick sixes certainly didn’t help things, but between the O-Line and a lack of play making on the outside, there’s just not much for Big Red to hang its hat on right now.
I mean, dare we ask the question; is this even a bowl team here in 2017?
There has been an identity crisis in Lincoln ever since Tom Osborne rode off into the sunset, and the program is still wandering in the wilderness with no rest in the foreseeable future.
B1G Play of the Week
In case you missed it, we now have a new leader in all-time touchdowns responsible for in Big Ten play. His name is J.T. Barrett.
That’s right. Despite all the hand-ringing and teeth gnashing of those calling for Barrett to be benched for the shiny new object — any backup really — the fifth year senior passed Drew Brees on a nine yard TD pass to Austin Mack with 7:01 left in the fourth.
It wasn’t a spectacular play, but a very significant moment that deserves recognition. Barrett has now accounted for a whopping 107 career touchdowns.
Everything from this point forward will simply extend his own record.
B1G gest Mistake
We already mentioned Tanner Lee’s two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns, and it’s the second one in particular that dug the hole that ended up being too much to climb out of.
The ‘Huskers mounted a comeback and were able to wrestle the lead back, but eventually fell to Mid-American Conference foe NIU. One pick for a TD can happen, but giving up two pick sixes will generally get your team an all expenses paid loss on the schedule.
And that’s just what happened Saturday.
Most Bizarre Moment
Apparently there is no lead too big for celebrations to go by the way side — at least that’s what Missouri punter Corey Fatony taught us. Down by 32 points and punting yet again, he did indeed get off a great punt that was downed well inside the two-yard line.
It apparently set off his cave-man celebratory instincts below.
Okay, two things: No. 1, you are a punter. And No. 2, under no circumstances is celebrating anything but getting on the bus called for when you’re getting housed by a historical Big Ten also-ran team at home.
I guess when nothing goes right, at least there are small victories to celebrate …
Until next week on the Notorious B1G.
Phil Harrison is the lead Big Ten writer for College Football News. Get his opinion and analysis all year long. Follow him on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFB