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In a B1G Country: 2015 Week 2 Recap and Week 3 Preview

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Looking back and looking ahead at the rest of the conference.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Week 2 Results

Quality Win

Michigan State 31, Oregon 28

Oregon actually put up more yards and was generally more efficient, but their failures came at critical times - four stopped fourth down attempts, including one at the goal line, and two turnovers. There's a lot that could happen between now and December, but assuming Oregon remains at their usual level, it's likely that no other playoff contender will have a bigger non-conference feather in their cap.

Wins Over Semi-Respectable Opponents

Michigan 35, Oregon State 7

For a good chunk of the first half, this had delicious schadenfreude potential, as Oregon State took an early 7-0 lead and was still up 7-3 until four minutes left in the half. The Beavers had the ball at the Michigan 39 facing 4th and 3 with two minutes left in the half, with the chance (if they converted) to tie the game at 10 or even take the lead back. Then a potential Dumb Punt Hall of Shame contender (disqualified on a technicality) opened the floodgates. Terrible game-theory decisions often get punished eventually (witness Tennessee's 18-yard FG to open the scoring and trying to defend out that lead for most of the game), but rarely is retribution this swift:

4th and 3, MICH 39: Intentional delay of game penalty to get more room for the punter.
4th and 8, MICH 44: Punt downed at the 2, called back for illegal formation.
4th and 13, MICH 49: Snap over the punter's head; he finally recovers it all the way back at his own 3 yard line (!), then turns and tries to punt (instead of doing the smart thing and pitching the ball out the back of the end zone) but is tackled before he can.

Michigan scored three plays later, and the second half was a mere formality.

Minnesota 23, Colorado State 20 (OT)

It's somewhat difficult to believe this game made it to overtime, as Minnesota outgained the Rams and had a +1 turnover advantage in regulation. A missed field goal and a net loss of about 6 yards on every exchange of punts (mostly due to Colorado State getting a bit extra out of their returns and an illegal fair catch signal bringing back a potential touchdown return by Minnesota's Craig James - no, not that Craig James) made up the difference. In overtime, Scott Ekpe intercepted a pass off several deflections on CSU's first play (it went into the boxscore as a fumble, but the receiver never had possession and the ball deflected off of him to Ekpe without hitting the ground), setting up a Ryan Santoso chip-shot for the win.

Iowa 31, Iowa State 17

No, Iowa State probably isn't any good, but it's a rivalry game and they are at least a Power 5 school (and probably not the worst one in their conference, either - thanks Kansas!). Weird things happen to Iowa in this series (Kirk Ferentz somehow has a losing record in the series overall, which is absolutely mind-boggling), and when the Hawkeyes' Jordan Canzeri coughed up the ball at the ISU 7 in the fourth quarter of a tied game, it seemed like the weirdness might continue. Iowa State managed to pick up a couple of first downs before punting, and a big return from Desmond King set up the winning score; on ISU's desperation drive, King then intercepted a pass to set up the insurance touchdown.

Cupcake Demolitions

Illinois 44, Western Illinois 0
Northwestern 41, Eastern Illinois 0

The two Illinois schools in the conference took on in-state FCS foes and both dominated, combining for a 996-279 advantage in total offense (500-141 for Illinois, 496-138 for Northwestern). Illinois did most of its damage through the air (Wes Lunt put up a 33/46, 316 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT line before being pulled in garbage time) while Northwestern focused on the ground game (69 carries for 344 yards, with four players picking up at least 50 yards each and seven getting at least 20).

Purdue 38, Indiana State 14

Like the Illinois schools, Purdue took on an in-state FCS opponent. While the win wasn't quite as dominant, the Sycamores never had the ball down less than 7 and that only twice. For Purdue, given the last two years, that counts as progress. Purdue's offense was fairly balanced, putting up 289 yards through the air and 251 on the ground. This wasn't a great day for kicking, as Paul Griggs went 1 for 3 on field goals for Purdue with the one make being a glorified extra point (19 yards) and Eric Heidorn went 0 for 2 for ISU.

Wisconsin 58, Miami-Ohio 0

Say this much for Wisconsin: despite all their coaching changes recently, they still know how to destroy teams that are overmatched. Unusually, the Badgers got more yardage out of the air attack (236 from Joel Stave on 30 attempts before being pulled in garbage time) than on the ground (188), but when your opponent's completion percentage is below 40% and they have negative rushing yards (although not after adjusting for sacks), not much matters.

Ohio State 38, Hawaii 0

A fourth shutout for the Big Ten this week, but this one was interesting longer than the others. Ohio State didn't extend the lead to 14-0 until four minutes before halftime, nor hit 20 until six minutes into the fourth quarter. One of the Buckeyes' touchdowns was scored by the defense, and two more (and the field goal) came on drives starting in Hawaii territory after a turnover. A mere 363 yards of total offense is far below what most people would expect from the Buckeyes in this game, but that's likely to be an anomaly.

Nebraska 48, South Alabama 9

This one was over pretty quickly. It was 14-0 nine minutes in and Nebraska was never even close to threatened. Terrell Newby nearly reached the 200-yard rushing mark (198 on 28 carries), and Tommy Armstrong went 21 of 30 for 270 yards and two scores.

Not-So-Convincing Cupcake Wins

Penn State 27, Buffalo 14

The good news: Penn State managed not to allow a sack this week after allowing 10 last week, and Temple's win over Cincinnati means maybe that loss isn't a total albatross. The passing attack was still anemic, however, managing just 128 yards on 27 attempts.

Indiana 36, Florida International 22

Indiana did not inspire confidence, trailing the Golden Panthers for most of the first half and not earning their first lead of the game until past the midway point of the third quarter. FIU retook the lead early in the fourth, but Indiana tied it again with a field goal and added a one-play touchdown drive after a turnover and a 96-yard pick-six from Jameel Cook Jr. to take the lead and finish the game off.

Why Did We Invite You Two Again?

Bowling Green 48, Maryland 27

Bowling Green might not be bad; they put up a decent fight against Tennessee last week. But you shouldn't have a MAC team double you up in yardage and put up a +3 turnover margin at your place. (Part of the yardage gap is due to Will Likely taking another punt to the house; that's an opportunity that the Maryland offense never had. But giving up 491 passing yards on about 9 per attempt and six touchdowns through the air ... not great, guys.)

Washington State 37, Rutgers 34

The Cougars led for much of the game, even going up 20-6 in the third quarter. Then chaos happened. Rutgers tied it on the first play of the fourth quarter, WSU answered with a field goal, Janarion Grant took the ensuing kickoff back 100 yards to give Rutgers their first lead, and WSU scored again to go back in front with 9:31 to go. Eight minutes later, Grant found pay dirt again on a punt return, but where that would usually have been the weird way WSU finds to lose, the Cougars put together a 90-yard touchdown drive in 1:18 to jump back in front with 13 seconds left. Rutgers tried the Stanford Band play on the kickoff return and didn't come close.

Week 3 Games

All times Eastern.

Early Shift

Air Force at Michigan State (Noon, ABC)

Sound the trap game alert; going from Oregon to Air Force is a pretty big swing in preparation for one week. Starting QB Nate Romine is out indefinitely with a knee injury, but that may not make much difference as Air Force doesn't pass anyway.

Illinois at North Carolina (Noon, ESPN2)

After obliterating Kent State and Western Illinois, Illinois finally gets to try picking on someone their own size. Evidence so far is that North Carolina isn't great (a loss to a South Carolina team that just got beat by Kentucky and a stomping of an FCS cupcake), but a road win here would still be big in terms of getting Illinois to a bowl game.

South Florida at Maryland (Noon, ESPNU)

South Florida hung around with Florida State for a surprising amount of time last week, but Maryland can't take anyone for granted after a blowout loss to a MAC opponent. Without a win here, it's very hard to picture Maryland making it to a bowl game.

UNLV at Michigan (Noon, BTN)

The Rebels have lost to Northern Illinois (close) and UCLA (not at all close) so far this season and weren't any good last season either. Michigan should have little difficulty in adding to that pile of misery.

Kent State at Minnesota (Noon, BTN)

As with Michigan, this represents a major step down in the quality of opponent for Minnesota after opening with one team that made a New Year's bowl and another that at least briefly threatened for the Group of 5 spot. The Gophers should roll in this one if they are half as good as their opening games indicate.

Northwestern at Duke (12:30, ESPN3)

Duke has opened the season by clobbering Tulane and FCS North Carolina Central. This could be a pretty close game, although as always, trying to predict Northwestern is futile.

Late Afternoon

Nebraska at Miami (3:30, ABC/ESPN2)

One of the great matchups of the 1980s and 1990s, with five bowl meetings (four in the Orange Bowl, one in the BCS title game at the Rose Bowl) and the winner getting the national title four times. While the team's statures aren't quite so lofty this year, this should still be an interesting game; Nebraska won 41-31 at home last year.

Northern Illinois at Ohio State (3:30, ABC/ESPN2)

Northern Illinois is not terrible, having held off UNLV and smoked Murray State. But they've given up at least 26 points to both of those teams, and Ohio State's offense is just a little bit more terrifying than either of those two. Expect a rout.

Virginia Tech at Purdue (3:30, ESPNU)

Virginia Tech managed to hang with Ohio State for a while until their quarterback got injured; they then took out their frustrations on Furman. Purdue continues to show signs of improvement over the past two years, but beating Virginia Tech is still a pretty tall order for them.

Troy at Wisconsin (3:30, BTN)

I don't recommend watching this one unless you're a Badger fan; there are plenty of more intriguing games in this time slot and we all know what Wisconsin does to bad teams. And make no mistake, Troy (having already been blown out by North Carolina State before salving their wounds with a win over Charleston Southern) is a bad team.

Western Kentucky at Indiana (4:00, ESPNEWS)

Indiana has let Southern Illinois and Florida International hang around already this year. Western Kentucky is much better than either of them, having won at Vanderbilt and beaten Louisiana Tech. This could be close and surprisingly fun.

Night Games

Rutgers at Penn State (8:00, BTN)

Our first conference game of the year. Neither team has impressed so far this season, with Rutgers losing to Washington State and Penn State losing to Temple. The top three spots in the East division appear to be obvious at this point (OSU, MSU, Michigan), but this game could go a long way toward telling us who's the best of the rest.

Pittsburgh at Iowa (8:00, BTN)

Pat Narduzzi's early schedule in his first year at Pitt is filled with familiar foes: the opener was against Bo Pelini at Youngstown State, and after a low-scoring win over Akron he returns to the Big Ten to face an Iowa team that was occasionally a thorn in MSU's side during his tenure here.