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For the first time in what seems like forever, the Big Ten has elite depth at the top of the conference, and five Big Ten teams are now currently ranked in the top 11 of the AP Poll. Iowa leads the way at No. 3. All but one (Ohio State) are undefeated and all but one (Iowa) reside in the East division. The majority of the Big Ten had strong non-conference performances and that now appears to be paying dividends on a national scale. Outside of Alabama and Georgia, the Big Ten has firmly positioned themselves at the top of the college football heap.
Michigan tops Wisconsin 38-17
Michigan showed signs of life in their passing game on Saturday afternoon. Jim Harbaugh was able to dial up a couple of deep shots at opportune times to jump start their underperforming pass attack. It took contributions from multiple QBs and a flea flicker, but the Wolverines cracked the 250 yardage mark through the air. It’s an element of their offense that will have to evolve for them to challenge in a loaded East Division.
This was Wisconsin’s chance to correct their offensive issues from the first few games, but that didn’t happen. The running game was sporadic, and the passing attack under QB Graham Mertz continued to underwhelm. Mertz left the game with an injury, but it didn’t get any better after that. This is going to be a rebuilding year for Wisconsin. Their defense is up to snuff, but the offense is riding the struggle bus.
Ohio State smashes Rutgers 52-13
Normally this wouldn’t be a game worth dissecting, but Ohio State has struggled this year and Rutgers has played well, so the Buckeye dominance was surprising. Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano has the Scarlet Knights playing tough, physical football. They stonewalled Michigan in the 2nd half last week and that led to a narrow, two TD spread with Ohio State.
The Buckeyes covered with ease.
They started fast and kept their foot on the gas through the entire first half. It almost felt like OSU could’ve put 70 on the board. QB CJ Stroud returned from a week off and looked better than he has all year. The offensive line gave Stroud plenty of time, and he delivered the ball with terrific accuracy. Huge holes in the Rutgers defense were there for the running game, and the trio of Henderson, Crowley, and Teague all rushed for over 50 yards.
The bigger story was the domination of Ohio State’s defense. They forced 3 INTs, converted 1 into a TD, and allowed only 13 points. There is still work to be done and they will still make mistakes, but the youth movement appears to be paying off for the Buckeyes.
Iowa smokes Maryland 51-14 on Friday night
This was supposed to be a fantastic game to open the weekend. The Hawkeyes had been living off turnovers, and it seemed like this could be the game where their luck might run out. Maryland’s high flying offense and Iowa’s smothering defense somehow produced a Vegas game line that favored Iowa by less than a touchdown, which seemed incredibly low for the 5th ranked team in the nation.
Apparently, Iowa took notice. They were able to pressure QB Taulia Tagovailoa and force him into 5 interceptions.
Add this one to the Tyler Goodson highlight reel. 68 yards to the house.— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) October 2, 2021
Iowa's lead is now 41-7. pic.twitter.com/9cOE9xWFcr
With great field position all night long, QB Spencer Petras was able to rack up over 280 passing yards and more importantly, 3 TDs. Iowa is for real. They still have some questions on offense, but this defense is a championship caliber squad.
Cincinnati downs Notre Dame 24-13
Notre Dame took the opening kick and marched right down the field against the Cincinnati defense. Nearly 5 minutes and 11 plays later, the Bearcats came up with a red zone turnover as Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner picked off ND QB Jack Coan to end the drive. It was all Bearcats after that. The Cincy defensive front harassed the trio of Notre Dame QBs, which led to errant throws and another interception. It was obvious that Notre Dame’s best QB option was Drew Pyne and it was inexplicable why Brian Kelly didn’t move to him earlier. He looked good the week prior against Wisconsin and continued to use his legs to help move the chains when plays broke down.