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What we learned in Week 3: Big Ten’s College Football Playoff hopes kissed goodbye

Three wins in nine games tells you just how brutal Week 3 of the college football season was to the Big Ten. Despite the brutality that took place on our television screens across Big Ten territory, we managed also learn a lot about teams and the league in general.

So, let’s take a look at what we learned in Week 3:


Kiss the College Football Playoffs Goodbye

Michigan State looked better than the final score, so did Ohio State. That’s what we all told ourselves following a humiliating Week 2 performance in every major game. One week later and that hopeful narrative needs to be replaced by the fact that the Big Ten champion has exactly zero chance to matter on the national level.

As it stood last week, Michigan State and Ohio State were the Big Ten’s best chances to make some noise on the national level. Both ended up as losers and the rest of the conference disappointed throughout Saturday.

However, there was a chance at redemption in Week 3, as the conference took on three Big 12 teams and had a Pac-12 team on the schedule too.

All four games ended with the Big Ten getting embarrassed. Washington suddenly found an offense and took Illinois out behind the woodshed, Iowa paid for costly mistakes and dropped a game to previously winless rival Iowa State, while Maryland decided to drop its game to West Virginia with questionable decision-making. You get the picture here.

Losing games to mid-level teams from other conferences pretty much shows that the top, middle and bottom of the Big Ten isn’t on the same level as the rest of the country.


Icing the Kicker Never Works

Kirk Ferentz will be left wondering “what if” for a long time after Saturday’s last-second loss to rival Iowa State. Ferentz let Iowa State’s kicker, Cole Netten, get on the field and called timeout just as the ball was to be snapped. The kick went off and went wide…but Iowa was given the timeout.

All it did was give Netten a chance to settle down and he hit the second kick right down the middle of the goalposts. Iowa State 20, Iowa 17.

Why coaches go for the “icing the kicker” move anymore is beyond me. It never really works and often times it is better putting the pressure of limited time on a kicker than allowing him to settle his nerves.

Ferentz may end up pointing to that decision as a major turning point in the season and right now it doesn’t look like a very good turning point.


Don’t Be Fooled by Nebraska’s Win Over Fresno State

Nebraska has arguably the most impressive win of any team in the Big Ten West, thanks to its 55-19 crushing of Fresno State. Seeing that scoreline one could be tempted to think Nebraska is the best team out West, but having seen Fresno State over the course of three weeks this isn’t the same Fresno State team from the last few seasons.

They are struggling on offense against everyone and the defense is downright awful, which it was last year too. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to see Nebraska’s offense break out of its shell and to see its defense do some nice things. However, let’s not go all knee-jerk and think the Huskers aren’t also the same team that struggled with mighty McNeese State the week before.

Fresno State ranks 125th (out of 125 ranked teams by the NCAA) in defensive pass efficiency, 125th in total defense, 105th in total offense, 125th in scoring defense (55.3 points per game) and 108th in scoring offense (19.7 points per game).

Congrats Nebraska, you beat the crap out of a team that’s been getting beat the crap out of all season long. Some are asserting the Huskers as the best team in the Big Ten, but they’ve managed to beat some of the worst football teams in FBS and barely hang on at home against an o.k. FCS program.

While the Huskers have shown potential to be good, let’s not forget this team has played exactly no one in non-conference play, and next week Nebraska gets its best non-conference test when a mediocre Miami (FL) Hurricanes team comes to Memorial Stadium.

Put up 40-plus points and hold a Hurricanes team to under 20 and then I’ll buy that the Huskers may be the best team in the Big Ten West.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball


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