With the conclusion of the third week of the college football season, Minnesota & Indiana won their first games of the season.
Kain Colter's impressive season in Dan Persa's absence came to a halt as his passing limitations were exposed and Northwestern dropped their first game of the season.
Elsewhere, Al Golden and Miami (FL) controlled the game and handed Ohio State their first loss of the season. Many around the country had Arizona State on upset alert as they traveled to Champaign and fell to the Fighting Illini.
With the conclusion of week three, here is how I would rank the Big Ten teams:
1. Wisconsin (3-0)
Many expected a shootout as Wisconsin faced Northern Illinois at Soldier Field.
It was anything but.
Russell Wilson once again played lights out, Montee Ball scored twice, and the Badgers rolled up more than 600 yards as they steamrolled the Huskies, 49-7.
2. Nebraska (3-0)
Bo Pelini hoped his Huskers team would take that bowl loss to Washington last season personally. In a seesaw game, the Husker offense answered as they rang up a 51-38 win over Washington.
Though the defense was suspect, Nebraska continued their stellar running attack as Rex Burkhead rushed for 120 yards and two scores. Taylor Martinez paced Nebraska with three touchdowns as the Huskers were able to finally put away the Huskies after leading 44-17.
3. Michigan (3-0)
After blessing fans around the country last week with the most exciting game of the 2011 season, Michigan came in this week as a heavy favorite against Eastern Michigan. Denard Robinson was below-average through the air, but did approach 200 yards rushing as Michigan won 31-3.
4. Illinois (3-0)
While I personally think teams like Michigan State and Ohio State are more talented, I certainly cannot penalize the Fighting Illini for taking care of business.
They had a chance to make a splash in the Big Ten as Arizona State came to town. Illinois delivered in a sloppy turnover affair as they upended ASU, 17-14. Nathan Scheelhaase threw an INT, but rushed for 67 yards on top of his 135 passing yards and TD pass.
5. Michigan State (2-1)
The Spartans had an incredibly tough test as they traveled to South Bend to face the winless, yet talented Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Though the Spartan defense held Notre Dame to under 300 total yards, the Spartan rushing attack was halted and Cierre Wood scored two touchdowns as Michigan State fell 31-13.
6. Ohio State (2-1)
In the game of ineligibles, Ohio State traveled to Coral Gables to take on Miami (FL). After edging out Toledo last week and watching Kellen Moore slice apart Toledo on Friday, there was some pressure on Ohio State to deliver.
The Hurricanes held Braxton Miller and Joe Bauserman to 4/18 passing with Miller throwing an INT.Lamar Miller dashed his way for 184 yards as Miami (FL) controlled the game and handed Al Golden his first win as Miami (FL) coach, 24-6.
7. Iowa (2-1)
The Hawkeyes welcomed Pittsburgh to Iowa City and found themselves down 17 until James Vandenberg orchestrated the biggest comeback in Iowa history.
He tossed three fourth quarter touchdowns and Iowa survived a tough test against the Panthers, 31-27.
8. Northwestern (2-1)
Kain Colter's passing abilities were exposed as he struggled to complete passes and didn't find much running room. Penalties killed NW and Trent Steelman rushed for 3 TDs to help Army defeat NW, 21-14. The good news for the Wildcats is that Dan Persa may be returning next week.
9. Penn State (2-1)
It will be tough for me to take Penn State too seriously until they figure out their quarterback situation. Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin looked better than last week, but neither showed, once again, that they have the ability to make plays and will their team to a win.
Bolden showed a glimpse of it on one possession in the fourth against Temple, but not enough for me to put this team above Northwestern. The Nittany Lions escaped Temple, 14-10.
10. Purdue (2-1)
After a dramatic first two weeks, Purdue had no trouble on Saturday and beat Southeast Missouri State, 59-0. Robert Marve returned from injury and tossed a touchdown pass, instilling some hope into the Purdue faithful. The Boilermakers face in-state rival Notre Dame next.
11. Minnesota (1-2)
MarQueis Gray had a tremendous game rushing as Minnesota welcomed back Jerry Kill with a 29-23 win over Miami (OH)
12. Indiana (1-2)
Indiana's offense looked stellar as Edward Wright-Baker led the Hoosiers to their first win of 2011.
They downed South Carolina State, 38-21.
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