Penn State, Rutgers to kick off conference season in Big Ten

Penn State will host Rutgers this week in the first conference game of the Big Ten season. Nobody else in the league will face a conference opponent until next month.

The early start is fine with Scarlet Knights coach Kyle Flood.

''I like it, I really do,'' he said on Tuesday's Big Ten teleconference. ''I like having a conference game this early. There's no doubt it focuses you. The team is excited about it. This one happens to be on the road. It's a great environment for college football out there in Happy Valley.''

A number of other FBS leagues have already started conference play for some of their teams, including the Atlantic Coast and Southeastern Conferences. Rutgers faced a Pac-12 team last weekend, losing to Washington State 37-34.

Penn State opened with a loss at Temple before beating Buffalo.

Last year, Penn State and Rutgers also played in mid-September, with the Nittany Lions winning 13-10.

SOARING SCORES

There are always a decent number of blowouts in September, when top teams often host overmatched underdogs before the start of conference play. Illinois beat Western Illinois 44-0 last week. Rutgers opened its season two weeks ago with a 63-13 win over Norfolk State.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was asked if anybody might score 100 points at some point.

''I hope not,'' Meyer said. ''We've been on the front end of some of those, and you get to the point where you just run, run, run and take the clock. I just don't want to ever see that happen to someone's defense. That would be hard to come back from.''

Ohio State's most lopsided win under Meyer was a 76-0 rout of Florida A&M in 2013.

BRING IT BACK?

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he's open to playing Notre Dame again.

The teams played last season, but the series is now on hiatus. The Irish broke off the series to accommodate their new scheduling arrangement with the ACC.

Harbaugh said he'd be fine playing Notre Dame again, but he didn't have much more to add on the topic. He said he'd need to talk to Irish coach Brian Kelly about it.

''I'd probably have a conversation with Coach Kelly about that before anybody else. I think that would probably be the best course of action,'' Harbaugh said. ''I would be open to it, yes.''

SHIPS IN THE NIGHT

Northwestern is playing at Duke this week, while in-state rival Illinois also heads to Tobacco Road to face North Carolina. Illinois coach Bill Cubit said he got a text from Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald recently.

''Fitz, he texted me the other day. I didn't realize they were playing Duke - we could have shared some of the expenses going down there,'' Cubit said.

EXTRA POINTS

- Wisconsin has thrown for 491 yards and rushed for 228 - not exactly the type of split that program is known for. Coach Paul Chryst said his team may be finding out more about itself than in early games in seasons past. The Badgers were tested in a loss to Alabama before routing Miami of Ohio.

- Nebraska coach Mike Riley takes his team to Florida this week to face Miami in a nonconference rivalry with plenty of history. Riley, in his first season as Nebraska's coach, says he definitely has a sense from his players of the importance of this game.

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