Huskers-'Canes harkens bygone era; MSU's defense faces test
Some things to watch in the Big Ten during Week 3 of the season:
GAME OF THE WEEK: Nebraska and Miami take a trip down memory lane to the 1980s and '90s, the era when these programs took turns dominating college football. The Cornhuskers and Hurricanes might be shells of their former selves, but this is an important game for both as they prepare for conference play. Watch how Miami QB Brad Kaaya attacks a secondary that's looked vulnerable through two games and how his friend since childhood, Nebraska RB Terrell Newby, fares against a front seven that struggled against Florida Atlantic's ground game last week.
BEST MATCHUP: Michigan State's always-strong rushing defense will be tested against Air Force's triple-option. The Spartans are allowing 2.14 yards per run. Their defensive line coach, Ron Burton, was on the academy's staff from 2003-12, so he knows all about the Falcons' system. Air Force is running for 411 yards a game but will be without starting QB Nate Romine, who injured a knee last week. Karson Roberts will start.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Ohio State, a 35-point favorite over Northern Illinois, is 30-1 against Mid-American Conference opponents. ... The last time Pittsburgh visited Iowa, the Hawkeyes rallied from a 24-3 deficit late in the third quarter to win 31-27. It was the biggest comeback in Hawk history. ... Illinois' rush defense ranked 118th in 2014 and, in its first big test, will go against a North Carolina team that has run for more than 200 yards in two straight games. ... Unbeaten Northwestern, which visits Duke, is coming off back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 1958. ... Michigan has allowed opponents to convert only 4 of 24 third downs. ... Minnesota's Mitch Leidner hasn't thrown in interception in 153 pass attempts. ... Wisconsin, which hosts Troy, has allowed an average of 6.7 points in its last seven nonconference home games.
LONG SHOT: It's been another tough week at Rutgers, and the Knights start Big Ten play on the road against Penn State as 10-point underdogs. They found out Wednesday they would be without coach Kyle Flood, who was suspended three games and fined $50,000 for contacting a faculty member over a player's grade. This after top receiver Leonte Carroo, charged with assaulting a former girlfriend, became the latest suspended or dismissed player. Interim coach Norries Wilson's defense must get after QB Christian Hackenberg to pull this one out.
PLAYER TO WATCH: New Maryland starting QB Caleb Rowe, who replaces Perry Hills after the offense struggled in last week's loss to Bowling Green. Rowe's progress at Maryland has been disrupted by two ACL tears, but coach Randy Edsall is confident the junior's strong arm combined with new starters in WRs Taivon Jacobs and D.J. Moore can get the passing game going again.