After a less-than-thrilling Week 2, Week 3 is a blockbuster in the Big Ten.
Ohio State travels to play Oklahoma, Michigan State visits Notre Dame, Nebraska plays host to Oregon, and Michigan welcomes in Colorado for an appetizing slate of Power Five-vs.-Power Five action (the same can be said for the less headline-worthy but still big Northwestern-Duke matchup).
So here’s a rundown of all this week’s action in the conference. All games will be played on Saturday, Sept. 17, and as always, all times are Central.
New Mexico at Rutgers, 11 a.m., ESPNEWS
The Knights are coming off the first win of the Chris Ash Era, showing some explosiveness with 52 unanswered point in a win over FCS opponent Howard. Janarion Grant is obviously the real deal when it comes to big plays — he had three total touchdowns last week — and much like every week we’ll be watching to see what else he can do.
Temple at Penn State, 11 a.m., Big Ten Network
A rematch of a game Penn State lost last year, the Nittany Lions are now in big need of a victory after last week’s 42-39 defeat at the hands of another in-state rival in Pitt. Penn State’s defense was shredded on the ground in that game. Temple beat Stony Brook, 38-0, last week but still mustered just 300 yards of offense.
North Dakota State at No. 13 Iowa, 11 a.m., ESPN 2
Any uninformed look at this game would result in "top-15 team vs. an FCS foe equals blowout win" for the Hawkeyes. But the Bison are the five-time defending FCS national champs, and saying they’re no pushover would be putting it mildly. North Dakota State has an 8-3 record all-time (since 2006) against FBS schools, including five straight wins.
Georgia State at No. 9 Wisconsin, 11 a.m., Big Ten Network
The Badgers continue their small respite between the opener against LSU and a brutal start to Big Ten play. Last week Wisconsin scored some style points with a blowout win over Akron, and this week provides a similar opportunity. A win here and the Badgers are all but assured to go into conference play as a top-10 team.
Colorado at No. 4 Michigan, 2:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
Jim Harbaugh isn’t laughing at Colorado’s parody depth chart, and the Buffaloes shouldn’t be laughing at the real thing. Michigan has mopped the floor with its two season-opening opponents, Hawaii and Central Florida. The Wolverines will face a step up in competition, as the Buffs have already accumulated 100 points and almost 1,200 yards of offense in two weeks.
No. 22 Oregon at Nebraska, 2:30 p.m., ABC
The Ducks maybe aren’t what they used to be, but they can still fly high, dropping 97 points in their first two games. But that defense has also allowed 54 points through two weeks — and that was to UC-Davis and Virginia. It provides quite the opportunity for a Nebraska team that has plenty of offensive firepower of its own. Plus the Huskers’ defense is tied for the national lead with seven interceptions.
Western Michigan at Illinois, 3 p.m., ESPNEWS
The Illini could really use a breather after that 25-point thumping against North Carolina (a game that didn’t get out of hand till the fourth quarter). Well, Western Michigan won’t provide that. The reigning MAC champs have already knocked off one Big Ten team on the road, and Illinois better get its offense jumpstarted after a poor showing last week if it doesn’t want to be the second.
Maryland at Central Florida, 6 p.m., CBS Sports Network
DJ Durkin hasn’t faced much in the way of obstacles to his first two wins as the Maryland head coach. For the second straight week, the Terps will be on the road in the Sunshine State, but the Golden Knights shouldn’t be too tricky, either, 0-for their last 13 games against FBS competition.
No. 12 Michigan State at No. 18 Notre Dame, 6:30 p.m., NBC
There’s a lot of mystery still surrounding the Spartans considering they’ve played just one game, a 15-point season-opening win over Furman. Tyler O’Connor looked good in that one, so too did the Michigan State defense, but how will they all fare against real good competition in Notre Dame? DeShone Kizer is one of the country’s top quarterbacks, but Michigan State always seems to get up for these colossal showdowns.
No. 3 Ohio State at No. 14 Oklahoma, 6:30 p.m., FOX
The Buckeyes have looked pretty flawless in their first two games of the season. Yes, the offense started slow against Tulsa, but a pair of pick sixes (Ohio State’s defense has seven picks and three pick sixes this season) jolted the team awake, the offense scoring four touchdowns after halftime. J.T. Barrett and Mike Weber vs. Baker Mayfield and Semaje Perine is the kind of offensive matchup college football fans dream about — but will the Ohio State defense stop a shootout before it starts?
Duke at Northwestern, 7 p.m., Big Ten Network
The Wildcats brutally need a win to avoid going 0-3 in non-conference play. Back-to-back heartbreakers have featured losses thanks to a goal-line fumble and a walk-off field goal, and those were against a team from the MAC and an FCS squad. Duke provides a step up in competition. The Cats needed an incredible defensive performance to win 19-10 a season ago. There's been little evidence to suggest they can put together a similar outing this season.