- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
Stock it to me.
Purdue's Akeems: First-year Boilermaker running backs Akeem Shavers and Akeem Hunt each had productive days against an overmatched Southeast Missouri State defense on Saturday. Shavers, a junior-college transfer who got the start, ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Head coach Danny Hope says Shavers has NFL-caliber numbers in his strength and speed testing. Hunt, a true freshman, added 56 yards and two more scores. He was a track star in high school and is one of the fastest players on the team. Along with Ralph Bolden, the two Akeems give Purdue a lot of options in the backfield.
D'Angelo Roberts: Granted, it came against South Carolina State. But Indiana may have found a future star in its freshman tailback, who ran for 102 yards -- all in the second half -- and a touchdown. He is the first Hoosier true freshman to run for 100 yards since BenJarvus Green-Ellis in 2003.
Iowa receivers: We knew about Marvin McNutt coming into this season but weren't sure about the rest of the Hawkeyes' wideouts. So far, though, Keenan Davis and Kevonte Martin-Manley have developed into standout receivers in their own right. Davis had 10 catches for 129 yards last week against Pittsburgh, while Martin-Manley had a pair of touchdown grabs. They're a big reason why Iowa has the top passing offense in the Big Ten through three weeks.
MarQueis Gray: After he struggled in Week 1 at USC and freshman Max Shortell played well after he cramped up, Gray's grasp on the Minnesota quarterback job seemed shaky. But the former wide receiver had his best game in a win over Miami of Ohio on Saturday, throwing for 163 yards and running for 171. "I think he's going to grow from week to week to week," head coach Jerry Kill said.
Illinois' defense: All the preseason focus around Illinois focused on Nathan Scheelhaase and the high-scoring offense. But the defense has proved itself a force early in the season despite losing several key players from last season's team. The Illini rank seventh nationally in stopping the run, allowing just 63.7 yards per game on the ground and 2.1 yards per carry. They also rank 12th in the country with 11 sacks and 14th in the FBS in turnover margin.
Penn State kickers: The Nittany Lions are just 1-of-6 so far on field goals, with Evan Lewis and Sam Ficken splitting duties so far. Penn State missed all three tries at Temple on Saturday, with one kick bouncing off a post. Add in a blocked punt last week, and the kicking game has been a kick in the pants so far for Joe Paterno.
Michigan's first quarters: Whether playing in the day or at night, the Wolverines need a while to get going. They've been outscored 21-0 in the first quarter this season and have trailed early in every single game. The good news? Michigan has outscored opponents 100-23 from the second quarter on so far.
Wisconsin penalties: Even Debbie Downer would have a hard time finding complaints about the Badgers' start. But how about those yellow flags? Wisconsin has drawn 18 penalties for an average of 49.3 penalty yards per game through its first three contest. While that's not terrible, it's nearly twice as many penalties per game as last season's team averaged; the 2010 Badgers were whistled for only 41 penalties in 13 games.
Iowa's third-down defense: The Hawkeyes' defense has been disappointing so far this season, and problems on third down are one part of those struggles. Opponents have converted exactly half of their 50 third-down plays against Iowa this season and have had to punt only 12 times in three games. One bright spot: the Hawkeyes got a pair of third-down stops in the fourth quarter of Saturday's comeback win over Pitt.
Ohio State's passing game: Not to pile on Joe Bauserman, but he has completed just 18 of his 44 pass attempts (41 percent) since opening strong against a bad Akron defense. Braxton Miller showed some flashes as a runner but also turned the ball over twice against Miami. Both guys should be holding clipboards for Terrelle Pryor, not starting. The receivers haven't helped, either, failing to record a single catch against the Hurricanes. It can't get any worse, though. We think.