Harlon Barnett opens his run as Michigan State’s acting coach with a visit from No. 8 Washington
Things to watch during Week 3 of play in the Big Ten Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 8 Washington (2-0) at Michigan State (2-0), Saturday, 5 p.m. ET (Peacock)
Harlon Barnett begins his run as Michigan State’s acting coach with the first of possibly four top-10 opponents this season when No. 8 Washington comes to Spartan Stadium.
Barnett will get help from MSU’s all-time winningest coach, Mark Dantonio, who retired following the 2019 season and will wear a headset as associate head coach. Barnett and Dantonio are defensive coaches at heart, and they’ll have their hands full strategizing against likely Heisman Trophy candidate Michael Penix Jr. and the Huskies’ high-powered offense.
Barnett stepped into his new role Sunday when Mel Tucker was suspended following the public disclosure of sexual harrassment allegations. The Spartans lost 39-28 in Seattle last year, and the Huskies are 16 1/2-point favorites in their first visit to East Lansing in 54 years, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Virginia Tech (1-1) at Rutgers (2-0), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (Big Ten Network)
The Scarlet Knights are looking for their third straight 3-0 start and, more important, staying power. Rutgers played an FCS opponent each of the last two years while getting out of the gate with three wins. The Knights were a combined 3-16 after those perfect starts.
This year the Knights have posted convincing wins over Northwestern and Temple, and they are 2 1/2-point favorites against the Hokies. Rutgers has allowed 14 points over eight quarters, and they’ll be going against one of the ACC’s worst offenses.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Maryland goes into its Friday game against Virginia with 10 straight nonconference victories, the second-longest streak in the country behind Georgia (19) and Wake Forest (11). … Michigan takes a 35-1 record against Mid-American Conference opponents into its game against Bowling Green. The only loss was 13-10 to Toledo in 2008. … Ohio State enters its game against Western Kentucky having allowed 12 plays of 10 yards or longer, including just three of 20 or longer. … Wisconsin opponents have converted only 27.7% of their third downs at Camp Randall Stadium since 2010. That’s the lowest rate in the country. … Northwestern goes into its game at No. 21 Duke having allowed just seven second-half points through two games. … Minnesota’s Chris Autman-Bell needs 30 receiving yards to reach 2,000 for his career. … Cameron Lenhardt’s two sacks against Colorado made him Nebraska’s first true freshman to record two in a game since Barry Turner in 2005.
Illinois is a 14 1/2-point underdog at home to No. 7 Penn State and coming off another poor defensive performance against Kansas. Penn State hosts No. 25 Iowa next week and must be wary of looking ahead.
The Nittany Lions have 14 touchdowns in two games (albeit one was against FCS team Delaware) and have scored at least 30 points in nine straight games. Illinois coach Bret Bielema says he likes where his offense is heading. The question is whether it will be able to produce enough to offset a defense allowing a Big Ten-worst 31 points per game.
Purdue safety Dillon Thieneman is the first freshman in program history to intercept a pass in each of his first two games. He and his defensive teammates will be going against a quarterback in Garrett Shrader who has completed 69% of his passes and averaged better than 10 yards per attempt against light competition so far.
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