Big 10 of the Big Ten: Conference overview after Week 3

_Editor’s note: Big 10 of the Big Ten is a collection of tidbits from around the conference. This weekly feature provides a recap from the previous slate of games and also serves as a preview to the upcoming football weekend._

*First victory for Penn State*

The Nittany Lions notched the first victory of the Bill O’Brien era, defeating Navy 34-7 on Saturday, and recorded the first official Penn State victory since Nov. 22, 1997. (The NCAA vacated all of Joe Paterno’s wins from 1998 through 2011.)

*Cardiac ‘Cats*

Northwestern is the only team in the nation with three straight victories over BCS opponents. With a win over Boston College on Saturday, the Wildcats remain undefeated and have a strong chance of a 4-0 start with a final nonconference matchup against FCS opponent South Dakota.

*Struggles continue for Wisconsin*

One week after falling to Oregon State, the Badgers barely escaped Camp Randall Stadium with a win Saturday. Wisconsin, the preseason favorite to win the Leaders Division with Ohio State and Penn State ineligible, nearly dropped its second game of the season against Utah State but hung on to win 16-14.

*Second string is the new first*

Three Big Ten backups saw action this weekend in replace of injured starters. Reilly O’Toole had a career day for Illinois as Nathan Scheelhaase missed his second straight game with an ankle injury. Cam Coffman and Nate Sudfeld have filled in for Hoosiers quarterback Tre Roberson, and Max Shortell threw three touchdowns for the Golden Gophers in MarQueis Gray’s absence.

*Top offensive performance*

Braxton Miller threw the game-winning 72-yard touchdown pass in the Buckeyes 35-28 win over California. He had career highs of 249 passing yards and four touchdowns.

*Top defensive performance*

Michael Mauti of Penn State had a team-high 12 tackles in the Nittany Lions’ 34-7 victory over Navy. He was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for the second time of his career.

*Where they rank*

The latest AP polls have Ohio State at No. 16, Michigan at No. 18, Michigan State at No. 21 and Nebraska at No. 25. Michigan State is the latest Big Ten squad to drop in the rankings. Ohio State fell from No. 12 to No. 16 despite defeating California. Michigan is still slowly climbing its way back after the blowout loss to No. 1 Alabama in Week One.

*Game to watch*

No. 18 Michigan at No. 11 Notre Dame will be the featured game on Saturday. We all know what happened last year. Michigan scored 28 points in the fourth quarter to down the Fighting Irish in the first night game in Michigan Stadium’s history. Saturday’s game should be another classic matchup in this historic rivalry.

*Game to keep an eye on*

Syracuse at Minnesota will be a game to tune into. While the Golden Gophers have yet to lose in 2012, their winning streak will be threatened by the Orange this weekend as they will likely be without starting quarterback Gray, who was injured in last week’s 28-23 win over Western Michigan.

*Remaining unbeaten*

After three weeks, Ohio State, Northwestern and Minnesota remain the lone unbeaten teams in the conference, none of which started last season with a 3-0 record. Both Indiana and Michigan State spoiled 2-0 starts this weekend with loses to Ball State and Notre Dame, respectively.

_Chad can be reached at [email protected] and @cthornburg10._