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Sports Analysis: Penn State, Michigan poised to take advantage of wide-open Big Ten

17:40  19 september  2021
17:40  19 september  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

Analysis: Penn State shows grit in win, sets itself up as Ohio State's biggest threat in Big Ten East

  Analysis: Penn State shows grit in win, sets itself up as Ohio State's biggest threat in Big Ten East The Nittany Lions still have issues to work out before their matchup with the Buckeyes at the end of October.In a matchup that was expected to sort out which Big Ten team would establish itself as the main contender to Ohio State, the Nittany Lions gutted out an impressive 16-10 victory on the road that started to erase the memories of last year’s forgettable 4-5 season.

Ohio State has dominated the Big Ten for so long and with such brute force that it's hard to picture another team stepping into the Buckeyes' place as the league's leading candidate for the College Football Playoff.

Three weeks of the 2021 season has made it easier to imagine. The door has opened for another team to win the conference: OSU scuffled again on Saturday, following up last weekend's disappointing loss against Oregon by struggling to put away Tulsa, while two East division rivals — Penn State and Michigan — look ready to supplant the Buckeyes as the team to beat.

'Indinia' football? Indiana misspelled on jersey of freshman running back ahead of game vs. Iowa

  'Indinia' football? Indiana misspelled on jersey of freshman running back ahead of game vs. Iowa In a tweet posted, and since deleted, by Indiana's official athletics account, the jersey of freshman running back David Holloman read, "Indinia."Well, the 2021 season started off with some more jersey fun.

a crowd of people in uniform: Michigan players take the field prior to the game against Northern Illinois. © Rick Osentoski, USA TODAY Sports Michigan players take the field prior to the game against Northern Illinois.

Just as Clemson's early loss and questionable offense has brought randomness to the ACC, the Buckeyes' inability to rediscover last year's form could bring chaos to what has been a boringly predictable playoff chase.

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In a young season when even Alabama has looked vulnerable — though the Crimson Tide are still the team to beat — this year's national semifinals could be filled out by a power program such as Penn State and Michigan.

Even before getting into the postseason, the idea that a team other than OSU could win the Big Ten goes against almost every preseason prediction and the past decade of results. Since hiring Urban Meyer in 2012 and promoting Ryan Day in 2019, the Buckeyes have lost just four regular-season conference games and claimed the past four conference championships.

Dominant defense carries No. 18 Iowa to impressive defeat of No. 17 Indiana

  Dominant defense carries No. 18 Iowa to impressive defeat of No. 17 Indiana Riley Moss returns a pair of interceptions for touchdowns as Iowa opened with an impressive defeat of Indiana to help its Big Ten title hopes.It was an act of desperation and futility.

Over in the East, the Wolverines and Nittany Lions have earned the benefit of the doubt.

Michigan moved to 3-0 with a 63-10 win against Northern Illinois and begins league play at home next Saturday against Rutgers. Penn State is also unbeaten after topping Auburn 28-20 in prime time, the Nittany Lions' second win in three weeks against an opponent ranked in the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll.

Michigan has run for 1,056 yards and 15 scores in beating Western Michigan, Washington and NIU by a combined 107 points. With a new starter in Cade McNamara at quarterback, coach Jim Harbaugh has leaned on the ground game to produce the program's most productive three-game stretch in a decade. In the Tigers and Wisconsin, PSU now holds what may be the most impressive two wins of any team in the country.

Now the Nittany Lions and Wolverines are poised to take advantage of an OSU team that has failed to look the part of a playoff contender in games against the Ducks, Golden Hurricane and Minnesota.

After offseason of hype, No. 8 Iowa State has to survive test from Northern Iowa

  After offseason of hype, No. 8 Iowa State has to survive test from Northern Iowa Iowa State won its opener but the eighth-ranked Cyclones barely held off Northern Iowa in a game that belied the team's high expectations.The Cyclones took the field Saturday in the season opener, but that highly ranked team certainly didn't make an appearance.

That both teams are playing at a high level after struggling through the 2020 season speaks to the unpredictability of 2021 and the difficulties of relying on any takeaways from the pandemic year to predict how this regular season will unfold.

In 2020, Penn State opened 0-5 for the first time in modern history before winning four straight. Michigan went 2-4 and looked directionless enough in the process to place Harbaugh firmly on the hot seat heading into September.

One year later, it's evident that 2020 was the aberration for two programs that represent the biggest threats to the Buckeyes' dominance of the Big Ten. For the first time in years, the conference looks open for the taking.

Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Analysis: Penn State, Michigan poised to take advantage of wide-open Big Ten

Fresno State gets $1.1M guarantee, and win, from No. 13 UCLA on bad night for Pac-12 .
Fresno State has beaten UCLA twice in past four seasons and collected a total of $1.75 million in appearance money for those games.It was the second time in four seasons that the Bulldogs have visited the Rose Bowl and come away with both significant guarantee money and a victory. In 2018, they beat UCLA, 38-14, in a game for which Fresno State was paid $650,000.

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