(Video of Bill O'Brien's speech following Penn State's first victory courtesy of GoPSUTV)
1. Michigan State's offense desperately needs big play makers: In the battle of elite defenses between Michigan State and Notre Dame, the Irish looked faster, more aggressive, and created havoc in the Spartans' backfield on Saturday night. Notre Dame swarmed to the ball all game long and rarely allowed Le'Veon Bell to beat them around either side. Bell was limited to just 77 yards on 19 attempts. The Irish also sacked Andrew Maxwell four times, the first sacks Michigan State has allowed all season. Notre Dame's pressure upfront overwhelmed the Spartans offensive line and routinely smoked out plays before they could develop.
Michigan State's defense wasn't overwhelmed by any means, but they just couldn't contain Irish quarterback Everett Golson, who made the play of the night in the first quarter. Golson eluded linebacker Max Bullough's furious rush along the right side and then heaved a 36-yard pass to the endzone where John Goodman caught the ball one-handed despite having cornerback Johnny Adams draped all over him. Golson later improvised a six-yard rushing touchdown off of a designed pass play in the second quarter, which gave the Irish a comfortable 14-point lead.
Michigan State's defense is stellar but the offense is missing the big-play maker that they had last year in B.J. Cunningham. Spartans' receivers Bennie Fowler and Dion Sims have accounted for the only two passing scores of the season so far.
2. Perhaps Purdue isn't getting the credit it deserves. Purdue's two victories -- against Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Michigan -- don't provide a fair litmus test to gauge the Boilermakers. Instead, their 20-17 loss to Notre Dame at South Bend, looks even more impressive following the Irish's convincing win over the conference's supposed best team in Michigan State last Saturday.
The Boilermakers are good in nearly all phases of the game. Caleb TerBush, the team's primary quarterback after Robert Marve tore his ACL, has benefitted from two outstanding receivers in Antavian Edison and O.J. Ross, who with 18 receptions each, are tied for third in the Big Ten in receptions. Edison is tied for the conference-lead with four touchdowns. Seven players have rushing touchdowns for Purdue, two more than the next closest team in the conference.
Defensive linemen Kawann Short and Ryan Russel have five combined sacks already in three games, after recording seven and a half all of last season. The team as a whole is tied for the conference lead with nine sacks and is second with five interceptions. Punter Cody Webster, who won special teams player of the week honors for week two, has averaged 41.6 yards per punt this season.
Wisconsin is still the tenuous favorite to represent the Leaders Division in the conference championship game but the Boilermakers get the Badgers at home on Oct. 13 in what could act as a semi-final game.
3. Still hope in Happy Valley. Penn State isn't going to any postseason games but Saturday's 34-7 win over Navy was a welcome relief. They've lost their two games by a combined 11 points and senior Matt McGloin has thrown eight touchdowns against just one interception. His arm has looked extemely strong and he's found a favorite target in sophomore Allen Robinson (24 receptions, four touchdowns). Their one-dimensional offense may continue to struggle as they employ a running back by committee, but the Nittany Lions defense is good enough to give the team a chance.
Bill O'Brien will regret not letting K Sam Ficken, whose four misses two weekend's ago are well documented, attempt a 22-yard field goal on the Lions' final possession of the first half Saturday. Penn State was already up 20-0 and there wouldn't have been any pressure on Ficken at all. In fact, the Penn State student body was audibily behind Ficken as they cheered each time he nailed a field goal during warmups.
Linebacker Michael Mauti, the Big Ten defensive player of the week, had 12 tackles, including two tackles for loss and is averaging 11 tackles a game. His counterpart Gerald Hodges had an interception and has been a key part of the defense that has forced eight turnovers in the past two games. At 1-2, their task is to focus on Temple next week but with their crippling sanctions and numerous transfers, there is still some hope in Happy Valley.
For more Big Ten coverage, follow Mike Singer and Dave Carey @CBSSportsBigTen.