What a weekend in Big Ten football. In the East, it’s clear that the Michigan Wolverines still have work to do in order to contend for a division and conference championship. In the West, Illinois’ unlikely upset of the Wisconsin Badgers has installed an improbable leader atop the division standings.
No. 4 Ohio State 52-3 Northwestern. The Ohio State Buckeyes and Northwestern Wildcats kicked off the weekend with a Friday night matchup, but it wasn’t much of a game after the first quarter. Ohio State exploded for 24 unanswered points in the second quarter, and that was all she wrote for Northwestern. Justin Fields completed 18 of 23 passing attempts for 194 yards and four TDs. J.K. Dobbins ran for 121 yards and a TD, while Master Teague added 96 yards and another TD for the Buckeyes.
No. 6 Wisconsin 23-24 Illinois. The surprise game of the weekend, Lovie Smith’s Fighting Illini upset the Wisconsin Badgers with a last-second field goal. Illinois forced two turnovers and used some situationally stout defense to remain in the game into the fourth quarter. Brandon Peters completed just nine of his 21 passing attempts, but those nine completions amounted to 174 yards and two TDs. In the end, 264 yards passing from Jack Coan and 132 yards rushing from Jonathan Taylor wasn’t enough for Wisconsin to overcome their mistakes.
Purdue 20-26 No. 23 Iowa. The Purdue Boilermakers had a good day through the air, but the Iowa Hawkeyes’ defense shutting down Purdue’s running attack likely made the difference in this one. Jack Plummer completed 30 of 50 passing attempts for 327 yards, a couple TDs, and an INT for Purdue, but the Boilermakers gained just 33 yards on 18 rushing attempts. Iowa featured a much more balanced offense, with Nate Stanley throwing for 260 yards and an INT while all Hawkeye rushers gained 105 yards and two TDs.
Indiana 34-28 Maryland. This matchup between the Indiana Hoosiers and Maryland Terrapins was a back and forth affair that saw Indiana hold off Maryland down the stretch. Indiana QBs Peyton Ramsey and Michael Penix combined to complete more than 70-percent of their passing attempts for 334 yards, two TDs, and an INT. Stevie Scott also contributed 108 yards and two TDs on the ground for Indiana. For Maryland, Javon Leake was the offensive stand out in the loss, rushing for 158 yards and two TDs.
No. 20 Minnesota 42-7 Rutgers. The Minnesota Golden Gophers cruised to victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to claim the sole possession of the top spot in the B1G West. Now there’s a sentence I never saw myself writing at the start of this season. With Wisconsin’s loss to Illinois, Minnesota is now the team to beat in the West. Against Rutgers, Tanner Morgan threw for 245 yards and two TDs for the Golden Gophers, and Rodney Smith ran for 111 yards and two TDs. Minnesota next plays Maryland.