Written by: TJ Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
Iowa – 40 at Northwestern – 10
The Iowa Hawkeyes (7-0, 3-0) entered Saturday’s B1G West showdown without either starting tackles, without top receiver Tevaun Smith and with a quarterback battling a number of “minor” knocks. However, for the second straight week, the Northwestern Wildcats (5-2, 1-2) were obliterated by a superior opponent as they fell at home, 40-10.
Iowa’s injury woes quickly became worse as starting halfback Jordan Canzeri left the game in the first quarter with a lower leg injury. Akrum Wadley entered and became a surprise star of the game as he tied a school record for rushing touchdowns in a single-game with four TDs. Wadley carried the ball 26 times for 204 yards and the Hawkeyes pounded the Wildcats up front all day. Northwestern only managed 74 second-half yards and the Hawkeyes outgained the Cats 492-198. Northwestern’s once dominant defense is now struggling to stop a nosebleed and their offense is nowhere near good enough to keep them in high-scoring games.
As for Iowa, the Hawkeyes are beat up and their bye week comes at a perfect time. Iowa is in great shape in the B1G West, one game up on Wisconsin and 1.5 games up on idle Illinois. Iowa has beaten both of these teams and their schedule is as follows: Maryland, at IU, Minnesota, Purdue and at Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes will be favored in all five games and could very well find themselves at 12-0 heading into the B1G Championship Game.
Purdue – 7 at Wisconsin – 24
The Wisconsin Badgers (5-2, 2-1) struggled to run the ball yet again but their dominant defense stymied the Purdue Boilermakers (1-6, 0-3) and coasted to a 24-7 victory at Camp Randall Stadium. Joel Stave completed 30-39 passes for 322 yards and the Badgers ran for three touchdowns (one for Ogunbowale and two for Ingold) as they outgained the Boilers, 418-191. Purdue managed only 55 yards (1.9 yards per carry) rushing and they took very few risks, seemingly content to avoid getting blown out after keeping the game close in the first half.
Wisconsin scored on the opening drive and were headed in for a second touchdown but Purdue’s Leroy Clark intercepted the ball inside of the 20 yard line and returned it 66 yards to set Purdue up for their only score of the day (a rushing touchdown for David Blough). The Badgers added a field goal and led by three at the half. They scored one touchdown in both the third and fourth quarters to seal the win. Purdue was under 300 yards of offense for the 16th time under head coach Darrell Hazell and they don’t appear to making any progress in his third season.
Rutgers – 55 at Indiana – 52
Hoosier Huddle is your place for all the coverage of IU’s stunning collapse and defeat to Rutgers. We’ll begin our look towards the rest of the season and this week’s matchup with the Michigan State Spartans later this week so make sure to check back often!
Michigan State – 27 at Michigan – 23
I cannot really do the final play in this game justice with the written word. I highly suggest you find the highlight and watch it a couple of times (if you somehow haven’t seen it by now). Then send your thoughts and prayers to the Michigan (5-2, 2-1) punter because he’s receiving death threats and vulgar messages that are so incredibly outsized and uncalled for. I’m confident that the vast majority of Michigan fans aren’t doing anything unacceptable but to the few who are attempting to make this young man’s life miserable, this is only a game and it’s certainly not worth sending vile messages to another human being over. Anyway, the final play was chaotic, equal parts thrilling and gut-punching (as an IU football fan, I’m an expert on gut-punching) and ultimately, crucially important. The fumbled snap turned recovered fumble turned game-winning touchdown swings the race in the B1G East, the pursuit of a spot in the College Football Playoff and the destination of the Paul Bunyan Trophy for the next year.
On the whole, the Michigan State Spartans (7-0, 3-0) weren’t undeserving winners. They outgained the Wolverines 386-230 and turned in their most impressive defensive performance of the season. Connor Cook threw for 328 yards and Michigan committed twice as many penalties as the Spartans. Neither team was able to run the ball effectively (1.8 yards per carry for MSU, 1.9 for UM) so it came down to quarterback play and there was little doubt the Spartans had the better signal-caller. Rudock was only 15-25 for 168 yards. Cook was able to connect nine times with his top target Aaron Burbridge and MSU was the better offensive team. They ultimately won this game with a play on special teams but the overall play of their special teams unit was abysmal. They don’t have a kicker they have faith in, they struggle to kick off for touchbacks and their punter isn’t great. Continuing to lose the field position battle could doom this team in a game sometime soon if they are unable to correct it. For now, the strength of this team is stopping the run and moving the ball through the air and after a miracle on this game’s final play, the Spartans are still unbeaten.
Nebraska - 48 at Minnesota - 25
Wait a minute. I thought Minnesota (4-3, 1-2) had a really good defense and that they had rediscovered their identity after running all over Purdue last week? At least that’s what I wrote, whoops! The Gophers managed only 65 yards on 26 carries and the Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-4, 1-2) used a balanced attack to steamroll Minnesota, 48-25. The victory was the first B1G win for head coach Mike Riley and it keeps bowl hopes alive for the Huskers. Tommy Armstrong was 18-26 for 261 yards and three touchdowns and Terrell Newby ran the ball 13 times for 116 yards with two scores. Minnesota had six penalties to Nebraska’s two and was -3 in the turnover battle in the surprisingly one-sided win for the Huskers.
Penn State - 10 at Ohio State – 38
There shouldn’t have been a 28-point difference between these two teams but the Buckeyes (7-0, 3-0) did an excellent job of taking advantage of their scoring chances and the Nittany Lions (5-2, 2-1) did not. Penn State was only 1-12 on third downs and 0-2 on 4th downs and a gimpy Christian Hackenberg only managed to throw for 120 yards. Saquon Barkley returned from injury and ran for 194 yards to carry the offense and give PSU a fighting chance. However, the Buckeyes, after a shaky start, turned to J.T. Barrett and instantly looked like a much more explosive unit. Barrett ran the ball 11 times for 102 yards and two touchdowns. In addition, he was 4-4 for two more scores. Ezekiel Elliott had 27 carries for 153 yards and a touchdown as Ohio State outgained PSU 429-315.
Moving forward, Penn State still has games at Northwestern (which may or may not be any good) and Michigan State and a home game against Michigan so they may not be able to get more than seven or eight wins if they are unable to generate some kind of passing game. The Buckeyes will almost certainly be shifting to J.T. Barrett as the starting quarterback and to a more run-centric offensive attack. Ohio State is an extremely efficient red zone scoring team and they appear to be a much better offense with Barrett at the helm. They will travel to New Jersey to play Rutgers this Saturday and it will be interesting to see how the coaching staff approaches what appears to be a changing situation at quarterback.