Written by: TJ Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
Northwestern – 30 at Nebraska – 28
Clayton Thorson’s legs and some opportune playmaking by Northwestern’s (6-2, 2-2) defense led the way as the Wildcats knocked off the Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-5, 1-3) in Lincoln, 30-28. Thorson ran nine times for 126 yards and a touchdown and the Northwestern defense added a 72-yard pick six that ultimately proved to be just enough to steal the victory. Nebraska outgained the Cats by 40 yards and held the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game (38:58) but still found a way to lose another close game. Tommy Armstrong continued to struggle with inconsistency, completing only 24 of 48 passes. Those numbers are a bit unfair to Armstrong because his receivers dropped multiple passes and let him down a number of times. After back-to-back weeks of struggling to stop the run, Northwestern’s defense held Nebraska to only 82 yards rushing and 2.2 yards per carry.
Nebraska is viewed by many as a top-level program. I understand that and in the not-so-distant past, it certainly was. However, the Huskers have lost eight of their last 12 games. They are in the first year of Mike Riley’s tenure, a coach who has a resume that doesn’t indicate anything more than mediocrity. I know Nebraska fans don’t like this but it’s not real easy to see a future where Nebraska is the king of the B1G West. Toledo, Temple and Memphis are all ranked and Nebraska is 3-5…what a world!
As for Northwestern, congratulations to the Cats. After a rough couple of weeks, NW has won its sixth game and they will be going to a bowl game. Of course, at 6-2 with four games remaining, they’ll be looking to accomplish much more.
Wisconsin - 24 at Illinois – 13
Joel Stave was injured early in the game (left after completing 3 of 7 passes) but Bart Houston was able to throw for 232 yards and a pair of touchdowns in relief and Wisconsin’s defense did enough to keep Illinois at bay as the Badgers (6-2, 3-1) held off Illinois (4-3, 1-2), 24-13. Wide receiver Alex Erickson ran the ball four times for 81 yards and caught 10 passes for 96 yards to lead the way for Wisconsin’s offense. Outside of Erickson’s runs though, the Badgers struggled once again to generate anything of substance on the ground. Neither running back (Ogunbowale and Ingold) averaged more than 2.6 yards per carry) provided much value for the offense but they wouldn’t need much as their defense held the Illini to only 333 yards and fewer than 20 minutes of possession. Wes Lunt threw for 278 yards with one interception and Ke’Shawn Vaughn ran the ball for 55 yards (Illinois’ only rushing yards) and one touchdown as Josh Ferguson continues to miss with an injury.
Stave’s injury was a head injury and there is no timetable for his return. It’s a major concern for the Badgers because their offense is already dealing with the continued absence of Corey Clement and Taiwan Deal and they’ve been unable to generate anything positive on the ground. Redshirt junior Bart Houston will have to carry the offense until Stave returns but Wisconsin’s best hope of continuing to win (they are now the only team realistically capable of catching Iowa in the West) lies with their defense. Illinois remains stuck at four wins with games at Penn State, Purdue and Minnesota plus home dates against Ohio State and Northwestern remaining. The Illini have been competitive but it seems unlikely the current performance has been enough to get Bill Cubit the job on a full-time basis.
Penn State - 31 at Maryland – 30
Christian Hackenberg completed only 13 passes and Penn State (6-2, 3-1) ran for only 48 yards. How exactly did the Nittany Lions score 31 points and win this game? Turnovers and big plays! Perry Hills threw three interceptions and the Maryland Terrapins (2-5, 0-3) lost two fumbles to lose the turnover battle five to three. Hackenberg may have only had 13 completions but he threw for 315 yards and connected on multiple completions to Chris Godwin and DaeSean Hamilton. Godwin, Hamilton and Geno Lewis each caught touchdowns and Saquon Barkley ran one in to provide the shockingly large offensive output for PSU. Maryland outgained Penn State behind 225 passing yards from Hills and 124 rushing yards from Hills. In total, Maryland ran for 241 yards and Brad Craddock connected on three field goals but the turnovers were ultimately too much to overcome (a Malik Golden interception sealed the win late for Penn State).
This was interim coach Mike Locksley’s first game at the helm for Maryland they were coming off of a bye week so a great effort from the Terps wasn’t shocking. They can be encouraged about the play of Perry Hills and his running ability but the turnovers continue to be a major problem. Penn State is now bowl eligible at 6-2. They will host Illinois and travel to Northwestern before getting a bye week.
Indiana – 26 at Michigan State – 52
Hoosier Huddle has a couple of articles on this game already available and we will continue to provide coverage throughout the remainder of IU’s bye week before turning our eyes towards the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Ohio State - 49 at Rutgers - 7
J.T. Barrett is the starting quarterback and the Ohio State Buckeyes (8-0, 4-0) appear to be hitting their stride as we head towards the homestretch. Barrett threw for 223 yards on 14-18 passing and ran for 101 yards as he efficiently led the offense. Barrett had five total touchdowns and Ezekiel Elliott ran the ball 19 times for 142 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Rutgers (3-4, 1-3) was held to only 293 yards (OSU had 528) as Chris Laviano threw for only 117 yards before giving way to Hayden Rettig. Leonte Carroo was able to play but the Buckeyes held him to three catches for 55 yards.
The Buckeyes were run-heavy (49 runs to 21 passes) and they looked much more comfortable with Barrett behind center. Cardale Jones did get in the game (completing 3-3 for 24 yards) but it’s clear that Barrett is “the guy” moving forward. Ohio State now has a bye week before hosting Minnesota and travelling to Illinois. Their season truly ramps up in the final two weeks as they take on Michigan State and travel to Michigan.