This last weekend gave us some good matchups, a shocking blowout and an FBS rushing record–all in the Big Ten Conference. In case you missed any of the action, here are the scores and notable stats.
#8 Ohio State (9-1, 6-0) 31, #25 Minnesota (7-3, 4-2) 24
The Buckeyes jumped out to an early 14-0 lead thanks to an 86-yard touchdown run by quarterback J.T. Barrett and a 57-yard touchdown reception by Jalin Marshall. It seemed like this was headed for another blowout victory for the Buckeyes. Then Barrett threw an interception that was returned 56 yards and set up an easy scoring drive for the Gophers. A few possessions later Marshall fumbled and it was recovered by the Gophers. They would march down the field and tie the game on a 30-yard run by running back David Cobb, who rushed for 52 yards on the drive. Cobb would finish with 145 yards and three touchdowns. The Buckeyes did get a quick field goal to take a 17-14 lead into the half. Barrett threw two more touchdowns to take a 31-14 lead in the fourth quarter. He finished the day with 200 yards passing, three touchdowns and an interception. He also recorded an Ohio State quarterback record of 189 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown. Three second half turnovers by the Gophers killed any momentum they had from the first half. Despite the mistakes, they kept fighting, scoring 10 more points in the final quarter and only losing by a touchdown. Each team made its mistakes but they were playing in a wintry mix and very cold temperatures. The Buckeyes’ victory keeps them in control of the East Division and Minnesota now drops a game behind in the West.
#12 Michigan State (8-2, 5-1) 37, Maryland (6-4, 3-3) 15
Maryland was able to keep this game in reach until the end of the third quarter. From there the Spartans scored 21 more points on touchdown runs from Jeremy Langford, Nick Hill and a pick-six by R.J. Williamson. Spartans running back Langford ran for 138 yards and two touchdowns. The defense really stepped up this week after giving up so many big plays last week. They picked off Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown three times, sacked him three times and only allowed six yards rushing. Spartans quarterback Connor Cook was 14 of 31 for 240 yards but did not throw a touchdown for the first time this year. With Michigan State dominating the stat sheet the way they did, I would have thought they would have more points on the board. They out-gained Maryland in total yards 482 to 252, had the ball 15 minutes longer and won the turnover battle 0-4. The Spartans are still in contention for the East Division, a game behind the Buckeyes.
#20 Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1) 59, #16 Nebraska (8-2, 4-2) 24
Wow, what a game! This did not go as I thought it would, it was completely opposite from the tight game I expected. First Nebraska takes a 10-3 first quarter lead, 17-3 after a quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. rushing score. I am not sure what happened next on the Wisconsin sideline, or if they just woke up and realized it was time to play football. The Badgers ripped off EIGHT unanswered touchdowns by five different players that put them up 59-17 late in the fourth quarter. Four of those scores were from running back Melvin Gordon on runs of 62, 1, 6 and 26 yards. If you don’t know the name Melvin Gordon yet, you need to because he is now in the FBS record book. Gordon rushed for 408 yards and four touchdowns in only three quarters. He has my vote for the Heisman trophy because this was not his only great game this season. It was the fourth time this year he eclipsed the 200-yard mark and has over 1,900 yards this season. Give credit to the Badgers’ defense, too, for holding Nebraska to seven second half points and forcing five turnovers. Wisconsin out-gained them in yards 627-180 and only had the ball three more minutes than the Cornhuskers. The win puts Wisconsin in first place in the Big Ten West.
Northwestern (4-6, 2-4) 43, #18 Notre Dame (7-3) 40 Overtime
The hero of the day was Northwestern kicker Jack Mitchell. He sent the game into overtime with a 45-yard kick and won the game on a 41-yard field goal. “This win is incredible,” said Mitchell after the game. He also hit field goals from 31 and 46 yards in the second half. After only scoring nine points last week, what a turnaround for the Wildcat’s offense. Running back Justin Jackson led the way with 149 rushing yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Trevor Siemian—NOT Semen—threw for 284 yards, an interception and a touchdown. In this high scoring game each team had four turnovers and the defenses, combined, gave up over 1,000 yards of offense. It was a shocking but great upset for the Big Ten.
Iowa (7-3, 4-2) 30, Illinois (4-6, 1-5) 14
The Iowa running game ran over the Illinois defense like a freight train. Mark Weisman had 134 of the 304 rushing yards for the Hawkeyes. Quarterback Jake Rudock threw for 210 yards and two touchdowns before getting hurt in the fourth quarter. The Illini defense just wore down over the course of the game and their offense looked absent, only getting 235 total yards.
Rutgers (6-4, 2-4) 45, Indiana( 3-7, 0-6) 23
Rutgers became bowl eligible with its sixth win of the season against a heavily discouraged Indiana team. Injuries have plagued the Hoosiers this season and the only bright spot has been running back Tevin Coleman. Coleman did rush for a career high 307 yards and a touchdown in the loss. Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova passed for 217 yards and a pair of touchdowns that went to wide receiver Leonte Carroo (125 yards receiving).
Penn State (6-4,2-4) 30, Temple (5-5) 13
The NCAA sanctions for Penn State have been lifted after four years and now they are bowl eligible with this victory. I am very happy for all the guys who stayed committed to Penn State through all this negativity, and getting a bowl game rewards them. They played a strong game on both sides of the ball. The defense was able to get five turnovers from Temple and the offense capitalized on those mistakes. Penn State running back Akeel Lynch had 130 yards and a score and Bill Belton added 92 rushing yards and a touchdown. The defense picked off Temple quarterback P.J. Walker four times.
Chad Finley is a weekly contributor for Thebighousereport.com. Follow him on Twitter @finfive1.