It was an exciting weekend in the Big Ten Conference, mostly because Michigan won its second conference game against Indiana. Elsewhere around the league it was mostly blowouts by dominant defenses. There are five Big Ten teams ranked in the top ten defenses in the nation (Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State). If you missed any of the games, here are your scores and notable stats.
#15 Nebraska (8-1, 4-1) 35, Purdue (3-6, 1-4) 14
The nation’s third-leading rusher Ameer Abdullah went down on the Cornhuskers’ second possession with a sprained left knee. I am sure every Nebraska fan’s heart stopped, fearing that they would lose their star for the year. Hopefully he will return to action next week as they face Wisconsin. With Abdullah out, next up was running back Imani Cross. Cross rushed for 66 yards and two touchdowns to help his team get another victory. It was not the prettiest win but it was a win. Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw two interceptions and they had a special teams fumble. They were also held to a season low 179 yards on the ground. They have to play better next week if they want to beat the Badgers.
#16 Ohio State (7-1, 4-0) 55, Illinois (4-5, 1-4) 14
This game was in the bag at halftime with the Buckeyes leading 31-0 and giving no signs of slowing down like they did against Penn State. Most of the offensive starters were given a break in the second half as the Buckeyes continued to roll, scoring 17 more in the third quarter. Backup quarterback Cardale Jones came in and threw two touchdowns on 5 of 9 passing and added 47 yards rushing. Illinois was able to punch it in once in each of the final two quarters. Ohio State was able to put up over 500 yards of offense and the defense forced four turnovers. Next up for the Buckeyes: Michigan State in East Lansing.
Michigan (4-5, 2-3) 34, Indiana (3-5, 0-4) 10
For the 19th straight time Michigan beat Indiana and finally looked like a team that has some life in the offense. Michigan running back Drake Johnson had a breakout game, racking up 122 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Quarterback Devin Gardner finally surpassed the 200-yard mark passing while throwing two touchdowns. 107 of those yards went to wide receiver Amara Darboh, who also had his best game as a Wolverine. Darboh had nine receptions including a 12 yard touchdown catch. Michigan’s ninth ranked defense attacked Indiana’s freshman quarterback all day, only allowing 24 yards passing. They even held the nation’s leading rusher, Tevin Coleman, to 108 yards, which is way below his average of 170. Michigan also won the turnover margin for a change, recovering two Indiana fumbles. With all the distractions and negativity surrounding the Michigan football program, the team looked very focused. Now they need two more wins to become bowl eligible. Next up: Northwestern.
Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1) 37, Rutgers (5-4, 1-4) 0
Welcome to the Big Ten, Rutgers. They now have been blown out by Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin. The Badgers just lined up and ran the ball all over the Rutgers defense, with almost 300 yards rushing. Running back Melvin Gordon led the way with 128 yards and two touchdowns. Another Badgers running back, Corey Clement, had 131 yards and two touchdowns of his own. The Wisconsin defense showed why they are the fourth best in the nation, holding Rutgers to a season low 139 total yards and not allowing them inside the 26 yard line.
Iowa (6-2, 3-1) 48, Northwestern (3-5, 2-3) 7
Iowa has quietly moved into contention in the West Division with its bowl-eligible sixth win of the year. Hawkeyes running backs Akrum Wadley and Mark Weisman combined for 200 yards and four touchdowns as they dominated the Wildcats all day. It was the first time in 11 games an Iowa back gained 100 yards on the ground. As for Northwestern, they are going in the opposite direction. This was their third straight loss and they were held to a season low 180 yards of total offense.
Maryland (6-3, 3-2) 20, Penn State (4-4, 1-4) 19
In the closest game in the conference this week, Maryland kicker Brad Craddock booted a 4- yard field goal with 51 seconds left in the game to give his team the win. This was another matchup of two teams going in different directions. Maryland is now bowl eligible while Penn State has lost four in a row. The Maryland defense played tough, sacking Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg six times and limiting its opponent to 42 yards rushing. Maryland coach Randy Edsall called this the biggest victory he has had in four seasons at Maryland. Now they go into a bye week before facing Michigan State.
Chad Finley is a weekly contributor for The Big House Report. Follow him on Twitter @finfive1.