Big Ten Conference News and Notes
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
ILLINOIS: Turnovers will be your undoing, a statement the Fighting Illini realize more than even after coughing the ball up six times in Saturday's clash with the undefeated Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. As a result, the visitors routed Illinois in a 52-24 final. The Illini lost five fumbles on the day, and when they did hold on to the ball, they averaged just 4.2 yards per offensive play. Reilly O'Toole saw the most action under center, completing 19-of-25 passes for 120 yards, although he was sacked four times. Nathan Scheelhaase hit the mark on 8-of-11 passes for 85 yards and a TD, and RB Josh Ferguson caught 10 balls for 84 yards in the contest. The UI run game was spearheaded by Donovonn Young who logged 78 yards and a score on 19 carries. The Illinois defense pounced on three fumbles in its more than 23 minutes of action, and the unit did a nice job in holding LaTech to 3-of-11 on third-down conversion attempts. Illinois is 2-2 on the season, and the team kicks off conference play this Saturday at home against Penn State.
INDIANA: The Hoosiers were idle over the weekend, giving them some additional time to prepare for this Saturday's conference opener at Northwestern. Indiana won its first two games of the season, topping FCS foe Indiana State and FBS newcomer UMass, but then came a clash with Ball State, a game in which the Cardinals prevailed in a 41-39 final. Following this week's matchup with the Wildcats, the Hoosiers will return home for a pair of bouts against Big Ten brutes Michigan State and Ohio State.
IOWA: The Hawkeyes have alternated wins and losses over the first four weeks of the season, with their most recent clash against the Central Michigan Chippewas falling in favor of their Mid-American Conference foe, 32-31. Trailing 23-14 at the break, Iowa mounted a comeback to seemingly take control of the game. However, a strange series of events in the waning moments, including two on-side kick attempts by CMU, led to a late 47-yard field goal that propelled the Chippewas to the narrow victory. Iowa RB Mark Weisman rumbled his way to 217 yards and three TDs, while QB James Vandenberg completed 16-of-25 passes for 215 yards and a score. The UI defense featured three players with double-digit tackles, and the unit as a whole was credited with eight TFL. With little time to feel sorry for themselves, the Hawkeyes begin preparations for this Saturday's Big Ten lidlifter against Minnesota. It is the fourth straight home game for Iowa, and the clash between the two is played annually for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy.
MICHIGAN: Turnovers plagued the Wolverines in their recent showdown with Notre Dame, as they fell in South Bend on Saturday night, 13-6. The Maize and Blue gave the ball away five times in the first half, six times in all, and produced just 299 yards of total offense. Despite throwing four INTs, QB Denard Robinson produced 138 yards through the air and 90 yards on the ground, allowing him to move past Chad Henne (9,400 yards) as the school's career yardage leader (9,438 yards). The Michigan defense certainly held up its end of the bargain against the Fighting Irish, allowing a mere 239 total yards and only 13 points for the second consecutive week. Following that mistake-filled venture, the Wolverines will get some extra time to clean up their act as they are idle this week, next returning to action for their Big Ten opener on Oct. 6 at Purdue.
MICHIGAN STATE: Le'Veon Bell ran for a career-best 253 yards and a TD to help power the Spartans to a 23-7 win over Eastern Michigan on Saturday. Despite sporting a 428-183 edge in total yardage, the Michigan State offense just couldn't seem to find its rhythm, relying on three field goals by PK Dan Conroy to gain some separation from the visiting Eagles. QB Andrew Maxwell finished the game 16-of-29 for 159 yards and a TD, with TE Dion Sims catching six balls for a career-high 112 yards and a score. Safety Isaiah Lewis logged a dozen tackles to lead the MSU defense, which stymied the Eagles' rushing attack to the tune of 46 net yards on 29 attempts. It was the third time in four games the Spartans held an opponent to fewer than 100 rushing yards. EMU converted just two of its 14 third-down tries. Michigan State brings a 3-1 record into this Saturday's league opener at home against undefeated Ohio State.
MINNESOTA: The Golden Gophers got past the visiting Syracuse Orange on Saturday, 17-10, to improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2008. Filling in for injured starter MarQueis Gray, QB Max Shortell threw for 231 yards, but did not have a TD pass or an INT. RB Donnell Kirkwood rumbled his way to 99 yards and a pair of TDs, but the UM offense was actually outgained in the game, 350-337. Helping the home team immensely were the four turnovers committed by the Orange. The Gophers came up with three sacks as well, and LB Aaron Hill led the UM stand with a career-high 10 tackles, and he notched his first career INT as well. The Gophers will hit the road for the first time since the season opener when they travel to Iowa City to face the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten lidlifter for both teams. On the line in this annual clash is the Floyd of Rosedale trophy.
NEBRASKA: The Cornhuskers scored early and often in Saturday's clash with FCS foe Idaho State, easily prevailing in what turned out to be a 73-7 final. RB Rex Burkhead started the scoring with a career-long 61-yard run a little more than three minutes into the game, and when the dust had settled a few hours later, the Nebraska offense had amassed 385 yards on the ground, 569 total, and scored TDs on all five trips to the red zone. Burkhead finished with 119 yards and two TDs, while RB Imani Cross added 100 yards and a score of his own. QB Taylor Martinez threw for 165 yards and two TDs, although star WR Kenny Bell was limited to just one grab for a career-long 68-yard score near the end of the first half. The NU defense held its overmatched opponent to 31 net rushing yards, came up with three turnovers and logged a whopping seven sacks, 2.5 of which were credited to DE Eric Martin. All five of Martin's stops on the day were in the ISU backfield. Nebraska also got TDs on an INT return and a punt return, the latter being one of two scores attributed to RB Ameer Abdullah on the day. The Huskers kick off conference play this Saturday at home against Wisconsin.
NORTHWESTERN: The Wildcats used a bruising rushing attack and a suffocating defensive effort to knock off FCS foe South Dakota on Saturday, 38-7. The win improved Northwestern to 4-0 as it turns its attention to this week's Big Ten opener against visiting Indiana. RB Venric Mark tallied 117 yards and a career-best three TDs in helping the 'Cats amass 277 yards and five scores on the ground. A total of three players attempted a pass in the game, combining to go 12-of-15 for 131 yards. None threw a TD pass, nor an INT, and Tony Jones led the receiving corps with four grabs for 63 yards. South Dakota was limited to just 51 net rushing yards, and the Wildcats logged six TFL and broke up five passes. NU, which is undefeated this late in the season for the third time in the last five years, is only two wins shy of becoming bowl eligible for the sixth straight season.
OHIO STATE: It wasn't pretty, but the Buckeyes kept their perfect record in tact over the weekend by getting past the visiting UAB Blazers, 29-15. QB Braxton Miller ran for two TDs, and RB Jordan Hall rushed for a career-high 105 yards to help power the Ohio State offense. Miller, who finished with 64 rushing yards on the day and has more than three times as many rushing TDs this season (seven) as his closest teammate, threw for 143 yards without a TD or an INT, hitting WRs Philly Brown and Devin Smith a combined eight times for 106 yards. The OSU defense gave up 403 yards on the day, but logged a pair of turnovers and got double-digit tackling efforts from three players, including leading tackler Ryan Shazier (14 stops, 41 for the year). The road for Ohio State gets considerably bumpier from here on out, as the team opens conference play at Michigan State this Saturday.
PENN STATE: Matt McGloin threw for a career-high 318 yards and a TD, while adding a pair of rushing scores in leading the Nittany Lions to a 24-13 win over the visiting Temple Owls on Saturday afternoon. WR Allen Robinson continues to establish himself as one of the best pass catchers in the Big Ten, as he finished with five grabs for 82 yards and a score, and TE Kyle Carter got in on the act as well, hauling in five balls for 70 yards. RB Zach Zwinak led the PSU ground attack with a career-high 94 yards, while fellow RB Michael Zordich added a career-high 75 yards. The Owls proved to be rather inept passing the ball, tallying a mere 124 yards, and Temple did not score its lone TD of the game until the 1:33 mark of the fourth quarter. LB Michael Mauti led the PSU defense with nine tackles, and he tacked on a forced fumble and a PBU for good measure. The Lions recorded three sacks in the game. Having evened its record at 2-2, Penn State will kick off the Big Ten portion of its schedule this Saturday at Illinois.
PURDUE: The Boilermakers were idle this past weekend, allowing for ample time to prepare for this week's final non-conference game against the visiting Marshall Thundering Herd. With a record of 2-1 coming into the contest, Purdue has a pair of blowout wins (48-6 vs. Eastern Kentucky, 54-16 vs. Eastern Michigan) sandwiched around a hard-fought loss to a bitter in-state rival (20-17 at Notre Dame) on its resume'. The Boilermakers will kick off conference action on Oct. 6 versus Michigan, in what will be the third leg of the team's current four-game homestand.
WISCONSIN: With star RB Montee Ball forced out of the game early due to a head injury, backups Melvin Gordon and James White helped power the Badgers past the visiting UTEP Miners on Saturday, 37-26. It was the 19th straight home win for Wisconsin, which racked up a season-high 213 yards and four TDs on the ground. Gordon finished with 112 yards and a score, while White found the end zone twice and tallied 65 yards. Freshman QB Joel Stave made his first career start and completed 12-of-17 passes for 210 yards, hitting WR Jared Abbrederis six times for a career-high 147 yards and a TD. The UW defense held the Miners to just 77 net rushing yards, and LB Chris Borland finished with 12 tackles, which included two of the team's four sacks on the day. The Badgers finished with nine TFL and eight PBU. Next up for Wisconsin is this Saturday's Big Ten opener at Nebraska.
09/24 11:00:56 ET