Big Ten Conference News and Notes
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
ILLINOIS: The Fighting Illini were stymied at nearly every turn in Saturday's conference opener at Nebraska, falling to the Cornhuskers in a 39-19 final to drop to 3-2 on the season. Illinois entered the fray averaging 40 ppg, but didn't score its first touchdown until the 5:54 mark of the third quarter. Josh Ferguson led the Illini offense with 114 yards and a TD on 19 carries, and another 82 yards on eight receptions, while Donovonn Young tallied 61 yards and a score on 15 totes. Nathan Scheelhaase went just 13-of-26 for 135 yards with no TDs and an INT. He was sacked three times. Meanwhile, the UI defense was gouged for 335 yards on the ground, 521 yards in all, came up with only one turnover and failed to record a sack. Jonathan Brown was a man possessed however, logging 13 tackles, four of which were in the Nebraska backfield, while Earnest Thomas III also finished in double figures with 11 stops. The Illini are idle this week, next taking the field at home against Wisconsin on Oct. 19.
INDIANA: The Hoosiers took a little while to get going, but once they did they piled up the yards and the points in Saturday's conference opener against visiting Penn State, claiming a 44-24 victory. It was Indiana's first win over the Nittany Lions in 17 all-time meetings, and it was also its first in a Big Ten lid lifter since topping Iowa back in 2000. IU gained 486 yards of total offense (336 passing, 150 rushing), and the team is averaging 535 yards per contest for the season. Cody Latimer was the star on offense, finishing with career highs in catches (nine) and yards (140), while Tevin Coleman (20 carries, 92 yards, one TD) and Tre Roberson (two TDs) who led the way on the ground. Nate Sudfeld went 23-of-38 for 321 yards, two TDs and an INT. For the IU defense, Mark Murphy logged 10 tackles. The Hoosiers hit the road for the first time this season when they play at Michigan State on Saturday.
IOWA: The Hawkeyes saw their four-game win streak come to an end over the weekend, as they dropped a 26-14 decision at home to Michigan State. The setback evened the team's Big Ten ledger at 1-1 and its overall record now stands at 4-2. Iowa led 14-10 at halftime, but the Spartans scored 16 unanswered points over the final 30 minutes to prevail. The UI offense generated just 264 total yards, only 23 of which came on the ground. Jake Rudock finished the day 26-of-46 for 241 yards, two TDs and two INTs, hitting Tevaun Smith six times for 59 yards and Damon Bullock five times for 71 yards and a score -- both guys setting new career-highs in the process. Kevonte Martin-Manley, Iowa's leading receiver on the year, missed most of the game with a leg injury. The defense, which was on the field for more than 37 minutes, actually played well in holding its fifth straight opponent scoreless in the opening quarter, and allowing only two TDs to the Spartans all told. The Hawkeyes are idle this week, and will face another tough test on Oct. 19 when they challenge the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus.
MICHIGAN: The Little Brown Jug is staying in Ann Arbor for another year, as the Wolverines blasted the visiting Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday, 42-13. The win was Michigan's fifth on the year, eighth straight in a conference opener, and its 18th consecutive at home -- the longest active streak among BCS conference teams. Devin Gardner was an efficient 13-of-17 for 235 yards against the Gophers, hitting Devin Funchess seven times for a career-high 151 yards and a TD. The Michigan run game saw Fitzgerald Toussaint rumble his way to 78 yards and a pair of scores. As for the defense, it was paced by Desmond Morgan and his 10 tackles, while James Ross III was close behind with nine. Blake Countess picked off a pass in the waning moments of the contest and took it back 72 yards for a TD. In all, Michigan gained 348 yards to only 281 for the Gophers. Next up for the Maize and Blue is this Saturday's trip to Penn State.
MICHIGAN STATE: Trailing at the break, the Spartans rallied in the second half to knock off the host Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday, 26-14. The Michigan State defense stood tall against the run, allowing a net of only 23 yards, Darqueze Dennard was the unit's star, logging eight tackles while also coming up with a pair of interceptions. Kicker Michael Geiger booted four field goals, the longest being from 49 yards out in the fourth quarter. Connor Cook set new career highs by going 25-of-44 for 277 yards, two TDs and an INT, with both Bennie Fowler (career-best 92 yards, one TD) and Macgarrett Kings (career-high 94 yards, one TD) enjoying solid days down field for the Spartans. MSU held a significant edge in time of possession (37:16 to 22:47), and the team will again try to put another tally in the win column when it welcomes the Indiana Hoosiers to East Lansing this Saturday.
MINNESOTA: With head coach Jerry Kill out of commission following yet another seizure, the Golden Gophers were no match for the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor over the weekend, falling in a 42-13 final in the annual battle for the Little Brown Jug. The loss was the second straight for a Minnesota team which had begun the year with four straight wins. Mitch Leidner completed 14-of-21 passes for 145 yards and a TD, but was picked off late which resulted in a Michigan TD. Maxx Williams was Leidner's favorite target, hauling in five balls for 54 yards a score, while the quarterback also paced the rushing effort with 66 yards on 18 carries. As for the Minnesota defense, it got eight tackles from Damien Wilson, but gave up 348 yards to the Wolverines, 235 of which came through the air, and allowed the home team to convert nearly all of its third-down opportunities (10-of-13). The Gophers have the week off, next returning to action at Northwestern on Oct. 19.
NEBRASKA: Ameer Abdullah ran for a career-high 225 yards and two TDs to help power the Cornhuskers past visiting Illinois on Saturday, 39-19. In addition to the effort put forth by the offense, the Nebraska defense showed vast improvement from its previous efforts as it held the Fighting Illini well below their season average. Tommy Armstrong, starting his second straight game in place of the injured Taylor Martinez, led the Huskers to scores on his first three series and wound up going 8-of-13 for 135 yards with a pair of TDs. Quincy Enunwa caught four balls for 80 yards and a score, while Kenny Bell turned his four grabs into 65 yards, and he too found the end zone. With Abduallh leading the way, Nebraska churned out 335 yards and three TDs on the ground, averaging 6.7 ypc. The Cornhuskers will try to win their third straight game when they play at Purdue this Saturday.
NORTHWESTERN: With the passing attack firing on all cylinders, the Wildcats came close to upsetting the visiting Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday night, but fell short in a 40-30 final. The loss was Northwestern's first of the season, and the 'Cats haven't beaten a top-five team since opening the 1959 season with wins over No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 5 Iowa. The QB tandem of Trevor Siemian and Kain Colter completed 25-of-31 passes for 343 yards, two TDs and an INT against the Buckeyes, with Rashad Lawrence hauling in eight balls for 149 yards. Venric Mark carried the ball 17 times for 60 yards, but the 'Cats averaged just 2.2 ypc and converted only 5-of-14 third-down chances. They did however, come away with points on all six trips to the red zone, although only three were TDs. Damien Proby and Collin Ellis both posted double-digit tackles with 12 and 10, respectively, and the Wildcats came up with three takeaways, but only one sack. NU will try to get back in the win column when it plays at Wisconsin this Saturday.
OHIO STATE: Carlos Hyde ran for a career-high 168 yards and three TDs to propel the Buckeyes to a 40-30 win at Northwestern on Saturday night. Ohio State trailed in the fourth quarter, but scored the final 13 points to earn its 18th straight win, and keep coach Urban Meyer perfect during his tenure at the school. It was also the 29th time in the last 30 meetings that the Buckeyes beat the Wildcats. Corey Brown caught six passes for 127 yards, helping Braxton Miller amass 203 yards on 15-of-26 passing. Miller did not throw a TD pass and was picked off once, instead the Buckeyes relied on a rushing attack that averaged 5.2 ypc, while the Ohio State defense held the Wildcats to only 94 yards on the ground. The Buckeyes were torched for 343 yards through the air, but recorded five sacks, two of which were credited to Joey Bosa, who also recovered a fumble in the end zone for a TD as time expired. Bradley Roby scored on a blocked punt recovery near the end of the opening quarter. Three defensive players tallied double-digit tackles, with C.J. Barnett leading the way with 11 stops. Ohio State gets a well-deserved week off before returning to the field on Oct. 19 to tangle with the visiting Iowa Hawkeyes.
PENN STATE: Despite a monster effort from Allen Robinson, the Nittany Lions dropped their Big Ten opener at Indiana over the weekend, 44-24. It was Indiana's first win over Penn State in 17 all-time meetings. Robinson caught a career-high 12 balls for 173 yards and two TDs, helping freshman Christian Hackenberg go 30-of-55 for 340 yards and three scores -- his attempts setting a new school record. Kyle Carter caught six passes for 79 yards. The Penn State run game accounted for only 70 net yards, with Zach Zwinak carrying the ball 17 times for 72 yards. Unfortunately, the Lions had a difficult time trying to curtail the Indiana offense, which gained 486 yards and scored the most points against the Lions since Wisconsin put up 45 back in 2011. Glenn Carson and Mike Hull led the Lions with 10 tackles apiece, and the defense was credited with seven TFL, four sacks, but only one turnover. PSU returns home to battle Michigan this Saturday.
PURDUE: The Boilermakers were idle this past weekend, and they will try to put the brakes on a three-game slide and earn their first victory over an opponent from the Football Bowl Subdivision when they play host to the Nebraska Cornhuskers this Saturday.
WISCONSIN: The Badgers got a breather over the weekend, and they will take their 3-2 record into this Saturday's home clash versus the Northwestern Wildcats. Wisconsin is 3-0 at home this season, and it has split its first two Big Ten bouts.
10/07 11:28:26 ET