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Big Ten Recap: Harbaugh Hammers Husks, Rutgers is Beyond Bad, and Wisconsin Once Again Rules the West

Week four is officially in the books and there weren’t a whole lot of surprises across the Big Ten. Ohio State handled Tulane with ease as Dwayne Haskins continues to play at a nearly flawless level. Penn State took care of business after a slow start on the road, and the stage is now set for next week’s battle of the unbeatens. 

Elsewhere we saw Wisconsin head to Iowa City in a match that could shape the West Division. Following last week’s home loss to BYU, some had questioned whether the Badgers were still the runaway favorites in the division. Last night brought some clarity as Paul Chryst and Kirk Ferentz battled it out at Kinnick. 

No. 18 Wisconsin 28, Iowa 17

This one started off slow and sluggish which is probably what everyone was expecting in a battle of two old-school offenses. The game was knotted up at 7-7 at the half, but Wisconsin and Alex Hornibrook used a 14-point fourth quarter to take home a massive divisional road win. 

This one was actually way closer than the 28-17 score indicated. Hornbrook led the Badgers down the field for a go-ahead touchdown drive with less than a minute left on the clock. The junior connected with A.J. Taylor on a 17-yard strike to give Wisconsin a 21-17 lead. Iowa then had a chance to answer but Nate Stanley’s deflected pass was picked off by Badger linebacker T.J. Edwards. Alec Ingold then dashed for 33-yard score as Wisconsin was attempting to run out the clock. 

Hornibrook was superb on the day as he completed 17 of 22 passes for for 205 yards and three scores. Jonathan Taylor topped the century mark with 113 yards but he was held well below his season average with just 4.5 yards per carry. Nate Stanley and the tight ends led the way for the Hawkeyes. Stanley threw for 256 yards and tossed two touchdowns to go along with the interception. Tight end T.J. Hockenson caught three passes for 125 yards while Noah Fant hauled in both scores.

The Badgers have now won five in a row at Kinnick and are once again in control of the West Division.

No. 19 Michigan 56, Nebraska 10

Adrian Martinez hardly looked like a true freshman before going down with an injury in his debut against Colorado. Yesterday in Ann Arbor the youth was on display thanks to an atrocious Husker offense and stellar showing from the Wolverine defense. The pressure was relentless as Martinez was sacked four times and intercepted once in the first half alone.

Nebraska had 17 yards of total offense when the third quarter kicked off and sources tell me that is not ideal. Scott Frost made the right move bringing in quarterback Andrew Bunch after the half. The walk-on hasn’t really shown anything promising but there was no sense in risking an injury to the future of the team. Bunch then proceeded to get hurt on the first play and Martinez was temporarily forced back into the game. It was that kind of day for Nebraska.

Remember that time Tyjon Lindsey was committed to Ohio State?

Karan Higdon shredded the Nebraska defense for 136 yards and a score on just 12 carries. Hidgon wasn’t needed for long before the backups took over in the backfield. Fullback Ben Mason scored three touchdowns in the first half. Shea Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey each tossed touchdown passes while Donovan Peoples-Jones added a beautiful punt return score in the third quarter.

The Wolverines outgained the Husks 491 to 132 on the day. One of the few miscues by the Michigan defense came when Khaleke Hudson was ejected for targeting for a second straight week. Still, the Wolverine defense delivered another dominant performance.

Not a great look for Frost and Co. You know things are bad when the official Wendy’s Twitter account is trolling the school and its fanbase.

No. 24 Michigan State 35, Indiana 21

Last week’s bye gave Mark Dantonio and the Spartans some extra time to prepare for the road trip to Bloomington. It apparently paid off last night as Michigan State handed the Hoosiers their first lost of the season. Sparty got off to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never relinquished it as the game went on.

A pivotal moment came late in the first with the Hoosiers trailing 7-0. The Indiana offense was driving when a Peyton Ramsey pass bounced off the fingers of Stevie Scott and into the hands of Michigan State cornerback Shakur Brown. Brown then dashed to the end zone for a 69-yard interception return for a score. The Hoosiers offense put up points in the second and fourth quarters but they never fully bounced back from the quick two-touchdown deficit. 

Brian Lewerke and Jalen Nailor were too much for the Hoosiers. Lewerke threw for 213 yards with two scores and two picks. Nailor – a true freshman wideout from Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High School – hauled in a 16-yard touchdown pass and found the end zone on a 75-yard jet sweep. Indiana’s Whop Philyor led all pass catchers with 14 receptions for 148 yards and a score. Ramsey tossed two touchdowns and was picked off twice.

Team W-L Rank Prev
OHIO STATE 4-0 1 1
PENN STATE 4-0 2 2
MICHIGAN 3-1 4 3
IOWA 3-1 5 5
MARYLAND 3-1 7 9
INDIANA 3-1 8 8
PURDUE 1-3 11 11
NEBRASKA 0-3 12 12
ILLINOIS 2-2 13 14
RUTGERS 1-3 14 13

No. 10 Penn State 63, Illinois 24

If you just took a glimpse at the final score then this one was probably about what you’d expect. However, if you tuned in on Friday night then you probably were a bit surprised to see the Nittany Lions trailing the Illini by a score 24-21 in the third quarter. That was the end of the fun for Lovie Smith and the gang. 

It took a while for Penn State to finally realize that they’re infinitely more talented than Illinois, but that happened in the second half when the Nits exploded for 42 unanswered points. Miles Sanders stole the show with 200 yards and three scores on 22 carries. Trace McSorley threw for three touchdowns and nearly hit the century mark with his legs (92 yards). 

M.J Rivers II and Reggie Corbin led the way for the Illini offense. Rivers threw for 149 yards and a score while Corbin added 87 yards and a rushing score. Sophomore wideout Ricky Smalling hauled in a pair of touchdown passes.

Defense was optional for much of the game as the teams combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense. Illinois had plenty of success on the ground with 245 yards rushing, so that’s definitely something James Franklin will look to address with Ohio State heading to town.

Maryland 42, Minnesota 13

Minnesota had been unbeaten heading into this one, but things didn’t go well on the road at Maryland. The Terps used a 315-yard rushing performance and an opportunistic defense to clobber the Gophs. Ty Johnson and Anthony McFarland both topped 100 yards with Johnson going for 123 and a score and McFarland accounting for 112 and two touchdowns. Minnesota gave up numerous big plays including long touchdowns of 81, 54, and 64 yards on the day.

Zack Annexstad was picked off twice on the day with one of those resulting in a 36-yard pick six from Terrapin linebacker Tre Watson. Tailback Mohamed Ibrahim ran for 95 yards while true freshman wideout Rashod Bateman caught seven passes for 68 yards and a score. Chris Autman-Bell led all receivers with 70 yards on the day.

It was an emotional outing for both teams. Maryland continues to deal with the tragic death of Jordan McNair – as well as the ensuing investigation – while former Minnesota lineman Nick Connelly passed away from Leukemia on Wednesday. Both teams wore helmet stickers to remember the pair.

Purdue 30, No. 23 Boston College 13

The Boilermakers came into this one ranked No. 113 in total defense. You never would have guessed that while watching a top-25 Eagles offense struggle mightily to do anything whatsoever. Boston College managed just 229 yards on offense and A.J. Dillon – one of the country’s top backs – was held in check with just 59 yards on 19 carries.

True freshman Rondale Moore continues to be one of the top stories in the conference as the wideout hauled in eight passes for 110 yards and two scores. He’s now up to five touchdowns on the season. David Blough had a spectacular showing completing 21 of 28 passes for 296 yards and three scores. Senior tailback D.J. Knox ran for 51 yards and also found the end zone.

Purdue had lost 20 straight against ranked opponents making this the first victory since 2011 when they topped the No. 21 Fighting Illini. The fact that Illinois was ranked probably tells you all that you need to know about the world we were living in at the time.

Buffalo 42, Rutgers 13

I’ve been holding off putting Rutgers at the bottom of our power rankings, and that was a pretty big blunder on my behalf. The Bulls are unblemished on the season but a MAC program really should never go into a Big Ten stadium and clobber the opposition like this. 

Buffalo quarterback Tyree Jackson is pretty dang good and against Rutgers he threw for 263 yards and three scores in leading the Bulls to a 4-0 start. Anthony Johnson was the big-play wideout as he hauled in two passes for 101 yards with one of the connections going for a 42-yards score. Tailback Jaret Patterson rushed for 104 yards and a pair of scores. 

Things really couldn’t be going much worse for Chris Ash and the Scarlet Knights. Freshman quarterback Artur Sitkowski was benched in favor of senior Gio Rescigno so we will see who gets the nod moving forward. Raheem Blackshear ran for 69 yards and scored the Knights’ only touchdown of the day. Looking at the schedule, it’s tough to imagine Rutgers winning another game this season.

Regardless of how you feel about a 3:30 p.m. kickoff against Tulane, this weekend’s schedule did allow Ohio State fans to check out the rest of the Big Ten’s best. The games were spread out nicely and if you felt like immersing yourself in football then the opportunity was there.

I found myself watching nearly all of the Penn State and Michigan games and then flipping back and forth between Wisconsin/Iowa and Michigan State/Indiana. I did leave the house to walk my dog and then again to pick up a pizza, but that was about as adventurous as I got on Friday and Saturday.

As for the power rankings, there are some changes in the middle as both Minnesota and Indiana fell for the first time. I would have no problem if someone made an argument for Nebraska being below Illinois at this point, but I’m thinking everyone can agree on Rutgers as the basement dweller. Wisconsin’s road win over Iowa has the Badgers back up to No 3.

Next week is going to be fun with one pretty good matchup and then another that should be one of the top games of the 2018 college football season. Michigan heads to Northwestern for a 4:30 p.m. showdown and then at 7:30 p.m. the Big Ten’s best will square off in Happy Valley. 

Be sure to stay dialed in this week for plenty of coverage on the upcoming clash between the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions. What’s your early score prediction for a game that should have major College Football Playoff ramifications?

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