Penn State, sitting at No. 2, made a statement this weekend as they routed Michigan 42-13. They proved they were contenders for the Big Ten Championship and the College Football Playoff. However, the road does not get any easier for them as they travel to play No. 6 Ohio State on Saturday. The winner would be considered the favorite to represent the Big Ten East in the championship. Don’t count out No. 16 Michigan State yet. The Spartans keep finding ways to win and will have opportunities against both Ohio State and Penn State in the coming weeks. This will make for a competitive three-team race in the Big Ten East.
As for the Big Ten West, it looks to be a one-team race. Wisconsin, sitting at No. 5, defeated Maryland this weekend, and now boasts a two-game lead with potential tiebreakers over Nebraska and Northwestern.
No. 2 Penn State defeats Michigan 42-13. The Nittany Lions struck early in the game, with running back Saquon Barkley scoring two touchdowns in the first five minutes. Michigan punted twice on their first two drives and Penn State was suddenly threatening to score again. The Wolverines were able to force an interception and shift the momentum in their favor. Michigan would score on the ensuing drive. The Wolverines scored again late in the second quarter to make it 14-13 in favor of Penn State. However, the rest of the game would be all Nittany Lions, as they would go on to score 28 unanswered points. Heisman trophy candidate Saquon Barkley led the Nittany Lions with three touchdowns and 108 yards rushing. Penn State will look ahead towards a showdown at No. 6 Ohio State on Saturday. Michigan struggled to get anything going offensively, posting just 269 yards of total offense. The Wolverines will look to bounce back against Rutgers on Saturday.
No. 5 Wisconsin beats Maryland 38-13. Badger linebacker TJ Edwards started the game with an interception returned for a touchdown on Maryland’s opening drive. However, the Badger offense failed to build on this momentum. They had a rough start to the game, turning the ball over twice on their first two possessions. The Terrapins struggled to find any rhythm on offense, posting only 268 yards and two turnovers. The closest Maryland came was 28-13 in the third quarter, but the Badgers put the game out of reach with an Austin Ramesh 1-yard touchdown run. Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook bounced back from an early interception and posted 225 yards passing and two touchdowns. Wisconsin will travel to play Illinois this weekend. Maryland has now dropped three games in a row but will look to change that trend against Indiana on Saturday.
No. 16 Michigan State survives Indiana 17-9. The Spartans found themselves trailing 9-3 with about 12 minutes remaining in the game. Wide receivers Cody White and Hunter Rison made key plays for the Spartans. White had a 16-yard reception on third down which set up a more manageable fourth down. Rison caught the next pass and stretched to convert the fourth down play. The Spartans would capitalize later in the drive to make the score 10-9 in their favor. The Hoosiers had multiple opportunities, but were forced to punt and had a turnover on downs. Michigan State would score again late, sealing the victory at 17-9. Indiana has struggled in Big Ten play and has now fallen to 0-4. They will play at Maryland on Saturday. The No. 16 Spartans will look to keep the ball rolling this weekend in a contest with Northwestern.
Northwestern beats Iowa 17-10. Iowa led 7-0 at the half of this methodical, defensive battle. Both offenses struggled to find their rhythms. The Wildcats hit a 30-yard field goal with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to take the 10-7 lead. The Hawkeyes would throw an interception on the following drive, only for Northwestern to turn it over on downs four plays later. Iowa kicker Miguel Recinos would nail a 48-yard field goal on the next drive to force overtime. Northwestern received the ball first and capitalized with a Clayton Thorson 1-yard touchdown run to take a 17-10 lead. Iowa would fail to complete a fourth down conversion, and Northwestern held on for a 17-10 victory. The Wildcats will host No. 16 Michigan State on Saturday. The Hawkeyes have now lost three of four games in Big Ten play after a promising 3-0 start to the season. They will host Minnesota this weekend.
Rutgers holds on to beat Purdue 14-12. The Scarlet Knights scored on their second play from scrimmage, thanks to a 74-yard touchdown run for running back Gus Edwards. Purdue would respond in the second quarter with a field goal, making the score 7-3 going into halftime. Rutgers would score again in the third quarter to take a 14-3 lead. Down 14-6 in the fourth, the Boilermakers came up big, completing a touchdown with 25 seconds remaining. However, the Scarlet Knights would prevent them from converting the two-point conversion, securing the victory. The Scarlet Knights have now won back to back games for the first time since joining the Big Ten in 2014. They will play at Michigan this weekend. Questions remain for Purdue, as they dominated the total yardage with 474 yards to the Scarlet Knights’ 217. They have struggled to find the end zone in Big Ten play. In their losses, they have kicked six field goals and only scored two touchdowns. Purdue will host Nebraska on Saturday.
Minnesota defeats Illinois 24-17. Illinois had no answer for the Minnesota rushing attack, as the Gophers ran for 292 yards in the game. Senior running back Kobe McCrary had a team-high 153 yards and a touchdown for the Gophers. Minnesota had a 10-7 lead through three quarters, but the scoring began to pick up in the fourth. Illinois tied it up early in the fourth quarter, but Minnesota responded with a touchdown on the next drive. Illinois quarterback Cam Thomas threw a late interception that was returned for a touchdown. This touchdown would prove to be insurmountable for the Illini, as Minnesota would hang on to win 24-17. Illinois has struggled with turnovers this year, turning the ball over ten times in Big Ten play. The task gets no easier for them this weekend, as they host No. 5 Wisconsin. Minnesota looks to build on head coach PJ Fleck’s first Big Ten win. They will play Iowa on Saturday.
Bye Week: No. 6 Ohio State will look to upset No. 2 Penn State on Saturday, with Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff stakes on the line. Nebraska will look to turn things around against Purdue on Saturday.
*AP rankings as of Oct. 24
Big Ten East Standings:
- Penn State 4-0 (7-0 overall)
- Michigan State 4-0 (6-1 overall)
- Ohio State 4-0 (6-1 overall)
- Michigan 2-2 (5-2 overall)
- Rutgers 2-2 (3-4 overall)
- Maryland 1-3 (3-4 overall)
- Indiana 0-4 (3-4 overall)
Big Ten West Standings:
- Wisconsin 4-0 (7-0 overall)
- Nebraska 2-2 (3-4 overall)
- Northwestern 2-2 (4-3 overall)
- Purdue 1-3 (3-4 overall)
- Iowa 1-3 (3-4 overall)
- Minnesota 1-3 (4-3 overall)
- Illinois 0-4 (2-5 overall)