The perennial power continued its slide to the bottom of the
conference this weekend, losing 26-24 at Big Ten newcomer Rutgers
and falling to 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the Big Ten.
The Wolverines have lost three in a row -- to Rutgers, Minnesota and
Utah -- and were shut out by Notre Dame in the opener. Not since
1967 has Michigan dropped its first two Big Ten games.
The loss ended a week shrouded in controversy at Michigan. The
program faced intense scrutiny for its handling of quarterback Shane
Morris' concussion after a loss to Minnesota. Disgusted students
rallied on campus to call for the ouster of athletic director Dave
Coupled with the team's performance on the field, Michigan coach
Brady Hoke is on the hot seat that will continue to get hotter with
Asked after Saturday's game if he's worried about job security, the
fourth-year Wolverines coach said, "I don't know. I don't think
about that stuff. I got 115 sons; every day's different. You get
distractions all the time. I know we're going to do the right things
for these kids."
The Michigan players vow to keep fighting. The Wolverines return
home this week to face Penn State.
"Play for each other, that's what we've been doing," Michigan
quarterback Devin Gardner said. "Nobody knows how the chips will
fall. We could still have a chance to play in Indy (in the Big Ten
title game) and win."
Up the road from Ann Arbor, the mood is much different in East
Lansing after Michigan State (4-1, 1-0) hung on for a 27-22 victory
over Nebraska. The Spartans are the Big Ten's highest ranked team at
No. 8 in this week's Associated Press poll and appear to be the
class of the Big Ten near the halfway point of the regular season.
The team most likely to challenge the Spartans' supremacy is Ohio
State (4-1, 1-0), which topped 50 points for the third straight game
with a 52-24 victory over Maryland.
Buckeyes redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett continues to
amaze with four more touchdown passes, which gives him 17 in five
starts. He leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency.
Ohio State and Nebraska are the only teams besides Michigan State in
the latest Associated Press Top 25. The Buckeyes moved up to No. 15
and the Cornhuskers are No. 21.
In stark contrast to Michigan, Northwestern is trending upward. The
Wildcats (3-2, 2-0) upended then-No. 17 Wisconsin 20-14 on Saturday,
a week after winning at Penn State, and are sitting atop the West
Just three weeks ago, Northwestern was 0-2 and had lost 10 straight
times since early in the 2013 season.
"I think we're definitely playing with a lot more passion and a lot
more physicality than we did earlier in the year," Northwestern
coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "I don't have any issues with what we did
early in the year, except for what we were doing on Saturdays."
Illinois is a team with lots of issues after a 38-27 loss to Purdue,
which ended a nine-game losing streak in conference games. The
Fighting Illini (3-3, 0-2) are floundering with the Big Ten's worst
defense and now will be without quarterback Wes Lunt for four to six
weeks after he sustained a broken leg in Saturday's game.
ILLINOIS (3-3, 0-2)
Game: Purdue 38, Illinois 27. The Illini defense was slashed for big
plays, giving up 44-, 54- and 80-yard touchdowns in Saturday's loss
to the Boilermakers in Champaign, Ill. Of the 551 yards allowed by
Illinois, 349 came on the ground to a Purdue offense that failed to
rush for 100 the previous week against Iowa. The Illinois offense
kept the game close, producing 515 yards and 450 through the air.
Illini quarterback Wes Lunt returned from a knee injury that
sidelined him last week and threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns
before leaving in the fourth quarter with a broken leg. Freshman
wide receiver Mike Dudek had eight receptions for 200 yards and
running back Josh Ferguson caught 10 passes for 79 yards.
Takeaway: Losing at home to a Purdue team that hadn't won a Big Ten
game since 2012 is a serious blow for Illinois. The Illini had ended
their own conference losing streak last year by winning at Purdue,
but the tables turned Saturday and Illinois' prospects for the rest
of the season don't look promising. Quarterback Wes Lunt is talented
as a passer but will be out four to six weeks with a broken leg. The
Illini have other weapons on offense with running back Josh Ferguson
and wide receivers Mike Dudek and Geronimo Allison, but the defense
is disastrous. Illinois ranks dead last in the Big Ten in total
defense and scoring defense by a significant margin, giving up 482.3
yards and 35.5 points per game after Purdue's 551-yard romp
Next: at Wisconsin, Oct. 11.
INDIANA (3-2, 0-1)
Game: Indiana 49, North Texas 24. The Hoosiers bounced back from a
loss to Maryland last week with a nonconference win. Indiana's
offense got back on track with 593 yards, led by 230 yards passing
and three touchdowns by quarterback Nate Sudfeld and 102 yards
rushing on 14 carries and two touchdowns from running back D'Angelo
Roberts. Running back Tevin Coleman, the Big Ten leader in rushing
yards per game, contributed 150 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown.
The Hoosiers led 21-0 in the first quarter and 42-10 after three
Takeaway: Indiana coach Kevin Wilson emphasized the need for the
offense to be aggressive and the Hoosiers followed the script
against one of the nation's top defenses in five statistical
categories. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld found a rhythm that was missing
last week in the loss to Maryland and the rushing attack was too
much for North Texas. A double-barreled duo of D'Angelo Roberts and
Tevin Coleman gives the Hoosiers extra balance. Even the Indiana
defense, which has been porous at times this season, showed
improvement against the Mean Green, forcing two turnovers and giving
up only on touchdown until the fourth quarter after the Hoosiers had
built a 42-10 lead.
Next: at Iowa, Oct. 11.
IOWA (4-1, 1-0)
Next: vs. Indiana, Oct. 11.
MARYLAND (4-2, 1-1)
Game: Ohio State 52, Maryland 24. The Terrapins' first home game as
a member of the Big Ten didn't turn out so well. Hosting No. 20 Ohio
State before its first sellout in six years, Maryland gave up
touchdowns on the Buckeyes' first two possessions and never were
closer than 14-3 the rest of the way after Terrapins kicker Brad
Craddock booted a 57-yard field goal in the first quarter. Maryland
quarterback, C.J. Brown, bothered by a wrist injury, was harassed
throughout the first half by the Ohio State defense and gave way to
Caleb Rowe after halftime. The two combined to complete 24-of-40
passes for 244 yards and one touchdown but were intercepted four
Takeaway: Maryland was impressive in its first Big Ten road win at
Indiana the previous week, but Ohio State was a different story
Saturday. The Terrapins had no answers offensively or defensively
for the high-powered Buckeyes, managing just 66 yards rushing and
310 total yards and scoring 10 fewer points than their season
average. "Our guys know now that here's the league that we're in,"
Maryland coach Randy Edsall said of the school's switch to the Big
Ten from ACC competition this year. The defensive struggles could be
a problem all season. The Terrapins are next-to-last in the Big Ten
in total defense, giving up 451.2 yards per game. Edsall welcomes an
upcoming bye week to recover from the beat-down inflicted by the
Next: vs. Iowa, Oct. 18.
MICHIGAN (2-4, 0-2)
Game: Rutgers 26, Michigan 24. The Wolverines, facing Rutgers for
the first time as a Big Ten opponent, gave up a go-ahead touchdown
late in the first half and were unable to muster a rally in the
second half. Michigan closed within two when quarterback Devin
Gardner ran 19 yards for a touchdown with 9:17 left. The Wolverines
had a chance to take the lead, but a 56-yard field goal attempt by
Matt Wile was blocked with 3:01 remaining to seal their fate.
Gardner and running back De'Veon Smith scored rushing touchdowns in
the second quarter to give Michigan its final leads. The defense,
meanwhile, was burned for three touchdown passes and gave up 476
Takeaway: A tumultuous week that began with controversy over
Michigan's handling of a head injury with quarterback Shane Morris
ended with the team's fourth loss this season in six games. Devin
Gardner, who started instead of Morris, passed for 178 yards with
one interception and ran for 40 yards and two touchdowns. The
Wolverines' record is their worst since they were 2-7 under Rich
Rodriquez in 2008. And they are 0-2 in the Big Ten for the first
time since 1967. The defensive is largely to blame for the latest
loss, allowing Rutgers' Gary Nova to pass for 404 yards and three
touchdowns without forcing an interception by the error-prone
Next: vs. Penn State, Oct. 11.
MICHIGAN STATE (4-1, 1-0)
Game: Michigan State 27, Nebraska 22. The Spartans held off a
furious Cornhuskers rally in East Lansing, Mich., to win their
conference opener. Michigan State led 27-3 early in the fourth
quarter before Nebraska stormed back and was driving for a possible
go-ahead touchdown in the final minute before cornerback Trae Waynes
intercepted a pass to preserve the Big Ten win. Wide receiver Tony
Lippett helped to build the Spartans' lead with two touchdown
catches. Running back Jeremy Langford ran for a 31-yard touchdown in
the second half. Michael Geiger kicked two field goals in the first
half but missed a 36-yarder with 1:12 left that gave Nebraska one
last chance. Michigan State's defense gave up the three fourth
quarter touchdowns but completely stuffed Nebraska's high-powered
rushing attack, giving up just 47 yards on the ground.
Takeaway: On a crazy day when losses by top 10 teams came fast and
furious, Michigan State survived and now finds itself right back in
the thick of the College Football Playoff race with one loss.
Quarterback Connor Cook admitted that maybe the Spartans were too
comfortable with their 24-point lead early in the fourth quarter and
suggested they learn to finish better. Cook completed only 11-of-29
passes for 234 yards and one interception, but he threw a 55-yard
touchdown strike to wide receiver Tony Lippett, who finished with
three receptions for 104 yards, to open the scoring in the first
quarter. The lead grew from there until the late Nebraska comeback.
For Michigan State, it was their 11th straight conference victory
dating to the 2012 season.
Next: at Purdue, Oct. 11.
MINNESOTA (4-1, 1-0)
Next: vs. Northwestern, Oct. 11.
NEBRASKA (5-1, 1-1)
Game: Michigan State 27, Nebraska 22. The Cornhuskers dug a huge
hole in the first half and couldn't quite climb out of it. Their
second-half rally from a 27-3 deficit fell short when quarterback
Tommy Armstrong Jr.'s pass was intercepted in the final minute with
the Cornhuskers driving Saturday night in East Lansing, Mich.
Running back Ameer Abdullah, held in check by Michigan State's
defense most of the night, scored on two short runs and De'Mornay
Pierson-El returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown as part of the
Cornhuskers' 21-point fourth quarter that put a scare into the
Spartans. Armstrong was 20-of-43 for 273 yards but threw two
interceptions. Wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp caught nine of
Armstrong's competitions for 158 yards.
Takeaway: Losing for the first time this season, Nebraska
surprisingly could not run the ball at all against Michigan State.
The Cornhuskers managed only 47 yards on the ground after averaging
354.8 yards in their first five games (No. 2 in FBS). The rushing
yards against Michigan State were Nebraska's fewest in a game since
they were held to 31 by USC in 2007. Despite their ineffectiveness
on the ground and losing top wide receiver Kenny Bell to injury in
the first half, the Cornhuskers still had a chance for a win on the
road. After the game, the Huskers were talking about a possible
rematch with the Spartans in the Big Ten title game in December.
Next: at Northwestern, Oct. 18.
NORTHWESTERN (3-2, 2-0)
Game: Northwestern 20, Wisconsin 14. Two unlikely heroes helped
Northwestern upset then-No. 17 Wisconsin on Saturday for its third
consecutive victory. Safety Godwin Igwebuike, starting for the first
time because of an injury, intercepted three passes and running back
Justin Jackson rushed for 162 yards on 33 carries for the
opportunistic Wildcats, who overcame 259 rushing yards by Wisconsin
running back Melvin Gordon. Quarterback Trevor Siemian passed for
182 yards and a second quarter touchdown, and Jack Mitchell kicked
two field goals. The defense allowed a touchdown with 4:16 left that
cut Northwestern's lead to six, but the Wildcats didn't give the
ball back to Wisconsin until the final minute and Igwebuike sealed
the win with his third interception.
Takeaway: After struggling last year and losing two of the first
three games this season, Northwestern appeared headed for another
long year, but the fortunes suddenly changed with last week's win at
Penn State and then Saturday's victory at home over Wisconsin.
Suddenly, the Wildcats are 2-0 in Big Ten play and atop the West
Division. Solid defense has helped Northwestern's turnaround. On
Saturday, redshirt freshman Godwin Igwebuike stepped up to stymie
Wisconsin drives, becoming the first Northwestern player with three
interceptions in one game since 1973. For the fourth consecutive
time, unranked Northwestern knocked off a ranked Wisconsin team in
Next: at Minnesota, Oct. 11.
[to top of second column]
OHIO STATE (4-1, 1-0)
Game: Ohio State 52, Maryland 24. Freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett
threw five touchdown passes and ran for a score, and running back
Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 139 yards on 24 carries to lead the
Buckeyes in their Big Ten opener on the road in their first-ever
game in College Park, Md. They made themselves at home in the new
surroundings before a sellout crowd, bolting to a 31-10 lead at
halftime and finishing with 533 total yards to Maryland's 310. The
Ohio State defense had four interceptions, eight tackles for loss
and four sacks.
Takeaway: Ohio State's offense is operating at such a high level
that it's easy to forget that Braxton Miller is out for the season
with a shoulder injury. Freshman J.T. Barrett is getting
increasingly comfortable and the numbers reflect that. With at least
four touchdown passes for the third straight game, Barrett became
the first quarterback in Ohio State history to do that. Only one
quarterback -- 2006 Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith -- previously
had three games with four touchdown passes in one season. Barrett
completed 18-of-23 passes for 267 yards and added 71 yards rushing.
Defensively, end Joey Bosa led Ohio State's relentless pursuit of
Maryland quarterbacks that helped ease concerns about the secondary.
The Terrapins were limited to 66 yards on the ground. Bosa had 2.5
tackles for loss and one of the Buckeyes' four sacks Saturday.
Freshman linebacker Raekwon McMillan capped the scoring with a
19-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Next: vs. Rutgers, Oct. 18.
PENN STATE (4-1, 1-1)
Next: at Michigan, Oct. 11
PURDUE (3-3, 1-1)
Game: Purdue 38, Illinois 27. A week after the offense was totally
shut down by Iowa, it came to life in a big way Saturday, ripping
off 349 yards rushing and 551 total yards against the Fighting
Illini to help the Boilermakers end a nine-game Big Ten losing
streak. Purdue took a 17-14 lead near the end of the second quarter
and never trailed in the second half. Quarterback Austin Appleby
replaced Danny Etling as the starter and responded in a big way,
completing 15-of-20 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown and rushing
seven times for 76 yards and two scores. Running back Akeem Hunt
also played a key role with 177 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.
All this from a Purdue offense that averaged 312 yards entered the
Takeaway: Purdue not only won its first Big Ten game since 2012 but
might have found a quarterback. Coach Darrell Hazell went with
Austin Appleby over Danny Etling, who had started 16 games since
last season, and the results were impressive. Appleby steadied the
offense, which had nearly reached its season average in yards per
game by halftime, and started the second half with an 80-yard
touchdown pass to wide receiver Danny Anthrop to extend the lead to
24-14. Appleby kept the Boilermakers in front with two short
touchdown runs in the third and fourth quarter. Appleby's 62-yard
run in the fourth quarter set up his clinching 1-yard scoring run.
Next: vs. Michigan State, Oct. 11.
RUTGERS (5-1, 1-1)
Game: Rutgers 26, Michigan 24. The Scarlet Knights posted the first
Big Ten win in school history before a sellout crowd of 53,327 and
beat one of the conference's perennial powers to do so. Quarterback
Gary Nova was the wingman, completing 22-of-39 passes for 404 yards
and three touchdowns with no interceptions. His 7-yard touchdown
pass to wide receiver John Tsimis with 22 seconds left in the first
half gave Rutgers to lead for good at 19-17. Kyle Federico added two
field goals. But the win wasn't secured until Michigan missed a long
field goal attempt late in the game.
Takeaway: Rutgers continued its surprisingly strong start with the
win over Michigan. The Scarlet Knights were expected to struggle
this season as a new member of the Big Ten but have five wins and
need only one more in their final six games to become bowl eligible.
The schedule gets much tougher, starting with a trip to Ohio State
in two weeks, but coach Kyle Flood is feeling good about his team
and so are Rutgers fans, many of whom poured onto the field to
celebrate the win over the Wolverines. If quarterback Gary Nova can
limit mistakes as he did Saturday and avoid the interceptions that
have plagued him in the past, that will help the Scarlet Knights be
competitive the rest of the way.
Next: at Ohio State, Oct. 18.
WISCONSIN (3-2, 0-1)
Game: Northwestern 20, Wisconsin 14. Running back Melvin Gordon
rushed for 259 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown, but turnovers
and quarterback issues led to the Badgers' demise on Saturday at
Wisconsin. Quarterbacks Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy were
ineffective against Northwestern's defense. Stave was 8-of-19 for
114 yards and one touchdown, but he threw three interceptions.
McEvoy completed 4-of-10 passes for 24 yards and was intercepted
once. Two of the interceptions came in the end zone to halt
Wisconsin drives. Gordon accounted for 60 percent of the Badgers'
Takeaway: Wisconsin has lost four straight visits to Northwestern
and subsequently dropped out of the Top 25 on Sunday. Running back
Melvin Gordon now has three games with 200 or more yards rushing
after running for 259 on Saturday, but the Badgers can't survive on
his running alone. Quarterback play again was a problem Saturday.
Joel Stave played for the first time this season after dealing with
mental issues regarding his passing. Tanner McEvoy relieved Stave
and also struggled. With a one-dimensional offense, the Badgers will
face defenses stacked to stop the run the rest of the season unless
they can find some semblance of a passing game.
Next: vs. Illinois, Oct. 11.
NCAAF Team Report - Illinois - NOTES, QUOTES
--Illinois lost quarterback Wes Lund for four to six weeks after he
suffered a broken leg in Saturday's 38-27 loss to Purdue in
Lunt leads the Big Ten with 313.8 passing yards per game. Senior
Reilly O'Toole, who started two weeks ago at Nebraska when Lunt had
a knee injury, will take over at quarterback.
"I'm very disappointed for Wes, his family and the Fighting Illini
family, but I know we all will respond to this situation in a
positive way," Illinois coach Tim Beckman said in a statement. "He's
having an outstanding season and we're very hopeful to have him back
on the field for the final three games."
Lunt transferred from Oklahoma State to Illinois after his freshman
season and sat out last season. In five games, Lunt has thrown 13
touchdown passes and three interceptions.
--Indiana running back Tevin Coleman extended two of the nation's
longest active streaks with his seventh consecutive 100-yard rushing
game and his 14th straight game with a touchdown.
Coleman rushed for 150 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries in
Indiana's 49-24 nonconference victory over North Texas on Saturday
in Bloomington, Ind.
The junior ranks second in the Big Ten with 168.2 yards per game,
trailing only Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon.
--Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah came into East Lansing,
Mich., on Saturday night as the nation's leading rusher with 833
yards (166.6 yards per game) and left with only 45 more yards on 24
carries against Michigan State in the Cornhuskers' 27-22 loss.
Abdullah scored on two short runs in the fourth quarter to make it a
close game, but the Heisman Trophy candidate and Nebraska's rushing
attack (47 yards) was mostly stuffed the rest of the evening in an
impressive performance by the Michigan State defense, which is
giving up just 72 yards on the ground per game this season.
"We shut down the run about as well as we've stopped it against
these guys and that was the key to the game," Michigan State
defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said. "We made it into a passing
--Redshirt freshman safety Godwin Igwebuike made his first start a
memorable and valuable one for Northwestern in a 20-14 victory over
No. 17 Wisconsin on Saturday in Evanston, Ill.
Igwebuike started in place of Ibraheim Campbell, who was out with a
hamstring injury, and intercepted three passes. Two came in the end
zone to halt Wisconsin drives with 5:55 left and the last one in the
final minute secured Northwestern's win.
Igwebuike also finished with eight tackles.
"I mean nobody saw it coming. I didn't even see it coming,"
Igwebuike said. "It really goes back to just preparation. I knew it
was going to be my time to step it up this game with the injury to
Igwebuike is the first Northwestern player with three interceptions
in a game since Neil Little against Indiana in 1973.
--Darrell Hazell picked up his first Big Ten victory in his second
season as Purdue coach with a 38-27 win at Illinois on Saturday.
"I feel great for our players," Hazell said. "These guys work so
hard. You feel their frustration after those last couple of losses.
You want them to feel that success. We finally took that next step."
The former Ohio State assistant left Kent State two years ago to
take the Purdue job.
"We haven't had a Big Ten win in so long," Purdue running back Akeem
Hunt said. "For everyone to come together, to play well and coach
well, it feels great."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Football is a crazy, crazy game. Maybe that's why
everybody loves it so much." -- Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio
after the Spartans survived Nebraska's comeback bid Saturday night.
NCAAF Team Report - Illinois - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FIVE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM WEEK 6 IN THE BIG TEN:
1. Northwestern was given up for dead three weeks ago but now finds
itself atop the Big Ten West Division standings after an upset win
over then-No. 17 Wisconsin in Saturday. With Nebraska losing at
Michigan State, the West appears wide open. Northwestern, led by its
defense, could be as capable as any team to make a run at the title.
2. Michigan State is the Big Ten's best team until proven otherwise.
After the Spartans survived Nebraska's big fourth-quarter rally on
Saturday night, the next real challenge on the schedule figures to
be the Nov. 8 showdown with Ohio State in East Lansing. Michigan
State appears to have the most balanced team in the conference.
3. Illinois and Michigan are in serious trouble. It's too early to
talk about coaching changes, but unless the results improve, both
schools will be looking by the end of the season to make a change.
Losing at home to lowly Purdue is particularly devastating for
Illinois, which hopes to improve to be at least a bowl qualifier
this year. At the rate Michigan is going, a bowl appears doubtful.
The Wolverines need four wins in their last six games to become
eligible for the postseason.
4. Wisconsin is a disappointing 3-2 and struggling at quarterback.
The Badgers fell out of the Top 25 after their 20-14 loss at
Northwestern on Saturday. Running back Melvin Gordon had another
great game with 259 rushing yards, but it's obvious that Wisconsin
cannot rely solely on Gordon to be competitive the rest of the
5. Rutgers is a surprising 5-1 after a 26-24 win over Michigan on
Saturday in its first Big Ten home game. Quarterback Gary Nova is
one of the better passers in the conference and could led the
Scarlet Knights to a bowl game with one more win, but the rest of
the schedule gets more challenging with upcoming trips to Ohio
State, Nebraska and Michigan State and home games against Wisconsin,
Indiana and Maryland.
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