The Big Ten elites flexed their muscles Saturday, with blowout wins by Ohio State, Wisconsin and Iowa. Teams looking to prove themselves this week fell flat, as Nebraska and Maryland were dominated.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten)
The Buckeyes played their first real road test in primetime against Nebraska. They crushed the Huskers 48-7 and the game was over by halftime. The Buckeyes scored on every possession in the first half (excluding the final drive of the half in which the clock ran out) behind three touchdowns from sophomore quarterback Justin Fields. The game showed just how big the gap is between the best in the Big Ten and the rest.
2. Wisconsin Badgers (4-0, 2-0)
The Badgers struggled offensively against Northwestern but their defense helped them secure a 24-15 win. Wisconsin had two defensive touchdowns in the game, the first coming from an end zone fumble recovery by defensive end Matt Henningsen and the second being a pick-six from linebacker Noah Burks to take a commanding 24-3 lead in the fourth quarter. The Badgers were out-gained in total yards, but their points off turnovers were something Northwestern could not recover from. The Badgers host Kent State next.
3. Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0, 1-0)
The Hawkeyes cruised to an easy 48-3 win against Middle Tennessee. Senior quarterback Nate Stanley threw for two touchdowns while junior running back Toren Young rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown. Iowa faces a much tougher test at Michigan on Saturday and can prove its worth with a dominating performance at the Big House.
4. Penn State Nittany Lions (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
The Nittany Lions played a Maryland team looking to prove themselves on the road. Penn State crushed that hope, as it dominated Maryland 59-0. Penn State got off to a quick start, scoring two touchdowns in just over five minutes and never looked back. The Nittany Lions face Purdue Saturday.
5. Michigan Wolverines (3-1, 1-1 Big Ten)
The Wolverines needed a bounceback performances after last week’s disappointment at Wisconsin, and they succeeded with a resounding 52-0 win against Rutgers. Michigan only turned the ball over once, which has been an issue early in the season. Wolverine quarterback Shea Patterson played arguably his best game of the season, rushing for a pair of touchdowns and throwing a touchdown pass. The Wolverines host Iowa next.
6. Michigan State Spartans (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten)
The Spartans’ defense struggled against Indiana at home, giving up 31 points, the most they have allowed this year. The game was back and forth as each team exchanged leads. Indiana tied it at 31 with two minutes left after freshman quarterback Michael Penix Jr. tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Whop Philyor. The Spartans marched downfield and took the lead back after Matt Coghlin made a 21-yard field goal. Michigan State has a big opportunity to show it is among the elites of the Big Ten with a win at Ohio State Saturday.
7. Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Minnesota played its first Big Ten game at Purdue, winning 38-31. Sophomore quarterback Tanner Morgan was nearly perfect, throwing for 396 yards and four touchdowns with only one incompletion. Minnesota took a commanding 38-17 lead in the third quarter behind Morgan’s performance. Purdue cut the lead to seven with four minutes remaining but could not get a stop to give the offense a chance to tie it. Minnesota plays Illinois at home next.
8. Nebraska Huskers (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten)
The Huskers had a chance to prove themselves with a win against Ohio State during primetime. They did not and struggled in all aspects of the game. Nebraska allowed Ohio State to score on every possession in the first half while quarterback Adrian Martinez threw three interceptions in the half, dooming the Huskers. Martinez only completed eight passes for 47 yards, while Buckeye quarterback Fields was too much for the Huskers’ defense. Nebraska will look to bounce back against Northwestern in Lincoln next week.
9. Maryland Terrapins (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten)
Like Nebraska, Maryland looked to prove itself with a win against a highly ranked team. They could not and were shut out 59-0 against Penn State. Maryland quarterback Josh Jackson struggled with only 65 yards and threw two interceptions. The Terrapins’ defense was awful as well, giving up 619 total yards. Maryland will look to bounce back on the road against Rutgers.
10. Northwestern Wildcats (1-3, 0-2 Big Ten)
Northwestern faced another ranked Big Ten team in Wisconsin, but kept it close until Wisconsin pulled away in the fourth. The Wildcats were trailing 7-3 in the third quarter, but turnovers on consecutive possessions turned the deficit to 21 points. Northwestern scored a couple of touchdowns late in the fourth, but the deficit was too much to overcome. They face a road test in Lincoln on Saturday.