The fourth week of Big Ten football featured many interesting storylines, from the Maryland versus Ohio State game being canceled due to COVID-19 to Wisconsin returning to the field following an outbreak of their own. While No. 9 IU got a 24-0 road victory over Michigan State to win back the Old Brass Spittoon for the first time since 2016, here’s what happened around the rest of the conference.
Iowa versus Minnesota
Minnesota returned to their losing ways on Friday night in Minneapolis, falling 35-7 at home to Iowa.
While Iowa and Minnesota have both been among the Big Ten West’s best teams for the last few years, their annual games have been surprisingly uncompetitive. Iowa has won six straight in the series.
For a second consecutive week, Iowa was completely dependent on their run game. Running back Tyler Goodson rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns on the night, while quarterback Spencer Petras only completed nine passes for 111 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
After a stellar 2019 campaign, Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan’s production has fallen off significantly. Morgan completed less than 50% of his passes for just 167 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Almost all of Morgan’s limited success can be attributed to star wideout Rashod Bateman, who caught eight passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.
The Hawkeyes have not lost the battle for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy since 2014. Friday’s Iowa victory tied the all-time series at 42-42-2.
After starting the season ranked in the AP Top 25, the Gophers have fallen to 1-3 on the year, and will face Purdue next Friday night at home. Iowa is set to travel to Penn State.
Penn State versus Nebraska
In a battle of historic programs that started the season winless, Nebraska defeated Penn State at home, 30-23. Penn State is now the only winless team in the Big Ten.
After a rocky start last week against Northwestern, Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez was benched in favor of backup Luke McCaffrey. McCaffrey threw for 152 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and was also the team’s leading rusher with 67 yards and a touchdown.
On the other sideline, Penn State also turned to a backup quarterback.
Following a rough first half that included an interception and a lost fumble, Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford was benched for backup Will Levis. Levis helped the Nittany Lions crawl back from a 27-6 halftime deficit, but the efforts ultimately fell short.
With the loss, Penn State has started 0-4 for the first time since 2001. The Nittany Lions will host the Iowa Hawkeyes next week. Nebraska will face Illinois at home.
No. 23 Northwestern versus Purdue
The two undefeated teams in the Big Ten West collided in West Lafayette, Indiana, on Saturday night, as Northwestern defeated Purdue, 27-20.
The star of the show on offense for the Wildcats was quarterback and former IU starter Peyton Ramsey. Ramsey threw for 212 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the win.
Purdue’s last two losses have both been against Ramsey, Saturday against Northwestern and 44-41 in 2OT on Nov. 30, 2019, against IU.
With Northwestern’s elite defense tightly covering receivers and rain pouring down for portions of the game, the Boilermakers had to slow down their typically heavy passing attack. Wide receiver David Bell had his worst statistical game of the season against the stingy Northwestern secondary, totaling less than 100 receiving yards for the first time all year.
Following the win, Northwestern has moved to 4-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since current head coach Pat Fitzgerald was playing for the Wildcats.
The No. 19 Northwestern Wildcats will host the No. 10 Wisconsin Badgers in Evanston, Illinois, next week. Purdue will take on Minnesota on the road on Friday night.
Illinois versus Rutgers
In a battle of perennial Big Ten doormats, Illinois got their first win of the season in a 23-20 road victory over Rutgers, thanks to a last-second field goal from kicker James McCourt. The three seconds of time following McCourt’s field goal are the only three seconds the Illini have led for all season long.
Due to Big Ten conference COVID-19 protocol, Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters was not eligible to play, meaning backup quarterback Isaiah Williams got the start.
While Williams completed just seven passes for 104 yards, it was his running ability that propelled the Illini to the win. Williams led the team in rushing with 192 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries.
While Rutgers moved down the field all afternoon, turnovers did the Scarlet Knights in at the end. Quarterback Noah Vedral threw three interceptions in addition to his two touchdown passes, both of which went to Bo Melton.
Illinois is scheduled to travel to Nebraska next week. Rutgers will host Michigan.
No. 13 Wisconsin versus Michigan
Back on the field after missing their previous two games due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the locker room, No. 13 Wisconsin did not miss a beat in their 49-11 road beatdown of Michigan.
From start to finish, the Badgers were in clear control of the game, getting out to a 28-0 lead by halftime. The Wolverines’ 28-point deficit at the half was the worst in the 93-year history of Michigan Stadium.
Michigan quarterback Joe Milton was benched for his poor performance, throwing for just 98 yards and two interceptions. His replacement, Cade McNamara, was not much better, throwing for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Wisconsin relied more on the run game against Michigan than they did in their week one win over Illinois. Freshman tailback Jalen Berger was the leading rusher, totaling 87 yards and a touchdown.
Wisconsin moved up three spots in the AP Top 25 this week to No. 10, and will face off against Northwestern for the Big Ten West division lead next week. Michigan will travel to play Rutgers.