Big Ten Recap: Dantonio's Defense Gashed, Husks Remain Unbeaten, and Rutgers Scores a Touchdown

By Andrew Ellis on October 16, 2016 at 7:15 am
Northwestern's offense put up big numbers in East Lansing.
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Last night was pretty entertaining, eh? In case you missed any of it:

Ohio State and Wisconsin headlined the Big Ten's slate, but there were some other interesting developments around the conference.

No. 10 Nebraska 27, Indiana 22

The Huskers got off to a 17-0 first-quarter lead before being shut down for the next two frames as Indiana rallied from behind in Bloomington. Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw for 208 yards with a touchdown an an interception. Terrell Newby led the way for Mike Riley's offense as the senior rushed for 102 yards and a score.

The play of the game came when Armstrong improvised in the pocket and connected with wideout Stanley Morgan Jr. in the fourth quarter. A pair of Indiana defenders collided on the play thus allowing Morgan to take it 72 yards for the score, all but sealing the deal for the Husks.

Richard Lagow struggled for the Hoosiers, completing 19 of 32 passes for 196 yards with a touchdown and a pair of interceptions. Devine Redding added 57 yards and a score on the ground. Senior wideout Mitchell Paige led all pass-catchers with nine receptions for 101 yards. 

Northwestern 54, Michigan State 40

I was watching this game in the first quarter when the Spartans were up 14-0 and their home confines were rocking. I turned it back on around 7:15PM and there were 94 points on the board and Northwestern was in a victory formation. What a time to be alive.

Redshirt freshman Brian Lewerke got the start for the Spartans and things really couldn't have started much better for the home team. Lewerke tossed a 15-yard touchdown pass early in the first quarter and then Cleveland, Ohio native Justin Layne picked off Clayton Thorson and returned it for a touchdown, putting the Spartans up 14-0. 

While Spartan fans took to Twitter to anoint him as the next big thing, Lewerke was running into some trouble after the first quarter and was ultimately pulled after going 12 of 19 for 99 yards and the score. The numbers weren't awful, but the offense just wasn't going anywhere after the opening quarter. Senior Tyler O'Connor would fill in nicely, completing 13 of 21 passes for 281 yards with a trio of touchdowns and one pick. 

The game's turning point seemed to come when Lewerke was flattened in his own endzone by defensive end Joe Gaziano. 

The Sparty ground game was again stymied as they could only manage 51 yards on 23 carries. R.J. Shelton hauled in seven passes for 190 yards and two scores. Donnie Corley and Josiah Price both found the endzone as well.

Pat Fitzgerald's Wildcats were led by the usual suspects as Clayton Thorson, Justin Jackson, and Austin Carr all put on a show in East Lansing. Thorson put up just shy of 300 total yards and scored three times. Jackson led all rushers with 188 yards and two touchdowns. The Spartans implemented the bold strategy of not covering Austin Carr as the senior wideout hauled in 11 passes for 130 yards and two scores.

The loss allows Mark Dantonio to experience the first four-game losing streak of his head coaching career.

Iowa 49, Purdue 35

The Boilermakers entered Saturday's contest with one of the nation's worse defenses when playing the run. After the season's first five games, they were giving up 244.2 rushing yards per game – good for 118th in America. With the Iowa game now in the rearview, that ranking will go down a little bit more.

The Hawkeyes tallied 365 rushing yards and four touchdowns while averaging just shy of seven yards per carry. Akrum Wadley led the way with 170 yards and a score, but LeShun Daniels Jr. wasn't far behind as he accounted for 156 yards and two touchdowns. C.J. Beathard didn't need to do a whole lot as the senior completed 10 of 17 passes for 140 yards and a pair of scores. He also found the endzone on a 15-yard scamper. 

All-American cornerback Desmond King also came through with a nifty pick-six.

David Blough threw the ball 60 times for the Boilers and managed to connect on half of his attempts. The sophomore put up some big numbers en route to a 458-yard and five-touchdown performance, though that stat line was a tad inflated since Purdue was down 28 late in the fourth quarter and forced to throw the ball. Cole Herdman led all wideouts with seven receptions for 104 yards and a score.

Team W-L Rank Prev
Ohio State 6-0 1 1
Michigan  6-0 2 2
Nebraska 6-0 3 3
Wisconsin 4-2 4 4
Iowa 5-2 5 6
Penn State 4-2 6 8
Minnesota 4-2 7 9
Indiana 3-3 8 7
Maryland 4-2 9 5
Northwestern 3-3 10 11
Michigan State 2-4 11 10
Purdue 3-3 12 14
Illinois 2-4 13 12
Rutgers 2-5 14 13

Minnesota 31, Maryland 10

After a 4-0 start, D.J. Durkin is now in the midst of his first losing streak as a college head coach. 

True freshman quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome got the start over an injured Perry Hills, and the newcomer looked very much like a freshman. The 5-foot-11 signal-caller connected on less than 50% of his passes for 161 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. He also added 71 yards on 25 carries. 

The Gophs too were without their starting quarterback as senior Mitch Leidner was ruled out with concussion. Conor Rhoda got his first career start and wasn't asked to do a whole lot as the Minnesota ground game had its way with the Terrapins. The junior completed seven of 15 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown.

The Gophers ran the ball 48 times for 229 yards and a pair of scores. Rodney Smith led all rushers with 144 yards and two touchdowns, including a career long 70-yarder

True freshman defensive end Tai'yon Devers was still hampered a bit with a bum ankle.

Illinois 24, Rutgers 7

Rutgers made some major progress on Saturday as they were able to light up the scoreboard for the first time since Sept. 24. Even when the Scarlet Knights do score, it looks extremely awkward. 

Unfortunately for Chris Ash, the seven-point onslaught just was not enough. 

The Illini relied heavily on their ground game and defense against the hapless Big Ten foes. The offense needed just six completions as Kendrick Foster, Reggie Corbin, and the rest of the ground attack combined for 228 yards on the day. Senior defensive back Darius Mosley added a 78-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter

Rutgers' quarterback Chris Laviano was benched for the third-straight game and Ash is now saying the competition is wide open. Giovanni Rescigno took over the offense in the second half and would complete 10 of 18 passes for 120 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Robert Martini led the way with 95 yards rushing while Rescigno added another 37. 

So Michigan State is even worse than we thought, but rest assured they will be improved when Ohio State comes to town on Nov. 19. There are several interesting quarterback storylines to follow with the Spartans, Terps, and Scarlet Knights all having issues under center. Probably not a coincidence that all three of them aren't playing good football right now. 

Next week will see Ohio State travel to Happy Valley to face off against yet another opponent that is coming off a bye. The Wolverines are set to host the Illini and Wisconsin travels to Iowa City.

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