Big Ten Recap: Birds of Prey Feast on a Pair of Unbeatens and an Absolute Heartbreaker in East Lansing

By Andrew Ellis on September 15, 2019 at 7:05 am
The Hawkeyes topped the Cyclones for a fifth-straight time.
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend didn't have the best slate of games and overall it wasn't a great showing for the Big Ten. The good news is that Ohio State continues to look like one of the top teams in the country and had no problem with the Hoosiers in Bloomington. 

Justin Fields continues to put up impressive numbers, but the two other key storylines are the dominant ground game and the stellar play of the defense. Indiana used some trickeration to score its lone touchdown, but it was another fine performance by the Buckeye defenders. 

Elsewhere in the Midwest, things didn't go exactly as planned. A handful of the Big Ten's unbeatens went down on Saturday as the conference struggled to find its footing in the third week of the season.

No. 19 Iowa 18, Iowa State 17

This game had a chance for a hell of an ending, but two Cyclones stole that from us when they collided on a punt return and turned the ball over to the Hawkeyes. After the teammates nearly decapitated one another, Nate Stanley took a couple of knees giving Iowa a big-time road win and fifth-straight in the rivalry.

Regardless of the blunder, this was still a good one in Ames. The Hawkeyes kicked a 39-yard field goal with under five to play and that proved to be the difference. Stanley threw for 201 yards and scored Iowa's only touchdown on a one-yard rush in the fourth. Kicker Keith Duncan nailed all four of his attempts. 

Cyclone quarterback Brock Purdy threw for 276 yards and a 73-yard scoring strike to Tarique Milton. Milton recorded eight catches for 144 and the touchdown. La'Michael Pettway added five receptions for 83 yards and a score. Two Iowa State turnovers didn't help Matt Campbell and the home team.

Arizona State 10, No. 18 Michigan State 7

Last year's matchup between the Spartans and Sun Devils was a bit of a weird one. Arizona State collected a 16-13 win in a game where they didn't even hold a lead until hitting the game-winning field goal as time expired. This one would prove to be yet another heartbreaker for Mark Dantonio and Co. 

Matt Coghlin's fourth-quarter field goal was right down the middle and would send the game into overtime. But the next few moments are going to haunt the Spartans this week and perhaps even beyond: "12 men on the field." Coghlin's second try wasn't even close.

Brian Lewerke led the offense down the field to get into field-goal range following a go-ahead touchdown rush by Eno Benjamin. Lewerke threw for 291 yards to lead the Spartan offense. Darrell Stewart Jr. was the game's top receiver with nine catches for 121 yards. The lone Michigan State score game via a nine-yard Elijah Collins touchdowns rush.

It was a 175-pound true freshman quarterback who came into East Lansing and left with a win. Jayden Daniels threw for just 140 yards against the country's No. 13 defense, but his 15-yard scamper on 4th and 13 kept the Sun Devils alive with about 90 seconds left to play. The conversion led to what would prove to be the game-winning score.  

Herm came. Herm saw. Herm conquered. 

*Unconfirmed as I am sadly not a professional lip reader.

Temple 20, No. 21 Maryland 17

Perhaps we were too quick to crown Mike Locksley as the next big thing in the college football world? Maryland came into this game averaging a silly 71 points per game which was tops in the country. The offense struggled throughout this one and had put just two points on the board at halftime. Temple really clamped down in the red zone with two crucial goal-line stands in the final quarter.

The Terps managed 340 yards of total offense which is about 300 shy of their season average of 636 per game. Josh Jackson struggled while completing just 15 of 38 passes for 183 yards with a touchdown and a pick. Anthony McFarland Jr. was one of the few bright spots rushing for 132 yards and a score. Unfortunately for Mike Locksley, most of his problems came inside of the Temple five-yard line.

The Owls managed 427 yards of offense and were led by quarterback Anthony Russo, tailback Re'Mahn Davis, and wideout Jadan Blue. Russo threw for 277 yards with three scores and a turnover. Davis rumbled for 92 yards while Blue hauled in five passes for 132 yards and a touchdown.

No. 13 Penn State 17, Pittsburgh 10

Some stormy weather delayed what turned out to be a solid little rivalry game in Happy Valley. While not the most exciting game in the world, the Panthers had a chance to tie things up (or perhaps even go for the win) as time expired, but Pat Narduzzi's prayers weren't answered on a 30ish-yard heave to the end zone.

This one was tied heading into intermission and the Pitt offense wasn't able to do a whole lot thereafter. The Panthers had the chance to pull even with under six minutes left, but they were unable to punch the ball into the end zone from the one-yard line. Kicker Alex Kessman then missed a chip shot 19-yard field goal which is never ideal.

Both of the PSU touchdowns came courtesy of true freshman tailbacks Devyn Ford and Noah Cain, but Journey Brown was the game's leading rusher with 109 yards on 10 carries. Cain tallied 53 total yards while quarterback Sean Clifford connected on 14 of 30 attempts for 222 yards.  

This was the 100th matchup between the in-state foes and their last scheduled meeting. The Nittany Lions lead the all-time series 53–43–4.

TCU 34, Purdue 13

The Boilermakers got their first win last week against Vanderbilt. This time they fell flat in front of the home crowd in West Lafayette. The most impressive part of the TCU performance was completely taking Rondale Moore out of the game. The sophomore sensation touched the ball just four times for 25 total yards. 

Purdue put up just 204 yards of total offense and turned the ball over twice against the Horned Frogs. Quarterback Jack Plummer made his first start after Elijah Sindelar suffered a concussion last week. The redshirt freshman completed 13 of 29 passes for 129 yards with a touchdown and two picks. Brycen Hopkins led all wideouts with four catches for 77 yards. The Boiler ground game did nothing and totaled just 23 yards on 25 attempts. 

Gary Patterson's rushing attack ran wild against Purdue. The Frogs tallied 346 yards and three scores and pretty much did whatever they wanted. Darius Anderson ran for 179 and two scores while Sewo Olonilua added 106 and a touchdown of his own.

Nebraska 44, Northern Illinois 8

Scott Frost and the Cornhuskers found a little bit of offense this week against Northern Illinois. Adrian Martinez topped the 300-yard mark for total offense and found the end zone three times. Tailback Dedrick Mill had just 68 yards in the Huskers' first two contests. He ran for 116 and a score on 11 carries against the Huskies. Maurice Washington had just four carries but they went for 63 yards and included a 60-yard touchdown. The sophomore added another score on a 21-yard reception. 

The Nebraska defense came through this week allowing just a pair of field goals and forcing two turnovers. One concern? The Husker kicking game. With starting kicker Barret Pickering out with an injury, punter Isaac Armstrong handled the duties. He had two field goals and an extra point blocked in this one.

OHIO STATE 3-0 1 1
PENN STATE 3-0 3 3
IOWA 3-0 4 7
MICHIGAN 2-0 5 6
MARYLAND 2-1 7 5
NEBRASKA 2-1 8 8
MINNESOTA 3-0 10 11
PURDUE 1-2 11 10
INDIANA 2-1 12 12
ILLINOIS 2-1 13 13
RUTGERS 1-1 14 14

Northwestern 30, UNLV 14

The Wildcats used their bye week to prepare for UNLV, and they bounced back with a comfortable home win. The Hunter Johnson era got underway as the new starting signal-caller connected on 12 of 25 attempts for 165 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Johnson added another 55 yards and a score with his legs. Redshirt freshman running back Drake Anderson carried the load with 141 yards and a score on 26 carries.

Pat Fitzgerald's defense shut out the Rebels in the second half after giving up a touchdown in each of the first two quarters. The UNLV ground game gashed the Wildcats a bit as tailback Charles Williams dashed for 144 yards and two touchdowns.

Minnesota 35, Georgia Southern 32

This was a little too close for comfort for P.J. Fleck and the Gophers. With 13 seconds left, all-conference wideout Tyler Johnson hauled in his third touchdown pass to give Minnesota the win at home. A number of Minny miscues almost cost them against the Sun Belt opponent. 

Tanner Morgan threw for 289 yards with three touchdowns and two turnovers. Johnson was the star of the show with 10 receptions for 140 and all three of those scores. Rashod Bateman pitched in with three for 52 as the offense managed 382 yards and the two turnovers.

Georgia Southern put up 32 points with just 198 yards of total offense. The Eagles scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns without their offense even on the field. One came courtesy of Rashad Byrd who sacked Morgan and then returned it 44 yards for the go-ahead score. Another came off of a blocked field goal that the Eagles returned for a 77-yard touchdown.

Eastern Michigan 34, Illinois 31

I'm sure the masses had totally bought into the 2-0 Illinois hype train, but things came to a screeching halt against the mighty Eagles. The Illini managed to tie things up in the fourth, but Eastern Michigan drove down the field with ease to kick the game-winning field goal as time expired, ending Lovie Smith's pursuit of a perfect season. 

Brandon Peters threw for 297 yards with a pair of scores and an interception. Tailback Reggie Cobin had a big day rushing for 144 yards and a touchdown. USC transfer Josh Imatorbhebhe was the game's top receiver with four catches for 91 yards and a score. EMU quarterback Mike Glass had a big day putting up 353 yards of total offense and three touchdowns.

The teams had similar offensive outputs, but a pair of Illinois turnovers (both from Peters) were too much to overcome. 

This certainly wasn't a banner week in the Big Ten. We thought Maryland may be for real, but Temple's defense was just too much for Mike Locksley and Josh Jackson. The Terps will host Penn State in two weeks and that game was looking like it could be a battle of the unbeatens. That will no longer be the case thanks to the Owls.

I actually felt bad for the Michigan State fans yesterday. I can't even imagine that rollercoaster of emotions. It looked like a loss. Then it looked like it was heading to overtime. Then there was a yellow flag on the field and everyone was confused. And then your kicker completely shanks his second attempt. What a disaster it was in East Lansing and plenty of folks are upset with Mark Dantonio. 

The rivalry game in Ames went about as expected. These two teams have had some tight contests of late and it was no different yesterday. We didn't expect a lot of points, but the way things ended was unfortunate for Matt Campbell and his crew. One final Cyclone drive would have been fun to watch. 

Michigan State and Maryland both take a fall in our power rankings. I think the league's best teams are pretty clear at this point, but we'll obviously know more once things really get rolling in conference play. That's going to start next week with the first huge Big Ten matchup of the season.

Next week's big one is going down at Camp Randall as the No. 10 Wolverines take on the No. 14 Badgers in what will be one of the top games across the country. Both teams got a rest this weekend in preparation for one another. Jim Harbaugh has a lot to fix before he makes the trip west. The Buckeyes host the fine folks from Oxford and Michigan State will head to Evanston. 

I'm thinking we'll see the Badgers as about a five- or six-point favorite when the lines come out today. Who are you liking in Madison next week? Can Josh Gattis and the Wolverine offense finally get things going?

View 76 Comments