It may not have been the 60-point blowout we were expecting, but Ohio State had no problems with the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway. The starters only saw the field for about a half as Justin Fields led the way with four touchdowns and his first 300-yard passing performance.
Seeing 21 points in the Rutgers column may be a bit disappointing, but a muffed punt led to the first touchdown and the second-half scores did come against the Buckeye backups. Still, it's something that Ryan Day and his staff will certainly be addressing this week.
There were a couple of big ones in the conference this week, and the Buckeyes are now the Big Ten's lone unbeaten thanks to some more Hawkeye shenanigans at Kinnick.
No. 20 Iowa 23, No. 8 Minnesota 19
Hawkeye defensive end A.J. Epenesa showed exactly why he's going to be a top NFL Draft pick in April. The Gophers had the ball with just over a minute left, and P.J. Fleck's squad had a chance to take the lead. Epenesa delivered what may have been the play of the game with a late sack of Tanner Morgan. The eight-yard loss was one of his 2.5 sacks and helped to seal the deal for the Hawkeyes.
AJ Epenesa looking like @AaronDonald97 with that "power pop" move. Sell power to one side, then "pop" to the other side with a snatch/swim. Works inside or outisde.@ajepenesa24 is one of the best pass rushers in college football! #Hawkeyes #PassRush pic.twitter.com/RiTdThIE0U— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) November 17, 2019
Nate Stanley and Tyler Goodson did the bulk of the work for the Iowa offense. Stanley threw for 173 and two scores while Goodson led the way on the ground with 94 yards and a touchdown. The Hawkeye defense recorded six sacks on the day and Epenesa was constantly wreaking havoc in the Gopher backfield.
Tanner Morgan and the Minnesota passing game did have another productive outing. Morgan threw for 368 yards and a touchdown before getting banged up late in the fourth quarter. Tyler Johnson had nine catches for 170 yards and a score while Rashod Bateman added six for 98 yards.
The Gophers still control their own destiny in the West Division, but this obviously puts a damper on any sort of playoff hopes. Iowa has now won five in a row in the rivalry.
No. 15 Michigan 44, Michigan State 10
A solid Spartan run defense meant that Mark Dantonio would likely force Shea Patterson to beat them with his arm in Ann Arbor. That's exactly what went down yesterday afternoon, and Patterson answered the bell by having the best game of his Wolverine career.
The senior connected on 24 of 33 passes for 384 yards and four touchdowns. Heading into this contest, Michigan hadn't had a 300-yard passer since Wilton Speight back in 2016. Ronnie Bell was the game's leading receiver with nine receptions for 150 yards. Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins both hauled in touchdown passes on the day.
The Spartan offense actually looked competent for about a quarter, but it did next to nothing after getting up to a 7-0 first-quarter lead. Brian Lewerke had another poor showing as he threw for 166 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Cody White was Lewerke's favorite target as he caught six passes for 78 yards. The Spartans managed just 220 yards on the day.
No. 9 Penn State 34, Indiana 27
This was a good game in Happy Valley, and Penn State still has some question marks on defense. The Hoosiers lost their top receiver when Whop Philyor exited in the first half, but the Nittany Lion pass defense continued to struggle.
Peyton Ramsey had a big day hitting on 31 of 41 passes for 371 yards and a score. In Philyor's absence, it was David Ellis and Ty Fryfogle doing most of the damage. Fryfogle tallied 131 yards and a touchdown on five catches while Ellis added another 85 yards. Ramsey pitched in with 31 yards and two touchdowns on the ground as well.
James Franklin had a balanced attack on offense with 179 yards through the air and 192 on the ground. Noah Cain was held out yet again, so it was Journey Brown and Sean Clifford doing most of the work. Browns rushed for 100 yards and a score. Clifford totaled 234 yards of offense and a trio of touchdowns. K.J. Hamler exited the game in the first quarter, but his head/neck issue is believed to be minor.
No. 14 Wisconsin 37, Nebraska 21
It was a tight battle in Lincoln until a 20-point second quarter led to a road win for the Badgers. Jonathan Taylor did some major damage as he rumbled for 204 yards and a pair of scores. Jack Coan didn't need to do a whole lot, but the junior did throw for 162 yards and connected with A.J. Taylor for a 55-yard scoring strike.
Since arriving at Wisconsin in 2017, Jonathan Taylor has now rushed for 604 yards and 17 touchdowns against the poor Huskers. Yesterday's performance broke Herschel Walker's record for most rushing yards through one's junior season. Taylor is now up to 5,634 yards on his career.
Jonathan Taylor is now No. 2 all-time rusher in Big Ten history. Passes Archie Griffin.— Colten Bartholomew (@CBartWSJ) November 16, 2019
Dedrick Mills had himself a big day for Nebraska and Adrian Martinez wasn't too shabby either. Mills ran for 188 yards and a touchdown on just 17 carries. Martinez put up 309 yards of total offense including two touchdowns and an interception.
It was announced yesterday that Nebraska elected to extend Scott Frost through the 2026 season. It sure seems like the jury is still out, and those kinds of moves typically don't come until a head coach has done a little bit of winning.
Northwestern 45, UMass 6
The Wildcats got down 3-0 in the first quarter against the Minutemen, and I briefly thought we were on our way to an embarrassing loss. Alas, Pat Fitzgerald got things turned around rather quickly and cruised to an easy home win.
Northwestern threw the ball just 13 times in this one, and two of Aidan Smith's attempts ended in turnovers. The rushing game was a different story as the Wildcats pounded UMass over and over to the tune of 334 yards and five touchdowns on an absurd 52 attempts. True freshman tailback Evan Hull had just 15 yards on the season before this game. He exploded for 220 yards and four touchdowns on Saturday.
The Minutemen put up 310 yards of total offense with 227 of those yards coming through the air. An 85-yard touchdown return off of a blocked field goal also helped Northwestern to put an end to the seven-game losing streak.
We've obviously got some changes toward the top of our power rankings this week. The playoff committee hasn't been showing much respect for the Golden Gophers, but none of that's going to matter moving forward. The loss in Iowa City has Minnesota down to No. 5.
I suppose one could make the case to have the Gophs ahead of Michigan, but Jim Harbaugh seems to have things trending in the right direction. The Wolverine defense is top-10 in the country and the offense is starting to show some signs of life.
The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions sit atop the rankings, and the stage is set for next Saturday's noon-time affair in Columbus. College GameDay will be in town for what is likely the Big Ten's most anticipated matchup of the season.
Elsewhere in the conference, there will be an intriguing contest in Bloomington with the Hoosiers and Wolverines butting heads. Wisconsin hosts the banged-up Boilermakers and the Gophers will look to bounce back in Evanston.