Ohio State passed another crucial conference test yesterday when it topped the Nittany Lions in Columbus. Was it a perfect performance? Absolutely not. But in a way, it may be a good thing for the team to deal with a bit of adversity in the second half of a difficult matchup.
At one point it looked like Ryan Day could be cruising to an easy win over the No. 8 team in the country, but a trio of turnovers made this one more of a challenge than it could have been. Chase Young broke the single-season sack record as the defense continues its 180-degree turn from a season ago. Justin Fields threw a pair of impressive touchdown strikes and appears to be okay despite a bit of a late scare.
Elsewhere in the Big Ten, the conference's top teams cruised in some adverse weather conditions across the Midwest.
No. 13 Michigan 39, Indiana 14
It was a bit of a slow start on the road for Jim Harbaugh, but Shea Patterson and the Wolverine offense cruised to an impressive 25-point win. Patterson had another fine showing as he completed 20 of 32 passes for 366 yards with five touchdowns and an interception. He's now thrown for 750 yards and nine touchdowns over the last two games.
Nico Collins had a career day as he hauled in six passes for 165 yards and three touchdowns. Donovan Peoples-Jones pitched in with 73 yards and a score of his own. The Michigan ground game didn't have its best showing totaling just 87 yards on 29 carries. Zach Charbonnet was the leading rusher with 46 yards on eight attempts.
The Hoosiers got up to a 7-0 lead and had two touchdowns in the first half. The offense stalled after the break when the Wolverine defense tightened its grip. Peyton Ramsey threw for 217 yards with an interception. Stevie Scott III rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
No. 10 Minnesota 38, Northwestern 22
The Wildcats actually put up some points in front of the home crowd, but it was Tanner Morgan's four touchdown passes that told the tale. Last week's loss to Iowa left the redshirt sophomore in concussion protocol, but Morgan bounced back in a big way. He threw for 211 yards with the four scores and one interception in Evanston.
Only three pass-catchers touched the ball for Minnesota, but that was more than enough for P.J. Fleck. Tyler Johnson was the yardage leader with seven catches for 125 yards and a score. Rashod Bateman hauled in seven for 78 yards with three touchdowns. Rodney Smith and Mohamed Ibrahim led the ground attack with 77 and 76 yards, respectively.
This time the Wildcat offense was led by quarterback Andrew Marty—a sophomore from Cincinnati (Wyoming) who came into the season as the fourth-stringer. Marty threw for 95 yards and a touchdown and added another 52 yards and two scores with his legs. He had thrown just two passes heading into this contest. One of those two attempts was hauled in by fellow Skyline Chili lover Amir Riep back on Oct. 18.
No. 12 Wisconsin 45, Purdue 24
Jeff Brohm had the Boilers up by three points in the second quarter, but Wisconsin ran away with this one in the second half. Jonathan Taylor had his third-straight 200-yard rushing performance as he tallied 222 and a score on 28 carries. It was a fine showing in what may very well have been his last game at Camp Randall.
Jack Coan had an efficient outing completing 15 of 19 passes for 203 yards with two scores and an interception. Quintez Cephus was his favorite target as he hauled in five for 79 and a score. Wiscy recorded 606 yards of total offense with 403 of that coming on the ground. Zach Hintze set a new school record when he connected on a 62-yard field goal attempt.
Purdue rushed for just 50 yards and amassed 326 through the air. Aidan O'Connell threw for two scores and an interception while wideout Milton Wright tossed another touchdown via some trickeration. Brycen Hopkins was the game's leading wideout with 127 yards and two scores. True freshman David Bell continued his impressive season with 12 catches for 108 and a touchdown.
Jeff Brohm took the Boilermakers bowling in each of his first two seasons, but that won't be the case in year No. 3.
No. 17 Iowa 19, Illinois 10
I didn't get to see any of this game, but the box score tells me that I probably didn't miss a whole lot. The bulk of the scoring came via field goals as Hawkeye kicker Keith Duncan connected on four of his six attempts.
The other Iowa score came courtesy of tailback Tyler Goodson who ran for just 38 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Quarterback Nate Stanley had a solid yardage outing as he completed 18 of 35 attempts for 308 yards and an interception. Ihmir Smith-Marsette was the game's leading receiver with four catches for 121 yards.
Illini quarterback Brandon Peters ran into some problems in Iowa City. The Michigan transfer completed 16 of 31 passes for 125 yards with a touchdown and two picks. Peters did have a big day on the ground, however, with 76 yards on 10 attempts (and a lost fumble). Wideout Donny Navarro was on the receiving end of Illinois' only touchdown.
Michigan State 27, Rutgers 0
Squaring off against Rutgers continues to be the perfect recipe for a team struggling to find its footing. Amid rumors of Mark Dantonio's fate in East Lansing, the Spartans hit the road and collected an easy win against the Scarlet Knights.
Brian Lewerke hit on 21 of 30 attempts for 239 yards with three scores and an interception. Cody White had a huge day hauling in 11 passes for 136 yards and all three of the Sparty touchdowns. Elijah Collins rushed for 109 yards on 31 carries to lead Dino's ground attack.
The Rutgers offense managed just 140 yards and coughed the ball up twice against a Spartan defense that had hit a rough patch of late. Heading into this one, Michigan State had given up 81 total points in its previous two games against Illinois and Michigan.
Nebraska 54, Maryland 7
What a horrendous debut season for Mike Locksley. The Terrapins managed just 206 yards of total offense against a Nebraska defense that was ranked No. 81 nationally. To make matters even worse, it happened in front of the home crowd on senior day.
Adrian Martinez and the Cornhusker ground game gashed the Terps for 305 yards and four touchdowns. Martinez was the game's leading rusher with 94 yards and a score. He threw for another 194 with two touchdowns and a pick. JD Spielman was the game's leading receiver with seven catches for 104 yards and a pair of scores.
The Cornhusker defense forced four fumbles and recovered each one of them. Maryland even struggled to do something as simple as fielding a kickoff.
Nebraska just recovered its own kickoff.— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 23, 2019
Here's how it happened: pic.twitter.com/DMGakTjSvx
The Terrapin offense was nearly shut out, but a 58-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run by Javon Leake prevented that from happening. Leake was about the only offense Maryland could muster on the day as he rushed for 80 yards and the score on eight carries. He also coughed the ball up on three separate occasions.
While our power rankings haven't changed too much, there are plenty of big takeaways from week 13. Early in the season, Shea Patterson was fumbling the football on every other play and the Wolverine offense was a major question mark. That certainly hasn't been the case over the last two weeks.
Patterson's performance against the Spartans wasn't all that unexpected given the struggles in their secondary (No. 71 nationally), but Indiana had actually been pretty darn good against the pass (No. 11). Neither is anywhere close to Ohio State's level and the pressure the Buckeyes will bring will present a whole 'nother challenge, but it's been a pretty solid turnaround for the Wolverine passing game.
I've still got Michigan behind Wisconsin and Penn State primarily because of the head-to-head losses. But the Wolverines are playing better than them both right now and could be the second-best team in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes are heading to Indy yet again to represent the East Division. Next week it's a winner-take-all showdown between the Badgers and Gophers in Minneapolis. Ohio State has already handled Wisconsin once, and it sure feels like Minnesota would be the more imposing matchup.
Outside of the West Division play-in game, the Nittany Lions will play host to Rutgers and the Hawkeyes head to Lincoln. I believe there may also be some sort of rivalry game going down in Ann Arbor, and we will have all sorts of coverage leading up to that one.