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Around the Big Ten, Week 10: Nebraska falls, Illinois on three-game win streak

Almost half of the conference had byes, so not a lot of action this weekend.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Every Sunday, after an entire Saturday’s worth of college football, we’ll take a look around the Big Ten. As the conference as a whole fights for respectability in the non-conference, or as its power dynamics shift on a week-to-week basis this fall, we’ll follow every team and try to piece together the puzzle that is the 14-week-long season all the way up until Indianapolis.

Here are the top storylines from Week 10:

Illinois continues to streak

The Fighting Illini are now .500 in the Big Ten after they topped Rutgers (2-7, 0-6) 38-10 in their third straight conference win. The Illinois defense stepped up after a slow first half, led by Dele Harding, who had 12 tackles and an interception. They also forced three fumbles and three sacks.

Offense didn’t look great on either side of the ball. Rutgers quarterback Johnny Langan went 5-10 and Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters went 6-11. On the ground, Illinois only gained nine more yards than Rutgers. For the Fighting Illini (5-4), their defense forcing turnovers and creating offensive opportunities made all the difference in this game — they need them to show up again to take on Michigan State next week in what will be a true test for a team with sudden bowl hopes.

Nebraska loses last minute to Purdue, 31-27

The two teams went back and forth taking the lead in the fourth quarter until there was 1:08 left to play, when Purdue (3-6, 2-4) secured the win with a touchdown from David Bell. Though the game ultimately went the way of the Boilermakers, quarterback Jack Plummer went down with an injury in the final section of the game, adding to what feels like a never-ending list of injuries for this team (which already includes their first-string quarterback and star wide receiver).

Nebraska (4-5, 2-4) quarterback Adrian Martinez, on the other hand, returned yesterday after missing two games for a knee injury and went 22-39 for 247 yards. It might just be panic time in Lincoln.

Michigan dominates Maryland, 38-7

The opening kickoff, which was returned for a 97-yard Michigan touchdown, gave everyone a good idea of how the rest of this game was going to go. The run by Giles Jackson gave the Wolverines (7-2, 4-2) the lead — which they would never lose — in just 11 seconds. Standout freshman Zach Charbonnet tacked on two touchdown runs in the first half to solidify Michigan’s large lead.

The highlight for Maryland (3-6, 1-5) came when Javon Leake also returned a kickoff for a 97-yard touchdown (the Terps’ only one of the game). His three kickoff return touchdowns is tied for the most in program history.

Other scores:

The only other game was the Northwestern-Indiana game. Read about it here.