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 as 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 5:
Sean Clifford leads Penn State to easy win
Penn State dominated Maryland 59-0 in their first Big Ten matchup of 2019, coming out strong after a bye week to improve to 4-0. Quarterback Sean Clifford threw for 398 yards and three touchdowns, while also earning his first career rushing touchdown on the Lion’s first play of the game.
The Penn State defense impressed as well, allowing only 128 total yards. For comparison, their offense gained 619 yards. Ellis Brooks led the unit with six tackles and 2.5 sacks, and one interception apiece for Jan Johnson and Tariq Castro-Fields helped secure the shutout.
Ohio State emerges as possible Big Ten favorite
The Buckeyes cruised past the Cornhuskers 48-7 in one of their first few road tests of Big Ten play. Justin Fields was unforgiving once again with 289 yards and four touchdowns (3 passing, 1 rushing). This brings him to a total of 23 touchdowns in just five games, putting him on track for about 55 scores this season; to put that into context, Dwayne Haskins ended 2018 with 50.
J.K. Dobbins contributed with 177 rushing yards, and on defense, Jeff Okudah stood out with two interceptions, becoming the first player since 2016 to record multiple interceptions in a single game for OSU.
The win put the Buckeyes at 5-0 overall and 2-0 in conference play, and, following the win, they moved up one spot to crack the top four in the AP poll.
Michigan bounces back to beat Rutgers
After losing to Wisconsin last Saturday, Michigan had an easy path to redemption in facing Rutgers, a team that has yet to score a single point against a Big Ten opponent this season. The Wolverines seemed determined to redeem themselves, starting off the game with an 80-yard gain in just five plays.
The defense, led by Khaleke Hudson at viper, allowed the Scarlet Knights just 2.9 yards per play, paving the way for a 52-0 blowout. Since Rutgers joined the conference, teams have been shut out in Big Ten action 19 times. Nine of those have been the men from Piscataway, with a third of them coming against Michigan.
Wisconsin 24, Northwestern 15
Honestly, better than I expected?
Michigan State 40, Indiana 31
Michigan State’s offense responded well to pressure in what was a narrow win over Indiana. Brian Lewerke and Darrell Stewart Jr. led the team from the offense after the heralded Michigan State defense did not perform as well in the secondary as they did last week.
Iowa 48, Middle Tennessee 3
Iowa finished with 644 yards, the most in Kirk Ferentz’s career. Good for Iowa.
Minnesota 38, Purdue 31
The most important part of this game was Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan. His 95.5% completion percentage is a new Big Ten record: he finished 21-for-22 and totaled 396 passing yards and four touchdowns.
Tanner Morgan completed his first 12 passes today.— Minnesota on BTN (@MinnesotaOnBTN) September 28, 2019
The @GopherFootball QB finished 21 of 22 for 396 yards & 4 TD. pic.twitter.com/Rss9e1d5FC