Every Sunday, after a Saturday full of college football, we’ll take a look at some of the top story lines around the Big Ten. We’ll follow every team throughout the bizarre eight-week season all the way up until Champions Week.
Here are the top storylines from Week Two:
Maryland might not be so bad after all
This week of Big Ten football kicked off Friday with the Minnesota Golden Gophers traveling to Maryland. The Terrapins turned things around from last week’s loss at Northwestern, jumping out to a 14-0 lead. Although Minnesota quickly gained momentum and took over the lead, Maryland sent the game to overtime by scoring 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. In the extra frame, Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa ran in a touchdown after a pass interference call gave the Terps a fresh set of downs.
Although Minnesota wide receiver Seth Green was able to score for the Gophers on a wildcat run, kicker Brock Walker missed the extra point wide right, giving Maryland the 45-44 win. Tagovailoa threw for 394 yards and three touchdowns and ran in two more himself.
A surprise in the Big House
The running theme of this 2020 Big Ten season appears to be performances changing dramatically at a week-to-week level with lots of upsets. Coming off a loss to Rutgers, Michigan State defeated No. 13 Michigan on the road. Mel Tucker is the second coach in Spartan history to take down Michigan on their first try (the first was Nick Saban in 1995). Sparty struck first and led most of the way, taking a 10-point lead with five minutes left. Although Michigan was able to score a touchdown to cut the lead to three, they failed to recover the onside kick, giving the Spartans the Paul Bunyan Trophy for the first time since 2017.
MSU quarterback Rocky Lombardi threw three touchdowns and connected with receiver Ricky White eight times for a total of 196 yards and a touchdown. In addition, Michigan State did not turn the ball over once, a big improvement from the seven they had against Rutgers.
Ohio State knocks Penn State into an 0-2 hole
After Indiana stunned Penn State in overtime in Week One, the Nittany Lions had to bounce back with their toughest matchup of the year in hopes of salvaging any opportunity of reaching the Big Ten Championship. However, Ohio State held strong and took down Penn State 38-25 behind 318 yards passing and four touchdowns from Justin Fields — two of which went to Chris Olave and the other two to Jeremy Ruckert.
Ohio State jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and never looked back. The Nittany Lions tried to chip away at the Buckeye lead and capitalized on two missed OSU field goals, but ultimately couldn’t keep up. Penn State fell to 0-2 for the first time since 2010 and is out of Big Ten title contention, for all intents and purposes.
Purdue 31, Illinois 24
Illinois played without starting quarterback Brandon Peters who tested positive for COVID-19 this week. However, replacement Coran Taylor performed decently, throwing 17-for-29 and 273 yards. Taylor had two touchdowns but also threw two interceptions, and each team fumbled once. Purdue looked like they had the game locked up by the fourth quarter, but Illinois started to put together a comeback, scoring 14 unanswered points. However, they simply ran out of time before they could complete it.
No. 17 Indiana 37, Rutgers 21
A valiant effort from Rutgers saw them score first but didn’t score again until they were down 23-7. Indiana quarterback Michael Penix continued his good form, throwing for 238 yards and three touchdowns. Rutgers quarterback Noah Vedral could only put up 128 yards, two touchdowns and more crucially, three interceptions. Greg Schiano proved himself last week against Michigan State, but now the challenge for Rutgers will be avoiding turnovers — they have six already on the season.
Northwestern 21, Io_a 20
The Hawkeyes jumped out to a commanding 17-0 lead by the end of the first quarter thanks to two miscues from Northwestern. However, the ‘Cats slowly pulled themselves back into the game. The second half was a very defensive battle, but Northwestern running back Jesse Brown was able to punch in the winning score in the third quarter. Although Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras looked very good in the first quarter, his production quickly died down, and he threw three interceptions later in the game to help Northwestern claim victory. The ‘Cats, meanwhile, elected to use the run as their main weapon — they ran the ball a combined 60 times and only had 18 pass attempts.
Due to a COVID-19 outbreak at Wisconsin with 22 positive cases within the football program, Nebraska did not play the Badgers this week. Nebraska submitted a proposal to the Big Ten headquarters to schedule a game against Chattanooga, the FCS school that produced Terrell Owens, but commissioner Kevin Warren denied it. Nebraska will return to play next week against Northwestern, and word is not out on whether Wisconsin will play Purdue next weekend.