Along with Northwestern’s victory over Rutgers, there were plenty of other solid Big Ten games to keep your eyes on this past weekend. While the likes of Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, Maryland and Illinois were all on bye on Saturday, three surprisingly entertaining games were played. Whether you chose to avoid those games or just chose to step away from football for the weekend, we’re recapping the best games in the conference right here in this week’s edition of Around the Big Ten.
Purdue sends No. 2 Iowa to a deep, dark place
That’s about the best way to describe the events that unfolded in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes came into this game favored by 11 points in Las Vegas, but they didn’t even bother to make it remotely competitive past the second quarter. Instead, the Boilermakers took the lead just before going into the half and never looked back.
Problems were ever-present for Iowa throughout. For starters, quarterback Spencer Petras threw four interceptions, pretty much slashing any hopes for the Hawkeyes to score more than three touchdowns. Their only touchdown of the game came on a three-yard run by Ivory Kelly-Martin, with their main workhorse back in Tyler Goodson unable to find paydirt and recording just 12 carries for 68 yards. Overall, Iowa’s offense looked lackluster at its best and downright horrific at its worst, a troubling sign for the team now ranked No. 11 in the AP Poll.
For Purdue, it was Aidan O’Connell and David Bell leading the way. O’Connell played what was likely one of the best games of his entire career, carving up the Hawkeye secondary — a secondary that was regarded as one of the best in the country — for 375 yards and two touchdowns. Bell posted a career game as well, snagging 11 receptions for an absurd 240 yards and one touchdown. Because of this win, Purdue now finds itself at No. 25 in this week’s AP Poll, making this the first time the Boilermakers have been ranked since 2007.
Minnesota continues to improve, takes down Nebraska 30-23
What an up-and-down season its been for the Golden Gophers. They opened their season against Ohio State and jumped out to a lead at halftime, only to lose star running back Mohammed Ibrahim for the season to an Achilles injury and end up losing by two touchdowns. They went on to best Miami of Ohio by just five points then beat Colorado by 30, only to lose to Bowling Green at home the week after in a game in which they were favored by 30 points. After that, they head to West Lafayette and take down Purdue by a touchdown.
Finally, enter Nebraska, a team that probably wasn’t sure which Minnesota it would end up seeing on the field. The answer, of course, would end up being the good version of the Golden Gophers. Bryce Williams, Minnesota’s now-starting running back, balled out, carrying the ball 17 times for 127 yards and one touchdown. Meanwhile, Chris Autman-Bell added on 11 catches for 103 yards and one touchdown for the Golden Gophers, further solidifying himself as their WR1.
For the Cornhuskers, Adrian Martinez was stifled on the ground and through the air, as he recorded just one touchdown on a nine-yard pass to Austin Allen with 1:12 left in the fourth quarter. Nebraska now sits at 1-4 in conference play after beating the stuffing out of Northwestern just two weeks ago.
No. 10 Michigan State narrowly avoids upset in Bloomington
Any chance that Kenneth Walker III had at winning the Heisman trophy effectively ended Saturday, as a game largely dominated by both defenses marked the third time this season Walker has rushed for under 100 yards.
In the end, Walker finished with 23 carries for 84 yards and zero touchdowns, recording a mere 3.6 yards per carry, a season low. As mentioned previously, defense dominated this game, with Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne and Indiana quarterback Jack Tuttle throwing two interceptions a piece and both finishing with a QBR below 32.0. Spartans’ kicker Matt Coghlin, who seems like he’s been taking classes in East Lansing for about 15 years, was the MVP for MSU. He nailed two field goals, one of which came from 51 yards out, and accounted for eight of the Spartans’ 20 points.
Regardless of how sloppy this game was, Michigan State now sits at 7-0 and No. 9 in the most recent AP Poll. It’s been an unbelievable turnaround for Mel Tucker’s squad, who finished dead last in the Big Ten East in 2020 at 2-5.
Wisconsin 20, Army 14