The B1G Weekly Recap: Top Teams Fall As B1G Struggles In Week Two

This weekend certainly could have gone better for the Big Ten Conference. The conference as a whole went just 8-5 on Saturday, including two losses to MAC schools. And it could have been worse. Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, and Maryland all needed 4th quarter touchdowns to win their games over teams they should not have needed 4th quarter touchdowns to beat.

Illinois 42, Western Kentucky 34

The Fighting Illini needed another 4th quarter comeback this week to defeat the Hilltoppers after eeking past Youngstown State in their opener. Down 27-21 going into the final frame, the Illini pulled away with three scores before Western Kentucky put a final touchdown on the board with less than a minute to go. Leon Allen had 118 yards rushing on 24 carries for the Hilltoppers, but just 6 yards after halftime.

Wes Lunt again led the way for Illinois, throwing for 456 yards and three touchdowns to improve to 2-0 as the Illini quarterback. Illinois travels west to take on the Washington Huskies next week.

Nebraska 31, McNeese State 24

Ameer Abdullah saved the Cornhuskers from a humiliating defeat at the hands of an FCS side in a game no one expected to be this close. Leading 24-14 at the start of the 4th quarter, Nebraska coughed up the lead and was looking at the possibility of overtime before Abdullah took a short pass from Tommy Armstrong Jr. and broke five tackles on a 58-yard jaunt to the end zone with just 20 seconds on the clock.

Abdullah was close to being tackled short of the line to gain on the third down play that won the game, but pulled off an amazing play to win the game for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers travel west as well next week when they will take on the Bulldogs of Fresno State.

Penn State 21, Akron 3

Christian Hackenberg led the Nittany Lions to 2-0 behind 319 passing yards and three touchdowns. The sophomore also had two interceptions that kept Akron in the game longer than they should have been. The run game did not get going for either team in this one, with Penn State rushing for 106 yards on 31 carries and the Zips gaining just 69 yards on 25 attempts.

The Nittany Lions will look to improve their consistency on offense next week when they travel to Rutgers to welcome the Scarlet Knights to the Big Ten.

Central Michigan 38, Purdue 17

Not a great day for Purdue as Central Michigan won this one handily, leading the entire way. The Chippewas opened the scoring not even five minutes into the game when Brandon Greer picked off Danny Etling and took it to the house. The Boilermakers trailed 21-7 at the break but could only manage to get within 11 points before Central Michigan ran away with this game.

Thomas Rawls ran for 155 yards and two scores to lead the Chippewas over Purdue. The Boilermakers will take on Notre Dame next weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Rutgers 38, Howard 25

For the second straight game, Rutgers running back Paul James led the way to victory with three touchdowns. This time, just one came on the ground as James caught two passes all day and took both to pay dirt. James had just 43 rushing yards but the 100 he gained from pass plays more than made up for his lack of production in the ground game.

Gary Nova threw for 282 yards and four touchdowns as the Scarlet Knights easily dispatched the Bison. Rutgers plays their first Big Ten conference game next week when Penn State visits Piscataway.

Wisconsin 37, Western Illinois 3

It took Wisconsin just one second to get on the board in this matchup, when Kyle Hammonds misplayed the opening kickoff for Western Illinois, allowing the ball to exit the end zone before he grabbed it and took a knee in the end zone for a safety. It stayed 2-0 until Tanner McEvoy ran one in from 7 yards out with just over two minutes left in the first half.

The Badgers ran away with this one in the second half, scoring four unanswered touchdowns and shutting out the Leathernecks over the final 30 minutes of play. Now even at 1-1 on the season, Wisconsin has a bye next week before hosting Bowling Green.

Northern Illinois 23, Northwestern 15

Things have just gone from bad to worse for Northwestern after losing to MAC school Northern Illinois at home. The Wildcats threw for 322 yards in the loss, but struggled on the ground where they gained just 72 yards compared to 221 for the Huskies. Da’Ron Brown led the way for Northern Illinois with 128 receiving yards and two touchdown catches.

Northwestern has started the season 0-2 for the first time in Pat Fitzgerald’s time in charge and will look to get back in the win column in two weeks when they host Western Illinois after a bye next week.

Minnesota 35, Middle Tennessee 24

Minnesota running back David Cobb led the way to victory this week for the Golden Gophers. Cobb ran for a career-high 220 yards on 29 carries and found the end zone twice as the Gophers pulled away from the Blue Raiders. Minnesota managed just 67 yards passing on the day, but it ended up not mattering as the run game was more than enough to put away their Sun Belt opposition.

Next up on the docket for the Golden Gophers is a trip to play TCU.

Iowa 17, Ball State 13

Despite gaining over twice as much yardage as Ball State, Iowa needed a last-minute touchdown pass from Jake Rudock to Jake Duzey to avoid the upset in Iowa City. The Cardinals scored first when Blake Dueitt picked up a fumble and took it 35 yards for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter. Ball State actually held on to that lead and extended it to 13-3 before Iowa got their first touchdown with 2:52 remaining.

Rudock finished the day with 322 yards passing and two touchdowns, while also leading the Hawkeyes in rushing with 36 yards. Iowa plays host to in-state rival Iowa State next weekend.

Maryland 24, South Florida 17

Maryland played sloppily at best to earn their second victory of the short season. The Terrapins turned the ball over six times and needed to recover a blocked punt in the end zone to take the lead for good with 12 minutes to play in the 4th quarter. C.J. Brown threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns in the win.

Marcus Leak caught both touchdowns from Brown and Maryland will next welcome West Virginia into Byrd Stadium.

Oregon 46, Michigan State 27

What once looked like it would be an impressive road win for Michigan State and the Big Ten quickly turned ugly in the second half as the Ducks scored the final 28 points to pull away from the defending Big Ten champions. A pair of Connor Cook touchdown tosses late in the 2nd quarter gave the Spartans the lead going into the half after Oregon had jumped out to a quick 11-0 advantage.

Marcus Mariota threw for 318 yards and three TDs as the Ducks won impressively after being down nine points early in the 3rd quarter. Sparty gets a bye next week before welcoming Eastern Michigan to East Lansing.

Notre Dame 31, Michigan 0

It had been 30 years, or 365 games, since Michigan was shut out in a game. The last team to shut out the Wolverines was Iowa back on Oct. 20, 1984. It was also the most lopsided victory for Notre Dame in the history of this series. Devin Gardner threw for 189 yards but committed four second half turnovers to seal the defeat for the Wolverines.

Brady Hoke moved to 7-12 in games played away from Ann Arbor as the Wolverines lost to a ranked team on the road for the 11th straight time. The Wolverines go back to Ann Arbor next week to play Miami (OH).

What was the biggest takeaway you had from this weekend’s set of games? Do you think the Big Ten has any chance at getting a spot in the College Football Playoff?

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