On Saturday, October 2nd, the Big Ten kicked off conference play. With non-conference match-ups completed, teams were ready to sink their teeth into the meat of their schedules. Five conference games were played, each with their own highlights and struggles. Here is a summary of each game, including score updates and all-star player reviews.
#2 Ohio State at Illinois
The Ohio State Buckeyes traveled to Champaign to open their Big Ten schedule. The Buckeyes looked to continue their road towards Glendale and the BCS National Championship Game. Illinois, however, has been notorious as Buckeye season spoilers. This year’s match-up featured Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor looking to further his Heisman hopes. The game began with Illinois striking first, in the form of a QB Nathan Scheelhaase rush. The Buckeyes were quick to answer, with a Pryor pass to Brandon Saine on their very next possession. Towards the end of the second quarter, Illinois pulled back ahead, with the completion of a field goal. Ohio State once again quickly found the endzone, again with a Pryor pass, this time to Dane Sanzenbacher. At the end of the half, the Buckeyes led 14-10.
The third quarter saw no endzone action, and Ohio State QB Pryor was sent to the locker room with a quadricep injury. Buckeye Nation let out a collective sigh of relief when Pryor was brought back into the game towards the end of the third quarter. Pryor’s abilities seemed limited, and the Buckeyes concentrated on running the ball for the rest of the game. The Buckeyes kicked a field goal at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and the Illini were quick to answer with a field goal of their own. With less than five minutes on the game clock, the Buckeyes once again found the endzone through a Dan Herron rushing TD. Illinois ran out of time before they could score again and the Buckeyes were able to keep their undefeated record in tact. Not the prettiest game ever played in Memorial Stadium.
Ohio State hosts Indiana
Illinois travels to Penn State
#11 Wisconsin at #24 Michigan State
These two ranked teams met in Spartan Stadium, minus one coach. Michigan State was down head coach Mark Dantonio watched the game from his hospital room, recovering from a heart attack and blood clots. The only score during the first quarter came in the form of a Spartan field goal. Wisconsin scored back-to-back in the beginning of the second quarter, first with a James White rushing TD and a field goal following a Spartan fumble. Michigan State answered with a field goal of their own, and returned a punt for a TD on their next possession. The Spartans furthered their lead with a QB Kirk Cousins TD pass completed to Mark Dell. End of the half score: 20-10 MSU.
The Badgers scored on their first possession of the second half, with another James White rushing TD. Michigan State failed to convert a fourth down attempt on the Wisconsin one yard line, giving the gall back to the Badgers with no points put up. The Spartans scored on their next possession, however, with Cousins hooking up with Charlie Gantt in the endzone. Wisconsin answered on their next possession, as QB Scott Tolzien found Jacob Peterson in the endzone. With time running out, the Spartans sealed their victory with another Cousins TD pass to B.J. Cunningham. Cousins found the endzone for a total of 3 TDs, but also threw 2 interceptions. The Spartans were happy to bring home another victory for coach Dantonio.
Wisconsin hosts Minnesota
Michigan State travels to Michigan
#22 Penn State at #17 Iowa
Last year;s match-up of these two teams was a nail-biter, coming down to a last minute field goal by Iowa to win the game. This, however, the game was won much more decisively by the Hawkeyes. Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi played well, with 227 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. Stanzi’s TD pass came at the end of the first quarter, following and Iowa field goal earlier in the quarter, as he connected with Derrell Johnson-Koulianos to take their lead to 10. Stanzi also scored on the ground during the second quarter, further the Hawkeye lead to 17-0. Penn State finally got on the board right before the half, in the form of a field goal. Score at the half: 17-0.
Things didn’t get any better for Joe Pa’s Nitany Lions during the second half. The third quarter saw no change to the scoreboard, and Iowa sealed their victory late in the fourth quarter with a pick-six and a successful PAT. Final score: 24-3. Iowa’s defense played outstandingly, holding Penn State to just 54 rushing yards and only 3 points put up. The Hawkeyes prove they deserve their ranking in this battle between two ranked teams.
Iowa travels to Michigan
Penn State hosts Illinois
#19 Michigan at Indiana
The Wolverines try to continue their first successful season since the Rich Rodriguez era. Breakout QB star Denard Robinson looked to further the team’s offensive power and put away the Hoosiers. Indiana kept the game close, matching scores throughout most of the contest. Indiana struck first, with QB Ben Chappell pass to Duwyce Wilson. Michigan answered, with a pair of Robinson TD’s, the first on the ground and the second in the air to Roy Roundtree. The second quarter saw more action, with Indiana evening the score with a rushing TD from Darius Willis. Michigan pulled back ahead, as Robinson connected with Kevin Koger and Indiana once again answered as Chappell found Damario Belcher in the endone. Score at the end of the half: 21-21.
Scoring continued in the second half, with three more TD’s: the Wolverines got a Robinson-Junior Hemingway passing TD, a second Willis run for Indiana, and Vincent Smith ran in the ball for Michigan. Scoring subsided until the last few minutes of the game, and Willis scored again, this time through the air from Chappell’s pass. With 17 seconds left, QB Denard Robinson saved the game for the Wolverines, find the endzone on the ground. Final score: 42-35. Both QB’s stats were strong: Robinson had 277 yards, 3 TDs, and Chappell had 480 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 INT. Certainly a nail-biter in Bloomington as the Wolverines find victory.
Michigan hosts Michigan State
Indiana travels to Ohio State
Northwestern at Minnesota
With the only game featuring no ranked teams, the match-up between the Golden Gophers and the Wildcats was one of the more exciting games in the Big Ten. Northwestern missed a PAT on during the second quarter, then missed a 2-pt conversion during the fourth quarter, and still managed to kick a last minute field goal to win the game. Minnesota led at the half, 21-14. The Gophers put up 3 TDs, two by the air (including a completion thrown by RB Duane Bennett). Additionally, Bennett caught a TD pass from QB Adam Weber. DeLeon Eskridge also found the endzone on the ground for the Gophers. On the Wildcat side, QB Dan Persa connected with Tony Jones for the first TD and Mike Trumpy ran in the second.
The only score during the third quarter came from Northwestern, as Jacob Schmidt ran the ball into the endzone, but the Wildcats miss the PAT to tie the game. Weber and Eric Lair connected during the fourth quarter to further the Minnesota lead, but Northwestern answered with a Persa TD pass to Jeremy Ebert. The Wildcats finally pulled ahead on a field goal with two minutes left. Minnesota was unable to score again, leaving the Wildcats with the victory, despite two lost fumbles and an interception. Overall, a great contest in TCF Bank Stadium.
Minnesota travels to Wisconsin
Northwestern hosts Purdue (off Bye Week)