Bouncing around the Big Ten: Nebraska looks to continue dominance over Rutgers in Friday night road tilt
A look at Nebraska and Iowa's upcoming contests. A glimpse at the rest of the Big Ten. And a few games that might fly under the radar from around college football in the latest edition of Bouncing around the Big Ten.
Nebraska bounced back into the win column, toppling Indiana thanks to a 14-point fourth quarter. Minnesota lost in its first game as a ranked team this season, and Iowa fell short in an upset bid against Michigan. Here’s a look at Nebraska and Iowa’s games, while Minnesota goes on a bye.
Nebraska travels to Piscataway for Friday night matchup
The visiting Cornhuskers (2-3, 1-1 Big Ten) have won all five meetings in the series, most recently a Dec. 18, 2020, victory on the road. That was the last time Nebraska won a game outside of Lincoln, dropping six straight away from home since then.
Nebraska is coming off a 35-21 home win over Indiana, snapping a nine-game skid against FBS opponents. It marked the first victory for interim coach Mickey Joseph, who took over after Scott Frost was fired three games into the season.
“Indiana was one game,” Joseph said. “The sign of a good team is who can move forward and get to the next one.”
Rutgers (3-2, 0-2 Big Ten) has had a rough start to conference play after going unbeaten before Big Ten competition. On Saturday, the Scarlet Knights fell 49-10 at Ohio State after losing 27-10 at home to Iowa the week before.
The Knights have scored only 58 points in four games against FBS competition and are second-worst in the Big Ten in total offense (1,656 yards).
“Some of it’s coaching, some of it’s playing, some of it’s execution,” Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. “We’re working on it, though. We’re going to be OK.”
Nebraska, which is last in the Big Ten in scoring defense (32.6 points per game) and total defense (2,346 yards), held Indiana to 290 yards last week in the first game since Bill Busch took over as defensive coordinator. Rutgers had only 187 yards of offense at Ohio State and is averaging just 267.8 against FBS competition.
Rutgers quarterback Evan Simon is last in the Big Ten in passing yardage at 640 yards, while Nebraska’s Casey Thompson is in sixth place with 1,265 yards, just behind Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, a Heisman Trophy favorite.
Despite its early-season woes, Nebraska would take sole possession of the Big Ten’s West Division for one night with a victory. The Cornhuskers are currently in a six-way tie for the top spot with its 1-1 conference record. The seventh team, Wisconsin, is 0-2 in league action.
The contest is set to kickoff at 6 p.m. Friday from Piscataway.
Stout Iowa defense tasked with slowing down Chase Brown
Kirk Ferentz brings his Hawkeyes (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) to Champaign, Illinois, Saturday night at a time when Illinois (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten) is riding its best start since 2015 and threatening to earn its first Associated Press Top 25 poll appearance since 2011.
Of course, that would require Illinois to beat Iowa for the first time since 2008 — and this one could develop into an old-school Big Ten clash where points are at a premium.
Iowa, coming off a 27-14 loss to No. 4 Michigan, boasts the nation’s third-best scoring defense (10.0 ppg) and stands eighth overall in total yards allowed. But Illinois trumps that as defensive coordinator Ryan Walters’ unit ranks No. 1 in scoring defense (8.4 ppg) and No. 3 in yards allowed.
In Saturday’ 34-10 win at Wisconsin, Illinois’ multiple-look defense stacked up five sacks and two interceptions while holding the Badgers to 2 net rushing yards.
Iowa’s offense ranks a distant last among Big Ten teams in points (16.4 per game) and yards (242.2 per game), which has Bielema on high alert.
“Because of (our success) there’s a cousin that creeps in this world called complacency — and you just think these (good) things are going to happen,” Bielema said. “That brings victims out of all of us, right? So with our coaches, our players, anybody that speaks on it, that’s our big challenge.”
One of Iowa’s biggest challenges will be slowing down Illinois senior Chase Brown, who leads the nation with 733 rushing yards and owns six consecutive 100-yard games dating back to last year’s season finale against Northwestern.
“They’ve got an outstanding running back, not just a good running back,” Ferentz said. “A lot of the same challenges (as last week against Michigan) because these guys are really balanced. They make you defend the entire field and then their back is not the same as last week, but similar. He’s a really tough runner. He really runs hard and makes extra yards. We’re going to have to do a better job of getting off blocks and hopefully getting to the ball a little bit better.”
In the news
- Wisconsin fired head coach Paul Chrsyt on Sunday and named defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard as the interim head coach.
Last week’s Big Ten scores
Saturday, Oct. 1
Nebraska 35, Indiana 21
Purdue 20, Minnesota 10
Michigan 27, Iowa 14
Penn State 17, Northwestern 7
Ohio State 49, Rutgers 10
Illinois 34, Wisconsin 10
Maryland 27, Michigan State 13
This week’s games
Friday, Oct. 7
Nebraska at Rutgers, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 8
No. 4 Michigan at Indiana, 11 a.m.
Purdue at Maryland, 11 a.m.
Wisconsin at Northwestern, 2:30 p.m.
No. 3 Ohio State at Michigan State, 3 p.m.
Iowa at Illinois, 6:30 p.m.
In the AP poll
- Ohio State and Michigan at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, for the fourth week in a row. Ohio State is now receiving 10 first-place votes, its most of the season.
- Penn State moved up another spot and is now the third Big Ten team in the top 10, sitting right on the cusp at No. 10.
- Minnesota dropped out of the poll from No. 21.
- Maryland, Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue are all receiving votes.
Clear your schedule
Three FBS games you should tune into this weekend:
Texas at Oklahoma (at the Cotton Bowl) — 11 a.m. Saturday — The only matchup in the Big 12 that doesn’t feature a ranked team this week is the Red River Rivalry. Despite both teams not performing as well as some may have thought coming into the season, this showdown is traditionally an exciting game, and with Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers possibly returning, it could add even more intrigue to this one.
Purdue at Maryland — 11 a.m. Saturday — The noon slate this week is loaded, and this game could easily fly under the radar. However, this interdivision Big Ten matchup has potential to be a close game, and with a win Maryland could creep even closer to cracking the top 25.
No. 16 BYU at Notre Dame (in Las Vegas) — 6:30 p.m. Saturday — At the beginning of the season, this game appeared to be a marquee matchup, and while neither team has quite lived up to its preseason billing, it still figures to be a good one. Notre Dame has shown positive signs in its last two games, including a 45-point effort against UNC. Meanwhile, BYU comes to South Bend at 4-1 with a win over then-No. 9 Baylor under its belt, and quarterback Jaren Hall has thrown for 1,438 yards, 12 touchdowns with one interception.
Note: This report was compiled in part through previews from Field Level Media.