Maryland football welcomed the Northwestern Wildcats to SECU Stadium in College Park for a Saturday afternoon Big Ten matchup.
A team spokesperson confirmed pre-game that Maryland star junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa would not play after reaggravating his knee injury last week versus Indiana. So, Maryland redshirt freshman Billy Edwards Jr. made his first start with the bye week on the brink.
The adversity ended up being no problem for the Terps, who walked away with a 31-24 victory. Maryland is 6-2 and clinched bowl eligibility at its earliest date in a season since 2001. The Terps will have next week off before traveling to Camp Randall Stadium on Nov. 5 for a date with the Wisconsin Badgers.
Highlighted by statement victories and a few deflating losses, here’s what stood out from this weekend of Big Ten football.
Biggest surprise: Northwestern vs. Maryland
The Terps’ explosive offense started slow, with their “QB1” missing his first game of the season.
Late in the first quarter, Northwestern took advantage of a short Maryland punt and was within striking distance at the 50-yard line.
Northwestern sophomore quarterback Brendan Sullivan’s 1-yard quarterback sneak touchdown gave the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.
Edwards Jr. led the Terps on a long 12-play, 87-yard drive, with running back Roman Hemby charging in for a 14-yard touchdown. Hemby’s rushing score evened the game at seven apiece.
A 24-yard field goal by graduate Adam Stage gave Northwestern a 10-7 lead.
The Wildcats took a 17-7 lead after Sullivan found junior running back Evan Hull out of the backfield for a 10-yard touchdown.
Maryland graduate kicker Chad Ryland closed the first half with a 20-yard field goal to trim Northwestern’s lead to 17-10.
The Terps opened the second half with an emphasis on using their rushing attack to get back in the game.
Hemby scored again on a 18-yard carry to tie the game at 17.
Edwards Jr. used his legs the entire afternoon, but would use his arm to help the Terps take the lead. With under a minute remaining in the third quarter, Edwards Jr. found star junior wide receiver Rakim Jarrett for a 30-yard touchdown.
Hemby’s game-winning 75-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter lifted Maryland to a 31-24 home victory over Northwestern.
Statement game: Minnesota vs. No. 16 Penn State
Minnesota traveled to Happy Valley for a Saturday night primetime matchup with the No. 16 Penn State Nittany Lions.
The contest started slow, as both clubs traded field goals in the first few minutes of the first quarter.
With fewer than 12 minutes until halftime, Penn State looked to put together a drive that would finish in the end zone. Penn State senior quarterback Sean Clifford led the offense on a seven-play, 76-yard drive, capped off with Clifford finding sophomore tight end Tyler Warren for a 38-yard touchdown. Clifford’s touchdown toss gave Penn State a 10-3 lead.
On Penn State’s ensuing possession, it began to find its rhythm.
The Nittany Lions used an eight-play, 86-yard drive, with Clifford tossing his second touchdown of the day on an 18-yard strike to sophomore tight end Theo Johnson.
Minnesota responded with an efficient nine-play, 90-yard drive that lasted just under 90 seconds. The Golden Gophers cut the lead 17-10 on a 3-yard touchdown run by senior running back Mohamed Ibrahim.
Coming out of halftime, Penn State searched for a score to stretch its lead.
In their first possession of the second half, Clifford led the Nittany Lions down the field in four plays. Clifford found sophomore wide receiver Parker Washington for a 35-yard touchdown to extend Penn State’s lead to 24-10.
Penn State found pay dirt on its next three possessions to cruise to a dominant 45-17 victory over Minnesota.
Penn State will welcome No. 2 Ohio State to Happy Valley for a noon matchup on Oct. 29. Minnesota will return to Huntington Bank Stadium for a matchup with Rutgers on Oct. 29 at 2:30 p.m.
Upset game: Purdue vs. Wisconsin
Purdue took its four-game winning streak on the road for a Big Ten clash with Wisconsin. In contrast, the latter was looking to rebound after suffering a 34-28 defeat last week to Michigan State.
The Badgers set the tone on the opening possession with a six-play, 76-yard drive. A mix of run and pass matriculated their offense effortlessly down the field. The drive was capped off with junior quarterback Graham Mertz connecting with freshman wideout Skyler Bell on a 29-yard touchdown. Mertz’s touchdown toss gave Wisconsin an early 7-0 lead.
Already holding a touchdown advantage, Wisconsin’s defense trotted out on the field looking to force a turnover or three-and-out of Purdue’s offense.
Wisconsin senior safety John Torchio intercepted Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell’s pass and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown. Torchio’s pick-six gave the Badgers a 14-0 lead on their home turf.
With fewer than four minutes until halftime, Wisconsin used an eight-play, 80-yard drive to storm down the field. Mertz tossed a short 3-yard touchdown to junior wide receiver Chimere Dike to give the Badgers a commanding 21-0 lead.
Purdue responded with a 13-play, 71-yard drive that lasted over five minutes. A 36-yard field goal by graduate kicker Mitchell Fineran cut the lead to 21-3 heading into intermission.
The Badgers put the game away with minutes to go until the final quarter. They needed just four plays for senior running back Isaac Guerendo to run a 54-yard touchdown in for Wisconsin’s 35-24 victory.
Purdue was unable to overcome three turnovers and struggled to stop the run. Wisconsin recorded 178 rushing yards, led by sophomore running back Braelon Allen. The Wisconsin native registered 17 touches, 152 scrimmage yards and a touchdown.
Purdue (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) will be off next week before returning home on Nov. 5 for a clash with Iowa. Wisconsin is on bye next week before Maryland travels to the midwest on Nov. 5 for a Big Ten showdown.