The pressure, Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said, was all on No. 2 Iowa.
The Hawkeyes started the season with six consecutive wins and the program had ascended to its highest ranking since 1985.
“For us," Brohm said, “let’s go out there and swing, and keep swinging, and hope for the best.”
The Boilermakers connected, just as they’ve been doing against the Hawkeyes in recent seasons.
Aidan O’Connell threw for 374 yards and accounted for three touchdowns, David Bell had a career-best 240 yards receiving, and Purdue continued its recent mastery over Iowa with a 24-7 upset Saturday.
The Boilermakers (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) have won four of their last five games against the Hawkeyes (6-1, 3-1). The loss ended Iowa’s 12-game winning streak, including nine consecutive in Big Ten play.
Purdue beat its highest ranked opponent on the road since a victory at No. 2 Notre Dame in 1974. It was the second time in four seasons Purdue has knocked off a No. 2-ranked team. The Boilermakers won at home against second-ranked Ohio State in 2018.
“Basically they outdid us in every category,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “The bottom line is we didn’t get it done.”
The Hawkeyes tried to be positive heading into their bye week. Their Big Ten West Division title hopes are still there, and they could still find themselves in the College Football Playoff picture if they win out.
“Our goals are all in front of us at this point,” quarterback Spencer Petras said. “One thing we can’t do is be undefeated, but everything else is out there for our taking. We’ve done a lot of good the first seven weeks, a lot of bad, most of that today. We have to regroup.”
But, Ferentz said, they had no answer for the Boilermakers, who took control of the game early. They never let Iowa’s offense get into a rhythm, and they kept the ball away from a defense that came in leading the nation in takeaways and turnover margin.
“We knew if we found a way to get a lead it would definitely help us,” Brohm said.
Purdue was 9 of 16 on third down, and two of the Boilermakers’ touchdown drives lasted 10 plays.
“They came out ready to roll,” Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell said.
O’Connell was 30 of 40 passing with two touchdowns, and he also ran for a score. He got the most work on a day when Purdue used backup quarterbacks Jack Plummer and Austin Burton in select situations. All three were in on different plays during the Boilermakers’ first-quarter drive that ended with O’Connell’s 6-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead.
“It was just so fun,” O’Connell said, comparing the quarterback shuffle to line changes in hockey.
O’Connell threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to TJ Sheffield in the final minute of the first half to give Purdue a 14-7 halftime lead. He threw a 21-yard TD pass to Bell in the fourth quarter.
“Sometimes when you try to use some creativity, it works,” Brohm said of the quarterback changes. “Sometimes it looks (bad). We took some chances with it, and fortunately today it worked.”
Bell had 11 receptions. He has a combined 37 catches for 558 yards and five touchdowns against Iowa in three seasons.
“I think the reason he’s been able to exploit them is he’s one of the best receivers in the country,” Brohm said.
O'Connell said the quiet Bell is “so destructive of a player for a defense.”
Bell didn’t know how many yards he had until he heard it from his mother after the game.
“It was definitely nice hearing it from her,” Bell said.
Iowa’s offense was ineffective against Purdue, which came in third in the Big Ten in total defense and scoring defense. The Hawkeyes’ only score was a 3-yard touchdown run by Ivory Kelly-Martin in the second quarter, and Iowa had just 271 yards of offense.
Iowa scored its fewest points at home since a 13-7 loss to Nebraska in 2012. The 17-point margin was Iowa’s largest in a home loss since Wisconsin won 28-9 at Kinnick Stadium in 2013.
The Hawkeyes’ defense, which came in leading the nation with 20 takeaways and a plus-15 turnover margin, only had one takeaway. That came in the third quarter when Sheffield, trying to dive for the end zone, had the ball slip out of his hand, hit the pylon and go out of bounds for a touchback.
Purdue intercepted Petras four times, the most thrown in a game by Iowa in 12 years.
The Hawkeyes, who had their highest ranking in 36 years after last week’s 23-20 win over Penn State, should take a big fall when the new poll comes out Sunday. Iowa has been in the top 10 since the second week of the season.
It was an uncharacteristic performance by Iowa’s defense, which gave up its most passing yards since 2016 and most total yards at home since 2012. Now the Hawkeyes face back-to-back road games against Wisconsin and Northwestern. Iowa has lost seven of its last nine games to Wisconsin and four of its last five to Northwestern. “It’s the first time we’ve had to deal with a loss in a while,” Ferentz said.
Wisconsin travels to Purdue next Saturday and then Iowa visits Wisconsin on Oct. 30.
No. 10 Michigan State 20, Indiana 15
Michigan State tight end Tyler Hunt delivered both times he touched the ball Saturday at Indiana.
First, Hunt avoided taking a sack near midfield with a 15-yard heave to quarterback Payton Thorne. Three plays later, he caught the game-changing 12-yard touchdown pass from Thorne.
And just that quickly, the 10th-ranked Spartans were back on track. Matt Coghlin opened the second half with the go-ahead 51-yard field goal, Hunt's big plays gave Michigan State the breathing room it needed and the defense held on for a 20-15 victory.
“That was a heck of a play," coach Mel Tucker said of Hunt's throw and Thorne's tap-dance catch in traffic on the sideline. “Good play call, good execution, we were just trying to get a first down and keep the chains moving."
No, it didn't follow Tucker's season-long script.
Kenneth Walker III, the nation's leading rusher, finished with 23 carries for 84 yards and the Spartans punted on all six first-half possessions.
But with Coghlin, Hunt and Thorne providing the second-half scoring punch, the Spartans (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) survived a scare, reclaimed the Old Brass Spittoon and remained atop the East Division.
“Turnovers were huge for us, defense was playing hard and holding them to low numbers, the offense was really disciplined in the second half and that was why we were able to get it done," Tucker said.
For the Hoosiers (2-4, 0-3), it was another day full of frustration.
Jack Tuttle started in place of injured quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and led Indiana to three first-half field goals but also threw an interception that Cal Haladay returned for a 30-yard TD — the Spartans first such score since the 2019 Pinstripe Bowl.
Tuttle also led the Hoosiers to their first TD against a conference opponent early in the fourth quarter — three plays after they had a scoring pass overturned by video review.
It's been that kind of season for Indiana, which has lost three of its last four.
“It continues to be the same issues — not finishing drives with touchdowns," coach Tom Allen said. “You give up a pick-six, which can’t happen. Protect the football. That’s what sticks out in my mind most. Dropped passes and you’ve got to make plays."
The first of Coghlin's field goals, a 51-yarder, gave Michigan State ta 10-9 lead. Hunt's touchdown, on his only catch of the game, made it 17-9. Indiana running back Stephen Carr's 1-yard scoring run cut the deficit to 17-15 early in the fourth quarter but the Spartans defense stopped Indiana's 2-point conversion attempt.
Coghlin sealed the win with a 49-yard field goal with 8:31 left.
Minnesota 30, Nebraska 23
Tanner Morgan threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns and Bryce Williams rushed for 127 yards and another score on Saturday as Minnesota defeated Nebraska 30-23.
The Gophers dominated the first half, taking a 21-9 lead behind near-perfect passing from Morgan. But Nebraska (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) flipped the script in the second half, forcing two interceptions to get back into the game. However, a number of missed opportunities prevented the Huskers from taking the lead and allowed Minnesota (4-2, 2-1) to hang on.
“Little details got us beat,” Nebraska head coach Scott Frost said. “I know the guys are kind of tired of hearing that. I’m tired of saying that, but that’s what it is. We got to do little things a little bit better and get this much better.”
Given short fields twice in the third quarter after Minnesota punts, the Huskers drove deep into Gophers territory but came up empty both times. First, the Gophers defense made three consecutive stops at the goal line to force a turnover on downs. Then Nebraska kicker Connor Culp missed a 27-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Huskers faced another decision midway through the fourth quarter when it was fourth-and-10 from the Minnesota 34. Trailing 21-16, Frost elected to go for it, but a heavy pass rush forced an incompletion and another turnover on downs.
“I'm proud of these guys for the way they came together," said Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck. “When the momentum was shifting, they didn't blink one bit. It wasn't going our way at times, but they never blinked."
Offensively, the Gophers were practically flawless in the first half. They scored touchdowns on three of their first four drives. The only blemish came early in the second quarter, after Minnesota had driven to the Nebraska 33. On second-and-8, the Gophers tried a trick play — a double-reverse flea flicker — that Huskers cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt blew up for a 12-yard loss. That possession ended with Minnesota missing a 50-yard field goal.
Morgan was 14-for-15 for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. He went on to set a school record with his 16th consecutive completion early in the third quarter, though his streak was snapped when Taylor-Britt picked off his next pass in the end zone.
Morgan's next pass was intercepted, too, and this time the Huskers took advantage. Safety Deontai Williams' pick set up Nebraska at the Gophers 45, and three plays later Rahmir Johnson scored his second touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run to cut Minnesota's lead to 21-16.
With five minutes to play and Minnesota leading 21-16, the Gophers punted instead of electing to go for it on fourth-and-1 near midfield. On first down from his own 11, Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez was wrapped up in the end zone by Esezi Otomewo. Martinez threw the ball away but was called for intentional grounding, resulting in a safety that made it 23-16.
Minnesota got the ball back after the safety and pushed its lead to 30-16 on a 56-yard touchdown run by Bryce Williams with 2:12 to play. Nebraska managed a late touchdown, but Minnesota recovered an onside kick to seal the victory.
The Huskers have lost five games this year by a total of 28 points. Their largest margin of defeat was an eight-point loss at Illinois in the season opener. They've also lost by seven at then-No. 3 Oklahoma, and by a field goal against ranked teams in Michigan and Michigan State.
“It’s hard to point at one thing besides executing down there,” Martinez said. "There’s 11 guys on the offensive side. One guy can’t make a mistake. Everyone’s got to be on the same page. The amount of detail, attention to detail, it’s something we’ve been working on. It’s something we know is a focal point for us. We just have to keep pushing forward, have to continue to work on those things and go from there.”
Gophers wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell has been in and out of the lineup this year, missing two full games and most of another with injuries. But he and Morgan showed what a devastating combo they can be on Saturday as they hooked up 11 times for 103 yards and a highlight-reel touchdown as Autman-Bell made a leaping catch in the corner of the end zone. His return to full health couldn't have come at a better time, according to Morgan.
“It's a huge difference, because of his leadership and obviously because of his playmaking,” Morgan said. “The energy he brings to the field — 7 (Autman-Bell's number) really gets me going. Chris knows me really well, he knows how to get me motivated.”
Northwestern 21, Rutgers 7
Ryan Hilinski threw for 267 yards and two touchdown passes on Saturday afternoon to boost Northwestern to a 21-7 victory over Rutgers.
Hilinski, making his third start since transferring from South Carolina, opened the scoring for the Wildcats (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) by capping off a 98-yard drive in the first quarter, hitting Malik Washington for a 64-yard touchdown pass. The completion — Hilinski’s longest as a Wildcat — helped his team secure its first conference win of the season.
“I think one of the biggest things is that we’re continuing to have fun,” Hilinski said. “This is a game we played when we were 5 years old. I personally play best when I’m having fun and just recognizing that this is a game we’ve been playing our whole lives.”
Washington plowed through a downfield defender on his touchdown grab and finished with 84 receiving yards on five catches. Fellow wideout Stephon Robinson Jr. had 115 yards, taking pressure off a Wildcats rushing attack that struggled to get going throughout the day. Often a key to Northwestern’s offensive approach, the ground game combined for just 135 yards on 48 attempts.
“Really proud of the squad,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “The way they bounced back this game and these last couple weeks. I thought they put a ton of work in to get better fundamentally. We were able to carry our preparation over into the game.”
Northwestern appeared to be a favorable matchup for the Scarlet Knights (3-4, 0-4 Big Ten), who were coming off three consecutive games against opponents currently ranked in the top 10. But with five of its first six drives ending in punts, Rutgers couldn’t muster enough offense to avoid opening conference play with four straight losses. Though quarterback Noah Vedral hit all four of his passes on Rutgers’ only scoring drive of the game, he put together an altogether inconsistent day, going 18 of 30 for 152 yards.
“It’s very disappointing,” Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. “We certainly have to assess where we are and why we’re here, and see what we can do to fix it. Some of it is personnel, some of it is execution. We’re trying to find an answer.”
Marshall Lang added a 2-yard touchdown reception in the second and Andrew Clair’s fourth-quarter TD run padded the lead for Northwestern, which led 14-7 at halftime.
The Scarlet Knights came up short on an opportunity to tighten the game in the third, as Valentino Ambrosio missed a 33-yard field goal after a delay of game penalty forced the team to scrap an attempt to go for it on fourth down.