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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Big Ten Roundup: OSU holds off Indiana, Iowa beats up on Minnesota

Much like a pancake that “got away," the games in the Big Ten conference were lopsided and unpleasing to most people. Blowouts seemed to be the agreed upon game plan this weekend. It was a rare moment when even the fans of the winning team are left wanting more.

Hoosiers can’t do enough to upset Ohio State

The Hoosiers (no, not the ones from the basketball movie) were unable to upset the still-undefeated Buckeyes as they pulled away late in the fourth quarter to polish their now 6-0 record.

Early in the game, it was business as usual as the Buckeyes took a 14-3 lead thanks to sophomore J.K. Dobbins' 1-yard rushing touchdown and fellow sophomore Dwayne Haskins' 40-yard bomb.

Trying to hold off the inevitable OSU win, IU junior quarterback Peyton Ramsey flung two touchdowns to try and lead the comeback. His first was an across-the-body, Brett Favre-like pass to sophomore tight end Peyton Hendershot, and the second was a bullet to senior Nick Westbrook to make things interesting at 17-14.

Haskins then tossed a pair of touchdowns to running back Paris Campbell and wide receiver Terry McLaurin to make it 28-17 at the half. Now with a head full of steam and a heart full of courage, Campbell opened up the second half with a 71-yard catch-and-run score on a wheel route to nearly bust this game open.

"Nearly" is the key word as Ramsey led a quick drive down the field with less than five minutes in the third to get the Hoosiers within 5. But two more touchdowns by Buckeyes’ gunslinger Haskins made the points moot as the Buckeyes cruised in the fourth to a 49-26 victory, despite allowing lots of big plays on defense.

Illinois beats Rutgers in a yawn-inducing game

In a forgettable game, the Illinois Fighting Illini overran a young Rutgers Scarlet Knights team. (So forgettable I had to look up the score. It was 38-17.)

The game sputtered like an old car for Rutgers quarterback Artur Sitkowski as his first throw was a pick and an Illinois field goal.

It got better next drive as running back Jon Hilliman ran 32 yards for the score to make it 7-3 Rutgers.

But then Illinois’ verteran quarterback AJ Bush got going, leading the Illini down the field for three straight scoring drives involving a direct-snap rushing TD almost botched by an improbable bobble, a 41-yard scramble and score up the gut and a 70-plus-yard, coast-to-coast rushing touchdown by senior running back Reggie Corbin.

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Sitkowski got a touchdown pass with less that two minutes in the first half to make it 24-14, but after a scoreless third quarter, Illinois pulled away to win 38-17 in a game that means Rutgers might go winless in the Big Ten, and that’s about the only other implication to the conference.

Please tell me the schedule heats up soon.

Iowa holds off Gophers’ challenge

The Iowa Hawkeyes were able to whack the Minnesota Gophers 48-31 in a crucial game following their heartbreaking loss to the Wisconsin Badgers two weeks prior.

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley was able to get things rolling with a couple passing touchdowns that included a quick shot to senior T.J. Hockenson and a rainbow deep down the heart of the defense to a wide open Ihmir Smith-Marsette.

However, the Gopher’s young signal-caller Zack Annexstad was able to hit paydirt with a 3-yard toss to fellow freshman Rashod Bateman to make it 14-7.

Stanley had an impressive first half and added another touchdown alongside a rushing touchdown by tight end T.J. Hockensen on a direct snap to go up 28-10. But after a pick by Stanley put the Gophers in good field position right at the end of the half, Annexstad threw in another touchdown to make it 28-17 at the break.

After the Gophers held Iowa to a field goal and backup quarterback Seth Green scored off a read option to get the game within a touchdown, the Gophers were thinking they could steal the win and the Floyd of Rosedale trophy.

But the celebration was too soon; Iowa was able to clinch the victory thanks to a few quick scores and a late pick by sophomore Geno Smith to draw the curtain upon the gridiron stage in a 48-31 victory and bring the big pig trophy back to Iowa City.

Looking ahead

The two games to look forward to this week are Wisconsin vs. Michigan as the Badgers try to advance in the power rankings past the higher-rated Wolverines. The Badges defeated Jim Harbaugh's unit last year and are looking for a repeat. This game will be at 6:30 at Michigan Stadium.

The other must-see game involves Michigan State at Penn State. Battle of the states! Both teams are coming off losses and are looking to rebound. The Spartans must find a way to halt the offensive juggernaut that is the Nittany Lions in a explosive matchup that’s sure to be the football equivalent of Dwayne Johnson movie.

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