Champaign, Ill. — Gus Edwards rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns as Rutgers ended a 16-game losing streak in the Big Ten with a 35-24 win over Illinois on Saturday.
The Scarlet Knights (2-4, 1-2) led wire to wire for their first conference victory since 2015 at Indiana.
“Nobody gave us a chance to come out here and win a football game,” Rutgers coach Chris Ash said. “I know that, but nobody gave up on each other in that locker room.”
Rutgers rushed for a season-high 274 yards. Edwards, Raheem Blackshear and Josh Hicks all scored touchdowns. Blackshear provided the most exciting run — a 19-yard gain up the middle on the Scarlet Knights’ second possession that he finished by running over defensive back Jalen Dunlap at the goal line.
Jeff George Jr. was 20-of-38 passing for a career-high 308 yards and a pair of touchdowns for Illinois (2-4, 0-3). George also threw two interceptions, totaling 12 in seven career games for the Illini, who have now lost six consecutive Big Ten games.
“Losing at home like that, it’s a tough deal,” George said. “We’ve got to find a way to be more competitive as a whole team — each individual player, myself included.”
The Scarlet Knights offense wasn’t nearly as effective through the air. Coach Chris Ash benched Kyle Bolin — who started in the team’s first five games — and went with Giovanni Rescigno, who completed 5 of 10 passes for 89 yards.
Ra’Von Bonner scored Illinois’ only rushing touchdown midway through the second quarter. After a 19-yard reception by Louis Dorsey to start to the drive, Ricky Smalling made a tough catch on the right sideline to put the Illini in the red zone. Bonner finished it with a 1-yard plunge on fourth-and-goal.
Despite its offensive woes, Illinois was still in the game late in the third. Trailing by 11, the Illini forced a three-and-out but Carmoni Green fumbled on the punt return. Rutgers recovered it and took over at the Illinois 21. Two plays later, Edwards scored on a 5-yard rush that put the Scarlet Knights ahead by three scores.
Smalling scored the first touchdown of his career in the fourth and finished with a career-high five catches for 111 yards.
“(This) isn’t where we want to be, but that’s where we are,” Illinois coach Lovie Smith said. “When you have a performance like this, thank God you get a chance to play another game.”
(At) No. 7 Wisconsin 17, Purdue 9: Jonathan Taylor ran for 219 yards on 30 carries, including a 67-yard touchdown.
Alex Hornibrook was 13 of 18 for 199 yards and a score but threw two interceptions for the Badgers, who held on to beat another division foe and take a commanding lead in the Big Ten West.
Defense saved the game for Wisconsin (6-0, 3-0).
Purdue (3-3, 1-2) drove from its 39 to the Wisconsin 10 before linebacker Leon Jacobs stepped in front of a sideline pass to Jackson Winthrop, staying inbounds for an interception with 8:14 left in the game.
The Badgers’ punishing ground game ran out the clock from there with a 16-play, 77-yard drive.
Wisconsin lost three turnovers and had a punt blocked but still managed to win because its defense held the Boilermakers to just three points over the four ensuing series.
No. 9 Ohio State 56, (at) Nebraska 14: J.T. Barrett passed for five touchdowns and ran for two others, and Ohio State scored on its first eight possessions.
The Buckeyes (6-1, 4-0) tied their school record with a fourth straight game of scoring 50-plus points, and now get a week off before their East Division showdown with third-ranked Penn State.
They rolled up 633 total yards and had 41 first downs while scoring the most points by a Nebraska conference opponent in Lincoln and most overall since Minnesota won 61-7 in 1945 when the Huskers were in the Big Six.
Barrett was 27 of 33 for a season-high 325 yards and rushed 10 times for 48 yards before giving way to backup Dwayne Haskins on the second series of the fourth quarter.
For Nebraska (3-4, 2-2), this beat-down followed a 21-point home loss to Wisconsin.
Northwestern 37, (at) Maryland 21: Justin Jackson scored two touchdowns and ran for 171 yards to become Northwestern’s career rushing leader.
Jackson has 4,639 yards on the ground over four seasons at Northwestern. He moved past Damien Anderson (4,485) to the top of the school list and also supplanted Anderson as Northwestern’s career leader in all-purpose yards with 5,350.
Clayton Thorson completed 27 of 49 passes for 293 yards and a touchdown to help the Wildcats (3-3, 1-2) avoid their first 0-3 start in the conference since 2013.
Northwestern amassed 531 yards in a bounce-back performance following last week’s 31-7 loss at home to Penn State.
D.J. Moore had career highs with 12 catches and 210 yards receiving for Maryland (3-3, 1-2).