Iowa City, Iowa — On the road against one of the best defenses in America, 10th-ranked Penn State won the turnover battle and converted on third downs to survive yet another tough trip to Iowa.
Noah Cain ran for a 5-yard touchdown with 5:17 left and Penn State held off the 17th-ranked Hawkeyes 17-12 on Saturday night, its first win over a ranked opponent this season.
Cain finished with 102 yards for the Nittany Lions (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten), who extended their winning streak over the Hawkeyes (4-2, 1-2) to six games.
“This is a team. You’re going to have to earn it,” Penn State coach James Franklin said about the Hawkeyes. “The defense has been great all year. We leaned on them heavily.”
A matchup between two of the nation’s top defenses turned when Iowa’s Nate Stanley threw an interception near midfield with 9:22 remaining. Penn State drove 35 yards on a gassed Iowa defense, and the last of three straight runs by Cain made it 17-6.
The Nittany Lions gained just 294 yards. But they were 10 of 19 on third downs against a defense ranked fourth in scoring defense entering play, and they scored 10 points off of two Iowa miscues.
“We grinded it out,” Franklin said.
Iowa pulled within 17-12 when Stanley found Brandon Smith for a 33-yard TD pass with 2:31 to go. The Hawkeyes’ two-point try failed though, and Cain converted a crucial third down that ensured that Iowa never saw the ball again.
“We’re doing the right things. We’ve just got to do a little better,” Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa said.
Up 7-6 late in the third quarter, Penn State recovered a fumble at Iowa’s 16 and Sean Clifford connected on an apparent touchdown pass to Pat Freiermuth that was overturned on review. Iowa then held the Nittany Lions at the 1-foot line, and two straight holding calls forced them to settle for a 33-yard field goal.
KJ Hamler caught seven passes, including a 22-yarder for a TD, for Penn State.
Stanley threw for 286 yards, but the Hawkeyes ran for just 70 yards on 30 attempts.
More Big Ten
(At) Indiana 35, Rutgers 0: Reakwon Jones raced 17 yards with a Rutgers fumble to score 10 seconds into the game and Indiana set a one-sided tone in an embarrassingly easy Homecoming romp over the hapless Scarlet Knights.
The touchdown was the fastest in Memorial Stadium’s 60-year history.
The Hoosiers scored three touchdowns in the opening 6:52, starting on the first play of the game. Indiana’s Demarcus Elliott drilled Rutgers quarterback Johnny Langan to force the fumble, which Jones scooped for the go-ahead score. It was the first of four Indiana sacks in the first half.
After a Rutgers three-and-out, Indiana (4-2, 1-2) needed just 47 seconds and two plays to cover 70 yards as Michael Penix Jr. completed a 56-yard pass to Whop Philyor and then a 14-yard TD pass to Peyton Hendershot.
After another Rutgers three-and-out, Indiana took a bit more time, needing five plays to cover 59 yards in 2:43 with Nick Westbrook scoring on a 19-yard Penix pass.
Rutgers (1-5, 0-4) has been outscored 165-7 in conference play, including 117-0 on the road this season and now has lost 16 straight Big Ten Conference games.
(At) Minnesota 34, Nebraska 7: Rodney Smith ran for 139 yards and a touchdown, helping Minnesota overpower Nebraska on a wintry night and stay undefeated on the strength of 322 yards rushing.
Shannon Brooks ran for 99 yards, Mo Ibrahim had 84 yards and three touchdowns, and the Gophers (6-0, 3-0) stayed in a tie for first place in the Big Ten West Division with rival Wisconsin behind an all-around performance that had the Huskers (4-3, 2-2) on their heels all evening.
With Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez sidelined by a left knee injury, Noah Vedral took over for his first career start and was under pressure nearly every time he dropped back to pass. He went 14-for-23 passing for 135 yards and rushed 15 times for 49 yards, but the Gophers had four sacks and kept the Huskers from scoring until early in the fourth quarter. Standout freshman wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson left on a cart with an injury to his lower left leg in the second quarter, one of an endless string of setbacks for the Huskers.
The Gophers, who turned down the thermostat in their indoor facility this week as low as it would go and repeatedly directed their skill position players to dip their hands in ice water between drills, were more than ready for the second-coldest October game in the 11-season history of TCF Bank Stadium. The kickoff temperature was 37 degrees with gusty wind and a rain-snow mix, the ideal scenario for turning their senior tailbacks Smith and Brooks loose.
(At) Purdue 40, Maryland 14: Jack Plummer threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns and Cory Trice returned an interception for a score to break open the game just before halftime, helping Purdue roll past Maryland.
The Boilermakers (2-4, 1-2) snapped a three-game losing streak with their most lopsided win since upsetting No. 2 Ohio State last October.
Maryland (3-3, 1-2) still hasn’t won consecutive conference road games since 2014 and never had a chance after Trice picked off Tyrrell Pigrome and scored on a 37-yard interception return with 18 seconds left in the first half to make it 30-14.
Plummer was 33 of 41, hooking up with David Bell nine times for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Brycen Hopkins caught 10 passes for 140 yards, both career bests. And all that came after coach Jeff Brohm inserted three new starters on the offensive line — Mark Stickford at left guard, Sam Garvin at center and Eric Miller at right tackle.