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Saturday's Big Ten: Ohio State stomps on Rutgers; Maryland tops Penn State

Andrew Seligman
Associated Press

Columbus, Ohio — Justin Fields threw five touchdown passes and ran for another score to help No. 3 Ohio State beat Rutgers 49-27 on Saturday night.

Fields, a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2019, added to his already gaudy 2020 resume, completing 24 of 28 passes for 314 yards.

Rutgers linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi tackles Ohio State receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba during the second half.

Fields threw two touchdown passes to Chris Olave, with Jameson Williams, Garrett Wilson and Jeremy Ruckert also recipients of scoring passes as the Buckeyes (3-0 Big Ten) played through some sloppiness and held off a second-half push by the Scarlet Knights.

Rutgers (1-2) had a promising drive early to answer Ohio’s State’s first score but had to settle for a 30-yard Guy Fava field goal. Trailing 35-3 at halftime, Rutgers came out and outscored the Buckeyes 24-14 in the second half.

“It was a tale of two halves,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. He said he felt “kind of flat” after jumping out to the big lead and then not being able to contain Rutgers in the second half.

Wilson caught six passes for 104 yards for Ohio State, and Fields completed passes to eight other receivers. Running backs Master Teague III, Steele Chambers and Trey Sermon pieced together 174 rushing yards, and Teague had a touchdown.

Rutgers quarterback Noah Vedral, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma, was 22 of 33 for 168 yards. Bo Melton caught seven passes for 86 yards.

Ohio State rolled up 517 yards compared with 373 by Rutgers.

“We played the measuring stick in our league, in the Big Ten Conference, and we didn’t quite measure up,” Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. “I thought we did some good things.”

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(At) Northwestern 21, Nebraska 13: Peyton Ramsey heard Riley Lees screaming for the ball, then delivered a touchdown pass to give Northwestern breathing room on the way to another tight victory over Nebraska. But not before the Wildcats withstood a last-gasp drive by the Cornhuskers.

Ramsey shook off two interceptions to throw for two touchdowns in the second half, and Northwestern hung on after Luke McCaffrey’s last-second pass to Wan’Dale Robinson in the end zone fell incomplete.

Northwestern linebacker Chris Bergin, top right, celebrates with linebacker Paddy Fisher after Bergin intercepted a pass against Nebraska during the second half.

Seven of the previous nine meetings since Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011 were decided by seven points or fewer. Six were within a field goal. This was the fourth in a row to come down to the final play of regulation or go to overtime.

“Today was a winning-ugly game,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “We’ve got to get a lot better in a lot of ways. It starts with me. But we’ll take it.”

Nebraska took over at its 8 with 2:14 remaining after Northwestern punted, and had a fourth down at the 14 when McCaffrey was unable to connect with Robinson. The Wildcats (3-0, 3-0 Big Ten) got the ball back with a second left and took a knee to cap their latest close game with the Cornhuskers (0-2, 0-2).

Ramsey threw a 2-yard touchdown to John Raine in the third and a 10-yarder to Riley Lees early in the fourth with his receiver screaming to get his attention. Lees made the catch and a neat spin move to avoid two defenders, then reached into the end zone to bump the lead to 21-13. Chris Bergin intercepted McCaffrey near the goal line with about six minutes remaining to keep the lead at eight.

“(Lees) was actually yelling at me before I threw the ball and clapping his hands, telling me he was open,” Ramsey said. “He made a great play, caught the ball, got vertical and then reached out, got in the end zone. Awesome play.”

The Wildcats matched their win total from last season, when they went 3-9. They remained unbeaten in their best start since they won their first five games in 2015, and they improved to 3-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 2000.

Ramsey, a graduate transfer from Indiana, settled down after getting intercepted twice by redshirt freshman Myles Farmer in the second quarter. He completed 16 of 27 passes for 169 yards.

Drake Anderson ran for 89, including a 41-yard touchdown on Northwestern’s first possession. And the Wildcats continued to roll along after blowing out Maryland and then rallying to win at Iowa last week.

The Cornhuskers came up short in their first game since they opened with a blowout loss at Ohio State two weeks ago. They had an unexpected bye after Wisconsin canceled a game in Lincoln because of a COVID-19 outbreak within the Badgers’ program.

“It’s inexcusable we only had 13 points in that game,” coach Scott Frost said. “I give a ton of credit to them. They’re always good on defense. I’ve got to make sure guys are in good position to score points. Discipline in our program starts with me and the coaches to make sure we have it.”

Farmer had his first two career interceptions for Nebraska.

Adrian Martinez threw for just 125 yards and ran for 102. He was intercepted in the end zone by Brandon Joseph late in the third.

McCaffrey came in near the end of the quarter and was 12 of 16 for 93 yards. And Frost wouldn’t say how the quarterback rotation will play out after this.

“I don’t want to comment on that other than to say I think we have two really good players,” he said. “I feel for Adrian. That’s a tough position to be in. He’s poured his heart and soul into this. I’m comfortable with both of them in a game. I thought we just needed a spark and gave Luke a shot. He deserved it.”

Minnesota 41, (at) Illinois 14: Mohamed Ibrahim rushed for four touchdowns and Tanner Morgan threw for one more. Ibrahim now has back-to-back games in which he has scored four rushing touchdowns for Minnesota (1-2, 1-2 Big Ten).

Illinois (0-3, 0-3) had 12 players out due to COVID-19 protocols and was down to fourth-string QB Coran Taylor. Starter Brandon Peters and backup Isaiah Washington are out, and third-string QB Matt Robinson remains unavailable after suffering a leg injury early in the Purdue game last week.

Taylor wasn’t awful, going 6 of 17 through the air for a touchdown and no interceptions. He suffered what appeared to be a hand injury on his throwing arm early in the second half but remained in the game despite obvious throwing difficulties.

One bright spot for Illinois was often-injured running back Mike Epstein, who rushed for 108 yards on 11 carries with one touchdown.

Illinois safety Derrick Smith was ejected in the second quarter due to a targeting penalty out of bounds, further depleting an Illini secondary already without starters Nate Hobbs and Marquez Beason, both unable to play due to COVID-19 protocols.

Morgan and company took advantage. Minnesota outgained Illinois 556 to 287 yards in total offense and led 28-7 at half.

The Illini’s only score before intermission came on a 1-yard run by Epstein, which was set up by his 63-yard run to the Gophers’ 9-yard line.

Maryland 35, (at) Penn State 19: Taulia Tagovailoa competed 18 of 26 passes for 282 yards and three touchdown passes, Rakim Jarrett caught five passes for 144 yards with a pair of touchdowns, Dontay Demus caught another, and Jake Funk added 80 yards rushing and a score for the Terps (2-1, 2-1 Big Ten Conference), who won for just the third time in the 44-game series and first since 2015.

Sean Clifford completed 27 of 57 passes for 340 yards with two interceptions and three touchdowns for the Nittany Lions, who fell to 0-3 for the first time since 2001. They had outscored Maryland 163-6 over the last three meetings.

The Terps flipped the script this time thanks to Tugavailoa and a defense that tortured Penn State all night.

A week after he turned in one of the best passing performances in Terrapins history, Tugavailoa didn’t hesitate to attack Penn State’s reeling defense. He completed 14 of his first 19 throws, including a pair of long touchdowns to Jarrett on two first-quarter possessions that gave the Terps a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Tugavailoa hit Jarrett on a short slant route and the wideout outran Penn State’s defense 42 yards into the end zone to open the scoring. Maryland went back to the play as the first quarter drew to a close, but this time Jarrett went 62 yards untouched to put Maryland up 14-0.

Funk capped an 8-play, 62-yard drive with a 38-yard touchdown run through heavy traffic early in the second quarter before Clifford cut the lead to 21-7 with a 20-yard touchdown to Dotson.

Tugavailoa gave Maryland a 28-7 lead when he found Demus running uncovered down the sideline for a 34-yard score.

It got worse for Penn State. Maryland got the game’s first turnover to start the third quarter.

Nick Cross blasted Clifford and jarred the ball loose on Penn State’s first second-half possession. Linebacker Chance Campbell scooped up the fumble and returned it 44 yards to give Maryland a 35-7 lead.

Clifford threw a pair of touchdown passes to Parker Washington in the fourth quarter.