Saturday's Big Ten football: Oregon deals Ohio State first regular-season loss in almost 3 years
Columbus, Ohio — C.J. Verdell watched on TV last week as Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim shredded Ohio State’s disheveled defense early. The Oregon running back thought he could take advantage in the same fashion.
Verdell, who has struggled with injuries the past two seasons, made it happen. He ran for 161 yards and scored three touchdowns as shorthanded No. 12 Oregon stunned No. 3 Ohio State, 35-28, on Saturday.
“We saw the Minnesota running back was having a good game, and we wanted to do the same thing,” the 5-foot-8, 211-pound Verdell said.
Verdell and quarterback Anthony Brown exploited holes in Ohio State’s defense and handed the Buckeyes their first regular-season loss in nearly three years and the first of third-year coach Ryan Day’s tenure.
The Buckeyes’ last loss in the regular season came at Purdue in October 2018 under Urban Meyer.
Ohio State (1-1, 1-0 Big Ten) never led the game it was favored to win by 14½ points despite gaudy numbers from freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud. Its front seven struggled to contain Verdell, control the edge and get after Brown in front.
“They quickly adapted and just played with grit and toughness, knowing this was going to be a slugfest,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said.
The Ducks (2-0, 0-0 Pac-12) were without star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and linebacker Justin Flowe.
“It’s hard to express in words the magnitude of coming out here down a couple of guys due to injury, and just playing really, really gutsy football, executing at a high level,” Cristobal said. “A tremendous job of preparation and turning it into a reality by our players and coaching staff.”
The Buckeyes had a chance to tie it late after pulling within a touchdown with 7:55 to go. But when they got the ball again, Stroud took his first sack of the day and then was intercepted by Verone McKinley III on a desperation sideline pass on third-and-18 at the Oregon 35 with 2:50 left as a crowd of more than 100,000 sat stunned.
Stroud, trying to show he is a worthy heir to Justin Fields, likely will be fine. It’s the Ohio State defense that needs work.
Twice in the first half Verdell scurried around the left end — one of them was a pitch pass on fourth-and-1 — and went untouched into the end zone from 14 yards out. Travis Dye exploited the left side again, running from 5 yards out to give the Ducks a 28-14 third-quarter lead.
Three plays into the second half, Verdell blasted through the middle untouched and outran defensive backs for a 77-yard score. He went left again for a 7-yard gain and a first down in the fourth quarter, one play before Brown connected with Moliki Matavao for a 14-yard touchdown to give the Ducks a 35-21 lead with 12:46 left.
“This is not fatal,” Day said. “Certainly, it hurts.”
More Big Ten
► No. 10 Iowa 27, (at) No. 9 Iowa State 17: Jack Campbell returned a fumble 6 yards for a touchdown and Iowa ran its winning streak against Iowa State to six games with a victory that ruined the most-anticipated home game in Cyclones history.
In the first Cy-Hawk Trophy game matching ranked teams in 65 total meetings, the Hawkeyes (2-0) were not about to play the foil for Iowa State’s feel-good story.
Iowa turned four takeaways into 20 points, ran its overall winning streak to eight games and its winning streak against ranked teams to five. Iowa has not won that many in a row against ranked opponents since 1960.
Matt Hankins had two of Iowa’s three interceptions against Brock Purdy, who was benched for Hunter Dekkers early in the fourth quarter.
Spencer Petras threw a pretty 26-yard touchdown pass to Charlie Jones and Tyler Goodson had a 4-yard touchdown run in the second quarter for Iowa.
The Hawkeyes managed just 173 yards, but it was good enough.
► (At) No. 11 Penn State 44, Ball State 13: Sean Clifford completed 21 of 29 passes for 230 yards, ran for a touchdown and threw for another as Penn State won its sixth straight game dating to last season.
Running back Noah Cain added a rushing touchdown and wide receiver Jahan Dotson added another, linebacker Jesse Luketa returned an interception 16 yards for a touchdown and Jordan Stout kicked three field goals for the Nittany Lions (2-0).
Backup quarterback Ta-Quan Roberson added a 23-yard touchdown pass to Theo Johnson.
Ball State (1-1) quarterback Drew Plitt completed 25 of 39 passes for 176 yards with two interceptions. He was replaced by John Paddock in the fourth quarter.
► (At) Virginia 42, Illinois 14: Brennan Armstrong threw for five touchdowns and became the third quarterback in Virginia history to pass for over 400 yards.
It snapped Virginia’s 13-game losing streak in nonconference games against Power Five opponents.
Armstrong threw for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the opening quarter, connecting with tight end Jelani Woods for a 32-yard score and wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks from 28-yards out, for a 14-0 lead while many fans were still filing into the stadium for the unusual 11 a.m. kickoff.
Armstrong went 27-for-36 for 405 yards, joining Kurt Benkert (who did it twice) and Marc Verica as Virginia quarterbacks who surpassed 400 yards in a game.
Wicks finished with a pair of touchdown catches for Virginia (2-0).
Virginia’s defense, coming off its first shutout since the 2018 Belk Bowl, sacked quarterback Artur Sitkowski three times.
► (At) Northwestern 24, Indiana State 6: Evan Hull ran for 119 yards and two touchdowns to lead Northwestern.
Hull led the way for a Wildcats rushing unit that surpassed last week’s 117 total yards against Michigan State at the half and finished with 209. He ran for 51 yards on the team’s opening drive and capped it with a 3-yard touchdown run.
The Wildcats (1-1) never trailed, stopping the Sycamores (1-1) in the first matchup between the two programs.
After throwing for 283 yards against Michigan State, Hunter Johnson finished with 51 yards passing with a touchdown. The senior completed 6 of 12 passes in his second start as the Wildcat starter.
Freshman Anthony Tyus III (Portage Northern) rushed for 71 yards for Northwestern, which outgained Indiana State 275-169 in total yards and 209-91 in rushing.
► (At) Minnesota 31, Miami (Ohio) 26: Treyson Potts picked up for Minnesota where injured star Mo Ibrahim left off, rushing for 178 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start.
Tanner Morgan connected with Dylan Wright and Daniel Jackson on scoring passes in the second quarter as the Gophers (1-1) took a 21-3 lead into halftime, before Redhawks (0-2) outgained them 128-15 in total yards in the third quarter to make a game of it down the stretch.
After Brett Gabbert threw to Jack Sorenson for a 23-yard touchdown that cut Minnesota’s lead to one point with 12:32 to go, freshman Bucky Irving bobbled the kickoff before returning it 43 yards. Potts took five straight handoffs to gain the remaining 53 yards and give the Gophers a cushion.
Tyler Nubin intercepted Gabbert’s third-down pass on the next drive to set up a 50-yard field goal by Matthew Trickett to make it 31-20.
Nubin broke up Gabbert’s fourth-down throw from the Minnesota 48, but the Redhawks kept the ball on a roughing-the-passer penalty on Rashad Cheney Jr. and scored on the next play when Mac Hippenhammer snagged Gabbert’s 33-yard toss in tight coverage in the end zone. The 2-point conversion play failed with 3:43 to go.
The Redhawks had two timeouts, but the Gophers had Potts and their experienced, imposing offensive line. Potts had five consecutive carries to drain the clock, finishing off the Redhawks with an 11-yard run on third-and-4 near midfield with 1:28 left.
Morgan was 8 for 17 for 112 yards and no turnovers for the Gophers, who made Ibrahim their honorary captain. The 2020 Big Ten Running Back of the Year rolled himself out to midfield for the pregame coin flip on a scooter to support his surgically repaired lower left leg that was in a bright green cast nine days after his season ended on an ill-fated plant of his foot on the turf.
► Rutgers 17, (at) Syracuse 7: Rutgers took advantage of two Syracuse second-half miscues and downed the Orange.
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Syracuse (1-1) coach Dino Babers gave Rutgers (2-0) a first down on the Syracuse 11 and Kyle Monangai ran it in on the next play to give the Scarlet Knights a 7-0 lead with 6:46 to go in the third quarter.
A fumble by Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito was recovered on the Orange 10 and a 27-yard field goal by Rutgers’ Valentino Ambrosio made it 17-7 with 8:23 remaining in the game.
Rutgers’ 2-0 start is the team’s first since 2014.
Noah Vedral was 22 of 28 for Rutgers for 145 yards and a 30-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jovani Haskins. He was sacked four times by a Syracuse defense that held the Scarlet Knights to just 198 yards.
The Scarlet Knights sacked DeVito five times and Garrett Shrader once. DeVito was 15 of 25 for 149 yards.
► Purdue 49, (at) UConn 0: Purdue quarterback Jack Plummer threw four touchdown passes in the first half, three to wide receiver David Bell, as the Boilermakers rolled over winless UConn.
After punting on its first possession, Purdue (2-0) scored touchdowns on each of its next five to take a 35-0 lead at halftime.
The Boilermakers, a 34-point favorite by most sports books, scored two more touchdowns with their first two drives in the second half with many second-stringers in the lineup.
Plummer completed 16 of his 20 passes, racking up 245 yards and four touchdowns. Bell caught six of the passes for 121 yards and three touchdowns. Both were replaced to start the second half.
In their first game under interim coach Lou Spanos, who took over Monday following Randy Edsall’s abrupt retirement, the Huskies advanced inside Purdue’s 20-yard line only once in the game.
UConn (0-3) has lost 28 of its last 29 games against FBS competition.
►(At) Nebraska 28, Buffalo 3: Adrian Martinez passed for 296 yards and two touchdowns to Samori Toure, and Nebraska held Buffalo to its fewest points in five years.
Martinez hooked up with Toure for a pair of 68-yard TDs and also ran nine times for 112 yards.
The victory gives the Huskers (2-1) momentum heading into their game at No. 4 Oklahoma next week. The Bulls (1-1) of the Mid-American Conference dropped to 1-10 all-time against Big Ten opponents.
► (At) Indiana 56, Idaho 14: Indiana had something to prove Saturday night. The Hoosiers didn’t disappoint.
Michael Penix Jr. threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score and Indiana took advantage of two special teams touchdowns and a dominant defense to rout Idaho
For Indiana (1-1, 0-1 Big Ten), it was a big night.
Playing in front of the biggest home crowd since Nov. 23 2019, the Hoosiers gave the near-capacity fans plenty to cheer about. Indiana has won 18 of its last 20 home openers, perhaps none more impressively than this one.
The timing couldn’t have been better after last week’s embarrassing loss at Iowa, either. This time, the Hoosiers cleaned up the mistakes, made all the big plays and never gave the Vandals (1-1) a chance. They took a 21-0 lead after one quarter and made it 35-0 before Idaho recorded a first down.
► (At) Maryland 62, Howard 0: Taulia Tagovailoa threw three touchdown passes, and Dontay Demus Jr. had six receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown for the Terrapins (2-0), who had little trouble following up their 30-24 defeat of West Virginia with another victory.
Demus caught a touchdown in his sixth consecutive game, and he is the first Maryland player with consecutive 100-yard receiving games since Stefon Diggs in 2013.
Maryland outgained the Bison, 574-132. Howard (0-2), an FCS program, was 0 of 11 on third-down attempts.