Rutgers head coach Chris Ash speaks with members of the media during the Big Ten Media Days at McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Upsets, explosions, and rematches highlight week 8 football

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Rutgers’ win, J.T. Barrett’s explosion, and a Penn State-Michigan rematch highlight the Big Ten storylines heading into week 8.

By Adam Hensley
adam-hensley@uiowa.edu

Rutgers did it.

Against all odds, the Scarlet Knights toppled Illinois, 35-24, on Oct. 14

All sarcasm aside, it was a big win for head coach Chris Ash and his program. After 16-straight losses in Big Ten play, something was bound to fall.

“It was really cool to see those players get a chance to celebrate the way that they did, so it was fun,” Ash said.

Rutgers pulled off the win despite major holes on offense and defense. Ash’s defense featured three new starters — all in the secondary — and one on the offensive line.

That depleted secondary snagged 2 interceptions off Illinois’ Jeff George Jr., and the new-look offensive line paved the way for 274 rushing yards (188 more than the Illini).

Senior Gus Edwards led the way for the Scarlet Knights, rushing for 91 yards and a pair of scores, and freshman Raheem Butler added 87 yards and a touchdown.

Junior quarterback Giovanni Rescigno and senior running back Robert Martin combined for 76 yards and a touchdown.

While the win proved to be a major step in the right direction for Rutgers’ program, Ash knows that his unit can’t dwell on a single victory.

After all, it’s a midseason game. There’s still plenty of football remaining this year.

“To be able to reset our focus and get ready for the next opportunity, the next challenge and be able to go play with that same energy, same passion, same physicality and just execute better in certain situations and certain calls,” he said.

J.T. Barrett show

In Ohio State’s 56-14 throttling of Nebraska this past weekend, Buckeye quarterback J.T. Barrett put on arguably his best passing performance of the season.

To put Barrett’s performance into perspective: He threw 6 incompletions in 33 attempts. He threw 5 touchdowns.

He also added 2 more scores on the ground.

Nebraska just could not match Barrett and Company, and Husker head coach Mike Riley didn’t sugarcoat his feelings after the loss.

“We really just had a hard time, obviously, keeping up with what they were doing,” he told Big Red Today.

Nebraska’s defensive coordinator Bob Diaco couldn’t scheme accordingly, resulting in what he called a “miserable night.”

The Huskers gave up 633 yards of total offense, while gaining 393.

Nittany Lion-Wolverine rematch

Last season, Penn State and Michigan squared off on Sept. 24, a game that Nittany Lion fans would love to forget.

Then-No. 4 Michigan smacked unranked Penn State, 49-10, in its first Big Ten game of the season. The rest of the season did not follow suit, and Penn State went on to win the Big Ten and represent the conference in one of the most exciting Rose Bowls in history.

Penn State head coach James Franklin acknowledged that the loss sparked a fire in his team, but he refused to tab it as the lone reason for the Nittany Lions’ turnaround.

“The Michigan loss last year was a factor,” Franklin said. “[But] development was a factor. Players taking responsibility and accountability was a factor. The coaches building relationships and chemistry with the players was a factor … I don’t make it as simplistic as a lot of people want it to be. I think there are so many factors.”

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