How Big Ten teams fared Saturday

Sunday, October 8th 2006, 12:44 pm
By: News On 6

Michigan beat rival Michigan State the way it likes to beat everybody _ by dominating the line of scrimmage.

The Michigan rush defense, which entered the game tops in the nation, allowed only 60 yards Saturday, while the Wolverines managed 211 on the ground in a 31-13 home field victory.

In other Big Ten play Saturday: mighty Ohio State had an easy 35-7 win over visiting Bowling Green; Iowa dumped invading Purdue 47-17; Northwestern was humiliated 41-9 at Wisconsin; Penn State won a 28-27 overtime squeaker at Minnesota; and Indiana edged Illinois 34-32 at Champaign.

At Ann Arbor, Big Ten rushing leader Mike Hart ran for 122 yards on 22 carries as the sixth-ranked Wolverines (6-0, 3-0 conference) kept their national championship aspirations flourishing and retained the Paul Bunyan Trophy. Michigan is 6-0 for the first time since 1997.

Michigan ran the ball 42 times and attempted only 17 passes, but Chad Henne threw for touchdowns on three of them. Two of those went to Mario Manningham, who has caught eight touchdown passes in his last four games.

Michigan State (3-3, 0-2) dropped its third straight and did little to take the heat off embattled coach John L. Smith, who has been criticized by Spartans fans and the media following home losses to Notre Dame and Illinois the previous two weeks.

The Spartans now have to deal with No. 1 Ohio State at Spartan Stadium next Saturday.

For the Buckeyes, Troy Smith threw three touchdown passes, Antonio Pittman ran for two scores and Ohio State started its second month as the No. 1 team in the nation with its easy win over Bowling Green.

The Buckeyes (6-0) toyed with the Falcons (3-3), tacking on two touchdowns in the final quarter to turn a surprisingly close 21-7 game into a rout. Ohio State stretched the nation's longest winning streak to 13 in a row.

Smith didn't do anything to hurt his Heisman Trophy candidacy, completing 17-of-20 passes for 191 yards with no interceptions. His touchdowns covered 3 yards to Rory Nichol, 11 yards to Ray Small and a lightning strike 57-yarder to Ted Ginn Jr.

The 85-percent completion rate was the third best ever for an Ohio State quarterback.

Pittman carried 13 times for 61 yards, scoring on two 8-yard runs.

Meanwhile, at Iowa City, Drew Tate threw two touchdown passes and Damian Sims ran for two more scores to help No. 19 Iowa beat Purdue and rebound from last week's demoralizing loss to Ohio State.

Iowa (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten) jumped out to an early lead, rolled up 286 yards rushing and a season-high 539 total yards. The Hawkeyes defense _ picked apart in a 38-17 defeat to the Buckeyes _ did its best to keep Purdue's potent offense in check.

Purdue (4-2, 1-1) entered the game with an average of 36.8 points per game, the nation's fifth-best passing offense and its own hopes of bouncing back after losing last week at Notre Dame.

The Boilermakers amassed 456 total yards, but much of that came in the second half when they trailed by as many as 24 points. Purdue also rushed for 202 yards, a season high.

In Wisconsin's crushing of Northwestern, P.J. Hill of the Badgers rushed for 249 yards, including a long touchdown run on the second play of the game.

Hill, a 242-pound redshirt freshman who is drawing early comparisons to former Badgers standout Ron Dayne, took a handoff on the second play from scrimmage, rumbling to the right and accelerating away from the Northwestern secondary for a 60-yard touchdown.

Hill's running allowed the Badgers (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten) to avenge a 51-48 loss in Evanston last year on a Northwestern team that is struggling to recover from a tumultuous offseason.

It was the third straight loss for the Wildcats and new coach Pat Fitzgerald, who took over after his mentor, Randy Walker, died suddenly of a heart attack June 29.

Northwestern (2-4, 0-2 Big Ten) couldn't stop Hill in the first half. He passed the 100-yard rushing mark with 5:13 remaining in the first quarter _ his fifth 100-yard game this season.

In the nailbiter at Minneapolis, Tony Hunt rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns, the last in overtime, and Kevin Kelly made the extra point to lift Penn State to its win over Minnesota.

The Nittany Lions (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) took advantage of a missed extra point by Gophers kicker Jason Giannini and a questionable pass interference call in overtime to get their first road victory of the season.

Bryan Cupito threw for 347 yards and two touchdowns, the last one a 25-yarder to Eric Decker that gave the Gophers (2-4, 0-3) a 27-21 lead in overtime. But Giannini, who missed eight extra-point attempts last season and already had one blocked this year, hit the left upright with his kick.

And at Champaign, Austin Starr kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired and Indiana beat Illinois for the Hoosiers' first Big Ten road win under second-year coach Terry Hoeppner.

Starr missed an earlier fourth-quarter attempt from 43 yards that would have given Indiana the lead, but came back to nail the winner. The Hoosiers ruined Illinois' homecoming a week after the Illini did the same thing at Michigan State.

Illinois broke a 10-game Big Ten losing streak with a 23-20 victory over Michigan State on a late field goal.

Kellen Lewis threw for 240 yards for Indiana (3-3, 1-1) and a led a 65-yard drive that set up the winning kick. The freshman quarterback also ran for a touchdown.

Illinois fell to 2-4 on the season and 1-2 in conference play.