MADISON, Wis. — Two big plays and a fierce defense made for a fun homecoming weekend for Wisconsin.
Melvin Gordon ran for a 71-yard touchdown and Chris Borland led a front seven that figured out the 19th-ranked Wildcats’ high-octane offense in a 35-6 win Saturday.
The Badgers (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) recorded seven sacks and otherwise spent much of the afternoon chasing down quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trever Siemian. Jared Abbrederis burned the secondary for a 63-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter before leaving with a head injury.
Northwestern (4-2, 0-2) the league’s peskiest defense, grabbed three more turnovers to increase its season total to 17.
The Wildcats just couldn’t turn those mistakes into enough points.
And they were doomed by the big plays by Gordon and Abbrederis.
Gordon had 22 carries for 172 yards and the long run that gave Wisconsin a three-possession lead before halftime.
Back from what turned out to be a minor left knee injury that knocked him out of the loss to Ohio State two weeks ago, Gordon ran left on a sweep and burst through the hole on second-and-3. Ibraheim Campbell tried to close out inside the 10, but the speedy, 207-pound back lowered his right shoulder into the safety to just get the ball over the goal line on a play upheld on replay review.
The Badgers pushed around Northwestern on both sides of the ball.
Do-everything quarterback Colter was held to 10 yards rushing on six carries for Northwestern. The Wildcats tried to stretch the field horizontally to find holes but Borland and his fellow linebackers filled the lanes while the secondary did an admirable job covering up the receiving corps.
Colter finished 4 for 5 passing for 34 yards and an interception. Siemian was 13 for 34 for 163 yards.
A few drops hurt too, like the one receiver Christian Jones had over the middle that could have led to a first down with Northwestern buried deep in its own territory in the third quarter.
Three third-quarter drives, three three-and-outs for the Wildcats. No way to mount a comeback.
It didn’t help that running back Venric Mark, who had just returned last week from an injury, got knocked out in the second quarter with an apparent left foot injury. Colter also suffered what Northwestern called a “lower body injury” in the first half but quickly returned.
The Wildcats only managed two first-half field goals by Jeff Budzien from 27 and 43.
Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave had an uneven day and finished 17 for 28 for 241 yards passing with three touchdowns and the two picks. The Badgers relied on the passing game early before the running got going.
James White’s 1-yard touchdown run made it 14-3 with 7:06 in the second quarter before Gordon’s long run to add another touchdown.
White finished with 101 yards on 19 carries. Abbrederis had two catches for 74 yards.
Michigan State 42, Indiana 28
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Jeremy Langford scored four touchdowns, and Michigan State recovered from an early defensive breakdown to beat Indiana.
The Spartans (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) prevailed in a matchup between their top-ranked defense and Indiana’s fast-paced offense. Tevin Coleman scored on a 64-yard run for the Hoosiers (3-3, 1-1) just 61 seconds into the game, but Michigan State took control shortly after halftime.
Indiana’s Nate Sudfeld went 14 of 30 for 137 yards, although backup Tre Roberson threw two touchdown passes.
Indiana came in ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten in total offense, but Michigan State had the nation’s top-ranked defense.
Coleman found a hole up the middle and breezed to a surprisingly easy touchdown on the game’s first drive, but the Spartans tightened up after that.
Langford tied it early in the second quarter, catching an 11-yard touchdown pass from Connor Cook on third down. He later added three more TDs on the ground, becoming the first Michigan State player to score four in a game since Edwin Baker in 2010 against Minnesota.
Cook went 22 of 31 for 235 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. His 34-yard strike to Bennie Fowler made it 14-7, although Indiana took advantage of a short field later in the second quarter after Michigan State’s Macgarrett Kings muffed a punt. Roberson threw a 3-yard scoring pass to Cody Latimer to tie it.
The Spartans took the lead for good on Langford’s 5-yard touchdown run with 37 seconds left in the half — which was a bit of a turning point since Michigan State was also getting the ball back at the start of the third quarter.
Cook threw a 39-yard pass to Josiah Price on third-and-11 early in the second half, putting the ball at the Indiana 5. Langford’s 2-yard touchdown run made it 28-14.
Langford finished with 109 of Michigan State’s 238 yards rushing. His 32-yard touchdown made it 35-21 with 3:23 left in the third quarter — after Shane Wynn had brought the Hoosiers within a touchdown with a 2-yard scoring run.
Nebraska 44, Purdue 7
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Ameer Abdullah ran for 126 yards and a touchdown to help Nebraska defeat Purdue.
Terrell Newby ran for 61 yards and Imani Cross added 56 yards and two touchdowns for the Cornhuskers (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten).
Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez sat out with a turf toe injury. Tommy Armstrong Jr. started and completed just 6 of 18 passes for 43 yards with three interceptions. Ron Kellogg III stepped in and completed 10 of 13 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown.
Nebraska held Purdue to 216 yards, and the Boilermakers didn’t score until the final minute of the game. Purdue ran for just 32 yards on 25 carries.
Danny Etling completed 14 of 35 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown in his first career start. DeAngelo Yancey caught five passes for 146 yards and a touchdown for the Boilermakers (1-5, 0-2).
Nebraska scored on its first drive as Armstrong’s 3-yard touchdown run put Nebraska ahead 7-0. The Huskers ran for 48 yards on the drive.
Halfway through the first quarter, LeRoy Alexander intercepted a pass by Etling and the Huskers took over on the Purdue 26. On Nebraska’s next play, however, Armstrong lobbed an interception to Purdue’s Frankie Williams in the end zone.
Kellogg replaced Armstrong at quarterback the following series and converted two third-and-long passes before Cross scored on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, extending Nebraska’s lead to 14-0.
Purdue was outgained 117-14 and held without a first down in the first quarter.