The Wolverines (8-1, 6-0 Big Ten, No. 5 CFP) moved a step closer toward their goals of winning a conference championship for the first time since 2004 and earning their first spot in the College Football Playoff.
The Nittany Lions (6-3, 3-3, No. 14 CFP) scored with 1:59 left, avoiding getting shut out for the first time since 2001 against Michigan.
Karan Higdon ran for 132 yards and a score that put the Wolverines up 35-0 early in the fourth quarter.
Michigan’s defense held Penn State to 186 yards and forced three turnovers, including Tommy Stevens’ interception that was returned 62 yards by Brandon Watson for its second score in the final minute of the third quarter.
The Nittany Lions started banged-up quarterback Trace McSorley and he was 5 of 13 for 83 yards with an interception and a fumble. McSorley hurt his right knee in last week’s loss to Iowa. He shared time with Stevens, who was 3 of 4 for 35 yards. Stevens scored on an 8-yard run late in the game.
Patterson was 11 of 17 for 144 yards with two touchdown passes, a 23-yard throw to Donovan Peoples-Jones in the second quarter and a 7-yard strike to Zach Gentry. He ran 11 times, often on read-option plays, for 42 yards, including a 1-yard TD midway through the first quarter.
OHIO STATE RALLIES
After Adrian Martinez threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to JD Spielman to pull the Cornhuskers within five with 3 minutes left, Dobbins pounded away for two first downs to run out the clock.
Before the late Nebraska score, Dobbins broke through the right side and romped for a 42-yard touchdown with 5 minutes left to give Ohio State (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten) breathing room.
“We had every chance to in the world to win that game,” Nebraska coach Scott Frost said.
The Buckeyes’ much-maligned running game and defense finally showed up in the second half.
Dobbins rushed for a season-high 163 yards — only his second 100-yard game this season. Running back Mike Weber added 91 yards on the ground.
Down 21-16 at half after the Huskers (2-7, 1-5) turned two Ohio State fumbles into touchdown drives, the Buckeyes forced five straight punts and held Nebraska to a field goal when a drive stalled at the 1.
“I think our defense improved,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “Obviously, we’re not anywhere near where we need to be.”
PURDUE CLIPS IOWA
Spencer Evans made a 25-yard field goal with 8 seconds left Saturday, giving Purdue a 38-36 upset over No. 16 Iowa and putting the Boilermakers back in the Big Ten’s West Division title hunt.
David Blough threw three touchdown passes to Terry Wright and topped the 300-yard mark for the fifth time this season.
The Boilermakers (5-4, 4-2 Big Ten) have won five of their last six and beat their third ranked team this season — the first time they’ve achieved that feat since 2003 — to move within one game of division leader Northwestern.
“This wasn’t a perfect game by any means,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “We made some plays, they made some plays, we hung in there and responded. Like you said, it was just great to come out with a game that wasn’t perfect.”
The Hawkeyes (6-3, 3-3) lost their second straight road game despite Nate Stanley’s big day. The junior quarterback threw for 275 yards with one TD and ran for another but the conference’s No. 2 scoring defense allowed a season-high point total.
Jonathan Taylor rushed for three touchdowns, lifting Wisconsin (6-3, 4-2) to a 31-17 win over Rutgers (1-8, 0-6).
Michigan State‘s Connor Heyward rushed for two touchdowns, steering the Spartans (6-3, 4-2) to a 24-3 win over Maryland (5-4, 3-3) to cap an emotional week for the Terrapins.