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Check out the top plays from Week 8 of college football.
Five observations from Saturday in the Big Ten:

1. Ohio State and Michigan State are widening the gap over the rest of the league. The Spartans and Buckeyes continued their march toward Nov. 8 in East Lansing with resounding wins by identical scores of 56-17 over Indiana and Rutgers, respectively. The Buckeyes topped 50 points in four consecutive games for the first time in school history and dealt the Scarlet Knights their worst loss in 12 years with an introduction to the big-time side of Big Ten football. MSU was slow at the start, as Indiana’s Shane Wynn and Tevin Coleman scored on long runs, but Michigan State blanked the Hoosiers in the second half. Just as importantly, both Big Ten powers climbed closer to consideration for the College Football Playoff as two top-10 unbeatens went down.

[+] EnlargeJ.T. Barrett
Greg Bartram/USA TODAY SportsJ.T. Barrett is playing at a high level as Ohio State's offense continues to roll.
2. J.T. Barrett is a Heisman Trophy darkhorse. No, we’re not kidding. The same redshirt freshman who struggled mightily in the Buckeyes’ loss to Virginia Tech the past month has played better than any quarterback in the country as of late. He ran for 107 yards and two scores and threw for 261 and three touchdowns against Rutgers. Under his guidance, Ohio State has averaged 614 yards over its past four games, albeit against suspect defensive competition, though Rutgers appeared set to pose a challenge. Barrett won’t be considered a serious candidate unless he can play like this, without a blip, for the rest of the season.

3. Minnesota might never win pretty, but it almost always wins. The Golden Gophers beat Purdue 39-38 behind two interceptions of Austin Appleby by safety Cedric Thompson, including the game-clincher with 2:28 to play. Minnesota is 3-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since 1990. It was a typical Gopher effort, with 194 rushing yards from David Cobb and just nine completions from quarterback Mitch Leidner, who threw two touchdowns. Give credit to fast-improving Purdue, for sure, but this game deviated from Minnesota form only in that the Gophers trailed at halftime -- they earned the first win in 23 such occasions under Jerry Kill -- and needed a 52-yard field goal by Ryan Santoso for the decisive points with 4:59 left.

4. In spite of Minnesota’s start, Nebraska still looks like the best in the West. The Huskers beat Northwestern 38-17 at Ryan Field and outscored the Wildcats 24-0 in the second half to move to 6-1. Barring an upset win in Lincoln by Rutgers or Purdue over the next two weeks, Nebraska will be 8-1 on Nov. 15 when Bo Pelini’s team travels to Wisconsin for a final stretch that includes Minnesota and Iowa. In bouncing back from a loss to Michigan State, Nebraska displayed new depth at the line of scrimmage against Northwestern and found new ways to feature spark-plug freshman De'Mornay Pierson-El, who threw a touchdown pass to QB Tommy Armstrong Jr.

5. It might be November (if even then) before we understand Maryland and Iowa. The Terrapins overcame a slow start to beat the Hawkeyes 38-31. Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown returned from a back injury, suffered in the second half, and receiver Stefon Diggs and cornerback Will Likely contributed their usual big plays. But is Maryland really a threat to get to nine wins and a New Year’s Day bowl? Maybe, in the watered-down Big Ten. What about Iowa, still a player in the West Division with its favorable schedule but unable to break through in a winnable game Saturday? Just as the Hawkeyes’ offense appears to have gained speed, the defense took a step back in College Park.

Video: No. 13 Ohio State 56, Rutgers 17

October, 18, 2014
Oct 18
7:24
PM ET
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Ohio State's offense churned out 585 yards during a dominant 56-17 victory over visiting Rutgers.
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- J.T. Barrett completed his first nine passes, ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns and threw for three more scores to lead No. 13 Ohio State past Rutgers 56-17 on Saturday.

The Buckeyes (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) have averaged 56 points in a four-game win streak since losing at home to Virginia Tech.

Eli Apple, a New Jersey native, added a fumble return for a score.

The victory was Ohio State's 18th in a row in the Big Ten, drawing within two of tying the conference mark set by the 2005-07 Buckeyes.

It was the worst loss in 12 years for Rutgers (5-2, 1-2), which had a three-game winning streak end. The Scarlet Knights played before their largest crowd ever (106,795).


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Chris Laviano pass complete to Andre Patton for 9 yds Andre Patton fumbled, forced by Raekwon McMillan, recovered by OhSt Erick Smith
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Cardale Jones run for a loss of 5 yards to the Rutgr 28 Cardale Jones fumbled, recovered by Rutgr Julian Pinnix-Odrick
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Gary Nova sacked by Michael Hill for a loss of 10 yards to the Rutgr 26
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Rod Smith run for 34 yds to the Rutgr 20 for a 1ST down
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Desmon Peoples run for 12 yds for a TD
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Gary Nova pass complete to Leonte Carroo for 41 yds to the OhSt 11 for a 1ST down
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Gary Nova sacked by Joey Bosa for a loss of 4 yards to the Rutgr 44
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J.T. Barrett pass complete to Evan Spencer for 11 yds for a TD
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J.T. Barrett pass complete to Devin Smith for 43 yds to the Rutgr 10 for a 1ST down

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