Matt Rodgers, playing for the first time in three games, threw three touchdown passes to lead No. 9 Iowa to a 23-8 victory over Minnesota Saturday on a snow-encrusted Kinnick Stadium field in Iowa City.
Rodgers, who injured his knee against Ohio State Nov. 2, completed 21 of 34 passes for 270 yards and finished the regular season with 2,054 yards passing. Chuck Long is the only other Iowa quarterback to pass for more than 2,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.
“Could you believe Matt Rodgers threw for three touchdowns in that kind of weather?” said Hayden Fry, who got his 100th victory as coach of the Hawkeyes.
“He wanted to play so badly, and he had a brace on his ankle and a brace on his knee. He said he felt great and looking at his performance, I think he did.”
Iowa, 10-1 overall and 7-1 in the Big Ten, finished in second place in the Big Ten and will play BYU in the Dec. 30 Holiday Bowl.
Minnesota (2-9, 1-7) played Iowa close for a half but failed to give Coach John Gutekunst a victory after he announced his resignation earlier in the week.
“The thing that makes this game a little different is that this is the last one for me,” Gutekunst said. “I told our players thank you. I wish them all the best.”
The Hawkeyes’ seventh consecutive victory gave Fry a 100-54-4 mark in his 13 years at Iowa.
Although the Hawkeyes had a 7-0 start in 1985, they had not won seven consecutive Big Ten games since a 13-game streak that began in 1920 and ended in 1923.
It was only 3-0 until Rodgers connected with Alan Cross on a 12-yard scoring play with 6:18 left in the third quarter.
Touchdown pass plays of 45 and 32 yards to Danan Hughes put the game away.
Michigan State 27, Illinois 24--After a season full of injuries and bad breaks, the ball finally bounced the Spartans’ way against the Illini at East Lansing, Mich.
Michigan State turned three turnovers into 17 points during a 3:46 span of the third quarter. Safety Darrin Eaton returned a fumble 24 yards for a touchdown, Jim DelVerne kicked a 49-yard field goal after a fumble, and fullback Tony Rollin scored from a yard out after an interception.
Illinois (6-5, 4-4) plays UCLA in the John Hancock Bowl Dec. 31. Michigan State (3-8, 3-5) had its worst season since going 2-9 in 1982.
Indiana 24, Purdue 22--Trent Green broke a school record for total offense in a season as the Hoosiers (6-4-1, 5-3) salvaged a victory over the Boilermakers (4-7, 3-5) at Bloomington, Ind., when Joe O’Leary missed a 35-yard field goal with 24 seconds to go.
Green raised his total to 2,663 yards, breaking the record of 2,561 set by Steve Bradley in 1984.
Indiana, wrapping up a bid to play Baylor in the Copper Bowl Dec. 31, led 24-6 at halftime but turned the ball over on its first four possessions of the second half.
Wisconsin 32, Northwestern 14--Freshman tailback Terrell Fletcher rushed for a career-high 112 yards in 19 carries as the Badgers (5-6, 2-6) rallied from a 14-0 deficit to beat the Wildcats (3-8, 2-6) at Madison, Wis.
The victory was the Badgers’ second in a row, marking the first time a Wisconsin team has won consecutive Big Ten games since 1986.