Week 12 of the collegiate football season has now come and gone. With it, the Big Ten has in only seven games, had three blowouts, two expected outcomes, one important result nationally and yet another shocker. Let’s take a look at them all:
#5 Wisconsin 24 #24 Michigan 10
Wisconsin won an important matchup against Michigan, keeping them in the conversation for the College Football Playoff race. The win also put Wisconsin at 11-0 for the first time in school history. Badger freshman running back Jonathan Taylor continued to shine, running for 132 yards, along with quarterback Alex Hornibecks 145 yards thrown with one touchdown as well as an interception.
Although Michigan entered the second half with a tied score, and even briefly held a 10-7 lead, their defensive effort began to break down when Wisconsin scored a touchdown in each of two successive possessions to close out the third quarter and the Badgers never looked back.
#17 Michigan State 17 Maryland 7
By keeping the ball on the ground in sloppy weather, the Spartans were able to run the ball enough to pull a win over the injury-depleted Maryland Terrapins. Michigan State running back L.J. Scott ran for 147 yards with one touchdown, and their stable of backs ran for the rest of the 271 yards gained rushing in a day where the Spartans completed only two passes the entire game.
A game where the weather in East Lansing went from rain and wind to snow created difficult weather conditions for both teams. This is the third game this season where Michigan State overcame difficult weather conditions (two of which had extensive weather delays) to win games against Michigan, Minnesota, and Penn State.
#10 Penn State 56 Nebraska 44
In what may have been his final home game in a Penn State uniform, junior Saquon Barkley set the all-time touchdown record of 39 career TDs in the Nittany Lion’s win over the fading Nebraska Cornhuskers. Tight end Mike Gesicki also set a PSU record for touchdowns for a tight end with 13.
Nebraska’s Tanner Lee returned from a concussion protocol to throw for 399 yards and three touchdowns in a game that was the highest-scoring game in the history of Beaver Stadium. This game also marked the second season in a row that the Nittany Lions have gone unbeaten at home.
Purdue 24 Iowa 15
In the shocker of the day, the Purdue Boilermakers won their third conference game of the season against the Iowa Hawkeyes, who are themselves just two weeks removed from their own shocking dismantling of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
The win also broke the streak of four consecutive wins by the Hawkeyes over the Purdue squad, who will be playing next week against Indiana for its first opportunity to play in a bowl since 2012.
Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley threw for 176 yards, but was sacked six times in the Hawkeye’s losing effort. Iowa will finish with a losing conference record this season, also the first time since 2012.
#8 Ohio State 52 Illinois 14
Ohio State ran ahead to a 38-0 lead and never looked back as the Buckeyes clinched the Big Ten East title. Ohio State scored in each of their first six possessions of the day, and Buckeye quarterback J.T. Barrett threw for his 100th career touchdown pass to cap off the day.
Ohio State gained 543 yards overall, and held the Illini to only 109 yards all day. Illinois did not manage to gain a first down until near halftime, and only gained five all afternoon.
With this win, Ohio State can look forward to meeting Wisconsin on December 2 in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship.
#23 Northwestern 39 Minnesota 0
Defying the wind and rain, Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson threw three touchdown passes, and the Wildcat defense forced five turnovers as Northwestern won their sixth straight game over a Golden Gopher team that did not adjust to the weather conditions. Northwestern’s Garrett Dickerson caught two of Thorsen’s TD passes, and also rushed for 277 yards.
A week after scoring 56 points in their win over Nebraska, Minnesota was unable to get anything going, thanks to the number of possessions lost to the strong Wildcat defense.
Indiana 41 Rutgers 0
Rutgers lost its fourth game this season by more than 20 points in a game in which their offense was unable to move the ball all day. The loss guarantees that Rutgers will not go bowling for the third consecutive season.
Indiana had their most impressive win this season over the Scarlet Knights, who were not as effective as the weather in slowing down the Hoosier offense. A weather delay for almost two hours stopped play near the end of the third quarter.
The win keeps Indiana on track for a possible bowl berth for the third consecutive year, a feat which would tie a school record if they can beat Purdue.
The final week of the regular collegiate football season next week will feature many classic rivalries in the Big Ten. These include The Land of Lincoln Trophy between Northwestern and Illinois, The Old Oaken Bucket between Indiana and Purdue, and The Heroes Trophy between Iowa and Nebraska. Most famous of them all is, of course, The Game- the annual end of season game between Ohio State and Michigan. This year’s edition of The Game is somewhat anti-climatic as Ohio State has already clinched the Big Ten East divisional title, but the noontime game is bigger than records in the minds of the fans.
At this point, seven schools (Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Iowa) have guaranteed bowl bids following the season, and four more (Nebraska, Rutgers, Illinois, Maryland) will finish the season with fewer than the six wins needed to reach bowl eligibility. Of the three remaining schools, only two will be able to able to reach the six-win plateau, as Indiana and Purdue’s battle for the Old Oaken Bucket will also be a battle for that elusive sixth win. With Minnesota facing the unbeaten Wisconsin Badgers, the odds are that only one additional team will reach bowl eligibility in 2017.