Following the action every Saturday, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart breaks down what every game, every result means for the teams involved and the Big Ten itself. See Tom’s Week 11 Snap Reactions in this post.
Nebraska 17, Penn State 14
WHAT IT MEANS: The Cornhuskers remain in the hunt in the Legends Division behind Michigan State with a strong defensive effort, hanging on late to win and end the Nits’ seven-game winning skein. Penn State still paces the Leaders Division, but it has two tough games remaining: at Ohio State and at Wisconsin, which is closing fast. But most important, the healing process has begun for a Penn State community that has been rocked by a sex-abuse scandal that cost Joe Paterno his job.
Purdue 26, Ohio State 23 OT
WHAT IT MEANS: The loss effectively ends the Buckeyes’ hopes of winning the Leaders Division, in what was their second defeat in a row at Purdue. The Boilermakers need just one more win to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2007 in what may have been the biggest win in Danny Hope’s tenure.
Northwestern 28, Rice 6
WHAT IT MEANS: The Wildcats have won three in a row and are still alive for a fourth bowl trip in a row. Amazing, when you consider this team had lost five in a row earlier this year. Northwestern overmatched Rice, out gaining the Owls 533-254 and just missing its first shutout since 2007.
Michigan 31, Illinois 14
WHAT IT MEANS: The Fighting Illini’s freefall continues. Remember when Illinois started 6-0? Now, the Illini are 6-4. The offense continues to flounder, as it was shutout in the first half for a fourth game in a row. Offense was no issue for Michigan, as Fitz Toussaint ran for a career-high 192 yards. The win keeps Michigan in the hunt in the Legends Division hunt for now.
Wisconsin 42, Minnesota 13
WHAT IT MEANS: This was vintage buzz saw Badger ball, as Wisconsin out gained Minnesota 461-156. Montee Ball set the Big Ten single-season record for touchdowns with his 27th and Russell Wilson tossed a season-high four touchdown passes. This is yet another performance that makes you wonder if Wisconsin indeed is the best team in the Big Ten. The losses by Penn State and Ohio State also greatly enhanced Wisconsin’s chances of winning the Leaders Division. It was a good day for the Badgers.