Tom's Take: My Week 12 honors, grades & stocks
It’s time to put a wrap on an interesting Week 12 that will be remembered for its blowouts, a wild overtime thriller and a signature victory by Michigan State that clinched at least a share of the Legends Division crown for the Spartans. With that said, here’s a wrap on Week 12 in the Big Ten.
Biggest surprise: Michigan State pulling away from Nebraska and winning fairly easily. The final was 41-28. But, the Huskers added what essentially was a meaningless touchdown in the waning seconds to tighten the margin. Yes, this game was close for most of the contest, but Michigan State asserted its control with a strong ground game. It also helped that Nebraska had five turnovers. MSU now has at least a share of the Legends Division title.
Biggest disappointment: Nebraska. The Huskers had a great chance to make it three wins in a row and set up a glorious finish to 2013 but fell at home to Michigan State, 41-28. If not for five turnovers and not having injured Taylor Martinez, the Cornhuskers may have been able to secure a victory. Aside from the turnovers, the offense did its part, gaining more yards (392) than any team has on the Spartans’ vaunted defense in 2013. Still, it wasn’t enough.
Best play: Loved the pick six by Ohio State’s Bradley Roby. In the first quarter at Illinois, he leaped, snagged the ball and raced 63 yards for a touchdown. Beautiful.
Play this again: Michigan 27, Northwestern 19, 3 OTs. The game featured only field goals in regulation, going to overtime at 9-9. The Wolverines forced extra time by kicking a 44-yard field goal as time expired. It was a wild finish, as Northwestern’s losing skid is now six games. Michigan gained a bit of relief after suffering losses at Michigan State and to Nebraska.
Never play this again: Wisconsin 51, Indiana 3. This series has been ultra-lopsided in recent years. The Badgers have won the last nine meetings. The fewest points they have scored is 33 and 31. Wisconsin has scored over 50 in six of the last nine meetings. The last four have been especially brutal, as Wisconsin has outscored Indiana, 255-44. That comes out to an average of 63.8 points in those four wins.
WEEK 12 GRADES
Michigan State: A-
Ohio State: A-
Penn State: A
– Braxton Miller. He continues his torrid pace. At Illinois, the Ohio State quarterback completed 13-of-29 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns and ran 16 times for 184 yards and a score, averaging 11.5 yards per tote.
– Carlos Hyde. The big fella didn’t get the start. But, it didn’t matter. The Buckeye back battered Illinois for 246 yards rushing, averaging 10.3 yards per carry with four touchdowns.
– Zach Zwinak. The brutish Penn State back rumbled for 149 yards and three touchdowns. Purdue didn’t want to tackle him.
– Danny Etling. The true freshman signal-caller continues to make strides. He hit 21-of-33 passes for 223 yards with a touchdown and interception for Purdue in one of his better efforts this season. The 21 points were the most the Boilers have scored all season in Big Ten play.
– Brendan Gibbons. The Michigan kicker raced onto the field in the dying seconds to kick a 44-yard field goal to force overtime vs. Northwestern.
– Wisconsin ground game. It pounded Indiana for 554 yards rushing. The Badgers had 323 yards rushing at halftime and almost broke the school single-game mark they set last year vs. Indiana when they rushed for 564.
[ MORE: See what Dienhart learned in Week 12 ]
– Buckeye win streak: It’s now 22 in a row with games left vs. Indiana and at Michigan.
– Penn State offense. It had its way with Purdue, notching 501 yards with 289 coming on the ground. The Nittany Lions also converted 10-of-12 third downs, as Penn State is assured of at least a .500 record.
– Allen Robinson. He broke his own Penn State single-season record for receptions, finishing with eight catches for 98 yards. Robinson also holds the school record for single-season receiving yards.
– Michigan State’s title hopes. The win clinched at least a share of the Legends Crown for the Spartans.
– James White and Melvin Gordon. The dynamic duo was at it again. White ran for a career-high 205 yards, including a school-record 93-yard TD jaunt, and Gordon rushed for 146 vs. Indiana. Oh, and true freshman Corey Clement went for 108 yards rushing.
– Jeremy Gallon. The Michigan wideout had 10 catches for 115 yards vs. NU.
– Ohio State offense. The unit notched 591 yards and 60 points at Illinois. The Buckeyes ran 42 times for 441 yards, averaging 10.5 yards per carry, as OSU built a 35-7 second quarter lead and cruised.
– Nathan Scheelhaase. The Illinois quarterback kept firing, hitting 33-of-50 passes for 288 yards with two touchdowns and two picks. He rallied the Illini to 35-21 in the third quarter, but OSU pulled away as Scheelhaase was sacked five times.
– Ameer Abdullah. The Nebraska back keeps on keeping on, running 22 times for 123 yards. It was his ninth 100-yard game in 2013 and gives him a Big Ten-high 1,336 yards for the season.
– Michigan ground game. After notching minus-69 yards rushing in the previous two games, the Wolverines ran 44 times for 139 yards (3.2 ypc). Hey, it’s a start.
– Wisconsin defense. It did a number on the Indiana quarterbacks. Nate Sudfeld hit just 9-of-22 passes for 99 yards with a pick; Tre Roberson completed only 3-of-8 for 23 yards.
– Steve Hull. The Illinois wideout grabbed eight passes for 105 yards and a score. He had nine catches for 224 yards and two scores the week before.
– OSU in the first quarter. No team starts faster, as OSU’s 192 first-quarter points lead all of college football.
– Jeremy Langford. The Michigan State back has rushed for 100 yards in six games in a row, running for 721 yards in that span. He had a career-high 151 today with three touchdowns.
– Nebraska offense. Yes, it had 392 yards—the most Michigan State has allowed all season. But there also were four turnovers. (A fifth came on a muffed punt.)
– Indiana offense. This prolific attack was muted by Wisconsin, notching just three points. IU entered the game No. 2 in the Big Ten in total offense, averaging 527 yards. But the Hoosiers had just 224 vs. the Badgers. And IU was held scoreless in just three quarters all season; it matched that today.
– Purdue ground game. It continues to struggle mightily, running 20 times for 38 yards (1.9 ypc). Purdue had one yard rushing at halftime. The attack was sloppy overall, committing three turnovers (two fumbles and a pick).
– Indiana defense. It yielded seven runs of 30 or more yards vs. Wisconsin.
– Northwestern offense. Just one touchdown in four quarters and three OT sessions? And only 322 yards? Not gonna cut it.
– Tommy Armstrong, Jr. The Nebraska redshirt freshman showed his youth, hitting just 9-of-21 passes for 143 yards with two TDs and a pick.
– Northwestern. That’s six losses in a row for NU after a 4-0 start. One more defeat, and the Wildcats can forget about playing in a bowl. During the rough patch, Northwestern has lost twice in overtime (Iowa and Michigan), on a Hail Mary (Nebraska) and by three points (Minnesota).
– Illinois in Big Ten play. The Fighting Illini now have lost 20 conference games in a row. That’s the second-longest skein in league history.
– Indiana bowl hopes. They hang in the balance, as the Hoosiers now must win at Ohio State and vs. Purdue to get to six wins.
SNEAK PEEK AHEAD
It’s a rare full week of action with all 12 teams playing. But, honestly, there aren’t any big-time games. Wisconsin’s game at Minnesota in the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe is the most interesting. The Badgers have won five in a row; the Gophers have won four in a row and still harbor Legends Division title hopes. Michigan State will try to stay perfect in Big Ten play at Northwestern in a potential trapdoor game. Ohio State should get win No. 23 in a row when Indiana visits. Illinois is at Purdue, as both teams are desperate for a victory. Illinois has lost six in a row; Purdue has lost eight in a row.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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