A wild Saturday saw Ohio State push its winning streak to 24 and see its BCS title game hopes receive a massive boost with Alabama’s stunning loss at Auburn. Wisconsin saw its hopes for an at-large BCS bowl slot ruined by a baffling home loss to Penn State. Here’s my recap of Week 14.
Biggest surprise: Few envisioned Penn State strolling into Wisconsin and leaving with a win. The Nittany Lions were a heavy underdog and had lost two of their previous three games including an overtime home loss to Nebraska the last time out. But Penn State used a big passing day from Christian Hackenberg to stun the Badgers, 31-24, and finish with a winning record (7-5) for the second season in succession.
Biggest disappointment: Wisconsin. The Badgers appeared to be in line to earn an at-large BCS bowl bid with a home win over a 6-5 Penn State team. Alas, the Badgers got whipped, 31-24. Now, 9-3 Wisconsin looks likely headed to the Capital One Bowl. Not a bad destination—but not a BCS bowl, which is where the Badgers played each of the last three seasons.
Best play: Trailing 42-41, Michigan opted to go for two points after scoring a touchdown with 32 seconds left. Devin Gardner dropped to pass and was intercepted by Buckeye defensive back Tyvis Powell to preserve victory and perfection for Ohio State. Also have to mention the nice TD grab by Penn State tight end Jesse James, and the backside TD catch by Illinois’ Steve Hull.
Play this again: Ohio State 42, Michigan 41. This was an instant classic that basically came down to the final ticks on the Big House clock. The Buckeyes squandered a 35-21 third quarter lead, watching Michigan score three fourth-quarter touchdowns to storm back. OSU didn’t secure victory until turning back a Wolverine two-point try in the waning seconds, as Michigan went for the win instead of settling for a tie and forcing overtime.
Never play this again: Indiana 56, Purdue 36. The Hoosiers were able to take out their frustrations on a pathetic Purdue team in what has been a disappointing season. No, Indiana won’t be going to a bowl for the sixth season in a row or for only the second time in the last 20 seasons. But it will have the Old Oaken Bucket for the first time since 2010 and just the fourth time in 17 seasons.
Michigan State: B
Ohio State: B
Penn State: A-
Trevor Siemian. The Northwestern quarterback completed 31-of-44 passes for 414 yards and four touchdowns, as Kain Colter didn’t play because of injury.
Carlos Hyde. The Ohio State back rumbled for 229 yards, averaging 8.4 yards per carry. That’s seven 100-yard rushing games in a row for Hyde, who has gone for over 200 in two of the last three games.
Iowa rush defense. The Hawkeyes held a banged up Nebraska offense to 89 yards rushing. Ameer Abdullah, the Big Ten’s leading rushing entering the weekend, ran 23 times for 85 yards. It ended a run of eight 100-yard rushing games in a row for Abdullah and was just the second time all season that he was held under 100 yards (98 vs. UCLA).
Iowa linebackers. In their final game together, seniors Anthony Hitchens, Christian Kirksey and James Morris combined for 28 tackles, seven tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and two sacks. That’s in one game, mind you. These guys are nothing short of fantastic.
Michigan State defense. It rationed Minnesota 249 yards and three points. It allowed six or fewer points in five of eight Big Ten games. And it yielded only 14 in another.
Jake Rudock. The Iowa quarterback hit some big passes en route to completing 9-of-15 aerials for 126 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game in the third quarter with injury.
Allen Robinson. The Penn State receiver caught eight passes for 122 yards.
Christian Jones. The Northwestern wideout grabbed 13 passes for 182 yards and two scores.
Indiana offense. It had its way vs. Purdue, scoring 56 points with 692 yards. IU had 401 yards rushing with three backs rushing for over 100 yards on the ground: Tre Roberson (154); Stephen Houston (120); DeAngelo Roberts (113).
Steve Hull. The Illinois wideout remains hot, catching 13 passes for 155 yards and a score. He has 40 catches for 653 yards and six TDs in the last four games.
Danny Etling. The Purdue true freshman quarterback hit 33-of-49 passes for 485 yards with four touchdowns.
Joel Stave. The Wisconsin quarterback completed 29-of-53 passes for 339 yards and three touchdowns and three picks, but it wasn’t enough in a loss to Penn State.
Devin Gardner. The Michigan quarterback was spectacular, completing 32-of-45 passes for 451 yards and four touchdowns. And he did it all with a bum ankle.
DeAngelo Yancey. The true freshman Purdue wideout had 11 grabs for 125 yards and a score.
Nathan Scheelhaase. The Illinois quarterback ended his career on a high note by hitting 31-of-45 passes for 307 yards with two touchdowns and a pick. He also became the school’s all-time leader in total offense.
Cody Latimer. The IU receiver had seven catches for 110 yards and a score.
Braxton Miller. The Buckeye quarterback didn’t pass well, but he excelled as a running by carrying 16 times for 153 yards and three scores. He was basically unstoppable.
Josh Ferguson. The Illinois back ran 14 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
Jared Abbrederis. The Badger wideout caught 12 passes for 135 yards.
Christian Hackenberg. The Penn State true freshman quarterback hit 21-of-30 passes for 339 yards and four TDs in maybe his best effort of the season vs. a good Wisconsin defense.
Jeremy Gallon. The Michigan wideout continued to excel, catching nine passes for 175 yards and a score.
David Cobb. The Minnesota back became just the second player to rush for over 100 yards vs. Michigan State, carrying 27 times for 101 yards.
Jeremy Langford. The Michigan State back continues to carry a big load, running 21 times for 134 yards and a TD. That’s seven 100-yard rushing games in succession for Langford.
Zach Zwinak. The Penn State running back remains on a roll, running 22 times for 115 yards. That’s four 100-yard rushing games in a row.
Ryan Shazier. The Buckeye linebacker had his third double-digit tackle game in a row, notching 14.
Northwestern offense. It notched 560 yards vs. Illinois, with 414 coming in the air to help NU end a seven-game losing skid.
Nebraska at home. The Huskers lost three games in venerable Memorial Stadium for the first time since 2007 under Bill Callahan.
Wisconsin BCS hopes. The stunning home loss to Penn State killed the Badgers’ dreams for an at-large BCS bowl.
Minnesota offense. It generated a paltry 249 yards vs. Michigan State along with three points. In the last two games, the Gophers have 10 points. And the lone TD came on defense. The offense hasn’t scored since the second quarter of a win over Penn State on Nov. 9, with no TDs in 10 quarters. The passing game continues to flounder, as Gopher quarterbacks hit just 9-of-25 attempts for 125 yards with no touchdowns and two picks at MSU.
Ohio State defense. It was sliced for 603 yards, including 451 through the air.
Illinois defense. It allowed over 500 yards for a fifth time this season.
Ron Kellogg III. The fifth-year senior Nebraska walk-on QB was making his first start. And, he struggled behind a patchwork line. He hit 19-of-37 passes for 199 yards with a touchdown and two picks.
Wisconsin defense. A unit that entered Saturday No. 2 in the Big Ten (278.5 ypg) was ripped for 465 yards and 31 points.
Connor Cook. The Michigan State quarterback hit just 10-of-20 passes for 143 yards with a touchdown and pick. And MSU was 0-for-8 on third downs.
Husker special teams. Trailing 17-10 in the third quarter, Nebraska dropped to punt deep in its territory and called a fake. It failed. Miserably. On the next play, Iowa hit a 24-yard touchdown pass to Kevonte Martin-Manley to make it 24-10. That essentially ended the game.
Purdue rushing game. Horrible with 16 carries for 31 yards vs. an IU defense that was last in the Big Ten vs. the run (256.5 ypg).
Northwestern losing skid. It’s over after seven games. NU started 4-0; lost seven; ended with a win. Weird.
|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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