Get Tom Dienhart’s Best of Week 12 in the Big Ten

Get Tom Dienhart’s Best of Week 12 in the Big Ten

No big surprises in Week 12, as the leaders in both divisions held serve. Now, Wisconsin and Michigan can wrap up the West and East titles, respectively, with wins next week.

Here is a look at all the Week 12 action.

Biggest surprise: It wasn’t a surprise to see Minnesota beat Northwestern, 29-12. It was a surprise to see the Gophers shut down the potent Wildcat attack. Watch game highlight.

Biggest disappointment: No real “big” disappointment. But the offensive struggles of Ohio State disappointed. The Buckeyes had just 310 yards and 17 points at Michigan State. OSU scored 62 points in consecutive games the previous two times out. Can the attack get on track with Michigan coming to Columbus? Watch game highlight.

Play this again: Ohio State’s 17-16 win at Michigan State was a fun, tight battle. OSU didn’t get the lead until the fourth quarter, taking a 17-10 edge. And MSU could have tied the game with just over four minutes left after scoring a TD. But instead of kicking a PAT, MSU went for two points and the lead … and failed.

Never play this again: Penn State’s 39-0 win at Rutgers was not grand entertainment. And then there was Wisconsin at Purdue game, which was on the schedule and had to be played. And, predictably, the Badgers blew out the Boilermakers, 49-20. Watch game highlight.

Best play: Michigan State’s LJ Scott made a nice fingertip catch in the flat and then hurdled an Ohio State would-be tackler for a first down. Have to give a shout-out to Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt for his incredible pick-6, too.

Best moment: There were two great Nebraska moments Saturday afternoon. First, Nebraska players placed a rose on the 27-yard line to honor late teammate Sam Foltz, who would have been celebrating senior day. Second, the Cornhuskers made an 8-year-old boy’s dream a reality, thanks to Make A Wish.

Did you see this? You remember Michael Geiger’s windmill celebration after hitting the game-winning field goal last season at Ohio State, right? The Buckeyes certainly remember it, to the point Raekwon McMillan and Jalyn Holmes mimicked it after Saturday’s narrow win at Michigan State.

Did you see this, Part II? The wind and the cold weren’t fun for those at the Big House on Saturday afternoon, but the snow certainly resulted in its share of fun and great visuals.

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WEEK 12 GRADES
Illinois: D-
Indiana: C+
Iowa: B+
Maryland: D-
Michigan: B
Michigan State: B+
Minnesota: B+
Nebraska: B+
Northwestern: C-
Ohio State: B+
Penn State: A
Purdue: F
Rutgers: F
Wisconsin: A

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WEEK 12 SUPERLATIVES

Offensive Player of the Week: Michigan RB De’Veon Smith. Smith ran 23 times for a career-high 158 yards and two TDs to carry the Wolverines to a 20-10 win vs. Indiana.

Defensive Player of the Week: Minnesota’s Blake Cashman. Cashman had 10 tackles (nine solo), with two sacks and two TFLs in helping the Gophers stuff Northwestern’s potent offense.

Co-Special Teams Player of the Week: Iowa’s Riley McCarron and Penn State’s Tyler Davis. McCarron, who entered Saturday having returned just one punt, ran untouched 55 yards for touchdown on a punt return at Illinois. Davis booted a career-high four field goals at Rutgers.

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STOCK UP

Michigan. The Wolverines remain in control of their destiny in the East after knocking off Indiana, 20-10, behind an offense that notched 225 yards rushing. Michigan’s defense stuffed the potent Hoosier attack, limiting it to 255 yards. And special teams blocked two punts. The offense was spotty, as John O’Korn made his first start with Wilton Speight out with injury. The attack was averaging 45 points and 232 yards passing. O’Korn was 7-of-16 yards for just 59 yards.

Nebraska. The Huskers stuffed Maryland, 28-7, to remain in the hunt in the Big Ten West. And Nebraska did it with QB Tommy Armstrong out with injury. Ryker Fyfe hit 24-of-37 passes for 220 yards with a TD. NU must win at Iowa on Friday and Wisconsin must lose to Minnesota on Saturday for Nebraska to win the division.

Minnesota. The Gophers had a balanced attack with 197 yards passing and 131 yards rushing. And Mitch Leidner threw his first TD pass since October 1. The Minnesota defense sat on Northwestern, notching seven sacks. The Gophers can’t win the West, but they still can tie for first place by upsetting Wisconsin and having Iowa beat Nebraska.

Penn State. The Nittany Lions keep on rolling, winning their seventh in a row with a 39-0 whipping of Rutgers. Penn State outgained the Scarlet Knights, 549-87, with 339 yards rushing. PSU needs to beat Michigan State next week and hope Ohio State tops Michigan to win the East.

Wisconsin. The Badger juggernaut continues with a 49-10 annihilation of Purdue, outgaining the Boilers 412-293. Wisconsin trailed, 3-0, after one quarter … then scored 35 points in the second quarter. That’s five wins in a row for Wisconsin who continue to ride a vicious defense and strong running game to big things. Win next week at home vs. Minnesota, and the Badgers are off to the Big Ten title game for the fourth time in six years.

STOCK DOWN

Maryland. The Terps lost, 28-7, at Nebraska, the team’s fourth loss in a row and sixth defeat in seven games, as QB Perry Hills was out with injury and the Terps had 11 yards rushing on 25 carries. Maryland has been outscored 149-13 over the last three weeks and is still one win from bowl eligibility with Rutgers visiting next week in the finale.

Illinois. The Fighting Illini continue to flounder on offense, notching just 198 yards even with Wes Lunt back under center at quarterback. The Illini never moved inside the Iowa 30-yard line and have lost two in a row and four of five.

Northwestern. The Wildcats’ potent offense never got traction in a 29-12 loss at Minnesota. NU had just 63 yards rushing. Northwestern needs to beat Illinois to be bowl eligible.

Indiana. The Hoosiers are still one win from bowl eligibility, as IU was stifled 20-10 at Michigan and had just 255 yards with only 64 on the ground. The weather conditions didn’t help, of course, nor did the having to go up against Michigan’s vaunted defense.

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TOP NUMBERS

112, yards rushing for Wisconsin’s Corey Clement on 27 carries with a TD.

191, total yards for Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett, who hit 10-of-22 passes for 86 yards and a TD and ran 24 times for 105 yards.

159, yards rushing for Iowa’s LeShun Daniels, who carried 26 times for two TDs.

35, second-quarter points by Wisconsin at Purdue

3, interceptions for Purdue’s David Blough, who leads the nation with 19 picks.

7, home wins for Nebraska vs. no losses. The nine-victory Huskers will double their 2015 regular-season win total with a victory at Iowa next week.

111, yards rushing for Ohio State’s Mike Weber on 14 totes with a score. He became just the third Buckeye freshman to have 1,000 yards rushing, joining Robert Smith and Maurice Clarett.

124, yards receiving for Maryland’s D.J. Moore, who made six catches with a TD.

0, points scored by Rutgers in the last two games; kickoffs for Illinois in its 28-0 loss vs. Iowa.

3, rushing TDs for Nebraska’s Terrell Newby, who ran 22 times for 98 yards.

160, yards rushing for Michigan State’s LJ Scott on 19 carries with a TD. He also had two catches for 76 yards and a TD.

Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

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, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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