Countdown to 2017: Top 10 Big Ten football games of 2016

Countdown to 2017: Top 10 Big Ten football games of 2016

We’re one day closer to 2017, and today it’s time to take a look at the top 10 Big Ten football games of 2016. Which game did I miss?

10. Oct. 22: Minnesota 34, Rutgers 32.  The Golden Gophers raced to a 21-0 lead and looked to cruise. But the Scarlet Knights rallied, taking the lead on a 39-yard field goal with four minutes to play. That’s when Minnesota rallied to set up Big Ten Kicker of the Year Emmit Carpenter for a game-winning 28-yard field goal with 10 seconds left as the Gophers went 59 yards on 13 plays to set up the winning boot for a 34-32 win vs. a Scarlet Knights squad that entered the game 2-5 overall and 0-4 in the Big Ten.

9. Oct. 1: Indiana 24, Michigan State 21.  After MSU’s Michael Geiger missed a 49-yard field goal—a long attempt set up by two Hoosier sacks–in its OT possession, IU’s Griffin Oakes botched his attempt, too, his third miss of the game. But he got a reprieve when No. 17 MSU was whistled for a leaping penalty. This time, Oakes didn’t miss, nailing a 20-yarder to win it 24-21 in OT. It gave Indiana possession of the Old Brass Spittoon for the first time since 2006.

8. Oct. 1: Michigan 14, Wisconsin 7. After opening with four easy wins, the No. 4 Wolverines had to battle vs. No. 8 Wisconsin. The game was tied, 7-7, entering the fourth quarter. That’s when Michigan QB Wilton Speight tossed a 46-yard TD pass to Amara Darboh midway through the fourth quarter. And, fittingly, the clinching play was delivered by Michigan’s boffo defense, as cornerback Jourdan Lewis made a stunning pick that we’re still talking about near midfield with 2:15 left to seal the victory. This was the Wolverines’ first win vs. a top 10 team since 2008.

 

7. Oct. 29: Wisconsin 23, Nebraska 17. The No. 11 Badgers saw a 10-point fourth-quarter lead vanish, as the Huskers’ Drew Brown booted a game-tying 35-yard field goal with 3:43 left to force OT. But Wisconsin seized control in overtime to take a 23-17 triumph. On its first OT possession, UW back Dare Ogunbowale scored on an 11-yard TD run. Then, the Badger defense turned back the No. 7 Huskers, as Wisconsin safety D’Cota Dixon knocked away a fourth-down Nebraska pass to seal the win. Just two weeks earlier, Wisconsin lost in OT at home to Ohio State. This was UW’s third win over a Top-10 team in 2016, a school record.

6. Oct. 1: Penn State 29, Minnesota 26. The Gophers had contained star Nittany Lions RB Saquon Barkley most of the game. But the super soph broke through for a game-winning 25-yard TD run in OT in a 29-26 win vs. Minnesota, which had kicked a field goal on its OT possession. The victory sparked PSU—which played without seven injured starters and was coming off a 49-10 loss at Michigan–to big things, as the program would not lose again en route to notching a nine-game winning streak and Big Ten championship to close the regular season. Minnesota’s Emmit Carpenter booted four field goals, including a go-ahead 37-yarder with 54 seconds left. But Penn State’s Tyler Davis’ third field goal, a 40-yarder with two seconds left, forced overtime after the Nittany Lions trailed 13-3 at halftime.

5. Oct. 15: Ohio State 30, Wisconsin 23. Buckeye QB J.T. Barrett showed why he is a special talent, leading Ohio State to a thrilling 30-23 OT win in hostile Camp Randall Stadium. Barrett accounted for three touchdowns, throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass to receiver Noah Brown in overtime to lead the No. 2 Buckeyes over the No. 8 Badgers. OSU finished off Wisconsin with a sack on fourth-and-goal from the 40-yard line for a prime-time victory. Barrett also ran for two touchdowns to keep the Buckeyes unbeaten.

4. Nov. 12: Iowa 14, Michigan 13. The Hawkeyes were coming off consecutive losses vs. No. 10 Wisconsin (17-9) and at No. 12 Penn State (41-14). No matter, Iowa stood toe-to-toe vs. No. 3 and unbeaten Michigan … and won, 14-13. The Wolverines had the lead and the ball with less than two minutes left but couldn’t run out the clock. That gave the Hawkeyes one more chance …. and they capitalized, as freshman Keith Duncan booted a 33-yard field goal as time expired to shock Michigan. The game conjured memories of Iowa’s epic 12-10 win in 1985 vs. Michigan—quarterbacked by none other than Jim Harbaugh. In that one, also in Kinnick Stadium, the No. 1 Hawkeyes won on a last-second field goal vs. No. 2 Michigan.

3. Oct. 22: Penn State 24, Ohio State 21. Beaver Stadium was a powder keg ready to explode when No. 2 Ohio State visited on Oct. 22. It was a prime-time game and a “white out.” And the unranked Nittany Lions delivered one of the program’s biggest wins in recent history, knocking off the Buckeyes 24-21. And Penn State did it in dramatic fashion, outscoring Ohio State 17-0 in the fourth quarter and tallying the winning points on a 60-yard blocked field goal return by Grant Haley. It was Penn State’s first victory vs. a top-five team since 1999 against Arizona; its first against a top-two team since 1990 against No. 1 Notre Dame; its first in Beaver Stadium against a team ranked so high since 1982 against No. 2 Nebraska.

 

2. Dec. 3: Penn State 38, Wisconsin 31. The sixth annual Big Ten title game lived up to its billing, offering thrills and chills in Indianapolis. The No. 6 Badgers raced to a 28-7 lead with 5:15 left in the second quarter and looked to have command. But the No. 7 Nittany Lions had other ideas, outscoring Wisconsin 24-3 in the second half to win 38-31 and claim their first Big Ten title game and the school’s first league championship since 2008. PSU took its first lead in the fourth quarter on a Saquon Barkley 18-yard TD catch and added 24-yard field goal. Wisconsin tried to surge one more time for a tying TD, but Corey Clement got stuffed on a fourth-down run to end the Badgers’ last drive. Nittany Lions QB Trace McSorley was outstanding, hitting 22-of-31 passes for 384 yards and four TDs.

1. Nov. 26: Ohio State 30, Michigan 27. The No. 2 Buckeyes took a pulsating 30-27 double-overtime win vs. No. 3 Michigan. The victory played a huge role in OSU making the CFB Playoff despite not winning the East Division, while the defeat essentially killed Michigan’s hopes. The game was notable for some officiating calls that Michigan disagreed with. Nonetheless, the Buckeyes made the plays when it mattered, sealing the victory with a 15-yard TD run by Curtis Samuel after Ohio State converted what some felt was a controversial fourth-and-one on the previous play after trailing by 10 in the third quarter.

 

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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