Best of Week 12: Grades, individual honors, stock watch & numbers
On a crazy weather day across the Big Ten, Wisconsin made a statement with a methodical win vs. Michigan, staying unbeaten and keeping playoff hopes alive. Ohio State blasted Illinois and in the process won the Big Ten East for the first time since 2014. So, the Big Ten title game is set: Wisconsin vs. Ohio State.
Here is the Best of Week 12.
Biggest surprise: Purdue. The Boilermakers had their backs against the wall: lose at Iowa, and kiss bowl hopes good-bye. Purdue answered the bell with a 24-15 win in Kinnick, its first in Iowa City since 2012. The victory sets up a big Old Oaken Bucket showdown with visiting Indiana next week. Each team has five wins, meaning the victor will punch its bowl ticket. Purdue last went to a bowl in 2012.
Biggest disappointment: Iowa. The Hawkeyes laid an egg at home in losing to 4-6 Purdue, 24-15. This is the same Iowa team that beat Ohio State, 55-24, in Kinnick a few years ago. Iowa is listing across the finish line with a 6-5 record.
Play this again: Nebraska at Penn State. Honestly, there were no nail-biters and overly compelling games, as no game was decided by a possession or less. If forced to pick one, though, the Nittany Lions’ win over the Huskers was an exciting high-scoring affair that eventually saw a big comeback attempt fall short.
Never play this again: Take your pick between Indiana’s 41-0 win vs. Rutgers, Northwestern’s 39-0 victory vs. Minnesota and Ohio State’s 52-14 win vs. Illinois. It was one of those weeks.
Best play: Nebraska’s Stanley Morgan & Indiana’s Ryan Watercutter one-handed grabs. The former’s went for a highlight touchdown, while the latter’s reminded some of David Tyree’s iconic Super Bowl catch. Honorable mention, considering the magnitude of the touchdowns, has to go J.T. Barrett’s 100th TD pass and Saquon Barkley’s program-record 39th rushing TD.
Best tweet: Iowa’s First Quarter Wave continues to make an impression on everyone, including opposing players who take part in the new Kinnick Stadium tradition. Purdue LB Ja’Whaun Bentley and his Boilermaker teammates were the latest honored to take part in it.
Best celebration: Watch Johnnie Dixon, No. 1 on Ohio State, following the Buckeyes’ final snap out of victory formation to clinch the Big Ten East title.
Did you see this? Michigan prized freshman receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones thought he had a highlight touchdown grab in Michigan’s eventual loss at Wisconsin. It was ruled an incomplete pass on the field, and the ruling was upheld following replay. Some think Peoples-Jones got his left foot down before the right foot landed out of bounds. What do you think? Either way, Michigan turned the ball over on the next play.
B1G weather: The weather was a factor in several Week 12 Big Ten games, including an extended lightning delay in the Rutgers-Indiana game. Oh, and there was quite a bit of the white stuff.
WEEK 12 GRADES
Michigan State: B
Ohio State: A
Penn State: B
WEEK 12 SUPERLATIVES
Co-Offensive Player of the Week: Northwestern RB Justin Jackson. He ran 31 times for 166 yards in a 39-0 win vs. Minnesota. He has 1,010 rushing yards on the season and became just the second Big Ten player — and 9th in FBS history — to rush for 1,000 yards in four straight seasons. Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne (1996-99) is the other Big Ten player. Penn State RB Saquon Barkley. The do-it-all star amassed 224 total yards, including 158 and three scores on the ground, as the Nittany Lions held off Nebraska. In the process, Barkley became the school’s all-time leader in rushing TDs (39), passing Lydell Mitchell.
Defensive Player of the Week: Wisconsin LB T.J. Edwards. He had 11 tackles (seven solo) with a sack and 2.5 TFLs in a 24-10 win vs. Michigan, which had just 58 yards rushing and 234 yards overall.
Special Teams Player of the Week: Wisconsin’s Nick Nelson ran back a punt 50 yards for a TD, eluding six defenders. It was the Badgers’ only TD in the first half.
Wisconsin. It wasn’t always pretty, but the Badgers won a 24-10 slugfest with Michigan to remain unbeaten and on course to earn a playoff spot if they win out at Minnesota and in the Big Ten title game. UW is 11-0 for the first time in school history.
Michigan State. The Spartans bounced back from a 48-3 loss at Ohio State with a 17-7 win vs. Maryland. MSU won even though Brian Lewerke hit just 2-of-14 passes for 20 yards. Win at Rutgers next week, and the Spartans will have nine wins after going 3-9 last season.
Purdue. The Boilermakers pulled a shocker at Iowa, taking a 24-14 decision to keep bowl hopes alive. Credit QB Elijah Sindelar, who hit 22-of-37 passes for 229 yards with three TDs.
Indiana. The Hoosiers enjoyed one of their best games of 2017 in a 41-0 demolition of Rutgers, overcoming a 1:47 weather delay to win a second game in a row. It was the largest home Big Ten shutout in school history for Indiana. Now, IU needs just one victory to become bowl eligible for a third year in a row. The Hoosiers finish at Purdue, which they have beaten four times in a row.
Michigan. The Wolverines had a chance to spoil Wisconsin’s unbeaten run but could do little on offense in a 24-10 loss in Madison. Michigan will go a 13th season in a row without a Big Ten title, last winning in 2004. Jim Harbaugh is 5-6 vs. ranked teams as Wolverine coach.
Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have tied the school record for Big Ten wins in a season and are one of six Big Ten teams to follow a winless conference season with four league wins. But this belly flop will be tough to overcome.
Iowa. My, how the Hawkeyes have fallen. Since that 55-24 win vs. No. 6 Ohio State, Iowa lost 38-14 at Wisconsin and then face-planted vs. Purdue, 24-15, on Senior Day. The Hawkeye offense is floundering, notching a total of 324 yards the last two games.
50+, points allowed by Nebraska in each of its last two games, something it hadn’t done since 1945.
101, career TD passes for Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett, as he had two vs. Illinois. He also became the Ohio State leader in rushing yards among quarterbacks (3,070), eclipsing Braxton Miller. He’s now the holder of 35 Big Ten and school records.
1993, the last time Indiana had recorded a shutout prior to the 41-0 win vs. Rutgers.
3, 1,000-yard rushing seasons for Saquon Barkley, joining Evan Royster as the lone Penn State running backs to accomplish the feat.
2, completions for Minnesota in its loss at Northwestern, tying the third-fewest by a Big Ten team in a game since 1996.
1995, the last season Northwestern won six consecutive Big Ten games, something it accomplished by beating Minnesota.
267, yards rushing for Indiana in its 41-0 win vs. Rutgers. 100-yard rushers for Indiana. ,
258, yards Purdue allowed in its upset win at Iowa, which had just 82 yards rushing on 38 carries (2.2 ypc).
5, turnovers forced by Northwestern vs. Minnesota.
1, as in the first time since the Big Ten expanded to 14 teams that all seven games have been decided by at least two possessions.
399, yards passing for Nebraska’s Tanner Lee, who hit 26-of-41 passes with three TDs.
325, passing yards for Penn State’s Trace McSorley, who hit 24-of-36 passes for 325 yards and three TDs.
108, yards rushing for Ohio State’s Mike Weber on 11 carries with two TDs to help the Buckeyes tally 325 yards rushing.
2, shutouts this season for Indiana after the Hoosiers blanked Rutgers, 41-0. It’s the first time IU has had two shutouts in a season since 1993, as Indiana outgained the Scarlet Knights, 503-186.
135, yards receiving for Purdue’s Anthony Mahoungou on seven catches with two TDs.
147, yards rushing for Michigan State’s L.J. Scott on 29 carries with a TD.