Every Saturday, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart offers his thoughts on every Big Ten game. Get Dienhart’s Snap Reactions to Nebraska’s comeback victory over Penn State and Minnesota’s bowl-clinching win at Illinois in this post.
Taylor Martinez threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jamal Turner for Nebraska’s first lead, and the No. 18 Cornhuskers overcame a double-digit, second-half deficit for the fourth time this season in a 32-23 victory over Penn State on Saturday.
That “pop” you just heard was Indiana’s Rose Bowl dreams. Oh, it was a LONG shot. We all knew it. But it was fun while it lasted, as the Hoosiers came into today controlling their own destiny in a Leaders Division title chase that would land them in the Big Ten title game with a chance to advance to Pasadena. That caused America—or at least the Midwest—to rub its eyes in disbelief.
It wasn’t pretty, but Minnesota was good enough in a 17-3 win over Illinois on Saturday. In a battle of sluggish offenses, Minnesota running back Donnell Kirkwood did most of the work, rushing for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Kirkwood’s 3-yard run in the third quarter broke a 3-3 tie. He scored on a 12-yard run late in the fourth quarter to clinch the victory, giving his team its fourth straight win at Illinois.
Nebraska’s Imani Cross ran for two touchdowns in the third quarter, but the Cornhuskers still trail Penn State, 23-20, entering the fourth quarter. Late deficits are nothing new to Nebraska, though, as it has rallied for a win in the final 15 minutes an FBS record three times in Big Ten play.
Minnesota held Illinois to three total yards during the third quarter and the Golden Gophers now lead 10-3. Minnesota held the Fighting Illini to one yard on the ground during the quarter.
Sam Ficken drilled two field goals, and Penn State now leads 20-6. The Nittany Lions held Nebraska to 13 yards through the air during the quarter. Penn State is currently on a 13-point run. An 84-yard drive that ended when Brett Maher made a 27-yard field goal helped the Cornhuskers narrow the deficit to 7-6. Nebraska threw just one time during that march downfield.