Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, November 22, 2014
A big Saturday saw Ohio State clinch the Big Ten East title, heading back to Indianapolis for the league title game for a second season in a row. And victories by Wisconsin and Minnesota set up a West Division championship game next week in Madison.
Here?s my Week 13 wrap.
Biggest surprise: I didn?t think Illinois had the mustard to beat Penn State, especially with ineffective Wes Lunt getting pulled for Reilly O?Toole late in the first half. But the Fighting Illini rallied for a 16-14 home win vs. the Nittany Lions with David Reisner booting a game-winning 36-yard field goal with eight seconds left. Illinois had allowed a combined 85 points the previous two games.
Biggest disappointment: Nebraska had a shot to remain in the hunt for the Big Ten West title but blew a 24-14 lead midway through the third quarter. Alas, the Cornhuskers got dumped at home by Minnesota, 28-24. It is the first time Nebraska has lost back-to-back conference games since 2009.
Play this again: Minnesota rallied from a 24-14 deficit midway through the third quarter to win 28-24 at Nebraska. It was the Gophers? first win in Lincoln since 1960. The best part came with Minnesota clinging to a 28-24 lead with less than two minutes to play, when CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun ripped the ball out of De'Mornay Pierson-El's hands at the Minnesota 2-yard line to preserve victory. Unreal.
Never play this again: Michigan State drubbed Rutgers, 45-3. This was never a game, as the Spartans jetted to a 35-0 halftime lead. The Spartans dominated in every facet of the game, outgaining the Scarlet Knights, 520-234. It was a fun Senior Day in East Lansing.
Best play: Jalin Marshall's punt return for a touchdown was nice. So was his one-handed touchdown grab. Heck, all four of his second-half touchdowns were pretty nice – not to mention clutch for Ohio State.
Ohio State. It was close for a while. In fact, Indiana led, 20-14, in the third quarter. But the Buckeyes pulled away with a 42-27 win to clinch the East title and remain in the playoff hunt.
Wisconsin. The Badgers notched their sixth straight win by prevailing at Iowa, 26-24. The victory sets up a winner-take-all West Division showdown next week in Madison vs. Minnesota.
Michigan State. The Spartans haven?t hung their head since the home loss to Ohio State. MSU has won two in a row, whipping Rutgers, 45-3, this week. A win at Penn State next week would be No. 10, making it the fourth time in five years with double-digit wins for the Spartans.
Minnesota. The Gophers? win at Nebraska means they can claim the West title and go to the Big Ten title game with a victory next week at Wisconsin. It was Minnesota?s first road win against a Top 25 opponent in 21 games (since 2000). It's also the Gophers' second straight win over the Huskers. And Minnesota won despite losing star RB David Cobb to injury in the third quarter.
Illinois/Northwestern. The schools from the Land of Lincoln each notched big wins to keep bowl hopes alive. NU crushed Purdue, 38-14, and Illinois nipped Penn State, 16-14. The Fighting Illini will play at Evanston next week with the winner earning a bowl bid.
Nebraska. The Cornhuskers' 28-24 defeat ended Nebraska?s hopes for its first league title since 1999. The Cornhuskers, humiliated at Wisconsin a week ago, have lost back-to-back conference games for the first time since 2009.
Penn State. The Nittany Lions saw a two-game winning streak end with a 16-14 loss at Illinois. PSU is now 2-5 in the Big Ten with a game left vs. Michigan State. The offense continues to struggle, as Christian Hackenberg hit just 8-of-16 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown for an offense that had only 265 yards vs. the worst defense in the Big Ten.
Iowa. The Hawkeyes? 26-24 loss at home to Wisconsin ended their hopes of winning the Big Ten West. Iowa has been stuck in a loss-win-loss-win-loss pattern that has relegated it to mediocrity.
Michigan. The 23-16 home loss to Maryland means the Wolverines need to upset Ohio State in Columbus next week to become bowl eligible. Michigan had won three of four before losing at home to the Terps, the Wolverines' third defeat in Ann Arbor in 2014. Michigan lost to both Big Ten newcomers this year, falling at Rutgers earlier this season.
WEEK 13 GRADES
Michigan State: A
Ohio State: B
Penn State: F
WEEK 13 TOP PERFORMANCES
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin. He eclipsed the 200-yard rushing mark for a third game in succession, carrying 31 times for 200 yards and two scores to go along with four catches for a team-high 64 yards. He also surpassed the 2,000-yard rushing mark in 2014, doing it in fewer carries than any back ever (241). Gordon also tied the Big Ten single-season rushing mark with 2,109 yards. He?ll break it next week.
Mitch Leidner, QB, Minnesota. He bounced back from a rough outing last week vs. Ohio State to hit 8-of-17 passes for 135 yards and lead the team with 22 carries for 110 yards rushing and two scores in a huge 28-24 comeback win at Nebraska.
Jeremy Langford, RB, Michigan State. He carried 16 times for 126 yards (7.9 ypc) and two touchdowns in a rout of Rutgers. It was Langford?s 15th 100-yard rushing effort in a row vs. a Big Ten foe, the longest such skein in the Football Bowl Subdivision in the last 10 years, and he has 13 touchdowns in the last five games.
Jalin Marshall, HB, Ohio State. Marshall had a huge day, erupting for four consecutive touchdowns in the second half, the first coming with 2:20 left in the third quarter on a punt return for a TD that gave the Buckeyes the 21-20 lead. He added three receiving touchdowns in the final quarter.
Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State. How do a game-high 14 tackles, including a trio of tackles for loss, and two sacks sound? That's the line Perry compiled against the upset-minded Hoosiers.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana. He rushed 27 times for 228 yards (8.4 ypc) and three touchdowns at Ohio State, including 90- and 52-yard scoring jaunts, on his way to breaking Indiana's single-season rushing yards record.
Ibraheim Campbell, DB, Northwestern. Campbell was all over the field in Northwestern's win at Purdue, registering eight tackles and an interception, to go along with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Talk about an all-around game!
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State. The redshirt freshman had two picks but still delivered, hitting 25-of-35 passes for 302 yards with four touchdowns, in addition to 78 yards rushing. In the process, he set program records for single-season touchdown passes and total yards.
Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern. The true freshman continues to impress, running 23 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns in a rout of Purdue. Jackson has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark five times in the last seven games.
Michael Caputo, DB, Wisconsin. Caputo tallied 11 tackles, which is impressive, but he also added a forced fumbled and a fumble recovery in Wisconsin's win at rival Iowa.
WEEK 13 TOP NUMBERS
311, passing yards for Iowa?s Jake Rudock, who completed 20-of-30 passes with two touchdowns.
520, yards for Michigan State vs. Rutgers. Balance was the order of the day, as the Spartans had 278 yards passing and 242 yards rushing.
137, yards rushing for Penn State?s Akeel Lynch.
254, yards passing for Michigan State?s Connor Cook, who hit 16-of-24 passes with two touchdowns.
11, catches for Illinois? Mike Dudek which went for 115 yards.
3, Big Ten wins in its last nine league games for Michigan.
107, yards rushing for Ohio State?s Ezekiel Elliott, averaging 8.2 yards per tote. It was his fifth 100-yard rushing game of 2014.
2, positions started for Michigan State?s Tony Lippett. He started at receiver and defensive back, becoming the first Spartan to start on both sides of the ball since 1968. Lippett (5 catches for 72 yards) went over the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the season, giving MSU a 1,000-yard receiver and 1,000-yard rushing for the first time since 2007.
20-6, MSU?s record in November under Mark Dantonio.
4, touchdowns for Ohio State?s Jalin Marshall. Three came on receptions and another came on a 54-yard punt return.
265, yards allowed and 14 points allowed by Illinois vs. Penn State. The Fighting Illini entered the game last in the Big Ten in total defense (493.5 ypg) and last in scoring defense (36.0 ppg).
5, turnovers for Purdue, a big reason why it got crushed at home vs. Northwestern.
|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.|
And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.