Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, November 26, 2017
It was Rivalry Saturday, the best Saturday of the year! And the day was filled with many good moments, as top dogs Wisconsin and Ohio State held serve amid a sea of blowouts.
Here is the best of Week 13.
Biggest surprise: No big shockers on this day, as everything went as expected on a Saturday with a lot of lopsided games.
Biggest disappointment: Nebraska ended the year with four consecutive losses for the program?s fewest wins since 1961. NU lost five home games for the first time since 1957. The Cornhuskers allowed 50 points in three straight games and four times in 2017-both firsts in program annals. Want more? After opening 2016 with a 7-0 mark, the Cornhuskers went 6-12.
Play this again: Ohio State at Michigan. The Game always is fun and was probably the best game of the day from a competitive standpoint. The Wolverines raced to 14-0 lead before falling 31-20. OSU out gained Michigan, 350-295, in a tilt that the Buckeyes led 21-20 after three quarters.
Never play this again: Penn State at Maryland. The 66-3 Nittany Lions' win was a snooze-fest from the start, as PSU raced to a 31-0 halftime edge and never looked back. The undermanned Terrapins had no chance vs. a powerful Nittany Lions squad that out gained Maryland, 534-303.
Best play: Alex Hornibrook pass to Kendric Pryor. At first blush, it hardly looks like anything special. But then you see the replay, and see Hornibrook is hit from behind as he throws the ball, which makes it look like he's going to throw the ball straight up into the air. Not the case, as it carries to Pryor, who makes the nice adjustment for the catch. Ohio State's Austin Mack had a fantastic non-TD catch of his own, and this is probably the best play for negative yards that you've seen in a long time.
Best quote: John O'Korn. If there's any doubt how important The Game is and how much it "sucks" for the loser every year, just listen to a snippet of the Michigan quarterback's postgame presser.
Best tweet: Northwestern routed rival Illinois, for its seventh straight win, and celebrated with the Hat. Got to like the copy of the tweet, right?
Best laugh: Goldy the Gopher and Bucky. It was all Wisconsin, yet again, in the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe, but Goldy owned things when it came to the mascots. Get some pants, already, Bucky!
Did you see this? J.T. Barrett injured his knee in the third quarter of Ohio State's comeback win at Michigan. Turns out, the injury first occurred in pregame, when a cameraman hit Barrett as he was warming up on the sideline. Urban Meyer was not happy about it, and he wants the situation to be investigated. Barrett did his best to recreate what happened in his postgame press conference. Can't forget about Tito Odenigbo throwing the flag back at a ref, either, resulting in an ejection. This was pretty cool, too.
WEEK 13 GRADES
Michigan State: A
Ohio State: B+
Penn State: A
WEEK 13 SUPERLATIVES
Offensive Player of the Week: Purdue RB Markell Jones. He ran 31 times for a career-high 217 yards in a 31-24 win vs. Indiana that helped clinch a bowl for the program. He is the first Boilermaker to rush for over 200 yards in a game since 2009.
Defensive Player of the Week: Wisconsin LB Ryan Connelly. He had three TFLs, two sacks and six tackles in helping shutout Minnesota, which totaled only 133 yards and eight first downs
Special Teams Player of the Week: Michigan State K Matt Coghlin hit four of four field-goal attempts with a long of 46 vs. Rutgers.
Ohio State. The Buckeyes saw QB J.T. Barrett get hurt, but they still rallied to whip Michigan for a sixth season in a row to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Purdue. First-year coach Jeff Brohm did what many thought was impossible by leading a moribund program to its first bowl since 2012 with a 31-24 win vs. Indiana. The Boilermakers won three of their last four to reach the postseason, as Brohm joined Joe Tiller as the only Purdue coaches to reach the postseason in their first year.
Wisconsin. The Badgers moved to 12-0 with a 31-0 win at Minnesota, UW's 14th triumph in a row vs. the Gophers in the battle for the Axe. The only other time Wisconsin completed the conference slate without a loss was in 1912, when there were only five contests on the schedule.
Northwestern. The Wildcats closed the season with seven victories in a row after a lopsided 42-7 triumph at Illinois. Few teams in the nation are hotter, as NU will look for win No. 10 in the postseason.
Nebraska. A horrendous season came to a merciful end with a 56-14 home loss to Iowa on Black Friday. The game was tied, 14-14, at halftime, as the Huskers were outscored 42-0 in the second half. Mike Riley was fired on Saturday after going 19-19 in three years.
Minnesota. The Gophers needed to beat Wisconsin to reach six wins ? but got smoked, 31-0. Three weeks ago, Minnesota beat Nebraska, 54-21. But the Gophers got shut out their last two games to finish 5-7. It was Minnesota?s first consecutive shutouts since 1950, as the Gophers will miss a bowl for the first time since 2011.
Michigan. The Wolverines are now 1-13 in their last 14 games vs. Ohio State. Even worse: Michigan will fail to reach the 10-win mark for the first time under Jim Harbaugh, who is 0-3 vs. the Buckeyes, and finishes fourth in the Big Ten East.
Indiana. The Hoosiers not only lost the Old Oaken Bucket for the first time since 2012, but they also will see their two-year bowl run come to an end after a 31-24 loss at Purdue in Tom Allen?s first year.
66, points Penn State scored vs. Maryland, its most in a Big Ten game since joining the conference in 1993.
60-59-8, ledger of the Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry, in favor of the latter, marking the first time the Badgers have led the all-time series.
39, career rushing touchdowns for Justin Jackson, setting the all-time Northwestern record.
4-0, J.T Barrett's record in The Game, becoming the first quarterback to win four games in the storied rivalry.
6, consecutive double-digit win seasons for Ohio State, which ties the program record (2005-2010).
1-5, Jim Harbaugh's record vs. Michigan State and Ohio State.
2012, the last season Purdue went to a bowl game.
10, rivalry trophies Iowa has won in its last 12 trophy games, this following an 0-4 run in 2014.
8, losses for Nebraska, its most since losing nine in 1957.
28, points Iowa scored in the third quarter at Nebraska, the most its scored in any quarter in Big Ten play since putting up 28 vs. Northwestern in 2001.
176-28, amount Rutgers was out scored against Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State.
80, receptions for D.J. Moore, setting the Maryland single-season reception mark, previously held by Geroy Simon (77). Moore also became the school's third receiver to have a 1,000-yard season.
144, rushing yards for Northwestern?s Justin Jackson on 18 totes with a TD. Jackson finished the regular season with 1,154 yards, one of two Big Ten players along with former Wisconsin star Ron Dayne to top 1,000 yards for four straight seasons
113, yards rushing for Penn State backup QB Tommy Stevens on 12 carries, with three TDs.
47:50, time of possession for Michigan State at Rutgers.
0, interceptions by Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook, his first interception-free game of the Big Ten season.
6, wins in a row for Ohio State vs. Michigan, which last beat the Buckeyes in 2011.
4, number of Iowa running backs to register back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons after Akrum Wadley reached the plateau at Nebraska.
986, receiving yards in 2017 for Nebraska?s Stanley Morgan, a program single-season record.
116, yards receiving for Iowa TE Noah Fant on three catches with two TDs.