Written by Dan Wismar

Dan Wismar

Purdue Iowa4The Big Ten is down to its last two weeks of action, and the contenders for the conference title game have been whittled down to three. Wisconsin will represent the Leaders Division in Indianapolis on December 1st, a spot they clinched with Saturday’s win at Indiana. The Legends participant may not be determined until the final week of the season, but either Nebraska or Michigan will be playing the Badgers for the championship.

The Cornhuskers hold the tiebreaker over Michigan, and they appear to have the easier path to Indy, with remaining games against Minnesota in Lincoln and at Iowa. Michigan hosts Iowa this weekend and then travels to Columbus on the 24th.  Here’s a rundown of last Saturday’s games:



Wisconsin 62 - Indiana 14
Wisc Ind2The Badgers have played three different quarterbacks this season, and none of them have excelled, but against the Hoosiers it didn’t matter. Wisconsin’s running back tandem of Montee Ball (27 att, 198 yds, 3 TD) and James White (14 att, 161 yds, 2 TD) combined for 359 yards on the ground.  A third Badger rusher, Melvin Gordon, was just four yards shy of 100 on the day, as Wisconsin set a Memorial Stadium record with 564 rushing yards. Badger QB Curt Phillips threw the ball just seven times, completing four for 41 yards and a TD. The Hoosiers really flopped on their home field after winning two straight in Big Ten play. The game was a solid tune-up for the Badgers (7-3, 4-2), who host unbeaten Ohio State this Saturday. Meanwhile the Hoosiers (4-6, 2-4) showed improvement in Kevin Wilson’s second year at the helm, and they’ll finish at Penn State and at Purdue.  Box Score and Stats


Michigan 38 - Northwestern 31 OT
Mich NW2This just in. Northwestern can’t close. The Wildcats choked up all of a 10-point 3rd quarter lead, only to grab it back with 3:59 remaining in the game. But for the third time this year, Northwestern (7-3, 3-3) couldn’t make a 4th quarter lead hold up, and Michigan won it in overtime. Michigan’s backup quarterback Devin Gardner had a fine game, but it took a real stroke of luck for him to get the Wolves in position for the tying field goal. On their own 38, with 18 seconds to play and no timeouts, Gardner launched a prayer 50 yards downfield, where a Wildcat defender swatted the ball away from receiver Ray Roundtree, but it went straight up, and fell right down into his waiting arms, and Michigan (7-3, 5-1) was able to convert and tie it up. The OT was anticlimactic, and the Wolverines kept their title game hopes alive. Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats can only wonder what might have been, had they been able to hold double-digit leads in the final quarter against Nebraska and Penn State in addition to this latest fold.  Box Score and Stats


Purdue 27 - Iowa 24
Purdue Iowa1Someone somewhere cares about what happened in the Purdue-Iowa game, so we dutifully include it in the Recap. The Boilermakers notched their first Big Ten victory of the season on a tie-breaking field goal as time expired, winning at Iowa City for the first time in 20 years.
Iowa (4-6, 2-4) came back from a 10-point deficit to tie the game with less than four minutes to play, but Purdue held the Hawkeyes on a 4th down play, and moved 37 yards into position for the winning kick after getting the ball with just 16 seconds to play. Purdue (4-6, 1-5) broke a five game losing streak with the win. They outgained the Hawkeyes 490-264 in total yards, but racked up 100 yards in penalties to just 18 for Iowa. The Boilers’ Ralph Bolden had 102 yards on the ground to lead all rushers.  Box Score and Stats


Nebraska 32 - Penn State 23
PSU Neb1Four times now Nebraska (8-2, 5-1) has overcome double-digit deficits in the second half of games to win, and they did it again against Penn State Saturday in Lincoln. Quarterback Taylor Martinez says “we know we can come back from anything,” and with the exception of the 63 points the Buckeyes hung on the Huskers back in October, he’s been right. Penn State (6-4, 4-2) built a 20-6 halftime lead, but Nebraska scored two quick TD’s in the 3rd quarter to tie it, and the Nittany Lions were eventually outscored 26-3 in the second half, suffering their second Big Ten loss and virtually eliminating any chance they had at the Leaders title. Ameer Abdullah  rushed for 116 yards for the Huskers and is finishing strong in relief of the injured Rex Burkhead. Martinez also had a 100-yard rushing day and threw for 171 yards on 12 of 20 passing. Matt McGloin threw for 240 yards and a TD in defeat for the Lions. Box Score and Stats


Minnesota 17 - Illinois 3
Minn Ill1Two more bad teams who might look to the MAC for programs to emulate met Saturday in Champaign, and the misery of 2012 continued for Illinois. To be fair to the Gophers (6-4, 2-4) they became bowl eligible with this win, but they have just two wins in a very weak conference, and those were over teams with a combined one Big Ten victory. Some pizza chain-sponsored bowl game in mid-December is going to have to try selling tickets to see these guys play Northern Illinois or somebody. I could tell you this game was a snoozefest, but that would be to admit I watched some of it, and I don’t want to do that. To be fair to Illinois (2-8, 0-6) they did roll up 276 yards, including 175 passing by Nathan Scheelhaase on 15 of 23, on their way to...three points against one of the worst Big Ten defenses ever. Minnesota has a promising young quarterback in freshman Philip Nelson (9/15, 78 yds) so there is hope for the bowl-bound Gophers. Box Score and Stats


Ohio State and Michigan State were idle


Big Ten Statistics

Big Ten Standings - Results


This Week’s Games - (all Saturday, 11/17)

Northwestern (7-3, 3-3) at Michigan State (5-5, 2-4)  -  12:00 PM ET  -  TV: ESPN2

Iowa (4-6, 2-4) at Michigan (7-3, 5-1)  -  12:00 PM ET  -  TV: ESPN

Indiana (4-6, 2-4) at Penn State (6-4, 4-2)  -  12:00 PM ET  -  TV: Big Ten Network

Minnesota (6-4, 2-4) at Nebraska (8-2, 5-1)  -  3:30 PM ET  -  TV: Big Ten Network

Ohio State (10-0, 6-0) at Wisconsin (7-3, 4-2)  -  3:30 PM ET  -  TV: ABC / ESPN2

Purdue (4-6, 1-5) at Illinois (2-8, 0-6)  -  3:30 PM ET  -  TV: Big Ten Network


Big Ten Player of the Week
(my selection, not the official B1G picks, though we occasionally agree)

Montee Ball - RB - Wisconsin - (198 yards rushing, 3 TD’s)


Honorable Mention

James White - RB - Wisconsin - (161 yds rushing, 2 TD)
Devin Gardner - QB - Michigan - (16/29, 286 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT)
Taylor Martinez - QB - Nebraska - (104 yds rushing, 12/20 passing, 171 yds, TD)
Mason Monheim - LB - Illinois - (15 tackles, 1.5 TFL)


Big Ten Play of the Week

Mich NW1Yes, it was lucky, and yes, it did result in a win for the Ugly Hats, but at least it was a meaningful play in a close game in an otherwise lackluster week of a lackluster year in the Big Ten. As noted above, Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner threw up a Hail Mary from his own 38, with 18 seconds and no timeouts left with the Wolves down three to Northwestern. The Wildcat DB batted the ball up instead of down, and UM receiver Ray Roundtree had the presence of mind to stay with it for the catch. Watch it in the highlights here.


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