B1G Weekly Recap: Wisconsin Takes West, Sets Up Showdown With OSU In Indy

Wisconsin had to come from behind again this week to beat Minnesota and earn their berth to the Big Ten Championship Game this weekend in Indianapolis. They will meet Ohio State, who will turn to Cardale Jones at quarterback after losing J.T. Barrett for the season. Nebraska beat Iowa in their rivalry game, but it wasn’t enough to save Bo Pelini’s job as he was let go on Sunday. Illinois became bowl eligible at the expense of their in-state rivals, Northwestern, while Indiana, Michigan State, and Rutgers also earned victories in the final games of the regular season.

Nebraska 37, Iowa 34 (OT)

Tommy Armstrong Jr. led the way for Nebraska as they completed one of their biggest comebacks in history. The Cornhuskers trailed 24-7 midway through the third quarter before staging their comeback. De’Mornay Pierson-El gave Nebraska the 28-24 lead early in the fourth quarter but the Cornhuskers still needed a Drew Brown field goal to send the game to overtime after Jake Rudock found Jordan Canzeri in the endzone with less than two minutes to play.

Iowa kicked a field goal on their only possession of overtime and Nebraska responded with a game-winning touchdown pass from Armstrong to Kenny Bell. Nebraska ends the regular season at 9-3, Iowa at 7-5, and both teams will await their assignments for bowl season.

Ohio State 42, That Team Up North 28

Ohio State took care of business against their rivals in a game that was too close for too long in the minds of many. The Buckeyes finally pulled away in the fourth quarter, but only after losing their star quarterback. A 45-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-1 by Ezekiel Elliott followed up by a Darron Lee fumble return for a touchdown sealed the deal for the Buckeyes, earning Urban Meyer his third victory in as many tries over the Wolverines.

Elliott finished with 121 yards and two touchdowns while J.T. Barrett ran for two as well to go along with a passing touchdown to Nick Vannett that set the Big Ten record for touchdowns in a season, besting Drew Brees’ old mark. The Wolverines will sit out bowl season after finishing 5-7 but the Buckeyes move on to Indianapolis with a spot in the College Football Playoff still on the radar.

Illinois 47, Northwestern 33

Both teams came into this rivalry game at 5-6, with the winner getting the prize of extending their season and going to a bowl game. Reilly O’Toole was the star of the show for the Illini, throwing for 147 yards and three scores while running for 147 more. Josh Ferguson added 95 yards and two TDs on the ground as Illinois became bowl eligible for the first time since 2011.

Freshman running back Justin Jackson led the attack for the Wildcats, rushing for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Zack Oliver was starting in place of the injured Trevor Siemian and turned the ball over five times in the defeat.

Indiana 23, Purdue 16

Tevin Coleman shouldered most of the load as usual when Indiana took on Purdue in their battle for the Old Oaken Bucket but it was freshman quarterback Zander Diamont that was the hero with his game-winning 1-yard touchdown run with less than a minute to play. Coleman ran for 130 yards, increasing his season total to 2,036 yards and becoming the first Hoosier to hit the 2,000-yard mark rushing the football.

Akeem Hunt was the lone bright spot for the Boilermakers, rushing the ball for 171 yards and their only score of the game. Purdue ends up 3-9, Indiana finishes 4-8, and neither will be going bowling (unless at the local alley) this offseason.

Michigan State 34, Penn State 10

Michigan State coasted to another easy victory, this time dismantling Penn State in Happy Valley on Senior Day. The Spartans took the opening kick back for six points and never looked back. Jeremy Langford had himself a day, rushing for 118 yards and two touchdowns as Michigan State moved to 10-2 and are likely looking at a bid in one of the top six bowl games on New Year’s Day.

Sam Ficken set a Penn State record with his 23rd field goal of the season when he knocked in a 41-yarder in the second quarter. Christian Hackenberg was unimpressive again, completing just 21-45 passes for 195 yards and no touchdowns. The Nittany Lions fall to 6-6 and await their fate for bowl season.

Wisconsin 34, Minnesota 24

Minnesota took a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter, but Wisconsin would rattle off the next 24 points to take control of the game and clinch their spot in the Big Ten Championship Game. Melvin Gordon finished with 151 yards rushing, pushing his season total up to a Big Ten record 2,260.

David Cobb was the anchor of the Minnesota offense, rushing the ball 25 times for 118 yards and a touchdown. Mitch Leidner also ran for two scores and added 54 yards of his own on the ground. The Golden Gophers fall to 8-4 but will look to salvage their season with a bowl victory.

Rutgers 41, Maryland 38

Maryland let a 25 point lead slip away and fell to Rutgers in their first matchup as conference rivals. C.J. Brown threw for 195 yards and two TDs and ran for 107 and another score but it wasn’t enough as the Terraping collapsed in the second half at home.

Gary Nova led the comeback for the Scarlet Knights, passing for 347 yards and four scores with no interceptions. Kyle Federico hit the game-winning field goal for Rutgers from 25 yards out with just over six minutes to play. The result left both teams at 7-5 on the season as they will now wait for their bowl assignments.

What did you think of the last week of the regular season in Big Ten play? Will the Buckeyes be able to overcome the loss of J.T. Barrett to defeat Wisconsin? Or will Melvin Gordon and the Badger rushing attack be too much for Ohio State to handle? Let us know your favorite moment of the Big Ten season below!

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