Every Sunday, after an entire Saturday’s worth of college football, we’ll take a look around the Big Ten. As the conference as a whole fights as respectability in the non-conference, or as its power dynamics shift on a week-to-week basis this fall, we’ll follow every team and try to piece together the puzzle that is the 13-week-long season all the way up to Indianapolis.
Here are the top storylines from Week 12:
Iowa 63, Illinois 0
That scoreline pretty much says it all, folks. Iowa took out some pent-up anger after a third consecutive loss to the Wildcats, and it resulted in the worst loss in the history of Illinois football. If Lovie Smith was on the hot seat before, things have only intensified.
Every second that passes without Lovie Smith being fired adds to the thickness of the wall between Illinois and a winning season.— The Champaign Room (@Champaign_Room) November 18, 2018
Looking forward to Northwestern winning on a last-second touchdown next week!
Ohio State survives, somehow
Despite a series of costly mistakes, horrible defense, never-ending breaks for Maryland, and plenty of Urban Meyer migraines, the Buckeyes kept their Big Ten and College Football Playoff hopes alive with a 52-51 overtime win.
Outside of a tipped pick-six and a lost fumble, Dwayne Haskins was brilliant. The stud sophomore quarterback threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns and added another three scores on the ground, with his day culminating in a minute-long, 50-yard drive to tie the game at 45 to close regulation. That came after Maryland, already beneficiaries of an iffy pass interference call, fell on their own fumble in the end zone to take the lead.
In overtime, after a Haskins rushing TD, Maryland interim head coach Matt Canada opted to go for two and the win after the Terps scored. It seemed like the right decision, but Tyrell Pigrome, on just his 14th pass attempt of the day, missed an open man, and the Buckeyes survived.
The main takeaway from this matchup of arguably the two shadiest programs in the Big Ten: Haskins can be transcendent, but the Buckeyes are very beatable.
Michigan gets by Indiana, but not before sustaining losses
The Wolverines and Hoosiers have had an interesting semi-rivalry over the past decade, but this game was a slog from start to finish. Michigan kicked six field goals, each of them 33 yards or shorter, and won 31-20.
But star defensive end Chase Winovich, who gave the Wildcats fits earlier this season, sustained an injury thanks in part to a late hit from an Indiana lineman. X-rays were negative though, and Winovich should be back on the field shortly. The same cannot be said, unfortunately, for running back Berkley Edwards, who was knocked unconscious on a kickoff. Edwards does, reportedly, have feeling in his extremities, and seems to be doing as well as could be expected.
So despite scares of different kinds for both sides, the Big Ten East will, as expected, be decided in Columbus. Northwestern will have to wait another week to find out who they will line up across from in Indianapolis. But Week 12 did reveal something important: both of these squads are definitely vulnerable.
Wisconsin 47, Purdue 44 (3OT)
This one was fun! Relatively meaningless, sure, but definitely fun. Rondale Moore did this:
Incredible spin move by Rondale Moore on this 46-yard catch-and-run touchdown to put Purdue up 24-13 in the 3rd quarter. pic.twitter.com/8ixFbPOFZB— atreya verma (@atreya_verma) November 17, 2018
Rondale Moore makes 6 defenders miss to score a touchdown for Purdue in overtime. pic.twitter.com/ocvlj2sh7g— atreya verma (@atreya_verma) November 18, 2018
David Blough had, for him, a pedestrian day, with just 386 yards to go with his four touchdowns through the air. For Wisconsin, it’s safe to say Jonathan Taylor is back on track: 33 carries for 321 (yes, you read that correctly) yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner.
Nebraska 9, Michigan State 6
The Cornhuskers covered, and have looked better every week of Big Ten play, making Northwestern’s close call against them earlier this year look better and better. Otherwise, I’ll try to say as little about this one as possible.
Penn State 20, Rutgers 7
Somehow, this game was even worse. Arthur Sitkowski did this:
Artur Sitkowski throws his 18th interception of the year, and this one is by far the worst. No pressure, off his back foot, with no receiver in the vicinity. pic.twitter.com/3H5jZ7qGnQ— Brian Fonseca (@briannnnf) November 17, 2018
I’m mesmerized by this clip.
Meanwhile, the Scarlet Knights continue to be not good at football.