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 for 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 14-week-long season all the way up until Indianapolis.
Here are the top storylines from Week 12:
Iowa topples No. 8 Minnesota
Last week, the Gophers hit a high. Yesterday, they hit a hangover.
After last week’s upset of Penn State, Minnesota sat at 9-0, with an undefeated season seemingly within reach. Unfortunately, Kinnick Stadium is where such dreams go to die, and that held true this weekend. The Hawkeyes, following a disappointing loss at Wisconsin, were able to fend off a late charge from the Gophers after staking themselves to a 20-3 lead, winning 23-19.
The game was largely defensive, with neither the Hawkeyes nor the Gophers being able to get the ball moving on the ground. Minnesota appeared unable to block Hawkeye star A.J. Epenesa, who recorded 2.5 sacks on the game. Meanwhile, Tanner Morgan threw for 368 yards and one touchdown for the Gophers before exiting during the game’s last series with an injury (something to monitor going into next week).
Michigan rolls through Michigan State 44-10
After a top-tier choke job last weekend vs. Illinois, Michigan State followed up with a truly abysmal performance against their in-state rivals.
To credit Michigan, Shea Patterson absolutely tore up the Spartans’ secondary, throwing for 384 yards and four touchdowns. Ronnie Bell led the way receiving, catching nine passes for 150 yards. The Wolverines strayed away from the run game, rushing for just 83 yards as a team on 34 carries.
On the other side of the ball, Brian Lewerke was largely ineffective, throwing for just 166 yards and one touchdown while also tossing two interceptions. The Spartans failed to run the ball effectively whatsoever, scampering for just 54 yards on 30 carries. The Wolverines improve to 8-2 (5-2 B1G) while the Spartans fall to 4-6 (2-5 B1G).
Penn State survives Indiana
After their upset loss in Minneapolis last weekend, Penn State survived a scare vs. Indiana yesterday, squeaking by 34-27 thanks to some miscues on the part of Tom Allen’s squad, and a nine-minute, clock-killing touchdowndrive from the Nittany Lions that closed things out deep into the fourth quarter.
31 of this game’s points were scored in the first quarter, as Penn State led 17-14 after the opening frame. Peyton Ramsey had another solid game for the Hoosiers, throwing for 371 yards on 31/41 and one touchdown, while also rushing for 31 yards and two touchdowns. On the other side, Sean Clifford threw for just 179 yards and one touchdown, while scampering for 55 yards and two touchdowns of his own.
Following the loss, the Hoosiers drop to 7-3 (4-3 B1G) while the Nittany Lions improve to 9-1 (6-1 B1G). Penn State faces an extremely tough task at No. 2 Ohio State next week while Indiana hosts No. 15 Michigan.
Ohio State 56, Rutgers 21
No surprise here. The Buckeyes dominated this game from start to finish. Justin Fields threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns while J.K. Dobbins added two touchdowns of his own on 17 carries for 89 yards. For Rutgers, Johnny Langan threw for a miniscule 121 yards and one touchdown while also tossing two interceptions. A truly valiant effort from the Scarlet Knights, who fall to 2-8 (0-7 B1G), though they managed to cover the spread.
Wisconsin 37, Nebraska 21
A very run-oriented game fell the Badgers’ way Saturday afternoon, as Wisconsin garnered 320 yards on just 45 carries. Jonathan Taylor led the way, carrying the ball 25 times for 204 yards and two touchdowns. Dedric Mills led the way for the Huskers, rushing for 188 yards on just 17 carries. The Badgers improve to 8-2 (5-2 B1G) while UNL drops to 4-6 (2-5 B1G).