It’s safe to say that Rivalry Week in the Big Ten lived up to the hype. Comebacks, upsets and an edition of The Game that shook up the playoff picture all made for a wildly entertaining cap to the regular season. Here’s a look at some of Week 13’s best games.
Hassan Haskins carries Michigan to monumental victory over Ohio State
You can’t come up with a more fitting way to end one of the craziest regular seasons in recent memory. With playoff chances on the line for both teams, Michigan beat Ohio State for the first time in a decade.
Hassan Haskins thrust himself into the Heisman conversation with an incredible performance at the Big House. Racking up 169 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 28 carries, Haskins spearheaded Michigan’s offensive attack in its 42-27 win. He gained every one of the Wolverines’ 63 yards during their game-clinching touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter.
CJ Stroud did as much as he could to keep the Buckeyes in the game. Although Aidan Hutchinson made his presence felt with three sacks, Stroud navigated the pocket well and threw for almost 400 yards. He heavily relied on Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Garrett Wilson, who combined for over 20 catches and 200 yards in the air. With their help, Stroud and the Buckeyes traded scores with the Wolverines as Haskins and Blake Corum caught fire.
Ohio State entered this game firmly in the playoff picture while Michigan was on the outside looking in, but teams have now swapped spots. With two losses and no conference title game left to play in, the Buckeyes’ CFP hopes are all but dead. Meanwhile, the Wolverines will enter next Saturday’s Big Ten Championship against Iowa as the No. 2 team in the country. A win in Indianapolis should clinch Michigan’s first ever playoff berth.
Iowa scores 22 points unanswered to beat Nebraska, clinches Big Ten West
When Logan Smothers’s one-yard rushing touchdown put Nebraska up 21-6 midway through the third quarter, all hope looked lost for Iowa. But a turnaround from the Hawkeyes in all three phases fueled a thrilling comeback, resulting in a 28-21 win on Black Friday.
Iowa’s offense moved the ball well even as it trailed. But its failure to finish two drives of over 60 yards — which ended in a turnover on downs on the goal line and a Tyler Goodson fumble, respectively — allowed Nebraska to take control early on. Kirk Ferentz’s squad limited Smothers and Jaquez Yant on the ground, but both were able to establish enough momentum to vault the Cornhuskers to an early lead.
The tide turned on a blocked punt that occurred less than a minute into the final period of play. Joe Evans broke through Nebraska blockers to disrupt the play and create an Iowa touchdown. It brought the Hawkeyes within five points and set the tone for a dominant fourth quarter. Four minutes later, the defense forced a safety. Later, Iowa’s offense finally took the lead with three minutes left on a 76-yard touchdown drive that featured a huge 55-yard run by Goodson, who finished with 156 yards on 23 carries.
Because Minnesota upset Wisconsin on Saturday, Iowa was able to steal the Big Ten West title. Despite their offensive struggles in the middle of the year, the Hawkeyes now have an opportunity to secure a spot in the Rose Bowl and spoil Michigan’s playoff hopes. Nebraska, on the other hand, will finish with a 1-8 B1G record despite a net-zero point differential in conference play. Classic Huskers.
Spartans rebound against Penn State to close regular season on high note
After a demoralizing blowout loss in Columbus last week, Michigan State bounced back with a 30-27 win over Penn State.
It didn’t come easy, as the Nittany Lions never trailed by more than seven points. And if MSU’s offensive attack wasn’t predictable enough, snowy conditions and strong winds forced the Spartans to rely even more heavily on Kenneth Walker II. That didn’t stop Walker, a yearlong Heisman candidate, from rushing for 138 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.
A three-possession sequence in the fourth quarter also proved crucial. Leading 23-20, Spartans linebacker Cal Haladay stripped Keyvonne Lee to force a turnover around midfield. Mel Tucker’s offense then capitalized with a 48-yard touchdown drive, which culminated in Jayden Reed’s 20-yard catch and score on 4th and 15. On the ensuing kickoff, MSU’s special teams unit forced a fumble to kill another minute of clock.
Sean Clifford played well throughout, throwing for 313 yards and three touchdowns. But his performance ultimately wasn’t enough for Penn State to avoid its fifth loss in seven games. While James Franklin now has as much job security as anyone with a new ten-year contract, he and the Nittany Lions have lots of work ahead of them to improve on their disappointing 7-5 record. Meanwhile, the Spartans notched their first ten-win season in five years and are in the mix for a New Year’s Six bowl bid.
Illinois 47, Northwestern 14
Minnesota 23, Wisconsin 13
Purdue 44, Indiana 7
Maryland 40, Rutgers 16