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Big Ten Sampler: Week 11

The Big Ten in review and preview

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota 24, Penn State 10

Minnesota won the important downs: they held Penn State's offense to 1-9 on third down and 1-3 on fourth down, while the Gopher offense converted 9 of 17 third downs and all three of their fourth down attempts.  The win was Minnesota's eighth, a total they haven't reached since 2003.

Iowa 38, Purdue 14

Purdue scored a touchdown with 52 seconds remaining to reach double digits for the first time since September; given the game situation, I'll cut the Iowa defense some slack.  The more interesting question is whether running backs Jordan Canzeri (20 carries for 165 yards) and Damon Bullock (10 for 85) can build on their big games and give the Hawkeye offense some firepower even with Mark Weisman on the bench.

Indiana 52, Illinois 35

This game was a shootout from the beginning, and Illinois kept up into the fourth quarter, tying the game at 35 with 12:41 to play.  Ten seconds later, Tevin Coleman ripped off a 75 yard touchdown run, putting the Hoosiers ahead for good.  The offensive numbers were gaudy, to say the least, with over 600 yards for both teams, headlined by 215 yards rushing by Coleman and 450 yards passing by Nathan Scheelhaase.

Nebraska 17, Michigan 13

Michigan's offense gained only 175 yards and finished with negative rushing yards for the second week running; that was understandable against Michigan State but almost unbelievable against a banged-up Nebraska team.  The Huskers almost gave the game away with 2 turnovers before a late touchdown from Ameer Abdullah provided the final margin.

Wisconsin 27, BYU 17

Wisconsin's offense was unusually pedestrian, managing only 5.1 yards per rush and 6.1 yards per pass.  Still, their defense did enough to provide a comfortable margin, providing a non-conference win more respectable than Tennessee Tech or UMass.  The win brings UW a bit closer to winning out, which would give them some chance of a BCS bid.

USC 62, Cal 28

USC scored 21 points in the first quarter and another 20 in the second, putting the game fully out of reach with 14 more points to start the third quarter.  While the Trojans torched Cal's defense (499 yards on only 51 plays), the Cal punt unit was the bigger problem, allowing two punt return touchdowns and a blocked punt touchdown.

Syracuse 20, Maryland 3

Syracuse rode their run game and four takeaways to an easy win, their fifth of the year.  With three games remaining, the Orange look likely to reach a bowl; while Florida State is an unlikely win, they finish the year with a pair of home games against Pittsburgh and Boston College.

Eastern Michigan 35, Western Michigan 32 (OT)

Western Michigan was 51 seconds from their second win of the year when Dustin Creel hauled in a touchdown pass and Ryan Brumfield caught the two-point conversion to tie the game.  It's a tough break for a struggling team, but Eastern Michigan will doubtless be pleased to reach two wins first.

Maine 33, Albany 27

Albany kept this surprisingly close, tying the game at 27 in the fourth quarter.  Maine's win puts them 2 games ahead of their competition in the CAA with two weeks remaining; they should clinch next week against Rhode Island.

Next Week

11:00 CT

Purdue @ Penn State

Both of Penn State's Big Ten wins came in overtime; their third will break that trend.

Indiana @ #22 Wisconsin

Both of these teams have slim hopes on the line: Wisconsin needs to win out against a fairly soft schedule to keep their championship hopes alive, while Indiana needs to win this game or next week's trip to Columbus to become bowl eligible when the paste Purdue in the season finale.  Indiana has the firepower to find a win, but their defense stands little chance of even slowing down the Badgers.

Ohio State @ Illinois

Illinois can't stop the run, which is a bit of a problem against OSU.  Ohio State's secondary can be taken advantage of, which could keep the Illini the game, but I expect the Buckeyes to pull away in the second half if not earlier.

Central Michigan @ Western Michigan

Central Michigan needs to win out against Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and UMass to become bowl eligible.  Against that slate, even their odds are decent.

11:30 CT

Rhode Island @ Maine

Maine has the chance to secure a CAA championship at home against a team near the bottom of the league.  I'm disappointed this game will not be televised, as it looks much more interesting than the 11:00 B1G slate.

2:30 CT

#16 Michigan State @ Nebraska

Surprisingly, Nebraska still controls their own destiny in conference, making this a big game in the West division race.  I don't expect much of a contest, though, considering that Michigan State has won each of their conference games by at least two scores, while Nebraska lost to Minnesota and barely held on against Michigan and Northwestern.  A Spartan win would put them one win away from clinching the division, with a trip to Evanston and a visit from Minnesota remaining.

Syracuse @ #2 Florida State

Syracuse only needs one more win to become bowl eligible; this won't be it.

4:30 CT

Cal @ Colorado

One of these teams will pick up their first PAC-12 win; with a trip to Stanford still on the schedule, this also looks like Cal's last chance to win one.