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The Whistlestop Tour: Rivalry Week Wrap-up

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Trophies were handed out and bragging rights were secured.

Purdue v Indiana Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

It’s finally over. Another dismal Purdue season is in the books and we continue to not have a November win since 2012. The Bucket is in exile in Bloomington for a fourth straight season, but at least we’re not Minnesota, who has now lost 13 in a row to Wisconsin. We’re also not Michigan, who still has fewer wins over Ohio State than Purdue has since 2004. That’s all included in one final Whistlestop Tour around the league:

Iowa 40, Nebraska 10

The Hawkeyes jumped out to a 20-3 lead at halftime and handed the Cornhuskers another blowout loss to finish the season. Our friends at BHGP were elated with the win:

The recap has to start with the big plays that killed any Husker momentum. On offense, the Hawkeyes busted out three plays of 50+ yards, two of which were TD’s and another set up a TD a few plays later. In addition, Desmond King returned a punt 44 yards early in the third quarter, which set up a George Kittle TD a few plays later. The defense certainly came to play, but since it has been the offense holding the team back pretty much all season, it was a relief to finally see some explosion.

The Cornhuskers rebounded for a solid 9-3 season, but November was far from kind for them:

Going into the game, you knew that Nebraska had injury issues with their quarterbacks, which was going to make this game a challenge offensively. That's not where this game was lost, though. Nebraska needed a big game from the Blackshirts, and the Blackshirts not only didn't deliver, they arguably didn't even show up. In the first quarter, Iowa seized control of the game with back-to-back 75 and 77 yard plays and never looked back.

Indiana 26, Purdue 24

The Boilers made Indiana work for it all afternoon, but the Hoosiers are bowl bound for a second straight year as it is high times in Bloomington:

After a sometimes thrilling, other time maddening 2016 campaign, the Hoosiers have finished with another 6-6 regular season record. The stinging losses were there, but Indiana always did best when its back was up against the wall.

And yesterday’s Bucket game played out like most Indiana games this season.

Erratic first half. Weird turnovers. Huge key plays followed by red zone inefficiency. A defense that found its footing in the second half. An offense that incorporated every trick in the book.

Our friends at Boiled Sports are like us: Glad it is finally over and we’re ready to rally around a new coach:

For what it's worth, Purdue really tried today. No, this is not a lesson on the value of moral victories. There has been such a dearth of actual victories that moral victories hold no value. But I watched the whole game. I stood in front of my television, with my hands on the mantle, and watched Purdue trip over its own feet at the most critical moments and lose the game. That means little, but it was a refreshing change from so many weeks over the last four years. I'm sick to my stomach at the pitiful state of the program; disgusted that things were allowed to get this bad and anxious to finally, FINALLY, turn the page. But despite Purdue's best efforts I'm still around. And if you're reading this, then you are too. That's worth a little something I guess.

Ohio state 30, Michigan 27 2 OT

What a game this was! The Buckeyes continued their recent mastery of Michigan and now they are sitting on the sidelines and waiting for the playoff committee to put them in the big show:

After surviving a close road game at Michigan State, the one-loss Ohio State Buckeyes hosted the third-ranked team in the country and their arch rival Michigan. Ohio State ranked as second in the nation coming into the game and had a chance of a berth in the College Football Playoff riding on this final regular season game for the Buckeyes. Perhaps the biggest showdown between Ohio State and Michigan since 2006, when the teams were ranked first and second in the country, respectively, Saturday’s contest was just as tightly contested and lived up to the hype, stretching into the first ever overtime game between the Buckeyes and Wolverines.

There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth in Ann Arbor, especially concerning some of the officiating decisions:

There is not getting around this. The officiating in this game was atrocious and incredibly one-sided. Ohio State was flagged twice the entire game.

The call at the end was wrong. Period. The fourth down stop should have given them the victory, but it didn’t. The next play, Ohio State scored and won. The simple solution there is to prevent that from happening.

Wisconsin 31, Minnesota 17

The axe stays in Madison. It always stays in Madison:

Sojourn Shelton: The senior cornerback’s two interceptions nullified any momentum Minnesota tried to generate. His first pick and 40-yard return set up Wisconsin’s game-tying touchdown. Later in the game, his athletic play to produce another takeaway turned the Gophers away once again. After recording only one interception combined in his sophomore and junior seasons, the Florida native finished the regular season with four.

For Minnesota, they were this year’s good bad team. They beat who they were supposed to. No more, no less:

This game had the feel of a heavy-weight fight, one where the underdog put up a tough fight before being utterly pummeled in the later rounds. The underdog Gophers struck early, putting the home team on their heals. Through three quarters this game was in doubt and tension was high. But the Wisconsin Badgers dominated the 4th quarter, made a handful of huge plays on both sides of the ball to come back and win by 14, keeping Paul Bunyan’s Axe...again.

Penn State 45, Michigan State 12

It is reprehensible that Penn State is in the Big Ten title game, but they are here thanks to their upset of Ohio State earlier:

Oh what a ride it has been. And what a way to finish it. Everyone, including this Nittany Lion team, came into this game knowing exactly what was at stake. Win, and with enough help you’re in the championship game. Lose, and a ton of momentum is gone. For the first ten minutes of the game, Penn State played like a team who didn’t know its future. The offense played tight, having negative yardage with less than five minutes left in the first quarter. The defense, while not as dreadful, still allowed to long Michigan State drives that led to field goals.

For Michigan State, it has been an absolutely miserable season compared to recent years. The Only Colors didn’t even provide a game wrap.

Northwestern 42, Illinois 21

The Wildcats recovered from an FCS loss to reach a bowl game thanks to a nice home win over Illinois:

NORTHWESTERN IS GOING BOWLING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It wasn’t always pretty, but the biggest overall objective was achieved. It’s the first time ever the Wildcats have made a bowl after starting a season 0-2.

The Champaign Room is also glad the year is over:

The Illini (3-9, 2-7 Big Ten) fell behind 21-0 in the first half and turnovers at the worst time derailed any hopes of a comeback. With the 42-21 win, Northwestern (6-6, 5-4) clinches a spot of bowl eligibility and won’t be forced to rely upon its APR score to make postseason play.

The Wildcats rushed for nearly 300 yards and had five touchdowns on the ground. Star Justin Jackson topped 100 yards for the third consecutive year against Illinois.

Maryland 31, Rutgers 13

The Terrapins get to a bowl game thanks to using that “Beat Rutgers Free” pass in their back pocket:

The Maryland football team struggled to create explosive plays in its losses to Michigan, Ohio State and Nebraska. Against a hapless Rutgers team, though, the Terps were able to break through, and won their sixth game of the season because of it.

Maryland scored three of its four touchdowns on plays of at least 28 yards, and the other score was set up by a big run. The Terps had five fewer first downs than Rutgers in the game (22-17), but still won by 18 points.

We can be thankful for Rutgers, as their 0-9 finish means Purdue is not in last place for the first time since 2012:

Overall, Rutgers looked decent today, at least offensively. They converted 7/18 third downs, gained 350 yards, and were pretty much even in time of possession. The killer was the turnover. Goodwin really needs to hold onto that ball or get out of bounds. That killed all momentum we had and that score would have put the Knights back into a one-possession game.

Non-Conference Opponents:

Eastern Kentucky – Season over

Tulsa 40, Cincinnati 37 – The Bearcats finish by losing five in a row and missing a bowl game.

Nevada 45, UNLV 10 – Nevada wins its in-state rivalry game in big fashion.