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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 12 of Big Ten Football

We’re all set for rivalry week now.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Purdue Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

It was an exciting week in the Big Ten as a pair of games went to overtime. Of course, not all was exciting, especially in Champaign. Let’s take a look back, shall we?

Wisconsin 47, Purdue 44 3 OT

It was the first ever triple overtime in Purdue history, but Jonathan Taylor stole the show with 300+ yards in a completely dominating performance:

For the sophomore, Heisman-caliber back, the stat line read like this: 33 carries, a career-high 321 yards, and three touchdowns. Taylor recorded eight “chunk” plays of 10 or more yards on the ground, including three of 22 yards or more. Furthermore, 247 of those came after halftime, 80 coming on a touchdown run to kick off the second half and tie the game at 10–10. Six of those chunk plays came either in the third quarter, fourth quarter, or overtime periods.

Michigan 31, Indiana 20

The Wolverines were down 17-15 at halftime, but were dominant defensively in the second half to earn the win:

Seeing as seven of the last eight drives for Michigan yielded at least 47 yards, Michigan was surely going to bleed enough clock to prevent a game-tying touchdown drive.

Not only did the running game milk four minutes after 36 yards, Jake Moody booted his sixth field goal to stretch the lead to double-digits with just 2:37 remaining. Down 31-20 looking down the barrel of a Don Brown defense, Tom Allen and Mike Debord’s goose was cooked.

For the Hoosiers, it was yet another close call with Michigan, so much so that Crimson Quarry did not do a write up.

Ohio State 52, Maryland 51 (OT)

It must be absolutely terrible to be Ohio State. They are only 10-1 and their fans don’t want to go to the playoff:

However, my a-number-two wish is for the Buckeyes not to get thoroughly embarrassed on a major national stage, and that’s precisely what I’m afraid would happen if the Buckeyes win The Game on Saturday, then beat No. 22 Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game the first Saturday in December, and then find themselves in the College Football Playoff committee’s top-four.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am definitely not rooting for Ohio State to lose to either their fourth-ranked rival or Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats, I’m just hoping that after they win their next two games, they wind up fifth in the final CFP rankings for one reason or another.

Maryland did what Purdue should have done: They went for 2 on their overtime possession. It didn’t work, but they had one play to win the game and took their shot:

The Terps weren’t supposed to beat Texas in the season opener after a tragic, turbulent offseason. They weren’t supposed to get bulldozed by Temple two weeks later. Their early performances in conference play were either better or worse than what should be in the realm of possibility. And after losing two straight games with bowl eligibility on the line, they definitely weren’t supposed to put up much of a fight in their last two games against Ohio State or Penn State.

For Maryland to turn around and earn the all-important sixth win against the Buckeyes? On senior day? With Tyrrell Pigrome—the quarterback who’s on the roster because Dwayne Haskinsflipped his commitment to Ohio State—leading the offense?

It was too good to be true.

Penn State 20, Rutgers 7

It looks like the Nittany Lions slept through most of this one:

As is tradition with Penn State football, it couldn’t be easy. It was a little slow, a little sloppy, but despite all that, was there ever any doubt? The Nittany Lions took care of business earlier this afternoon, laying waste to Rutgers 20-7.

A week after Trace McSorley looked to have rediscovered his rhythm in the passing game, No. 9 reverted back to what we saw for much of October — that is, a lot of “meh.” McSorley was just 8-for-22 in the first half, and while his wide receivers didn’t help him a ton, much of the struggles were on McSorley himself. The accuracy wasn’t there, and because of it, Penn State let a couple scoring chances go by the wayside.

For Rutgers, the effort was at least encouraging:

Another Saturday resulted in another loss for Rutgers football, who are now 0-8 in Big Ten play and 1-10 overall after a 20-7 loss to #14 Penn State. The team played hard and made it a closer game than expected, but it was still a defeat due to mistakes and a lack of execution. They could have won this game, believe it or not, had they played better in key spots. There were opportunies for Rutgers to pull off the mammoth upset, but were unable to take advantage. Here are some key takeaways from the game.

Northwestern 24, Minnesota 14

It was another cold one in Minneapolis, but Northwestern came out shirtless for warmups and stayed in control throughout:

Just days after his Wildcats beat Iowa on the road to clinch the Big Ten West title, oddsmakers had set 5-5 Minnesota as favorites for Saturday’s game. Many, including us, circled the matchup as a trap game following last Saturday’s emotion high and a couple key injuries.

“It was insulting, you know, we come up here as underdogs,” Fitzgerald said after NU’s 24-14 win in Minneapolis. “Are you kidding me? That’s a joke.”

As the line continued to move towards the Golden Gophers, the taste of disrespect lingered. Fitzgerald hammered the point home before the team flew to the Twin Cities.

The Gophers now must end their own long losing streak to Wisconsin if they want to make a bowl:

It was a brutal game for the redshirt freshman quarterback. His accuracy was all over the place, to the point where I wondered if he was even 100 percent. He threw two interceptions on the Gophers’ second and third possessions of the game and nearly fumbled a snap at the goal line before halftime, which would have cost Minnesota a much-needed touchdown. Then, with the Gophers trailing 21-7 in the fourth quarter, he was strip sacked on his blind side, setting up a Northwestern field goal. The Wildcats scored 10 points off his turnovers alone, which is fun when you consider the margin of defeat was 10 points.

Nebraska 9, Michigan State 6

This game was essentially decided on penalty kicks, and the Cornhuskers got a hard-earned win:

On Saturday it was the Blackshirt defense and the leg of Barret Pickering that lead Nebraska to a 6-9 win over Michigan State. It was the first time Nebraska has won a football game without scoring a touchdown since 1937. In that game Nebraska beat Kansas 3-0. Yesterday was that kind of day.

Not to go unnoticed was the play of other seniors like Antonio Reed and Trey Neal. Both made huge plays throughout the game. Trey Neal appeared to be all over the field during those important moments in the fourth quarter. Antonio Reed forced two fumbles. One of those fumbles was because of a hit that blindsided Michigan State Quarterback Rocky Lombardi.

The Spartans are struggling offensively the last few weeks, as they failed to score a touchdown in the last two games. The Only Colors also did not do a game wrap.

Iowa 63, Illinois 0

My goodness, Iowa! They killed a guy!

Yes, parts of the season have been miserable. Yes, things slipped away. But a 63-0 whooping of Illinois certainly feels great.

Maybe it’s the way it happened, maybe it’s just that I was honestly not going to be surprised with a stupid loss here… but at least it’s something. This was a clearly inferior opponent and Iowa put its weight down. All of it. There’s no getting up from this one for the Illini. This was a good old fashion hosing that will be embarrassing Illinois for a loooong time. I mean that team didn’t even look like it belonged in the FBS. For once in the past month, I’m not completely dreading rewatching this game.

I feel for Illinois because they are downright Hazellian at the moment:

There had to be at least 100,000 people at the Big House on Saturday afternoon as Michigan hosted Indiana.

Or at least that was what the live look-in at the Wolverines’ game looked like as the scoreboard at Memorial Stadium flipped between that Senior Day and the broadcast of the Senior Day game in a packed Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette — a thriller between Purdue and Wisconsin.

And then I snapped back to reality.

It was the middle of the fourth quarter in Champaign. Iowa just extended its lead to 56-0 on Mekhi Sargent’s second touchdown run of the game. The Hawkeyes were threatening for the biggest win in the Kirk Ferentz era, while the Illini were just attempting to score.

Non-Conference Opponents

Eastern Michigan – On BYE

Missouri 50, Tennessee 17 – It was a dominant win over the Volunteers as Mizzou is in line for a nice bowl game.

Florida State 22, Boston College 21 – The Eagles fell on a deep TD pass inside the final two minutes.