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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 11 of Big Ten Football

The title game is basically set.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Big Ten championship game is set.

Well, not officially, but we all know what is going to happen. Ohio State is winning the east. After Saturday does anyone really think Michigan State or Michigan will beat them? Wisconsin is winning the West. Does anyone really think they will lose to Nebraska or Iowa?

Sure, there are permutations that can have Purdue, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and/or Minnesota in there, but it is going to be Wisconsin vs. Ohio State. Everyone else is playing for bowl positioning. Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and Purdue will all reach a bowl game. At minimum, the winner of Rutgers-Maryland will join them. Illinois has a chance, while Indiana, Nebraska, and Northwestern are done.

It should be a fun final two weeks.

Ohio State 59, Purdue 31

It was a very impressive game overall for the Buckeye offense:

We continue on discussing the minor defensive struggles and how Purdue’s offense was executing well. Ohio State avoided big plays for the most part, and we discuss what the defense will need to do as we move into the home stretch.

At the end of the show, we get into some of our favorite moments and our biggest takeaways from the game, including Ryan Day getting in his bag as a play-caller, two thousand-yard players, and Jerron Cage just making plays.

Michigan 21, Penn State 17

It took a late rally, but the Wolverines are primed to be disappointed against the Buckeyes:

Enjoy it while you can folks, this is the best Michigan pass-rushing duo in the history of the program. I said what I said.

David Ojabo and Aidan Hutchinson combined for four sacks and two forced fumbles. These two led the way for a defensive front that finished with seven sacks (five in the first half), 12 tackles for loss, and the aforementioned pair of forced fumbles.

Remember when Penn State was a top 5 team?

Penn State had a drive that went deep into Michigan territory only to result in a missed field goal. After starting a drive at the Michigan 16-yard line with the game tied at 14 midway through the 4th quarter the Nittany Lion offense could not go anywhere and were held to a field goal.

Penn State left at least 6-10 points on the field on Saturday afternoon and it came back to bite them. The Nittany Lions scored a touchdown and kicked three field goals, the Wolverines score three touchdowns. Touchdowns win football games.

Michigan State 40, Maryland 21

The Spartans found their defense this week and kept Maryland mostly at bay:

The Michigan State Spartans exploded on offense and never looked back after taking a lead, as MSU earned its ninth win of the season, this time over the Maryland Terrapins. The team had big plays in both the passing and running games, as the Spartans dropped 40 points on the Terrapins, and the defense — while still very inconsistent — generated pressure, made some good plays in the secondary and had key takeaways on MSU’s way to a 40-21 victory to put the team back on the right track.

Michigan State got good production from the usual suspects on offense: quarterback Payton Thorne (287 yards, four touchdowns), running back Kenneth Walker III (143 yards, two touchdowns), and Jayden Reed (114 yards, two touchdowns), while getting a couple big plays from others. Wide receiver Jalen Nailor did not return to action this week.

Maryland remains a frustrating team that can’t finish games:

At the end of the first quarter, Maryland was just down by six points and entering halftime, Michigan State was winning by less than two touchdowns meaning the game was not far out of Maryland’s reach out of halftime.

However, the Terps scored just seven points in the second half, zero in the fourth quarter, and had some costly mistakes along the way that made it difficult for them to catch back up.

Wisconsin 35, Northwestern 7

The Badgers continue rounding into form as they are now the favorite to win the West:

The No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers (7-3 overall, 5-2 Big Ten) continued their domination of Big Ten opponents on Saturday afternoon against the Northwestern Wildcats (3-7 overall, 1-6 Big Ten), with a 35-7 victory.

Northwestern’s opening drive went for 19 plays and 82 yards and lasted for nearly eight minutes of the first quarter. However, the Wildcats were unable to cap off the drive with a score, as Caesar Williams intercepted an Andrew Marty pass in the end zone.

Northwestern’s offensive woes continued beyond the opening pick:

Marty was benched in favor of Hilinski for the remainder of the game, though it didn’t really matter. A fumble by the Badgers’ Julius Davis was returned 49 yards by Northwestern’s A.J Hampton all the way to the house, finally putting the ‘Cats on the board with just under 12 minutes remaining.

Some weird and tedious mistakes had the game drag on for a tad bit longer than most wanted, but the dull action ultimately ended in a 28-point victory for Wisconsin, narrowly escaping the back door cover from the ‘Cats.

Now guaranteed to finish the 2021 season with a losing record, Northwestern looks to finally snap its four game losing streak next week at Wrigley Field.

Iowa 27, Minnesota 22

For another year, Floyd stays in Iowa City:

Saturday afternoon in Kinnick Stadium was simultaneously a complete divergence from what Iowa fans have gotten to know and love/hate about Kirk Ferentz, as well of a reminder of those same tendencies.

For the first time since 2014, Iowa kicked off against an opponent with a different starting quarterback than they started in the eight games prior. When they did, they mixed the same tires play calling Hawkeye fans ave railed against for years with the types of plays we’ve yelled for all season. We got plenty of predictable zone stretch plays to the boundary and quick hand offs after every first down incompletion and on and on. But we also got seven passes 20+ yards downfield, a surge in play-action calls and more rollouts than Iowa has tried since CJ Beathard was under center.

Minnesota’s season has now gone from “Win the West” to “Avoid a lower bowl.”:

The Gophers’ division title hopes are all but dead. But in reality, a team with losses to Bowling Green and Illinois has no business going to the Big Ten Championship. If you want to be taken seriously as a contender in the Big Ten West, maybe avoid getting embarrassed by bad teams and actually try to beat Iowa and Wisconsin every once in a while.

Rutgers 38, Indiana 3

The Scarlet Knights are now a win from getting to a bowl game:

Saturday’s defensive performance was extremely impressive, even if it came against an Indiana offense that has been struggling and one of the worst in the Big Ten. It was more than forcing six turnovers. Rutgers allowed the fewest amount of points in a Big Ten game since joining the league. It’s also the first time they held a Big Ten opponent without a touchdown. They also allowed a program low of 262 yards of total offense in a Big Ten game. Indiana was just 1 of 14 on third down conversion attempts and 1 of 4 on fourth down.

The fact that the Scarlet Knights were able to dominate in this manner without all three starting linebackers missing the game due to injury makes it all the more stunning. In the absence of All-Big Ten performer Olakunle Fatukasi, as well as multi-year starters in Tyshon Fogg and Tyreek Maddox-Williams, it was Drew Singleton who led RU with 10 tackles in the game while freshman Tyreem Powell had 4 tackles and an interception. Mohamed Toure stepped up as well with 5 tackles and a sack.

/touches earpiece: I am hearing reports of #9lossdinia now.

Crimson Quarry has not provided a game wrap.

Non-Conference Opponents

Oregon State 35, Stanford 14 - The Beavers do what their rivals could not and are now bowl eligible.

Clemson 44, UConn 7 - UConn at least ran the opening kick back for a TD.

Notre Dame 28, Virginia 3 - The Irish are prepped to back into the playoff.