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The Whistlestop Tour: Week 12 of Big Ten Football

Who will lose to Ohio State in Indy?

Purdue v Northwestern Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It’s almost time for rivalry week! We have a lot more clarity now heading into it as well. Ohio State-Michigan will decide the Big Ten East after Ohio State melted Michigan State’s face off with a flamethrower. In the West Purdue is eliminated. It can get in a four-way tie, but that would be advantage Wisconsin. Minnesota, Iowa, and the Badgers can all still advance to Indy to face the Buckeyes (because let’s face it, Ohio State is beating Michigan).

Here is the week that was:

Purdue 32, Northwestern 14

Our friends at InsideNU are ready for the season to be over after the Wildcats dropped their fifth straight:

The story offensively was fifth-year senior quarterback Aidan O’Connell and junior receiver Milton Wright. The duo connected eight times for 213 yards and three touchdowns. Fellow junior receiver David Bell finished with 12 receptions for 101 yards.

There were not many bright spots for the ‘Cats, but the star of the afternoon was running back Evan Hull. The sophomore rushed for 96 yards and added 33 more off of six receptions. Quarterback Andrew Marty went 10-of-14 for 93 yards and a touchdown.

Ohio State 56, Michigan State 7

Mother of God. This was over very early on, as the Buckeyes just unleashed hell in the first half:

Ohio State destroyed Michigan State in a 56-7 blowout that was never in doubt. The Buckeyes’ offense clicked on all cylinders with an almost perfect game, and the defense shut down Kenneth Walker III in their best game to date.

The Spartans have still had a great season, but the last three weeks could have gone better:

Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud had a day that more than likely placed him at the forefront of the Heisman conversation, finishing with 432 yards and six touchdowns on 32-for-35 passing, most of which occurred in the first half. Stroud distributed the ball amongst his various weapons on offense, with multiple Buckeye wide receivers finishing the day with over 100 yards, including Chris Olave (seven catches, 140 yards, two touchdowns), Garrett Wilson (seven catches, 126 yards, two touchdowns), and Jaxon Smith-Njigba (10 catches, 105 yards, one touchdown).

Michigan 59, Maryland 18

The Wolverines are very quietly 10-1, but in Ann Arbor that means nothing if they lose next week:

Ohio State scored 56 points against Michigan State, Michigan scoring 59 on the same day is a positive occurrence heading into the pivotal matchup next week. The fact of the matter is this game against Maryland didn’t mean a whole lot — it was good to see Michigan put a whooping on the scoreboard, it was good to see this game wasn’t close. It’s time to devote all their energy, aggression, and film study on the Buckeyes. No one thought Michigan would be 10-1, yet no one is going to give them a shot to beat Ohio State. It’s been a damn good year, but now it’s time to prove everyone wrong on November 27.

The Terps now have a winner-take-bowl game coming up with Rutgers after both went 3-0 against a weak non-conference, then beat Indiana and Illinois:

Maryland’s 24-3 deficit at halftime marked the largest the Terps had since it was down 35-10 against Ohio State went on the road to Columbus, Ohio. Additionally, its lone field goal as the only means of points in the first half mark the fewest points the Terps scored in a half tied with when they scored three against Illinois in its first Big Ten matchup of the season. Maryland’s defense continued to allow Michigan to coast in the second half as it outscored the Terps 28-15 in the third quarter. Maryland ultimately could not come back and the Terps allowed the second-most points they had all season.

Wisconsin 35, Nebraska 28

The Badgers got a late TD to break a 28-28 tie and stay in control of the West:

Following the go-ahead score by Wisconsin, the ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, setting up Adrian Martinez and Nebraska with good field position at their own 35-yard-line. The Huskers looked to tie the game with just under four minutes remaining in regulation.

Martinez and Nebraska worked their way downfield in a hurry, as they had throughout the game and eventually the Huskers got down to the Wisconsin 11-yard-line. The Cornhuskers were then hit with a holding penalty on first down and Martinez threw four-consecutive incomplete passes after that to secure the victory for the Badgers.

Nebraska continues to have absolutely horrid luck in one-score games:

Nebraska has another one-score loss to Wisconsin. It’s mostly the same thing as almost every other game this season. Nebraska defense plays well enough to win the game. They gave up a lot of rushing yardage to 17-year old Braelon Allen, 22 carries for 228 yards, and three touchdowns, but they kept the game from getting out of hand.

The offense... two horrible interceptions by Adrian Martinez sealed this game for Wisconsin. Martinez is maddening. Sometimes he makes the greatest plays possible, then in crunch time or when it’s needed most, he overthrows or otherwise misses receivers in position for Nebraska to win the game.

Iowa 33, Illinois 23

The Hawkeyes were able to beat a coachless Illinois and stay alive in the West:

Tyler Goodson rushed for 132 yards on 27 carries, Gavin Williams added 56 on 10 carries, Alex Padilla went 6/17 for 83 yards and an interception, and the Iowa defense came up with two interceptions, including a game-sealing pick-6 from Jack Campbell, as the Iowa Hawkeyes (9-2, 5-2) defeated the Illinois Fighting Illini (4-7, 3-5) 33-23 on senior day in Kinnick Stadium.

While the run game in particular did its job, it was another frustrating day for Brian Ferentz and the Iowa offense. The success of the run game was plagued by what seemed like just as many run calls on first and second down that went for next to nothing, and set Padilla up for failure in countless 3rd and long situations. The Hawkeyes ended the day going 5-16 on third down, and were also outgunned in total yards, 312-257. Caleb Shudak was the true hero of the game, hitting 4-5 field goals, with his only miss coming from 58 yards and his longest at 51.

The Illini have still shown improvement as the year progressed:

The Illini (4-7, 3-5 BIG) were looking for win number five on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium. After opening the game strong and staying within striking distance, Iowa (9-2, 6-2 BIG) pulled away and kept its Big Ten title hopes alive, winning 33-23 on Saturday.

Illinois went on the road to No. 17 Iowa looking for their third straight road win against a ranked team, but they would half to do it without head coach Bret Bielema, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. The Illini defense was also short handed — with defensive lineman Rod Perry and defensive back Taz Nicholson not making the trip to Iowa City (not to mention linebackers Jake Hansen and Calvin Hart Jr. are out the season).

Penn State 28, Rutgers 0

There were punts. Oh my lord, there were punts:

Despite the final score, it took a bit of time for Veilleux and the offense to get going. The first six drives for the Nittany Lions finished with Jordan Stout punts, but fortunately, Brent Pry’s defense played lights out, giving the offense some time to work out the kinks.

Rutgers now has to go home and beat Maryland for a bowl game:

To say Penn State has dominated the matchup with Rutgers is an understatement. The trend continued on Saturday afternoon.

The Scarlet Knights took a trip to Beaver Stadium this weekend but it looked like they did not show up at game time. The Nittany Lions steamrolled Rutgers en route to a 28-0 victory in University Park. They have now won 30 of the 32 all-time meetings.

This is a game that began with 12 consecutive punts and did not see points over the first 29 minutes of play. Christian Veilleux, who took over for an injured Sean Clifford, found Jahan Dotson for an eight-yard touchdown. Veilleux finished 15-for-24 for 235 yards and three touchdowns.

Minnesota 35, Indiana 14

The Gophers are also still alive in the West, as they won convincingly in Bloomington:

The Gophers chewed up eight minutes of game clock on their opening drive, driving down to the Hoosiers’ 16-yard line. But Minnesota could only muster nine yards (and a couple inches) on four straight run plays, leading to a turnover on downs. Indiana took over at their own at their own 8-yard line and proceeded to march down the field for a 14-play touchdown drive. The Hoosiers rolled up 85 yards on the ground en route to the end zone for an early 7-0 lead.

Fortunately, the Minnesota defense found their footing from there, holding Indiana scoreless until a garbage time touchdown late in the fourth quarter. After racking up 92 yards on their opening drive, the Hoosiers were limited to 52 yards of offense prior to their 69-yard scoring drive against the Gophers’ second-string defense. The Gophers also found the end zone in the second quarter. Ky Thomas scored from two yards out to knot the score at 7-7, before running in the go-ahead score on a one-yard touchdown plunge the next drive. That touchdown was set up by a 48-yard connection between Tanner Morgan and tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford, who was wide open and hurdled a defender before being brought down at the Hoosiers’ 4-yard line.

Indiana now enters the Bucket game hoping to keep the Bucket and avoid a B1G 0-fer:

(Crimson Quarry has not completed a game wrap)

Non-Conference Opponents

Oregon State 24, Arizona State 10 – The Beavers have a shot at winning the Pac-12 North and if not for our loss to Minnesota, we could have gotten a rematch in Pasadena.

Central Florida 49, UConn 17 – The Civil ConFLiCT was back!

Notre Dame 55, Georgia Tech 0And the Irish will probably move ahead of Cincinnati in the playoff rankings despite losing to them.