With three weeks and then the conference championship games left, we are now in the home stretch of the college football season. Currently four of the Buckeyes opponents have qualified for bowl games, with another couple teams that are within striking distance of the six wins needed. The only teams on the Buckeyes 2013 schedule that have officially been eliminated from bowl eligibility are California, Purdue, and Penn State, with Illinois and Indiana probably needed a miracle to head bowling.
Buffalo (7-2), WIN vs. Ohio (30-3), NEXT GAME: at Toledo, Tuesday 7:30 PM EST
The Bulls cleared one hurdle on Tuesday night in their quest to earn the East Division bid in the MAC Championship game, with a 30-3 win over Ohio. The undisputed star of the game was Buffalo running back Branden Oliver, who rushed for 249 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries. Oliver out-gained Ohio's offense, which was only able to put up 233 yards of offense on the stingy Buffalo defense. It was a slow start to the game for the Bulls, only taking a 7-3 lead into halftime after a Oliver TD early in the second quarter. Buffalo seemed to gain some momentum after the worst safety call you'll ever see, and Oliver scored his second TD of the game after the Bulls got the ball back on the free kick. A couple Joe Licata TD passes to Alex Neutz closed out the scoring for Buffalo. The game saw more #MACKtion than #MACtion, with linebacker Khalil Mack forcing his second fumble on the season. Mack now has 13 forced fumbles in his career, one away from tying the NCAA record.
Buffalo clinched only their second winning season since 1997, and will look to improve on their win total with another Tuesday night special this week at Toledo. The Bulls sit a game ahead of Bowling Green in the MAC East standings, with the two teams meeting in Buffalo on the day after Thanksgiving.
San Diego State (5-4), WIN at San Jose State (34-30), NEXT GAME: at Hawaii, Saturday 10:30 PM EST
After losing their first three games of the season, San Diego State has rebounded to win five of their last six games, and move within one game of bowl eligibility. The Aztecs didn't make their latest victory easy though, falling behind 20-6 before using a 22-point fourth quarter to stun San Jose State. The rushing combination of Adam Muema and Donel Pumphrey helped to rescue San Diego State. Following his 233 yards on the ground against New Mexico last week, Muema put up 113 yards on the ground and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with 3:32 left. Meanwhile Pumphrey averaged 7.8 yards per carry on his 10 totes and added another touchdown.
The Aztecs have a good chance to earn their sixth win of the season this Saturday when they leave the mainland and face Hawaii. With a 0-9 Hawaii team on deck, San Diego State will try and put this game away early for once. The five wins so far this season for the Aztecs have all been by 10 points or less.
California (1-9), LOSS vs. USC (62-28), NEXT GAME: at Colorado, Saturday 5:30 PM EST
After their eighth consecutive loss on the season on Saturday to USC, the season probably can't end soon enough for the Golden Bears. Nelson Agholor returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown with less than two minutes gone in the first quarter and the Trojans never looked back. For good measure Agholor added a 93-yard punt return late in the second quarter to give USC a 41-14 lead heading into halftime. Agholor wasn't the only USC player to get in on the punt return fun, as Josh Shaw returned a blocked punt 14 yards a few minutes before Agholor's second TD return. Quarterback Jared Goff threw three touchdowns for Califonia, including two early in the second quarter to close the gap to 21-14, but that was about the only bright spot for California on head coach Sonny Dykes' 44th birthday.
California has now lost 14 straight games against FBS opponents, the longest active streak in the country. Next up for California will be Colorado, who like the Golden Bears are winless in Pac 12 play. With a game at Stanford on tap for the season finale, this game against Colorado looks like California's last shot to end that losing streak this season.
Wisconsin (7-2), WIN vs. BYU (27-17), NEXT GAME: vs. Indiana, Saturday 12:00 PM EST
Wisconsin stepped out of Big Ten play on Saturday and didn't miss a beat, beating BYU 27-17 at Camp Randall Stadium. James White scored on a 4-yard touchdown run less than five minutes into the first quarter, his first of three touchdowns on the day, and the Badgers never trailed the Cougars in the contest. Both teams came into the game at 6-2, but BYU had no answer for the strong Wisconsin rushing attack. The Badgers finished with 229 yards on the ground, 147 of them coming from White, and held possession of the ball for 36 minutes in the game. The ball control by Wisconsin helped to slow down BYU's up-tempo offense, and lead then Badgers to their fourth straight win since losing in Columbus at the end of September. While White paced the Wisconsin offense, linebacker Chris Borland led the Badger defense in shutting down BYU. Borland finished the game with 13 tackles and two sacks against Taysom Hill and the rest of the Cougar offense.
This week Indiana will visit Madison, and the Badgers look to keep up their string of recent domination against the Hoosiers. In the last three meetings between the two teams, Wisconsin has outscored Indiana 204-41. The Badgers running attack should be able to find holes against a Indiana defense that has shown more than their fair share of problems so far this year.
Northwestern (4-5), Bye Week, NEXT GAME: vs. Michigan, Saturday 3:30 PM EST
Having lost five straight games, all of them in Big Ten play, the bye week couldn't have come at a better time for Pat Fitzgerald's Northwestern team. After being ranked inside the top-20 earlier this year, now Northwestern finds themselves in the position of having to win two of their last three games just become bowl eligible. Northwestern will play their next two games at home, squaring off with Michigan first before welcoming in the Wolverines' big brother Michigan State next Saturday. The Wildcats will look to end their latest stretch of losing close game, losing the last three games by a combined 13 points.
Iowa (6-4), WIN at Purdue (38-14), NEXT GAME: vs. Michigan, November 23rd
After only registering four wins last year, Iowa became bowl eligible on Saturday with a win over Purdue in West Lafayette. The Hawkeyes started slow, only taking a 14-7 lead into halftime against the struggling Boilermakers, but pulled away in the second half. Iowa ran over the Purdue defense, rushing for 318 yards, including a career-high 165 from running back Jordan Canzeri. The successful ground game paved the way for the Hawkeyes to pick up 28 first downs in the game,. In addition to the work that Canzeri and the rest of the Hawkeyes did on the ground quarterback Jake Rudock added two touchdown passes, as Iowa pulled away in the second half.
Now the Hawkeyes have a week off before Michigan comes into Kinnick Stadium. Now that Iowa has earned enough wins for bowl eligibily, the Hawkeyes will look to improve their bowl resume when they square off with the Wolverines. It'll be senior day at Kinnick against Michigan before the Hawkeyes close out the regular season on the road against Nebraska the day after Thanksgiving.
Penn State (5-4), LOSS at Minnesota (24-10), NEXT GAME: vs. Purdue, Saturday 12:00 PM EST
Penn State hasn't found the road to their liking this year, dropping to 0-3 in true road games this year after Saturday's 24-10 loss to Minnesota. The Nittany Lions were able to get 150 yards rushing and a touchdown from Zach Zwinak, but they didn't get much else from their offense. Zwinak got the bulk of the carries after last week's leading rusher Bill Belton fumbled on the first offensive play of the game for Penn State. Christian Hackenberg only was able to pass for 163 yards against the Gopher defense, and while he found his favorite target Allen Robinson seven times, Robinson was held to a season-low 9 yards per catch. Minnesota really milked the clock on their way to victory over Penn State, holding possession of the football for nearly 11 minutes more than the Nittany Lions.
The good news for Penn State is they won't have to head on the road until their season finale when they'll travel to Madison the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The even better news for Penn State is they'll matchup against Purdue this weekend. With the trend the Nittany Lions have of alternating wins and losses over their last eight games, Bill O'Brien's team is due for a win on Saturday.
Purdue (1-8), LOSS vs. Iowa (38-14), NEXT GAME: at Penn State, Saturday 12:00 PM EST
It was an offensive explosion for Purdue on Saturday, as the Boilermakers doubled the amount of points that they had scored in their previous three games combined. The problem for Purdue was that they only had scored seven points in those three games. The Boilermakers hung tough with the Hawkeyes for nearly three quarters of the game, keeping the game within seven points until Mark Weisman's 4-yard touchdown run with under four minutes left in the third quarter gave Iowa a 21-7 lead. Purdue has problems on both sides of the football, but one of their biggest ones is their inability to run the football. On Saturday Purdue was only able to rush for 53 yards against the Hawkeye defense, and rank as one of the worst rushing offenses among FBS teams.
While the Boilermakers are probably ready for the season to end, they still have three games left to play on the schedule. Darrell Hazell's team will head to Happy Valley on Saturday, hoping to find a way to end the seven game losing streak they are on, and earn their first win over a FBS team this season.
Illinois (3-6), LOSS at Indiana (52-35), NEXT GAME: vs. #3 Ohio State, Saturday 12:00 PM EST
Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 450 yards, but it wasn't enough to lead Illinois to their first Big Ten win since 2011. Scheelhaase threw a 60-yard and 54-yard touchdown passes to Steve Hull and added a 14-yard touchdown run, as the Fighting Illini gained 612 yards of offense in the loss. While in most games where a team gains 612 yards on offense, one would expect them to win, but Illinois allowed Indiana to gain 650 yards on offense. This was the fourth time in five Big Ten games that Illinois has allowed their opponent to score at least 39 points on them this year.
The Fighting Illini now have lost 19 straight Big Ten games, and unless a major upset is in the works, that streak figures to hit 20 games as Illinois plays Ohio State on Saturday. With the issues that the Illinois defense has, the Buckeyes should be in for a big day on offense on Saturday in Champaign.
Indiana (4-5), WIN vs. Illinois (52-35), NEXT GAME: at #17 Wisconsin, Saturday 12:00 PM EST
Indiana had all facets of the offense working on Saturday, passing for 279 yards and rushing for 371 yards against Inidana. Cody Latimer set career highs with 11 catches for 189 yards on the day and hauled in three touchdown catches. Latimer wasn't the only one for the Hoosiers that set personal bests, as running back Tevin Coleman rushed 15 times for a career-high 215 yards and two touchdowns. Stephen Houston added 150 yards and two more rushing touchdowns for the Hoosiers on the ground. Illinois tied the score up at 35 early in the fourth quarter after recovering a fumble for a touchdown, but Coleman immediately answered with a 75-yard touchdown run and the Hoosiers ran off 17 unanswered points to point the game away.
Indiana's bowl hopes are hanging by a thread with two wins needed in the last three games of the season, but with Wisconsin and Ohio State left on the schedule the Hoosiers will need to spring an upset. Indiana will have to travel to Madison this week and try to change their recent woeful play against the Badgers.
Michigan (6-3), LOSS vs. Nebraska (17-13), NEXT GAME: at Northwestern, Saturday 3:30 PM EST
Ameer Abdullah's 5-yard touchdown catch with just over two minutes remaining was the game-winning touchdown, and gave Brady Hoke his first loss at Michigan Stadium in 20 games. A week after rushing for -48 yards against Michigan State, the Wolverines showed some improvement against the Cornhuskers, rushing for -21 yards against on Saturday. Most of the negative rushing yardage came on the seven sacks that Nebraska was able to register against Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner. The Wolverines did well to recover from a 10-0 hole in the first quarter and take a 13-10 on a Brendan Gibbons 40-yard field goal with just over eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter. The defense wasn't able to hold the lead though, as Nebraska went on a 75-yard drive that was capped by Abdullah's game-winner.
Having lost three of the last four games, and rushing for -69 yards in the last two games, Michigan is in a team that is in serious trouble right now. With road games against Northwestern and Iowa before the regular season finale at home against Ohio state, the Wolverines very well could finish the regular season at 6-6 after starting the season 5-0 unless some major changes take place on the offensive side of the football.