Of course the one team with a game still left to play before the bowl season starts is Michigan State, who will play the Buckeyes on Saturday night. With most of the dust already settled on the season, the Buckeyes will have ended up playing six bowl-bound teams, and another that would have been bowl eligible if it wasn't for NCAA sanctions. The main focus for the Buckeyes will be winning on Saturday night, and hopefully punching their ticket for the BCS National Championship game in Pasadena next month.
Buffalo (8-4), LOSS vs. Bowling Green (24-7):
The Buffalo Bulls had a chance to clinch the MAC East Division and setup a meeting with Northern Illinois on Friday night in Detroit, but they weren't able to hold on to a halftime lead Friday afternoon at Ralph Wilson Stadium against Bowling Green. In the first college football game at Ralph Wilson Stadium since a 1979 Syracuse/Miami tilt, the Bulls took a 7-3 lead with 7:13 left in the second quarter on a Branden Oliver 2-yard touchdown run. That was the first offensive touchdown in the last 12 quarters against the Falcons, and would be the only time that the Bulls would put points on the board during the day. About the only good news for Buffalo on the day was that stud linebacker Khalil Mack tied Jason Babin's NCAA career record of 75 tackles-for-loss with 2.5 TFLs in his final regular season game for the Bulls. In SB Nation's updated bowl projections, Jason Kirk has Buffalo squaring off with Colorado State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise.
San Diego State (7-5), LOSS at UNLV (45-19):
San Diego State didn't need overtime this week, but they were probably wish they would have as that would have meant they were a lot closer to UNLV than the final score ended up. The Aztecs had no answer for the six total touchdowns that UNLV senior quarterback was able to account for in Saturday night's football game. San Diego State came out of the gates hot, making the score 7-0 less than a minute into the game on a 39-yard touchdown pass from Quinn Kaehler to Colin Lockett, but UNLV was able to score the next 31 points of the game. Herring threw for 270 yards and five touchdowns and racked up 60 more yards and another touchdown on the ground against San Diego State. The late bright spot for the Aztecs was Tim Vizzi's 71-yard punt return for a touchdown. It was the second straight week that Vizzi returned a punt, after San Diego State hadn't recorded a punt return since the 2002 season coming into last weekend. The SB Nation bowl projections have San Diego State slated to head to the New Mexico Bowl to square off against Ka'Deem Carey and the Arizona Wildcats.
#21 Wisconsin (9-3), LOSS vs. Penn State (31-24):
Coming into the game as a 24-point favorite, Wisconsin squandered an opportunity to place themselves in the conversation for a BCS bowl game at-large bid after falling in Madison to Penn State on Saturday. The Badgers were unable to get their vaunted rushing attack going, as both Melvin Gordon and James White were each held under 100 yards rushing on the day. Wisconsin took a 14-7 lead in the second quarter, but Penn State proceeded to score the next 24 points of the game, forcing Wisconsin to abandon their running game in favor of the pass. Quarterback Joel Stave passed for 339 yards and three touchdowns on the day, but his three interceptions put Wisconsin into a hole that they weren't able to climb out of. The main recipient of Stave's passes was Jared Abbrederis, who caught 12 balls for 135 yards on the day. With the BCS out of the picture, the SB Nation bowl projections now have Wisconsin meeting Auburn in the Capital One Bowl, but obviously that could change should Auburn win the SEC Championship Game.
Northwestern (5-7), WIN at Illinois (37-34):
After losing their last seven games, Northwestern was able to avoid finishing their Big Ten schedule winless after downing Illinois in Champaign in the season finale for both teams. With Kain Colter scratched from the game due to injury, the quarterbacking duties were all Trevor Siemian's and he didn't disappoint, passing for 414 yards and four touchdowns on the day. Christian Jones hauled in 13 of Siemian's passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns while Rashad Lawrence added five catches for 112 yards and a touchdown. Northwestern was the fifth team on the season to top 500 yards of total offense against Illinois this season, and finished with 560 yards for the game. The game between in-state rivals was close pretty much the whole way, with Northwestern holding 10-point leads on two separate occasions, but never leading by more than that. With their season now over, Northwestern will spend the offseason trying to figure out just how they could go from starting the season at 4-0 to not even being able to become bowl eligible by the end of the season.
Iowa (8-4), WIN at Nebraska (38-17):
Iowa took a 14-3 lead into halftime in Lincoln on Friday afternoon, and never looked back as they handed Nebraska their third loss in front of the Cornhusker faithful this year. After only winning four games last year, Iowa was able to double that number this year, and along with that win four games on the road for the first time since 2009. Jake Rudock was able to throw for 126 yards and two touchdowns against Nebraska before leaving the game late in the third quarter with an injury. C.J. Beathard took over for Rudock and was able cap off the scoring for Iowa in the game with a 4-yard touchdown run with under four minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Nebraska was able to hold Mark Weisman in check for then most part during the game, only allowing the running back to average 2.9 yards/carry on the 25 carries he had, but Weisman was still able to find the endzone twice. Ameer Abdullah was able to pull Nebraska within 14-10 early in the third quarter on a 5-yard touchdown run, but Iowa was able to outscore Nebraska 24-7 the rest of the way to leave no doubt. The Hawkeyes seem almost certain to be headed to a New Years Day bowl, and the SB Nation bowl projections currently have them facing South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.
Penn State (7-5), WIN at #15 Wisconsin (31-24):
Freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg gave Penn State fans something to look forward to heading into next season with a stellar performance to ruin any hopes Wisconsin might have had at a BCS at-large bid. Hackenberg started off hot with a 68-yard touchdown pass to Adam Breneman less than two minutes into the game, and didn't cool down as he finished the game with 339 yards passing, four touchdown passes, and no interceptions. To go along with Breneman's early touchdown, Eugene Lewis hauled in two touchdown passes from Hackenberg. Favorite target Allen Robinson may have not found the endzone in the game, he still was able to catch eight passes for 122 yards. While Penn State had a 31-14 lead in the fourth quarter they almost squandered the lead, allowing Wisconsin to close the score to 31-24, and giving them the football with a chance to tie with under a minute to go after Sam Ficken missed a 31-yard field goal. This is the second year in a row that Bill O'Brien's team has closed out their season with a victory over Wisconsin. In 2012 the Nittany Lions downed Wisconsin 24-21 in overtime in Happy Valley.
Purdue (1-11), LOSS at Indiana (56-36):
The long first season for Purdue under Darrell Hazell finally came to an end, but not before at least showing a little bit of offensive spark heading into the offseason. Freshman quarterback Danny Etling had his best game since taking over for Rob Henry in the middle of the season, throwing for 485 yards and four touchdowns. The main targets on the day for Etling was DeAngelo Yancey, who was on the receiving end of 11 passes from Etling for 125 yards and a touchdown. Danny Anthrop was able to catch an 80-yard touchdown pass from Etling on his way to five catches for 151 yards and a touchdown. While the offense was able to post their highest point total on the weekend, the defense had no luck in shutting down the Indiana offense, letting the Hoosiers total 692 yards and 56 points on the day. It was the first year since 1993 that the Boilermakers didn't have a win in the Big Ten. After winning their only game of the year the second week of the year against FCS opponent Indiana State the Boilermakers have now lost 10 straight games, the second longest streak in school history only behind the 11 straight that Purdue lost from 1906-08.
Illinois (4-8), LOSS vs. Northwestern (37-34):
The college career of Nathan Scheelhaase came to an end with another 300-yard passing game, but also had a 4th quarter interception that really hurt any chances Illinois had to make it two straight Big Ten wins after losing their previous 20 games in conference. Down 30-27 with about eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter Scheelhaase threw an interception and Northwestern squared quickly after that to put the game away. Wide receiver Steve Hull had another big game for Illinois, catching 13 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. Along with the pass Illinois was able to get a little ground game going, as Josh Ferguson ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. With 362 total yards in his final game, Scheelhaase was able to pass Juice Williams for number one on the Illinois total career yardage list with 10,634 yards. Now Tim Beckham will spend the offseason trying to figure out who will step into Scheelhaase's shoes at the quarterback position heading into next year.
Indiana (5-7), WIN vs. Purdue (56-36):
While it didn't finish quite with the bowl eligibility that Indiana was hoping for coming into the season, the Hoosiers were able to finish the season by winning back the Old Oaken Bucket from Purdue with a 20-point win. The Hoosiers scored early and often, with Stephen Houston scoring on a 53-yard run just over a minute into the game. Houston finished the game with 120 yards on the ground and two touchdowns, but wasn't even Indiana's leading rusher on the day. Quarterback Tre Roberson was able to pile up 154 yards on the ground along with 273 yards and a career-high six touchdown passes through the air. Shane Wynn was the target on three of the touchdown passes that Roberson tossed in the game. Indiana went into the half with a 35-9 lead and it was all but over at that point. In the third quarter Indiana was able to extend the lead to 49-9 before Purdue scored some garbage time touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make the score look a little more respectable.
Michigan (7-5), LOSS vs. #3 Ohio State (42-41):
One of the most exciting editions of "The Game" ended in heartbreak for the Wolverines as they weren't able to convert a two-point attempt with :32 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Ian wrote a more in-depth recap of the 110th installment of "The Game" on Saturday, while Luke compiled all the best GIFs from an exciting day of football from inside Michigan Stadium. After struggling offensively for over the past month, Michigan was able to put up over 600 yards of total offense against the Buckeyes. Quarterback Devin Gardner was able to fight off a gimpy ankle to pass for 451 yards and four touchdowns against an Ohio State pass defense that left a lot of Buckeye fans cursing their televisions throughout the day. Brady Hoke went for it all with the two-point attempt after the Devin Funchess two-yard touchdown catch to make it 42-41 but the Wolverines weren't able to complete the upset. Currently the SB Nation bowl projections have Michigan taking on Texas in a game between teams trying to find past glory at the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in late December.
#10 Michigan State (11-1), WIN vs. Minnesota (14-3), NEXT GAME: vs. #2 Ohio State, Saturday 8:00 PM EST
For the third time in school history Michigan State finished their Big Ten regular season undefeated, but unlike 1965 and 1966, this was the first time that Michigan State won eight conference games in a season. While Minnesota was able to hold possession of the football for over 38 minutes, it was the fifth time in the last six games that Michigan State was able to hold their opponent without a touchdown. Running back Jeremy Langford opened the scoring halfway through the first quarter with a 15-yard touchdown run, and that was all that the Spartants would need in the game. It was the seventh straight game in which Langford cracked the 100-yard rushing mark. Minnesota had their chances, but three turnovers would become their undoing in the game.
The attention of the Spartans now turns to Ohio State and the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis on Saturday evening. The Spartans are ranked first in the nation in total defense, but will face their toughest challenge of the season when they try and spoil the BCS hopes of the Buckeyes. The Spartans will look to keep this a low-scoring game as it's hard to imagine them keeping up with the high-octane Buckeye offense should the game turn into a shootout.