While Ohio State had a easy time with Purdue in West Lafayette, there was a lot of excitement throughout the rest of the Big Ten over the weekend. A hail mary in Lincoln, overtime in Happy Valley, a team rushing for -48 yards (it's exciting because it happened to Michigan), and a almost-big comeback in Bloomington all happened during the full Big Ten slate.
Buffalo (6-2), Bye week, NEXT GAME: vs. Ohio, Tuesday 8:00 PM EST
The Bulls will take a six-game winning streak into Tuesday night's #MACtion battle with Ohio. So far in conference play Buffalo is 4-0, sitting a game ahead of Ohio and Bowling Green in the MAC's East Division. While Buffalo is already bowl eligible, a win on Tuesday night would go a long way towards helping the Bulls earn a berth in the MAC tittle game. The Bulls have been winning in decisive fashion lately, winning their last five games by 20 points or more. The Bobcats will figure to get a heavy dose of Buffalo running back Branden Oliver, who has rushed for at least 150 yards in each of the last four games.
San Diego State (4-4), WIN vs. New Mexico (35-30), NEXT GAME: at San Jose State, Saturday 10:30 PM EST
A week after coming up short in a bid to end Fresno State's undefeated season, San Diego State got back into the win column on Saturday night after a win against New Mexico. The Aztecs jumped out to a fast start when Quinn Kaehler hit Ezell Ruffin for a 75-yard touchdown catch on the first play from scrimmage. Ruffin finished the game with seven catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns, but he wasn't the star of the night for the Aztecs. Running back Adam Muema ran for 233 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries to pace San Diego State.
This week San Diego State will travel north to take on San Jose State in a battle for 2nd place in the MWC West behind Fresno State. San Diego State needs two wins in their last four games to become bowl eligible, but they'll spend most of the rest of the regular season on the road. Three of the Aztecs' last four games will be on the road, with the only home game being a matchup with Boise State the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
California (1-8), LOSS vs. Arizona (33-28), NEXT GAME: vs. USC, Saturday 3:00 PM EST
California hung tough with Arizona in Berkeley on Saturday, but didn't have quite enough to earn the victory in front of the home crowd. The Golden Bears jumped out to a early 7-0 lead on a 11-yard touchdown reception by Khalfani Muhammad from Jared Goff, but Arizona answered with 19 straight points. Goff threw four touchdown passes on the day, three of them being caught Kenny Lawler. Three different times in the game Cal was able to close the deficit to five points, but they weren't able to get any closer than that. Ka'Deem Carey rushed for 152 yards against the Golden Bears, putting him over the 1,000 yard mark for the season. Along with Carey, Cal had a tough time control Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker, who accounted for four touchdowns in the game, three of them on the ground.
The Golden Bears will play their home finale on Saturday against USC, and are still looking for their first win against a FBS foe this year. The odds will most likely be stacked against Cal though, as USC comes in playing well, having won three of four games since firing Lane Kiffin. After playing the Trojans, Cal will hit the road to play Colorado and Stanford to close out their season.
#21 Wisconsin (6-2), WIN at Iowa (28-9), NEXT GAME: vs. BYU, Saturday 3:30 PM EST
While most of the season it had been Melvin Gordon getting the headlines at running back for Wisconsin, James White stepped up and helped lead the Badgers to a victory on the road Saturday. White carried 19 times for 132 yards and two touchdowns, while Gordon could only muster 3.6 yards/carry on 17 carries. The Badgers took a 7-6 lead into halftime after Joel Stave hit Jacob Pedersen for a 44-yard touchdown with just under two minutes remaining in the first half. Jared Abbrederis caught a 20-yard touchdown pass coming out of halftime for Wisconsin, and White's two rushing touchdowns in the fourth salted the game away for the Badgers.
Wisconsin steps out of conference this week when they host BYU at Camp Randall Stadium. Both teams will come into the contest at 6-2, with BYU only losing their two games by a combined 10 points, while Wisconsin has lost their two by a combined total of nine points. The Badgers have won three straight since losing in Columbus to Ohio State, and will finish the regular season with 10 wins if they win their remaining games.
Northwestern (4-5), LOSS at Nebraska (27-24), NEXT GAME: vs. Michigan, November 16th
The Wildcats were one play away from ending their four-game losing streak, but a miracle 49-yard hail mary by Nebraska as time expired continued the misery for Northwestern. The Wildcats looked to be in control early in the second quarter when Treyvon Green rushed for his third touchdown of the day, giving Northwestern a 21-7 lead. Nebraska tied things up in the middle of the third quarter on a 25-yard interception return by Avery Moss. The teams were deadlocked until Jeff Budzien hit a 21-yard field goal to give Northwestern a 24-21 lead with 1:20 left in the game. A third-string quarterback coming into the season, Ron Kellogg III led Nebraska 83 yards on the final drive, with 49 of the them coming on the last play prayer to Jordan Westerkamp. Nebraska turned the ball over four times in the game, but Northwestern couldn't parlay those turnovers into their first victory in over a month.
A team that was once thought to be a potential contender in the Big Ten this year, now has to win two out of their last three games just to become bowl eligible. Northwestern will have a bye this week to try and put together a plan for the rest of the season. Left on the schedule for the Wildcats is home games against Michigan and Michigan State before a regular season finale on the road against Illinois.
Iowa (5-4), LOSS vs. #24 Wisconsin (28-9), NEXT GAME: at Purdue, Saturday, 12:00 PM EST
Iowa was able to keep the game close through three quarters, only trailing Wisconsin 14-9 after 45 minutes, but wasn't able to keep Wisconsin from pulling away in the fourth. The Hawkeyes weren't able to get their rushing game going against the Badgers, only rushing for 110 yards in the game. Mark Weisman was held in check, gaining only 15 yards on nine carries. After rushing for 100 yards on more in four of the first five games of the season, Weisman has now failed to rush for more than 56 yards in any of the last four games. Quarterback Jake Rudock left the game in the third quarter with what is being called a sprained knee. Rudock wasn't having much success while he was in, only passing for 109 yards and a interception before leaving.
The good news for Iowa is that they get to play Purdue this week, and it sounds like Rudock will be ready to play after leaving Saturday's game. The next win the Hawkeyes earn will make them bowl eligible this season, and odds are that they should get it against the struggling Boilermakers on Saturday.
Penn State (5-3), WIN vs. Illinois (24-17 OT), NEXT GAME: at Minnesota, Saturday 12:00 PM EST
The Nittany Lions have been giving their home fans some free football lately, going to overtime against Illinois on Saturday after going to four overtimes in their last home game against Michigan. Penn State jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first half behind touchdown runs from Bill Belton and Christian Hackenberg, but Illinois chipped away at the lead, eventually taking a 17-14 lead with 5:30 left in the fourth quarter. Penn State was able to tie the game up with 41 seconds left on a Sam Ficken 35-yard field goal. In overtime the Nittany Lions picked off Nathan Scheelhaase's first pass before Hackenberg found Kyle Carter for a 15-yard touchdown pass for the win. It was one of the few passes from Hackenberg that didn't hit Allen Robinson, as the wide receiver hauled in 11 of Hackenberg's 20 completions for 165 yards. While the Hackenberg/Robinson combo was working, the real story of the game on offense for Penn State was Bill Belton, who rushed for 201 yards on 36 carries. Belton became the first Penn State running back since Larry Johnson in 2002 to rush for over 200 yards.
Penn State has four games left on the season with road games bookending that schedule, and home games against Purdue and Nebraska sandwiched between. This week Bill O'Brien's team heads to Minneapolis to play a surging Minnesota team that has won three straight games.
Purdue (1-7), LOSS vs. #4 Ohio State (56-0), NEXT GAME: vs. Iowa, Saturday 12:00 PM EST
In their previous three Big Ten games Purdue had only scored 17 points, and things got off to a real rocky start for the Boilermakers falling behind the Buckeyes 28-0 before the first quarter was even over. If you haven't already seen in, Chris wrote a write-up of the Buckeyes' victory after the game on Saturday, and Luke compiled all the best GIFs from the blowout. The Boilermakers were no match for the Buckeyes, only totaling 116 yards on offense compared to the 640 the Buckeyes rang up. The 56-point loss tied for the worst in Purdue history, matching losses to Iowa in 1922 and Chicago in 1907.
Purdue will head into the Iowa game having been shutout in their last two games, and not entering the red zone of an opponent since the late September game against Northern Illinois. The Boilermakers still haven't beaten a FBS team this year, and with the way they've been playing lately it's hard to see them winning any of the four games that they have left on the schedule.
Illinois (3-5), LOSS at Penn State (24-17 OT), NEXT GAME: at Indiana, Saturday 3:30 PM EST
Illinois was close to winning their first Big Ten game since 2011, but they couldn't quite hold on for the win against Penn State. The Fighting Illini recovered from a first half 14-0 deficit to take a 17-14 lead with less than six minutes to go in the fourth quarter. But a Drew Ficken field goal with under a minute to go and a touchdown in overtime for Penn State kept moved Illinois' Big Ten losing streak to 18 games. Nathan Scheelhaase passed for 321 yards, his highest total since passing for 416 in the season opener against Southern Illinois, but a overtime interception set the Nittany Lions up for the win. Illinois had a few missed opportunities in the first half, with Scheelhaase throwing a interception at the one-yard line, and later a touchdown was erased by a chop block penalty.
Now Illinois will have to regroup after the close loss and hit the road again to play Indiana on Saturday. The Fighting Illini figure to have a couple good chances to end their Big Ten losing streak with this game against Indiana, along with games against Purdue and Northwestern still left on the schedule this season.
Indiana (3-5), LOSS vs. Minnesota (42-39), NEXT GAME: vs. Illinois, Saturday 3:30 PM EST
Any possible designs that Indiana might have on becoming bowl eligible this year took a serious hit with the loss to Minnesota in Bloomington on Saturday. The Hoosiers did well to recover from a 35-13 deficit early in the third quarter with 26 unanswered points, but they couldn't respond to Minnesota's final touchdown with three minutes left in the game. The Hoosiers made it down to Minnesota's 9-yard line but a fumbled lateral was scooped up to seal the game for the Golden Gophers. The turnover was the only one that Indiana committed during the game. The Hoosiers were able to get over 100 yards rushing from Stephen Houston and Tevin Coleman, but their defensive failings were just too much to overcome. Minnesota tallied 573 yards of total offense, including 325 through the air to gain a hard fought victory.
While Indiana has home games against Illinois and Purdue, they are sandwiched between road games at Wisconsin and Ohio State to close out the season. With that schedule left it's hard to see the Hoosiers getting to the six victories needed to head to their first bowl game since 2007.
Michigan (6-2), LOSS at #22 Michigan State (29-6), NEXT GAME vs. Nebraska, Saturday 3:30 PM EST
The Michigan State defense showed they were for real on Saturday in East Lansing, holding the Wolverines to -48 yards rushing in the game. Most of the negative gains were courtesy of Devin Gardner, who carried the ball 18 times for -46 yards. The rushing average that Gardner had on Saturday made the one-yard per carry that Fitz Toussaint averaged against Penn State look gaudy. The Spartans sacked Michigan seven times during the game, and the defense truly dominated Al Borges' offense. The Wolverine offense was only able to muster two field goals in the game, with the second one tying the game at 6-6 with under four minutes to go in the second quarter. The Spartans porceeded to score the next 23 points in the game and asserted their dominance at the top of the Big Ten Legends Division.
The loss essentially knocked Michigan out of contention in the Legends Division, with the Wolverines needing to win-out and also needing Michigan State to now lose three games if they had any designs on gaining a berth in the Big Ten Championship game next month in Indianapolis. Now having lost two of their last three games, Michigan has to regroup quickly with a home game against Nebraska on tap this weekend.