Written by: TJ Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
Ohio State - 28 at Illinois – 3
The Ohio State Buckeyes moved to 10-0 as Urban Meyer remained unbeaten in regular season B1G games. The Buckeyes scored seven points in each quarter as they slowly choked the life from the Fighting Illini and pulled away for a comfortable 28-3 victory. J.T. Barrett only threw for 150 yards but he ran for 74 and Ezekiel Elliott led the way with 181 yards and two scores. The OSU defense was the true star of the game though as they held the Illini to only 261 yards of offense and only 20 yards rushing on 25 carries (.8 yards per carry).
Why it Matters: The victory keeps the Buckeyes in the driver’s seat for the B1G East title and for a spot in the College Football Playoff. OSU’s season gets much more interesting as they enter into the final two weeks of the regular season and face clashes against Michigan State and Michigan. Illinois remains one win short of bowl eligibility with games at Minnesota and against Northwestern remaining. The future of the head coaching position is still very much up in the air as well. The broadcasters of this game were shilling for current interim HC Bill Cubit but it seems somewhat unlikely the Illini won’t choose to start anew once they hire a new AD.
Maryland - 7 at Michigan State - 24
This was an ugly, ugly game. The Michigan State Spartans did more than enough to pull away for a 24-7 win that keeps their hopes of a B1G East title alive. The Michigan State offense was downright putrid as Connor Cook went only 6 of 20 for 77 yards with an interception before leaving the game at halftime with shoulder discomfort. The benching was clarified as “precautionary” and Tyler O’Connor (who saw time even in the first half) threw the ball 11 times for six completions including a touchdown. In total, the Spartans only gained 262 yards (a season-low). However, the Maryland Terrapins were only able to produce 289 yards and turnovers continued to plague them. The Terps gave it away five times to MSU’s three.
Why it Matters: Michigan State is now 9-1 (5-1) and if they can win out, they’ll be B1G East champions and could have a spot in the College Football Playoff. However, Spartan fans must be concerned about the offensive struggles and the uncertainty surrounding Connor Cook on the week they head to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes. Maryland is now 2-8 and just waiting on the season to end so that they can find a new head coach. The Terrapins have nothing left to play for but they’ll honor their seniors on Saturday and it appears that Perry Hills has asserted himself (at least for now) as the #1 QB. IU will need to be aware of the danger his running presents and, as we know, IU’s secondary is capable of making any passing game look like the Greatest Show on Turf from the St. Louis Rams heyday.
Purdue Boilermakers - 14 at Northwestern Wildcats – 21
Credit to the Boilermakers, they made things tough on Northwestern. However, the Wildcats managed to make just enough plays to come away with a seven-point home victory and improve to 8-2. Meanwhile, the Boilers dropped to just 2-8 and questions about Darrell Hazell’s ability to lead a B1G program persist (despite what his AD says about his future). The Wildcats ran the ball for 250 yards but threw for only 132 as both Clayton Thorson and Zack Oliver struggled to get into a rhythm. Justin Jackson led the way on the ground with 116 yards and Warren Long added two touchdowns. Despite winning the turnover battle 3-1, the Boilermakers were only able to produce 14 points.
Why it Matters: Northwestern remains on track for a very nice New Year’s Day bowl game as they notched their eighth victory of the season. They take on the Wisconsin Badgers in a battle for second place in the B1G West in Madison before playing Illinois on November 28. The Boilermakers travel to Iowa to play the Hawkeyes and then host the Indiana Hoosiers on the final day of the season. The only thing they left to play for is keeping the Old Oaken Bucket from returning to Bloomington for a record third-straight time. Markell Jones left Saturday’s game with a leg injury of some kind (he appeared to hyper-extend it when he was landed on in a pile-up) and his status for the final two weeks is currently unknown.
Nebraska Cornhuskers – 31 at Rutgers Scarlet Knights – 14
Nebraska notched its fifth win of the season and remained in contention for a bowl game with a comfortable victory over Rutgers. The Huskers turned it over three times (three Tommy Armstrong interceptions) but held Rutgers to 89 rushing yards and only 2.3 yards per rush. Rutgers is now 3-7 and has been eliminated from bowl contention.
Why it Matters: The Nebraska Cornhuskers have won back-to-back games after imploding in West Lafayette and they now get a week off to prepare for the Black Friday clash against currently unbeaten Iowa. Meanwhile, Rutgers will close out the season with a game at Army and then a season-finale game approximately ten people will attend against Maryland.
Michigan – 48 at Indiana – 41
Writing the game recap was incredibly difficult. There are few words to describe the dejection I felt immediately following Saturday evening’s defeat in double overtime. However, I’m pleased with the progress the Indiana football program has made and they have proven to be close to a breakthrough. Here’s to hoping that breakthrough comes in the next two weeks.
Minnesota - 35 at Iowa – 40
The Iowa Hawkeyes and Minnesota Golden Gophers put on a stunningly explosive display on Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium but the Hawkeyes were able to make a few more plays and escape with another victory and a 10-0 record. LeShun Daniels led the way with 195 yards and three touchdowns while C.J. Beathard ran for two more scores. In total, Iowa racked up 506 total yards while Minnesota responded with 434 yards.
Why it Matters: The Iowa Hawkeyes are still unbeaten and still in control of their destiny as it relates to the College Football Playoff. Simply put, if they beat Purdue next Saturday, they win the B1G West. If they can then go to Lincoln and knock off Nebraska (they will be an underdog, believe me), they will head to Indianapolis with a chance to earn a trip to the Playoff. That’s truly remarkable for a team that had so few expectations entering the season. The Golden Gophers named Tracy Claeys the head coach as they removed “interim” from his title. The move was expected and the players have responded to his leadership as one would expect. Still, Minnesota has fallen short this season and they now must win both of their final games (Illinois and Wisconsin) to reach the postseason.