Written by: TJ Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
Rutgers -31 at Army – 21
Paul James ran for 116 yards and three touchdowns as the Rutgers Scarlet Knights topped Army to improve to 4-7 (2-5) on the season. Rutgers led by ten at halftime and cruised to a comfortable victory that has already been forgotten by nearly everyone that wasn’t directly involved. The Scarlet Knights will now take on the Maryland Terrapins in their season finale. The only real question surrounding this Rutgers season is whether or not Kyle Flood will be retained for another season.
Purdue – 20 at (5) Iowa – 40
The Iowa Hawkeyes are 11-0 after cruising past the Purdue Boilermakers, 40-20, at Kinnick Stadium. The victory clinched the B1G West title for the Hawkeyes and they will play whichever team ends up coming out of the East in Indianapolis on December 2. The Hawkeyes are likely to be in the top four in the College Football Playoff rankings when they are released on Tuesday. The loss dropped the Boilermakers to 2-9 (1-6).
Iowa jumped out to a 20-0 lead and knocked Purdue quarterback David Blough out of the game with a vicious hit in the second quarter. Austin Appleby entered and helped lead Purdue to a pair of scoring drives that cut the halftime deficit to 20-10. The Hawkeyes proved to be too much as they ran the ball for 174 yards and threw for 213 (10.6 yards per completion) yards and three touchdowns. IU’s final opponent of the 2015 regular season now faces a question at quarterback. Austin Appleby completed 23 of 40 passes for 259 yards with one touchdown in relief of David Blough. There is currently no update on Blough but he is expected to have gone through concussion testing protocol and will be re-evaluated throughout the week. The Iowa Hawkeyes will travel to Lincoln, Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers on Black Friday.
Indiana - 47 at Maryland – 28
The Indiana Hoosiers stormed back from a 21-3 deficit to close on a 44-7 run and pull away for a much-needed 47-28 victory. The win keeps the Hoosiers bowl hopes alive heading into the season finale Old Oaken Bucket game. Hoosier Huddle has extensive coverage of the victory over Maryland and we will have the best pre-game Bucket coverage throughout the week.
Illinois - 23 at Minnesota – 32
Minnesota appears to have discovered a star in the making as the Golden Gophers prevailed over the Illinois Fighting Illini, 32-23. Shannon Brooks continues to impress in his freshman season as he ran for 174 yards on 17 carries with three touchdowns. Brooks has emerged as the top back in the Gophers backfield and he proved to be their best weapon on offense as Minnesota notched their fifth victory. The Illini outgained Minnesota by nearly 100 yards but three turnovers proved costly and Illinois fell to 5-6 (2-5) and now need to upset Northwestern this weekend to reach bowl eligibility. Minnesota’s victory puts them into an identical position as they travel to Wisconsin in need of an upset to get them to six wins.
(14) Michigan - 28 at Penn State - 16
The Michigan Wolverines (9-2, 6-1) scored a touchdown in each quarter and handled the Penn State Nittany Lions (7-4, 4-3) to keep themselves alive in the B1G East title race. The Wolverines now need to knock off Ohio State and have Penn State upset the Michigan State Spartans to earn a berth to the B1G Championship game.
Jake Rudock continued his excellent play as he completed 25 of 38 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns. Michigan struggled to run the ball (only 2.9 yards per carry) but their defense was dominant against Penn State’s anemic offensive “attack”, holding the Nittany Lions to only 207 yards. Christian Hackenberg was only 13 of 31 with 137 yards and no PSU receiver recorded more than three catches. The larger narrative is that Penn State continues to struggle to beat a quality opponent under James Franklin. They’ll have one more chance this coming Saturday against Michigan State. If they drop that one and fall to 7-5, Penn State fans will likely spend the offseason wondering when (or if) the “breakthrough” will come during the Franklin era.
(18) Northwestern - 13 at (25) Wisconsin - 7
The battle for second place in the B1G West (and a battle for bowl game pecking order) was, as expected, a defensive slug fest that came down to the wire. We’ll start at the end and work our way back: The Wisconsin Badgers, trailing 13-7, appeared to have scored the go-ahead touchdown with under one minute to play when Joel Stave connected with Troy Fumagali for a score. However, a review ruled that Fumagali’s knee was down at the one-yard line. On first and goal at the one, Stave appeared to have a completion to Jazz Peavy but once again, video review overturned the touchdown as it was ruled that Peavy had not caught the pass. Joel Stave was injured on second down and the Badgers spiked the ball on third down to kill the clock and set up a fourth and goal. Backup quarterback Bart Houston stepped in for the final play and his final pass (from the 11) sailed past Tanner McEvoy, clinching the win for the Wildcats.
“I thought he had a couple feet down, a couple steps,” Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst said of Peavy’s play on first and goal. “It doesn’t matter what I think.”
As has been the case all season, Wisconsin struggled mightily to run the ball, ending up with a stunning -26 yards rushing. Northwestern was only able to gain 209 yards of total offense but Wisconsin turned the ball over five times to cost themselves the victory. The win moved the Wildcats to 9-2 (5-2) and dropped Wisconsin to 8-3 (5-2).
(13) Michigan State - 17 at (3) Ohio State - 14
Ohio State’s B1G winning streak is over. More importantly, their quest for back-to-back national championships has likely come to an end as well as Michigan State (10-1, 6-1) suffocated the Ohio State offense and made enough plays on offense to grab the victory in the Horseshoe. The Spartans won this game without Connor Cook who was forced to watch from the sidelines after being unable get through warm-ups with a painful shoulder injury. Cook’s status moving forward is unknown. Tyler O’Connor stepped in and completed 7 of 12 passes with a touchdown while the Spartans pounded the ball (for the first time all season) for 203 rushing yards on 51 carries. The star of the day was the Spartans defense. J.T. Barrett only had 46 passing yards and the Buckeyes were held to a mind-boggling 132 yards. The Buckeyes only two scores came off of MSU turnovers that gave OSU the ball in great field position. We’ve been waiting all season and assuming the Ohio State offense, with all of its great individual pieces, would click into place and start performing as we expect. It has never really happened and they paid for it on Senior Day with the first B1G regular season loss of the Urban Meyer era. Of course, I’d be remiss to go through this recap without mentioning the clutch game-winning field goal and ensuing celebration from kicker Michael Geiger. Geiger nailed a 41-yard field goal as time expired after a nine-play, 25-yard drive that put the Spartans in position to slay the beast.
After the game, Ezekiel Elliott (33 yards on only 12 carries) talked to reporters about his disgust with the play-calling and he repeatedly questioned the coaching staff and said he was “disappointed”. He then told the media that he was headed to the NFL after this season. Cardale Jones told the media the same thing. Things unravel quickly when you lose a game. The Buckeyes can still win the B1G East if they win in Ann Arbor this coming Saturday and if MSU loses to Penn State. Meanwhile, Michigan State now has victories at Michigan and at Ohio State and their loss was a fluky, last second defeat at Nebraska. If they win out, they could find themselves in the College Football Playoff. The nightmare scenario for the B1G is probably Iowa losing this Friday at Nebraska and then beating the B1G East champion in the B1G title game. In that scenario, the conference would probably be shut out of the College Football Playoff.