College Football Insider: Plenty at stake in final Big Ten week

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 28, 2013 - 9:50 PM
hide

Ohio State needs a victory over Michigan with style points to bolster its chances to get into the BCS title game. Several other Big Ten teams have a lot to play for, too.

Photo: Kyle Robertson • Columbus Dispatch,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Just like that, the final week of the Big Ten’s regular season is here.

It seems like yesterday that Ohio State was holding off Wisconsin 31-24 in a Sept. 28 showdown that predictably decided the Leaders Division race. That day, the Gophers took a 23-7 loss to Iowa that left a lot of folks wondering if Minnesota would win one Big Ten game, let alone four.

Even though the Dec. 7 Big Ten championship matchup is set — Ohio State vs. Michigan State — there’s still plenty at stake this week. A closer look:

Iowa at Nebraska

Friday, 11 a.m., Ch. 5

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has fended off rumors that he’ll resign after this game. Expectations are understandably high for Cornhuskers fans, but considering the team’s injuries, Nebraskans should appreciate the way this team responded after its Oct. 26 loss at Minnesota. Pelini’s teams are 19-5 in November. That says something.

Iowa, meanwhile, has a chance to put an exclamation point on its turnaround. After going 4-8 last season, the Hawkeyes are 7-4, with losses to four teams currently ranked 18th or higher — Northern Illinois, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin.

Ohio State at Michigan

Saturday, 11 a.m., Ch. 5

Talk about two teams moving in different directions. Ohio State’s 23-game winning streak is the longest in school history and the longest for a Big Ten team since Michigan won 25 in a row from 1946-49. The Buckeyes not only need to beat Michigan, they need style points to bolster their BCS title game prospects.

Then there’s Michigan. The Wolverines have lost three of their past four games, and it would be four in a row if not for that fire drill of a field goal that forced overtime at Northwestern. Michigan’s combined rushing totals in the losses to Michigan State, Nebraska and Iowa added up to minus-9 yards. The offensive line has struggled to protect Devin Gardner, and here comes a Buckeyes team that leads the Big Ten with 36 sacks.

Gophers at Michigan State

Saturday, 11 a.m., BTN

Will the Spartans stay focused on Minnesota, with the championship game against Ohio State looming one week later? It’s always tough drawing students on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and Michigan State has a “Bring a Friend” free promotion for students already holding a ticket. But coach Mark Dantonio won’t let up, knowing the Spartans can still get a BCS at-large berth even if they lose to Ohio State.

The Gophers are two-touchdown underdogs, but they’ve played Michigan State tough over the years. A win would give Minnesota its second nine-win season since 1905 to go with its 10-3 finish in 2003. That’s not a misprint. It also would position the Gophers for a trip to the Gator Bowl, or perhaps even the Outback Bowl.

Other matchups

• Wisconsin is a 24-point favorite at home against Penn State, and the Badgers need another lopsided win to continue climbing the BCS standings. The Badgers, who’ve won six in a row, need to be in the top 14 to qualify for a BCS at-large berth, and they were at No. 15 last Sunday.

• It’s been a lost season for Northwestern and Purdue, but both teams have a chance to post their first Big Ten victories in rivalry matchups. Northwestern plays at Illinois for the Land of Lincoln Trophy, and Purdue plays at Indiana for the Old Oaken Bucket, a trophy that dates to 1925.

Short takes

• Boston College running back Andre Williams deserves serious Heisman consideration as the 16th player in FBS history to pass the 2,000-yard rushing mark.

The 6-foot, 230-pound senior averaged just 521 yards per season his first three years of college, but people took notice when he rushed for 339 yards against North Carolina State. He has topped the 200-yard mark five times this year and rushed for 149 against Florida State.


• Don’t assume Ohio State would make the BCS Championship by finishing undefeated if one of the teams above it in the BCS standings — Alabama or Florida State — loses. What if Auburn upsets Alabama on Saturday and then wins the SEC title game? Or what if Missouri wins the SEC title game? A one-loss SEC champ would have a strong case to be picked ahead of Ohio State because of the Buckeyes’ weak nonconference schedule.


• Gophers coach Jerry Kill and his staff can’t help but smile whenever Jordan Lynch reaches another milestone. They recruited Lynch at Northern Illinois and molded him as a backup to Chandler Harnish in 2010.

“You didn’t have to say anything to Jordan; he’s like an Energizer bunny,” Gophers quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski said. On Tuesday, Lynch rushed for 321 yards against Western Michigan, an FBS record for a quarterback. For the season, Lynch has 2,457 yards passing and 1,755 yards rushing.


Big Ten power poll

1. Ohio State (11-0, 7-0)

Braxton Miller remains the most exciting player to watch in the Big Ten.

2. Wisconsin (9-2, 6-1)

The belief here is that this is still the second-best team in the conference.

3. Michigan State (10-1, 7-0)

The Spartans deserve the chance to prove themselves against Ohio State in title game.

4. Iowa (7-4, 4-3)

Outscored Michigan 17-0 in the second half of last week’s 24-21 victory.

5. Gophers (8-3, 4-3)

Theiren Cockran has 6½ sacks, two behind Big Ten leader, Nebraska’s Randy Gregory.

6. Nebraska (8-3, 5-2)

Ameer Abdullah (145.4 yards per game) trails Carlos Hyde (146.1) by 1 yard in rushing race.

7. Michigan (7-4, 3-4)

The Wolverines had fewer than 200 yards of total offense in three of their past four games.

8. Penn State (6-5, 3-4)

Three trips to overtime this year. Beat Michigan and Illinois but lost to Nebraska last week.

9. Indiana (4-7, 2-5)

High-powered offense has been held to 17 points in the past two games.

10. Illinois (4-7, 1-6)

The Illini ended their 20-game Big Ten losing streak last week at Purdue.

11. Northwestern (4-7, 0-7)

Turnovers forced in first six games: 17. Turnovers forced in past five games: five.

12. Purdue (1-10, 0-7)

One last chance to get Darrell Hazell his first Big Ten victory, this week against Indiana.

  • related content

  • Joe Christensen's Big Ten power poll

    Thursday November 28, 2013

    BIG TEN POWER POLL1. Ohio State (11-0, 7-0)Braxton Miller remains the most exciting player to watch in the Big Ten.2....

  • Joe Christensen's college football short takes

    Thursday November 28, 2013

    • Boston College running back Andre Williams deserves serious Heisman consideration as the 16th player in FBS history to pass the...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 69 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Portland 94 FINAL
Cleveland 99
Sacramento 102 FINAL
Toronto 119
Boston 98 FINAL
Minnesota 110
Dallas 94 FINAL
Houston 99
Denver 93 FINAL
New Orleans 85
Brooklyn 102 FINAL
Atlanta 113
Oklahoma City 92 FINAL
New York 100
Charlotte 86 FINAL
San Antonio 95
LA Clippers 92 4th Qtr 2:34
Utah 87
Washington 25 2nd Qtr 7:29
Phoenix 42
Toronto 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 2 1st Prd 4:33
Los Angeles 1
Temple 86 FINAL
UCF 62
Winthrop 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 68
Lafayette 59 FINAL
Colgate 54
Northeastern 60 FINAL
Drexel 65
Wake Forest 76 FINAL
Florida State 82
Rhode Island 64 FINAL
Fordham 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
James Madison 88
South Carolina 58 FINAL
LSU 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Maine 58
Seton Hall 80 FINAL
Marquette 70
Binghamton 68 FINAL
UMBC 56
American Univ 54 FINAL
Navy 64
Elon 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 82
Wright State 76 FINAL
Oakland 84
Minnesota 58 FINAL
Penn State 63
Duquesne 55 FINAL
Richmond 86
SMU 63 FINAL
South Florida 52
Hartford 66 FINAL
Stony Brook 72
Albany 47 FINAL
Vermont 44
Hofstra 79 FINAL
William & Mary 100
UNC-Asheville 74 FINAL
Longwood 64
Radford 84 FINAL
Char Southern 77
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 77
Texas Tech 36 FINAL
Oklahoma 81
Oregon State 55 FINAL
Arizona State 73
Morehead State 82 FINAL
Austin Peay 69
Drake 69 FINAL
Bradley 57
Lehigh 62 FINAL
Bucknell 68
Rice 48 FINAL
Houston 59
Missouri State 57 FINAL
Illinois State 67
Loyola-Chicago 47 FINAL
Wichita State 58
Nebraska Omaha 64 FINAL
South Dakota St 86
Northern Iowa 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
Louisville 81 FINAL
Boston College 72
St Johns 74 FINAL
Creighton 77
East Carolina 58 FINAL
Memphis 70
Georgia Tech 70 FINAL
Miami-Florida 50
Miss State 73 FINAL
Ole Miss 79
Clemson 68 FINAL
NC State 57
Indiana 67 FINAL
Purdue 83
Kansas 64 FINAL
TCU 61
Oregon 38 2nd Half 15:57
Arizona 51
Air Force 36 2nd Half 15:50
San Jose St 29
Stanford 12 1st Half 15:02
Washington 4
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 71 FINAL
Binghamton 55
Akron 60 FINAL
Ohio U 72
Ball State 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 55
Memphis 56 FINAL
Cincinnati 44
East Carolina 32 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 87
Murray State 59 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 75
Kent State 63 FINAL
Central Michigan 65
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 58
Eastern Michigan 56 FINAL
Western Mich 83
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Lehigh 76
Indiana 57 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Colgate 56 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Fordham 66 FINAL
Davidson 45
Duquesne 76 FINAL
St Bonaventure 64
George Mason 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 70
Detroit 59 FINAL
Youngstown St 58
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 58 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Oklahoma St 54 FINAL
Kansas State 52
West Virginia 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 73
Denver 56 FINAL
South Dakota 82
Northwestern St 46 FINAL
Central Arkansas 63
Austin Peay 67 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 87
Kansas 61 FINAL
Iowa State 56
Bowling Green 50 FINAL
Northern Ill 67
Penn State 64 FINAL
Minnesota 75
San Jose St 80 FINAL
Air Force 83
Boise State 82 FINAL
Colorado State 83
Utah State 51 FINAL
Wyoming 86
San Diego State 27 2nd Half 14:06
Fresno State 39
Nevada 22 2nd Half 16:42
UNLV 50
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you favor the plan for expanded athletic facilities at the U of M?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close