Three teams remain undefeated in Big Ten play, and all three survived in different ways Saturday.
Ohio State overcame a seemingly insurmountable deficit to beat Purdue 29-22 in overtime. Michigan beat in-state rival Michigan State with a last-second field goal in a 12-10 slugfest. Penn State thoroughly dominated Iowa 38-14 in the Hawkeyes’ worst home loss since 1999.
Unfortunately for the Big Ten, Leaders Division teams Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible for the postseason. Michigan, although the clear Legends Division frontrunner at 3-0, is far from perfect and failed to score a touchdown. But the Wolverines are the favorite now to advance to the Rose Bowl.
“I thought our guys did a tremendous job fighting as a football team,” Michigan Coach Brady Hoke said. “I think that in every facet of the game we kept punching away and executing pretty well. We did some things poorly, some things that we need to do a lot better job of, but our kids stuck together as a team.”
Michigan won the Paul Bunyan Trophy for the first time in five seasons. The Wolverines also virtually ended any Big Ten title hopes for their cross-state rival, which many considered the league’s best team entering the season. Michigan State (4-4, 1-3) is three games behind Michigan and loses the head-to-head tiebreaker.
“You feel bad because you know that you are very, very close to having three wins, but it is what it is, and sometimes you have to look at that and deal with it,” Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio said. “This is one of the years that we have to do that — right now at this point in time. So shoulda coulda does not really get it.”
Ohio State rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final seconds to tie Purdue and eventually win in overtime. The Buckeyes (8-0, 4-0) trailed 22-14 with 47 seconds left and took possession at their 39. Back-up quarterback Kenny Guiton, who replaced an injured Braxton Miller, drove the team down the field and tossed a touchdown with three seconds left. Ohio State tied the game on a 2-point conversion.
“Kenny Guiton is like Kobe (Bryant) in clutch time,” Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins said. “He knows the game, and I feel like he’s a coach for us on offense. He’s doing a good job. I never lose faith in Kenny.”
Penn State produced the most impressive win, burying fellow Big Ten unbeaten Iowa in every phase. The Nittany Lions hadn’t won in Iowa City since 1999 but statistically crushed the Hawkeyes in shocking fashion. Penn State doubled up Iowa in first downs (28-14), dominated the game in time of possession (38:08-21:52), rushing yards (215-20), third-down conversions (8-17 to 2-12), offensive plays (90-59) and total yardage (504-209).
“I believe that these kids have really good chemistry,” Penn State Coach Bill O’Brien said. “Football is a sport that you have to show up ready to play every single day, every single week. If you don’t, you’re going to be in trouble.”
Iowa, which entered the game tied with Michigan atop the Leaders Division, clearly was not ready to play. Now the Hawkeyes are thrust into a second-place Legends tie with Nebraska and are in a virtual division-elimination game at Northwestern next week.
Northwestern (6-2, 2-2) surrendered a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead for the second time this season in a 29-28 loss to Nebraska. The Wildcats led 28-16 with six minutes to go, but the Cornhuskers rallied for two touchdowns to take the lead with just over two minutes remaining. A last-second 53-yard field-goal attempt with a minute to go went wide right for Northwestern.
Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez said the win defines his team as one of the nation’s best, when they overcome their turnovers. Against Northwestern, the Cornhuskers lost three fumbles.
“We’re killing ourselves. We’re the ones that are stopping ourselves and if we don’t stop ourselves, no one in the country can beat us,” Martinez said.
Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1) clearly is in control for the Leaders Division spot in the Big Ten title game after thumping rival Minnesota 38-13. The Badgers retain the coveted Paul Bunyan’s Axe for the ninth straight year, matching a record in the nation’s most-played, major-college football rivalry.
“I think we take a lot of pride in that,” Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema said. “I learned that when I first came here. I’m a guy from Illinois. Played at Iowa. I don’t know what’s going on. I hear these guys talking about the axe during the off season and our players probably get more engrained to it. Guys that are out of state really come in start buying into this whole thing. We know the guys at Wisconsin and Minnesota, it means a lot. But it’s a representation of a victory. But it’s a representation of a victory for an entire year. That thing sits in our trophy case.”
STARS OF THE WEEK
Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin completed 26-of-38 passes for 289 and two touchdowns against Iowa. … Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez completed 27-of-39 passes for 342 yards and three TDs, and he also rushed for 65 yards and a score. … Ohio State back-up QB Kenny Guiton engineered a last-minute, 61-yard drive to tie Purdue and then won the game in overtime. … Michigan State linebacker Denicos Allen registered 11 tackles, including three for loss.
Nebraska punter Brett Maher punted nine times for a 42.2 average and dropped five punts inside the 20-yard line. … Iowa kick returner Jordan Cotton brought back a kickoff for a score for the second straight week (the previous one was called back because of penalty). … Northwestern running back Venric Mark rushed for 118 yards and totaled 178 overall. … Wisconsin’s James White rushed for 175 yards and Montee Ball ran for 166. Ball scored his 74th career touchdown in the game. … Minnesota true freshman quarterback Philip Nelson passed for 149 yards and two scores and rushed for 67 yards on 16 carries in his first career start. … Penn State running back Bill Belton rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns. … Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson passed for 163 yards and rushed for 96. … Michigan State linebacker Max Bullough compiled 10 tackles — one for loss — and had an interception and two pass breakups. … Purdue running back Akeem Hunt returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score against Ohio State. … Buckeyes running back Carlos Hyde rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning score. … Indiana wide receivers Shane Wynn (76 yards) and Kofi Hughes (73 yards) each caught seven passes.
1. Penn State (3) 5-2, 3-0
2. Ohio State (1) 8-0, 4-0
3. Michigan (2) 5-2, 3-0
4. Wisconsin (5a) 6-2, 3-1
5. Nebraska (7a) 5-2, 2-1
6. Northwestern (4) 6-2, 2-2
7. Iowa (5b) 4-3, 2-1
8. Michigan State (7b) 4-4, 1-3
9. Minnesota (9) 4-3, 0-3
10. Indiana (10) 2-5, 0-3
11. Purdue (11) 3-4, 0-3
12. Illinois (12) 2-5, 0-3
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