Monday, November 24, 2008

Week 13 Big Ten Wrap-up

We seemed to find out a little more each week about the Big Ten. Minnesota and Northwestern confused everyone with great starts, Wisconsin baffled onlookers with a dominant non-conference trio of wins, then tanked in conference play, and Penn State just wouldn't stop losing for most of the year. As the year went on, we figured out that Minnesota wasn't that good, Northwestern was for real, even without their star running back, Wisconsin was not nearly as good as everyone thought, and Penn State and Ohio State ruled the conference. All of these revelations left one team that we couldn't get a handle on.

Michigan State had a bit of an odd season. Sparty started off with a loss at Cal, then won 9 of 10 coming into the Penn State game and had a chance to share the Big Ten title with a win. On Saturday, Michigan State looked like a team that was happy to have that chance, not a team ready to take advantage of it. Penn State ran up 557 total yards and held Javon Ringer to 42 yards rushing en route to a blowout win. MSU put up some points late, but after losing 49-18, the Spartans lost to Ohio State and Penn State by a combined score of 94-25. Penn State is heading to the Rose Bowl to face either Oregon State or USC, while MSU will probably be in the Outback Bowl against an SEC opponent.

Early on it looked like Michigan may have been ready to make it a game against Ohio State. However, a stagnant offense and big plays from Ohio State turned this into the game many expected. Except the few times wide receivers ran wide open behind their safeties (Michigan should really think about renaming this position), UM shut Terrelle Pryor down. The freshman QB was 5-13 for 120 yards, but Chris Wells picked up the slack with big plays. Wells only rushed 15 times, but went for 134 yards and a score. Ohio State's defense held UM to just 198 yards and forced 12 punts. The 42-7 victory is the fifth win in a row for Ohio State, making it the longest streak for the Bucks in the history of the rivalry.

Northwestern had been more impressive than Illinois all season long, yet the Cats were still underdogs going into the match-up with the Illini at Ryan Field Saturday. The result was a 17 point win, denying Illinois a bowl berth, just a year removed from a Rose Bowl bid. The Wildcats will be pulling for Ohio State to get into a BCS bowl so they can grab a spot in a New Year's Day bowl. The 9-3 record makes this the fifth Northwestern team to finish with nine or more wins.

Wisconsin's disappointing season almost got a final kick to the face Saturday as the Badgers trailed almost the entire game and needed overtime and three missed extra points to beat Division I-AA Cal Poly Saturday. After a PJ Hill touchdown and a two point conversion run by Hill tied the game and Cal Poly missed a field goal, the game headed to OT, where the Mustangs scored on the first play, then missed the extra point. John Clay scored for UW from six yards and the extra point was good to win the game. We'll see where this performance lands Wisconsin for a bowl game. Probably Detroit.

Purdue blew out Indiana 62-10 and Iowa shut out Minnesota 55-0.

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