Big Ten Conference News and Notes
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
ILLINOIS: The Fighting Illini posted a 20-16 win at Purdue over the weekend, snapping a six-game losing streak and an unsightly 20-game conference slide as well. Nathan Scheelhaase completed 24-of-30 passes for 257 yards and two TDs, and in the process went over 10,000 total yards for his career, becoming only the second player in school history and the 10th in Big Ten history to accomplish the feat. Steve Hull caught a career-best 10 passes for 169 yards and both of Scheelhaase's scoring strikes, to mark his third straight game with at least 100 receiving yards. Josh Ferguson ran for a career-high 115 yards for an Illinois offense that generated 380 yards, compared to only 283 for the Boilermakers. Taylor Zalewski booted through a pair of short field goals in the final quarter to push the team to victory. At 4-7 on the year, 1-6 in conference, the Illini will not be going to the postseason, so this Saturday's home game against Northwestern is their swan song.
INDIANA: The Hoosiers came out on the wrong end of a 42-14 final at Ohio State over the weekend, marking the team's second straight loss, seventh of the season, and fifth in conference. The game also had historic relevance as the Buckeyes won their 23rd consecutive game. Nate Sudfeld threw for 224 yards and two TDs, while Tre Roberson completed 7-of-12 passes for 96 yards. Kofi Hughes paced the receivers with nine catches for 120 yards, while Shane Wynne finished with eight grabs for 59 yards and score. Roberson led the IU ground attack with 79 yards on 12 carries. The Hoosiers gave up 471 yards to the Buckeyes, but forced three turnovers. Marcus Oliver logged seven tackles to pace the Indiana defense, while Raphael Green made two of his four tackles behind the line of scrimmage. At just 4-7 overall and 2-5 in conference, the Hoosiers are not going to a bowl game, instead this Saturday's battle for the Old Oaken Bucket against visiting rival Purdue will serve as their season finale.
IOWA: Trailing by two TDs at intermission, the Hawkeyes refused to quit and scored the only 17 points of the second half en route to a 24-21 win over visiting Michigan on Saturday. It was the seventh victory of the season for Iowa, which currently sits a game over .500 in the Big Ten at 4-3, with only this Friday's regular-season finale at Nebraska left on the docket. It was also the third straight home win over Michigan in the series -- the first time that's happened in program history. The Iowa defense came to play, holding the Wolverines to 60 net rushing yards and only 98 yards passing in what was a truly dominant effort. Anthony Hitchens was one of three UI defenders to log eight tackles on the day, and three of his went for negative yardage. He also forced and recovered a fumble while being credited with a pair of QB hurries. Offensively, the Hawkeyes were led by QB Jake Rudock (19-of-30, 239 yards, two TDs, three INTs), receiver Tevaun Smith (five rec., 97 yards, one TD) and RB Mark Weisman (17 carries, 88 yards, one TD).
MICHIGAN: Despite an anemic offensive performance, the Wolverines had a 14- point halftime lead over the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday. From there however, it was all Iowa as the hosts scored 17 unanswered points to earn a 24-21 victory, and saddle the Maize and Blue with their third loss in the last four games. Still, at 7-4 overall and 3-4 in conference, the Wolverines are going to a bowl game. They play host to hated rival Ohio State this Saturday, and would love to win that game and snap the Buckeyes' record-setting 23-game winning streak. In order to do that though, they will need to perform significantly better than they did against Iowa, as the team managed just 158 total yards (60 rushing, 98 passing). Devin Gardner certainly had a game he would rather forget, as he completed just 13-of-28 passes, although two of his completions went for TDs to Jeremy Gallon (six rec., 47 yards) and A.J. Williams. Raymon Taylor tried his best to keep the UM defense on point, but even his nine tackles (eight solo), fumble recovery and interception couldn't keep the Hawkeyes from picking up more than 400 yards.
MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans claimed a 30-6 win at Northwestern on Saturday, and as a result became the champions of the Big Ten's Legends Division. Michigan State, which will play its regular-season finale this Saturday at home versus Minnesota, will face Ohio State in the conference championship game on Dec. 7 in Indianapolis. Back to this past Saturday's game, Connor Cook threw for a career-high 293 yards and two TDs, while Jeremy Langford ran for 150 yards and two scores of his own, helping the Spartans amass 464 yards of total offense, compared to 319 for the Wildcats. Bennie Fowler certainly made the most of his two catches on the day, taking one of them 87 yards for a score near the end of the first half. As for the MSU's top-rated defense, it stood tall against the run, allowing only 80 net yards, and the unit got solid efforts from a host of individuals, not the least of which were Darqueze Dennard (nine tackles, one INT) and Kurtis Drummond (two INTs).
MINNESOTA: The Golden Gophers were stymied at virtually every turn in Saturday's frigid fray with visiting Wisconsin, falling to the Badgers for the 10th straight time in a 20-7 final. As a result, Paul Bunyam's Axe is staying in Madison for another year. Minnesota finished with only 185 yards of total offense (102 rushing, 83 passing), as Philip Nelson completed just 7-of-23 passes, and no receiver had more than two catches. David Cobb was high man on the ground, but his 68 yards came on 17 carries. As for the Minnesota defense, it permitted 324 total yards while holding the Badgers to just 4-of-16 success on third-down conversion attempts. Antonio Johnson paced the Gophers with 10 tackles, eight of which were solo efforts, and Aaron Hill scored the only points of the game for coach Jerry Kill's club, taking an interception back 39 yards for a TD at the beginning of the second quarter. Minnesota closes the regular season this Saturday at Michigan State, and a win would greatly improve the team's potential bowl prospects.
NEBRASKA: It wasn't pretty, but the Cornhuskers won their eighth game of the season, fifth in conference, by slipping past Penn State in overtime, 23-20. Nebraska scored only one offensive TD in the game, that coming on a 27-yard pass play from Ron Kellogg III to Quincy Enunwa near the start of the second quarter. The Huskers' other TD came on a 99-yard kickoff return just after halftime by Kenny Bell. Pat Smith booted three field goals, including the game-winner from 42 yards out in the extra session. Nebraska wound up with 360 yards of total offense, the team getting another impressive effort from Big Ten rushing leader, Ameer Abdullah (25 carries, 147 yards). Kellogg III wound up going 20-of-34 for 191 yards, and Jordan Westerkamp and Bell finished with five catches apiece. Nebraska returns home to host Iowa this Friday in the regular-season finale for both clubs.
NORTHWESTERN: About the only bright spot for the Wildcats in Saturday's 30-6 home loss to Legends Division champ Michigan State, was the fact the PK Jeff Budzien became the school's all-time scoring leader after booting through a pair of first-half field goals. Otherwise, the Northwestern offense produced 319 total yards, only 80 of which came on the ground. Trevor Siemian went 25- of-43 for 227 yards with no TDs and two INTs, and both Tony Jones and Dan Vitale had at least 58 receiving yards. Siemian was also the team's leading rusher, as he finished with 28 yards on only four carries. The NU defense surrendered 464 yards to the Spartans, who had a back (Jeremy Langford) run for 150 yards and two TDs, and a QB (Connor Cook) throw for nearly 300 yards and two scores. In all, three Wildcats posted double-digit tackles on the afternoon, with Jimmy Hall (11), Chi Chi Ariguzo (10) and Ibraheim Campbell (10) doing their best to keep the MSU offense from totally taking over. After starting the season at 4-0, there weren't many people who thought the team would not be participating in the postseason, but that is indeed the case as the 'Cats try to snap a seven-game losing streak in this week's finale at in- state rival Illinois.
OHIO STATE: The Buckeyes dismissed visiting Indiana over the weekend, 42-14, to record their 23rd consecutive win, which is a new school record. It also assured Ohio State of an appearance in the Big Ten Championship Game to be played in Indianapolis on Dec. 7. It will take on Michigan State in the title tilt for the league's automatic BCS berth. Braxton Miller ran for 144 yards and two TDs, while throwing for 160 yards and two scores to power the OSU offense, which also got a solid effort from Carlos Hyde, who rushed for 117 yards and two TDs. Hyde is the first RB in Urban Meyer's 12 years as a head coach to go over 1,000 yards in a season. Ryan Shazier had a monster game in the frigid conditions, logging a staggering 20 tackles, five of which took place in the Indiana backfield. The OSU defense did not force a turnover in the game, but had four sacks and held the Hoosiers to just 7-of-21 success on third-down conversion attempts. The Buckeyes close out the regular season this Saturday at bitter rival Michigan.
PENN STATE: For the third time this season, the Nittany Lions had a game go beyond regulation, and for the first time they came out on the short end as they dropped a 23-20 decision to visiting Nebraska on Saturday afternoon. Christian Hackenberg threw for 217 yards and two TDs, while rushing for a score, but a 2-of-14 effort on third-down conversion attempts proved disastrous. Allen Robinson caught eight passes for 106 yards, and in the process passed former PSU standout Bobby Engram for second place on the school's all-time receptions list. Zach Zwinak rumbled for 149 yards on 35 carries for the Lions, who played very good defense in allowing just a single TD and two field goals in regulation -- the Cornhuskers' other score came on a 99-yard kickoff return early in the third quarter. Glenn Carson logged a game- high 10 tackles for Penn State, which will bring the curtain down on the 2013 campaign this Saturday at Wisconsin.
PURDUE: The Boilermakers suffered a 20-16 home loss to Illinois on Saturday, marking the team's ninth straight setback. Purdue has only one win on the season, and that came over FCS foe Indiana State back on Sept. 7. Even though the result wasn't favorable, Akeem Hunt still had a good day, rushing for a career-high 102 yards and a TD. Danny Etling threw for 163 yards and a score, completing 20-of-29 passes along the way, with both Cameron Posey and Justin Sinz tallying four receptions for 52 and 45 yards, respectively. Posey caught Etling's lone scoring strike on an eight-yard pass play near the end of the first quarter. Illinois, which snapped a 20-game conference losing streak with the victory, outgained Purdue by nearly 100 yards, and the Boilermakers defense was paced by a pair of guys who logged eight stops apiece in Anthony Brown and Will Lucas. Another positive to come out the contest was that Purdue came up with four turnovers. The Boilermakers close out the season this Saturday when they visit the Indiana Hoosiers in the battle for the Old Oaken Bucket.
WISCONSIN: Paul Bunyan's Axe is staying in Madison for yet another year, as the Badgers beat border rival Minnesota for the 10th straight time in a 20-7 final in frigid Minneapolis on Saturday afternoon. James White fueled the Wisconsin offensive attack with 125 yards and a TD, while Jared Abbrederis caught seven balls for 67 yards and a score. In all, the Badgers generated 324 total yards, compared to only 185 for the Golden Gophers. Wisconsin QB Joel Stave went 16-of-26 for 127 yards with a TD and an INT. The UW defense, led by Chris Borland with his 12 tackles and two fumble recoveries, was particularly tough against the pass (83 yards). In all, the Badgers were credited with three takeaways (all on fumbles) and three sacks. Borland tied a Big Ten record by forcing his 14th career fumble. Wisconsin can improve its postseason prospects as it shoots for its seventh straight win this Saturday against visiting Penn State.
11/25 11:37:57 ET