Senior Day celebrations are a huge part of the B1G Week 12 Review as teams hosted their final home games of the season. For many this is the last time they will take the field as the NFL doesn’t call everybody’s number. Ohio State made it a day to remember, obliterating Michigan State and ensuring their seniors left The Shoe on a high.
Michigan also had a big day to set up a mouth-watering clash in ‘The Game’ next week, with the East title and CFP places on the line. Wisconsin’s wheels just keep on turning as they kept control of the West, but it wasn’t easy going against Scott Frost’s Nebraska.
The stage was set for a huge Big Ten clash between #4 Ohio State and #7 Michigan State in Columbus. Two high-powered offenses went into battle, with field stretching receivers and dominant running backs on both sides.
The game didn’t quite follow the pattern we expected. Ohio State came out and dominated on both sides of the ball. The Buckeyes defense has come under scrutiny this season, giving up plenty of ground in the run game and looking vulnerable on deep passing plays. Not today.
While CJ Stroud led the offense almost immaculately, the defense lasered in on Michigan State’s biggest weapon. Kenneth Walker III has lit up college football and put himself in Heisman contention. The running back has been unstoppable all year – even when teams have sold out to stop the run, he’s blasted through and tallied ridiculous statistics! Ohio State managed to limit Walker early and with the Spartans playing catch up, he was almost totally eliminated from the game.
Bang Goes The Heisman for Walker
It appears Walker is banged up, but he was fit enough to start and there were great expectations for him against a soft run D. He finished the day with 6 attempts and just 25 yards, by far his worst output this season. Michigan State couldn’t move the ball in the opening 30 minutes, missed a field goal and coughed up a fumble. Ohio State had no such problems. 7 possessions turned into 7 touchdowns as Stroud ripped the Spartans to shreds. The Buckeyes were up 49-0 at halftime in a big statement to any CFP hopefuls that they mean business! Michigan State have the worst pass defense in the FBS and CJ took full advantage.
Stroud’s efficiency was off the charts, completing 32/35 passes for 449 yards and 6 touchdowns! And that’s without playing most of the second half! His top 3 receivers all notched north of 100 yards and at least 1 TD, and for Chris Olave it was a special day indeed. He caught 2 touchdown passes which brings his total in the Scarlet and Gray to 35, setting a school record. He got the record-setter with a 43 yard strike down the middle of the field. Stroud held the safety with Jeremy Ruckert’s route and Olave got in behind his cornerback to catch a perfectly waited pass in the endzone.
A day to forget for the Spartans, but a big statement of intent from Ohio State. Watch out Wolverines, these guys are gunning for you in rivalry week!
Michigan head into that matchup with Ohio State having handed out their own ass-whooping! The Wolverines obliterated the Maryland Terrapins, showing superior speed, strength and talent in a miss-match on the day.
Michigan dominated the opening quarter, establishing a 14 point lead with a couple of touchdowns courtesy of Luke Schoonmaker and Hassan Haskins. The Wolverine defense smothered Taulia Tagovailoa and his receivers, forcing a couple of early 3-and-outs and disrupting the QBs rythme.
JJ McCarthy entered the game in the 2nd quarter and led Michigan to their 3rd touchdown of the first half. He dialed up a strike to the right corner of the endzone that Mike Sainristil caught spectacularly – laying himself out to snag the ball 1-handed and increase the lead to 21-3. Maryland were in a 28 point hole just after halftime, and couldn’t climb out. Tagovailoa was hurried and inaccurate, missing open receivers and generally having an off-day.
The Wolverines have a weapon in the Running Back room
Donaven Edwards had a fantastic day through the air for Michigan. The highly-touted freshman running back has the potential to be a stud and showed his pass-catching ability here, hauling in 10 receptions for 170 yards and a touchdown! Haskins and the run game played a secondary role to the passing game against the Terps, but on a ‘quiet’ day he still managed 2 TDs.
The Wolverines defense caused havoc all day and got their opportunity to put points on the board late on. Tagovailoa threw an errant pass that was gleefully intercepted by DJ Turner, and returned for a 42 yard score to ice the cake. A much bigger test awaits but Michigan are flying right now.
The Wisconsin Badgers continued their charge for the West title with a 7th straight win on Saturday. They rolled through Nebraska on the ground but their usually stout defense was uncharacteristically porous.
Braelon Allen is a name on everybody’s lips. The fact he is a 17 year old freshman and putting up these ridiculous numbers is incredible. With Chez Mellusi now confirmed out for the season, Allen is the lead back in his first year at college. He is seizing that opportunity with both hands, rushing for another 228 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Cornhuskers.
Nebraska take to the skies
Nebraska stayed in the game but totally abandoned the run. It’s not the typical Cornhusker way, but Adrian Martinez absolutely carved up the Wisconsin defense through the air to the tune of 351 yards. Austin Allen and Samori Toure hogged the targets, catching 7 balls each and terrorising the Badgers.
This game was back and forth, always close and within 1 score all game long. Every time Wisconsin grabbed the lead, Nebraska matched them and tied it up again. Unfortunately Scott Frost has a reputation for losing close games – this is the 7th 1-score loss of the season. The Cornhuskers are tough, gritty and determined but haven’t been able to finish games.
Braelon Allen’s 3rd TD with 3:50 left in the game gave the Badgers a 35-28 lead, but also left plenty of time on the clock for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers put together a great drive, setting up camp at the Wisconsin 11. Then came a holding penalty, back to the 21 and a much tougher task. 4 incomplete passes later, their chance had gone and Wisconsin recorded their 8th straight victory in this fixture.
When we talk about a balanced offense, rarely do we get as even a spread as Minnesota did this week. They had an almost perfect balance of 195 pass yards and 196 rush yards in their 35-14 win at Indiana. For a team that has relied so heavily on their running backs, this will encourage Gophers fans. They aren’t just a 1-dimensional team that can be shut down when the run is taken away.
Indiana actually got off to the perfect start. They turned Minnesota over on downs and went on a long, methodical 92-yard, 14-play drive that culminated in Donaven McCulley scooping up a bad snap and running it in for 6. But that’s about as good as it got for the Hoosiers. Indiana’s combination of QBs completed just 8 passes and threw 2 picks in what quickly became a nightmare. Minnesota won this game with a flurry of scores before the half.
Spicy end to the first half
Ky Thomas ran in from 2 yards, then the Minnesota defense forced a 3 & out. Enter Ky Thomas again, with another short yardage TD. Indiana ball from the kickoff – oh wait, that’s an interception! Fancy some more points? Sure, here you go Chris Autman-Bell, take it in for another touchdown. The game flipped, Indiana’s 7-0 lead suddenly gone and the Golden Gophers headed to the locker room up 7-21!
The Hoosiers didn’t have a shot after that. Minnesota were in control and managed the game in the second half. It’s now 7 straight losses for Indiana and I don’t fancy their chances of halting that run against Purdue next week.
Iowa kept their title chances alive with a win at home against a feisty Illinois. The Fighting Illini took an early lead on the first possession of the game thanks to Luke Ford’s 2nd touchdown of the season. They added a field goal after Iowa botched their punt attempt and were feeling good as they approached the 2nd quarter. Charlie Jones put shot to that! From the kickoff, Jones caught the ball on the right corner of the endzone and headed infield. The senior cut between 2 coverage men, sprinted out left to get beyond the despairing dive of the kicker and trotted in for a 100-yard touchdown. The perfect momentum swing, smacking the confidence right out of Illinois. Iowa took full advantage, adding an offensive TD to take the lead.
Iowa had exactly what they wanted, a lead and the opportunity to control the clock. The Hawkeyes aren’t interested in style points – complimentary football and managing the game is their recipe for success. That’s exactly what they did, restricting Illinois’ Chase Brown to just 42 yards in the running game and scoring just enough points to maintain the lead. Iowa took away the run game and made Illinois 1-dimensional, forcing them to throw against their ball-hawking defense. It worked, as Iowa came away with 2 interceptions.
Saying that, the Hawkeyes couldn’t shake Illinois off until very late. The Fighting Illini were within a score for most of the contest and it needed a late pick 6 from Jack Campbell to put the game to bed. Illinois dream of a bowl game has gone but they should end the season on a positive note against Northwestern. Iowa need to take care of business away at Nebraska and hope Minnesota do them a favour to sneak into the Big Ten Championship game.
This fixture has not been kind to Rutgers. The men from New Jersey have lost the last 15 times they’ve played Penn State! The Scarlet Knights didn’t look like halting that run at any point on Saturday as they were overwhelmed by the Nittany Lions.
Christian Veilleux got his first collegiate snaps at QB, but Rutgers weren’t able to capitalise on the inexperience. Veilleux came in for an unwell Sean Clifford early on and after getting his feet under the table played pretty well. He had a mistake-free performance which is exactly what was needed in a game where Penn State’s defense shutout the Scarlet Knights. In fact, Rutgers offense was eliminated from the game. They could only muster 165 yards all game and crossed halfway once, yes ONCE, in the entire 60 minutes. This Nittany Lion outfit is a top 10 defense for a reason!
Veilleux found his main men Dotson and Washington who both cashed in TDs, and added a third with a 67 yard pass to Malick Meiga to end the day with a statline of 15/24, 235 yards and 2TDs. Not bad for your first game, but Michigan State will prove a tougher opponent if he keeps the job next week.
Rutgers can still make a bowl game so will look to put this performance behind them. They need to re-discover their early season form if they are going to beat Maryland and extend their season.
Purdue bounced back from their thrashing at the hands of Ohio State with a strong second half performance against Northwestern. The Boilermakers had a 6 point lead coming out of halftime and got a huge chunk of luck from the kickoff. Kicker Van Eekeren slipped as he approached the ball and it squibbed forwards. Purdue jumped on it for what turned out to ben an unintentional onside kick in bizarre circumstances. Jeff Brohm commented “It wasn’t by design. We had some luck on our side and we took advantage of it.” They certainly did, capitalizing with a touchdown on the stolen possession and taking a 19-7 lead.
The win wasn’t all down to luck though. Purdue took full advantage of man-coverage across the field as Northwestern attempted to take David Bell out of the game. Bell still had over 100 yards as per usual, but it was Milton Wright who benefited most from Bell’s double coverage. Wright ended the day with 213 yards and 3 TDs as Aidan O’Connell had another mega day.
Northwestern clung on in there through the third quarter as Evan Hull crashed in for a touchdown making it 19-14 to Purdue. Hull has been a bright spark in a dreary season and tallied 129 yards on top of this touchdown. The Wildcats couldn’t get any closer on the scoreboard however, as Purdue edged their way out of sight with a couple of 4th quarter field goals.
Written by Jack @JackCDCTT