Big Ten Conference News and Notes
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ILLINOIS: The Fighting Illini suffered their seventh straight loss on Saturday, this time falling at home to Minnesota in a 17-3 final. Illinois, which is now just 2-8 on the year and 0-6 in the Big Ten, produced a mere 276 yards of total offense, as QB Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 175 yards and RB Donovonn Young finished with just 42 yards on 10 carries. The UI defense allowed 309 total yards to the Golden Gophers, only 78 of which were through the air. LB Mason Monheim recorded 15 tackles in the loss, but the Illini did not come up with a turnover while allowing Minnesota to score on all three of its visits to the red zone. Illinois will try to end a 12-game conference losing streak when it plays host to Purdue this Saturday. The Illini wrap up the season the following week at Northwestern.
INDIANA: The Hoosiers' final home game of the season was anything but enjoyable, as the Wisconsin Badgers claimed an easy 62-14 victory on Saturday. The loss prevented Indiana from logging its first three-game win streak since 1993, and dropped it to 4-6 overall and 2-4 in conference this season. UW outgained IU more than two-to-one (605-294), as the Badgers churned out a staggering 564 yards on the ground. Indiana QB Cameron Coffman threw for 233 yards, two TDs and two interceptions, but the Hoosiers held the ball for just over 20 minutes. Safety Mark Murphy posted a game-high 13 tackles in the loss, which included nine solo stops. Indiana will play its final two games of the regular season on the road, the first of which being this Saturday's clash with the Penn State Nittany Lions.
IOWA: A last-second field goal by Purdue PK Paul Griggs doomed the Hawkeyes over the weekend, as they dropped a 27-24 decision to the Boilermakers in front of a disappointed home crowd. The loss was Iowa's fourth straight -- its longest losing streak since 2007 -- and means the Hawkeyes will need to win out to gain the required six wins to become eligible for a bowl game. That isn't going to be easy however, as their last two games are at Michigan this week, followed by a home tilt versus Nebraska on Nov. 23. The Hawkeyes have played in six games this year decided by three points or less, and have lost four of them. Iowa managed just 74 rushing yards in the recent setback to Purdue, as RB Damon Bullock averaged a mere 1.9 ypc on 23 totes (43 yards). Bullock did score a TD, and QB James Vandenberg threw for one score in completing 19-of-36 passes for 190 yards. Defensively, the Hawkeyes allowed 490 total yards (211 rushing, 279 passing), despite coming up with three fumble recoveries. DB Micah Hyde, LB James Morris and LB Christian Kirksey all had double-digit tackles for Iowa.
MICHIGAN: The Wolverines improved to 4-0 in overtime games at home, and 8-1 in all extra-session affairs by claiming a 38-31 decision against the visiting Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday. Michigan battled back from a 10-point, second-half deficit to send the game into OT, where QB Devin Gardner scored on a one-yard run and the UM defense stood tall on the ensuing possession. For the game, Gardner threw for a career-high 286 yards and two TDs, while adding a career-best 47 yards and two scores on the ground. RB Fitz Toussaint accounted for 92 yards rushing, while WRs Roy Roundtree and Jeremy Gallon combined for 233 receiving yards. The Wolverines were 7-of-10 on third-down conversion attempts and they scored on all five of their trips to the red zone, four of which were TDs. Defensively, S Thomas Gordon notched 11 tackles, while LBs Kenny Demens and Desmond Morgan tallied nine stops apiece. Michigan, which is still in the race for a spot in the Big Ten title tilt, entertains Iowa this coming weekend before closing out the regular season at bitter rival Ohio State on Nov. 24.
MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans were idle over the weekend, giving coach Mark Dantonio, his staff and players some addition time to prepare for this Saturday's home game against Northwestern. Michigan State needs to win one of its final two games to gain bowl eligibility, and if it doesn't come this week against the Wildcats, it would have to be the following week at Minnesota.
MINNESOTA: The Golden Gophers gained bowl eligibility on Saturday, as they beat Illinois on the road, 17-3. The win was the second in the last three games for Minnesota, which gained only 78 yards through the air as QB Nelson Philips completed just 9-of-15 passes on the day. RB Donnell Kirkwood shouldered much of the offensive burden by rushing for 152 yards and two TDs, averaging nearly five and a half yards per carry. The UM defense certainly did its part, not allowing a TD and holding the Fighting Illini to a mere 276 total yards, of which only 101 came via the run. The Gophers logged two sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries in the contest, and LB Aaron Hill led the team with 10 tackles, seven of which were unassisted. The three points allowed to Illinois were the fewest surrendered to a Big Ten foe since shutting out the Illini, 45-0, in 2004. Minnesota plays at Nebraska this Saturday, before closing out the regular season at home versus Michigan State on Nov. 24.
NEBRASKA: The Cornhuskers kept their dreams of playing for the Big Ten title alive, as they battled from behind the claim a 32-23 win over visiting Penn State on Saturday. Nebraska overcame a double-digit, second-half deficit to earn its eighth win of the season, and its fifth in six conference bouts. The Huskers are currently tied with Michigan atop the Legends Division standings, but they hold the tie-breaker due to their 23-9 win over the Wolverines on Oct. 27. Back to the PSU game, it was the third time in the last six games that NU battled back from a deficit of 12 points or more to claim victory, as QB Taylor Martinez tallied 275 yards of total offense (171 passing, 104 rushing), and had a TD toss. RB Ameer Abdullah led the Nebraska's ground assault with 116 yards on 31 carries. In all, the Huskers rolled up 438 yards of total offense, while allowing the Nittany Lions 391 yards. Ciante Evans and Will Compton finished with 10 tackles apiece, and the Nebraska defense was credited with three sacks and three takeaways, two of which belonged to Daimion Stafford. Nebraska entertains Minnesota this Saturday, and then brings the curtain down on the regular season at Iowa the following Friday.
NORTHWESTERN: The Wildcats lost their first-ever overtime game to a Big Ten foe on Saturday, as they dropped a 38-31 decision at Michigan. Northwestern, which had been 7-0 all-time in extra-session affairs against conference rivals, got another impressive performance from RB Venric Mark, as he logged his seventh 100-yard rushing game of the season by tallying 104 yards with a TD. QB Kain Colter added 82 yards on the ground and 96 yards with a score through the air. The NU defense allowed 133 yards and three TDs on the ground, while the effort against the pass yielded 286 yards and another couple of scores. LB Damien Proby was once again high man for the Wildcats on defense, recording nine tackles, eight of which were unassisted. Already eligible for postseason consideration, Northwestern has just two more games remaining in the regular season, the first of which is this Saturday at Michigan State.
OHIO STATE: Although they were idle over the weekend, the undefeated Buckeyes claimed at least a share of the Leaders Division title. Unfortunately, they can not play in the Big Ten Championship Game, or go to a bowl game for that matter, as they are ineligible due to NCAA sanctions. That said, putting the wraps on a perfect season is what the team is focused on now, although accomplishing the feat won't be easy as this week it will play at Wisconsin, and then take on hated rival Michigan in the finale on Nov. 24.
PENN STATE: The Nittany Lions squandered a double-digit lead in the second half to fall the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln on Saturday, 32-23. The loss snapped Penn State's three-game road winning streak against Big Ten foes, and dropped the team to 6-4 overall and 4-2 in conference. QB Matt McGloin threw for 240 yards with a TD and an interception, RB Zach Zwinak rumbled his way to 141 yards and a TD, and WR Allen Robinson caught six balls for 97 yards. PSU tallied 391 yards of total offense, but Nebraska countered with 438 yards, 267 of which came on the ground. Continuing their highly-productive seasons were LBs Gerald Hodges, Glenn Carson and Michael Mauti, the trio combining for 38 tackles in the setback. Ineligible to participate in the postseason, Penn State will play its final two games at home, starting with this Saturday's visit from the Indiana Hoosiers.
PURDUE: Paul Griggs booted a 46-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Boilermakers to a 27-24 victory at Iowa over the weekend. The win was Purdue's first since Sept. 29, and snapped a five-game losing streak. As a result, the Boilermakers will need to win their final two games -- at Illinois this Saturday, and at home vs. Indiana on Nov. 24 -- to have any shot at earning a bowl invite. QB Robert Marve threw for 266 yards and two TDs to help fuel the PU offensive attack, which accounted for 490 total yards. RB Ralph Bolden tallied 102 yards on 14 carries for the Boilermakers, who also had four guys catch at least four passes. From a defensive standpoint, Purdue held its own in yielding just 74 rushing yards and 264 total yards. The Boilermakers won the game despite losing three fumbles and being penalized 10 times for a loss of 100 yards.
WISCONSIN: Montee Ball ran for 198 yards and three TDs, and James White added 161 yards and two scores to power the Badgers to an easy 62-14 win at Indiana on Saturday. The Badgers, who get a chance to defend their Big Ten title as they clinched a berth in this year's championship game, finished with a school-record 564 yards rushing, as they averaged 8.8 ypc, picked up 20 of their 23 first downs on the ground, and did not commit a turnover in nearly 40 minutes of possession time. UW scored on all seven of its trips to the red zone, including five TDs. Meanwhile, the Badgers defense held the Hoosiers to just 294 total yards, which included a dismal 61 yards rushing. Ball is now second all-time in the NCAA with 77 career TDs, and needs just two more to take over the top spot from Miami-Ohio's Travis Prentice (78). Senior QB Curt Phillips made his first career start against the Hoosiers, and went just 4- of-7 for 41 with a TD, while carrying the ball seven times for 68 yards. Wisconsin plays host to undefeated Ohio State this Saturday, before wrapping up the regular season at Penn State the following week.
November 12, 2012, at 10:48 AM ET
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