Michigan State made a big statement against Michigan and Ohio State should take notice.
What a wild week in the Big Ten. The three best teams in the league — Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin — won in convincing fashion but the rest of the conference was under cardiac arrest in the fourth quarter.
Indiana came storming back with 28 unanswered points only to watch Philip Nelson throw the game-winning touchdown pass. Christian Hackenberg led a game-tying drive at the end of regulation and then tossed the game winner in overtime. And Nebraska won on a Ron Kellogg III Hail Mary that will be remembered for decades to come in Lincoln.
Big Ten Post-Week 10 Power Rankings:
|1.||(1)||Ohio State (9-0, 5-0): The Buckeyes continue to earn style points with another huge blowout. This one was to be expected, however, as the league's best team crushed the league's worst by 56 points. Braxton Miller was excellent again, throwing four touchdown strikes. Urban Meyer moved to 21-0 as the head coach at Ohio State and is two games against Illinois and Indiana from the much awaited trip to Michigan. Next Week: at Illinois|
|2.||(3)||Michigan State (8-1, 5-0): The Spartans stayed perfect in the Big Ten by dominating the line of scrimmage against rival Michigan. The nation's leading defense held Michigan to a school-record minus-48 yards rushing thanks to seven sacks. Connor Cook made clutch throws when needed, and Jeremy Langford was productive enough to give the Spartans the most lopsided win over their in-state rival since 1967. Mark Dantonio gets two weeks to prepare for a road trip into Lincoln for a de facto Legends Division championship game. Next Week: Bye|
|3.||(2)||Wisconsin (6-2, 4-1): It wasn't pretty as both defenses stole the show in the first three quarters, but Wisconsin pulled away late for an important road win against rival Iowa. The Badgers defense, playing without leader Chris Borland, suffocated the Hawkeyes, holding Kirk Ferentz group to 289 yards of total offense and no touchdowns. The typically powerful UW running game will need to be better next week in an unusual nonconference game with BYU. The Cougars bring a similarly stingy defense to Madison. Next Week: BYU|
|4.||(5)||Nebraska (6-2, 3-1): A really bad week in the Pelini family ended as only it could — with a championship- and job-saving Hail Mary on the final play of the game against Northwestern. Both teams were held without an offensive touchdown in the second half until Ron Kellogg III heaved a final pass from the 49-yard line and Jordan Westerkamp snagged the tipped ball out of the air. The throw keeps the Huskers in Legends Division contention as the Big Red will face both Michigan schools over the next two weeks. Next Week: at Michigan|
|5.||(4)||Michigan (6-2, 2-2): Devin Gardner is going to see Spartans in his nightmares. He had no time to throw and the running game gave him no support as the Wolverines offensive line was obliterated by the Spartans defensive line. The team rushed for the lowest total in school history (minus-48 yards) and were tackled behind the line 18 times (11 TFL, seven sacks). Brady Hoke's team is 2-2 in the league and is three games behind their in-state rival Michigan State. Next Week: Nebraska|
|6.||(6)||Minnesota (7-2, 3-2): Philip Nelson had to be nervous as he watched his team give up four straight touchdowns to Indiana in the fourth quarter. But trailing by four with less than five minutes to go, Nelson delivered with the biggest throw of his career. His 50-yard TD pass won the game, and, after the defense recovered a juggled pitch on the Hoosiers' ensuing possession, Minnesota celebrated its third straight win. Jerry Kill is slowly inching his way back into control of the Gophers team — a welcomed sight for all Big Ten fans — but Tracy Claeys is no 3-0 as the interim head coach in what has quickly become one of the nation's best stories. Next Week: Penn State|
Penn State (5-3, 2-2): Bill Belton nearly coughed up the game for the Nittany Lions, fumbling on the goal line down by three with less than four minutes to go. But his freshman quarterback and superstar wide receiver saved the day. Christian Hackenberg led a game-tying drive in the final minute and threw the game-winning touchdown to Kyle Carter in overtime. Allen Robinson caught 11 passes for 165 yards and made several critical catches in the waning moments. Belton's fumble nearly overshadowed a 200-yard rushing effort and, despite bowl sanctions, this team is one win away from being bowl eligible in each of Bill O'Brien's seasons at the helm. Next Week: at Minnesota
|8.||(8)||Iowa (5-4, 2-3): Trailing by five, quarterback Jake Rudock was knocked out of the game midway through the third quarter, and backup C.J. Beathard wasn't capable of getting anything going the rest of the way. The defense played valiantly against the powerful Wisconsin offensive line but simply couldn't move the ball on offense — and when it could, Iowa didn't finish drives with touchdowns. Kirk Ferentz's group will have to wait another week to get to bowl eligibility — which should happen next weekend. Next Week: at Purdue|
|9.||(9)||Indiana (3-5, 1-3): The Hoosiers had a chance at another critical win but might have watched their postseason chances disappear with a last minute fumble against Minnesota. Give Kevin Wilson and his team credit for battling back from a 35-13 deficit to take a late lead with 28 unanswered points, but IU couldn't finish when it had the chance inside the Gophers 10 yard-line with less than 30 seconds left in the game. The Tevin Coleman fumble likely knocks Indiana out of the postseason at it must win three of its final four: Illinois, at Wisconsin, at Ohio State and Purdue. Next Week: Illinois|
|10.||(10)||Northwestern (4-5, 0-5): Only a team on a four-game losing streak could lose in such heartbreaking fashion. Northwestern kicked a field goal with 1:20 left in the game to take a three-point lead over Nebraska on the road. Pat Fitzgerald needed one more play on defense to secure his first Big Ten win of the year and to stop his 2013 ship from officially sinking. But after watching the Huskers win on a Hail Mary, it's hard not to think that his particular Northwestern team is jinxed. Next Week: Bye|
|11.||(11)||Illinois (3-5, 0-4): Nathan Scheelhaase drove his team down the field on the road in the fourth quarter to take a lead in a Big Ten game in over a year. But the defense couldn't hold up, and, in overtime, Scheelhaase made a critical mistake to give the win to Penn State. His interception in the endzone ended the game and extended the Illini's Big Ten losing streak to 18 games. Next Week: at Indiana|
|12.||(12)||Purdue (1-7, 0-4): Ten first downs, 116 total yards of offense and zero points. That is what the Purdue offense mustered against Ohio State. 30 first downs, 640 yards of total offense and 56 points. That is what the defense allowed to the Buckeyes. This team is on pace to be Purdue's worst since a 1-10 squad in 1993. Next Week: Iowa|
Big Ten Week 10 Awards and Superlatives:
Nelson and the Gophers built a commanding 35-13 lead with less than six minutes to go in the third quarter. However, Indiana stormed back with four unanswered touchdowns to take a narrow lead late in the final frame. But Nelson answered back with a 50-yard scoring strike to Maxx Williams to give Minnesota a thrilling three-point win over Indiana. Nelson finished with 298 yards on 16-of-23 passing and four touchdowns and 11 yards rushing on seven carries.
Defensive Player of Week: Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
Any number of key contributors from Michigan State could be mentioned here. Denicos Allen (nine tackles, three TFL, two sacks) and Ed Davis (four tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks) each had big games for the nation's best defense. Calhoun has become the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year candidate, however, and his performance against Michigan was worthy of a headline. He posted six tackles, three tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and is now leading the Big Ten in sacks this season (6.5). Nebraska's Avery Moss needs to get a mention as well for his performance against Northwestern. He posted four tackles, a tackle for a loss and returned his first career interception for a game-tying touchdown.
Team of Week: Michigan State
The Buckeyes earned a few more style points with a 56-0 win over Purdue on the road but no team was more impressive than Michigan State in Week 10. The nation's best defense held Michigan in check the entire afternoon, allowing just 168 yards of total offense and two field goals. The Spartans are unbeaten in Big Ten play and look like the top challenger to the Buckeyes. Connor Cook is making timely throws, and Jeremy Langford has emerged as a workhorse back. This team is averaging more than 30 points per game in Big Ten play and may be built to compete with Ohio State should it get past Nebraska in two weeks.
Coordinator of Week: Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State
Who else could it be? The No. 1 defense in the nation showed the nation why it might be the only unit in the Big Ten that can stop Ohio State. The Wolverines posted a school-record low of minus-48 yards rushing as Narduzzi dialed up pressure all night long. Michigan State finished with seven sacks, 12 first downs allowed 168 total yards of offense. The 23-point win was the most lopsided victory since 1967 between the two in-state rivals.
Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
The Penn State freshman has quickly proven he can handle himself in late-game pressure situations. For the second time in his young career, he drove his team down the field to tie the game in the final minute. And for the second time, he led his team to an overtime victory over a Big Ten foe. Hackenberg finished with 240 yards passing on 20-of-32 passing and two total touchdowns (one pass, one rush). He didn't turn the ball over and moved the Lions to even in the Big Ten this year. Hack still leads the Big Ten in passing (253 ypg).
Bonus: Play of the Year: Ron Kellogg III and Jordan Westerkamp, Nebraska
With no time remaining and his job potentially on the line at home against Northwestern, Bo Pelini watched one of the most memorable plays in Nebraska history unfold before yet another sellout crowd at Memorial Stadium. Kellogg heaved the ball 49 yards where Westerkamp snatched the tipped pass out of the air for the game-winning touchdown. It was Westerkamp's first career TD and it kept the Huskers Big Ten title hopes alive. Kellogg-to-Westerkamp now belongs next to Kirk Cousins, Kordell Stewart, Doug Flutie, Drew Tate and Marcus Randall in Big Ten lore.
• Michigan State is giving up a nation-best 210.2 yards per game. Only 2011 Alabama has posted a better mark (183.6) since 2000. The Spartans are also just one of four teams in the last 30 years to allow less than 50 yards rushing per game (Arizona, 1993; Michigan, 2006; TCU, 2008).
• Minnesota's David Cobb is the first Gopher back to top 100 yards in three straight game since Amir Pinnix in 2006. He has 60 carries and 326 yards combined in wins over Nebraska and Indiana.
• Minnesota became just the third team since 1980 to win three straight games as at least a touchdown underdog. The Gophers were double-digit underdogs in each of the last three games.
• Bill Belton rushed for 201 yards in Penn State's win over Illinois. It was the first 200-yard effort by a Nittany Lion since Larry Johnson in 2002. He nearly cost his team the game with a fourth-quarter fumble but was outstanding on his other 35 carries.
• Without Chris Borland, Wisconsin turned to Marcus Trotter to fill the void at linebacker on the road against Iowa. Trotter had nine tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss while holding Iowa to three field goals.
• Iowa entered play on Saturday leading the nation in rushing touchdowns allowed with two. They gave up two in a game for the second time in three weeks to Wisconsin.
• Michigan State's first offensive play from scrimmage was a busted throw back to the fullback. Trevon Pendleton rumbled 49 yards for the Spartans longest play of the season.