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Minnesota was the big winner in the Big Ten this weekend
It wasn't supposed to be a big weekend of action in the Big Ten. No team was favored by single digits and only Wisconsin was a road favorite. That, however, didn't stop the league from generating plenty of excitement.
Iowa put quite a scare into the Buckeyes on the road. Michigan and Indiana set all types of records. Wisconsin cruised in a traditionally difficult rivalry game. And Minnesota won a game in Evanston that changed the complexion of the Legends Division race.
Here are the Big Ten's Week 8 Superlatives:
Offensive Players of the Week: Devin Gardner and Jeremy Gallon, Michigan
Gardner set Michigan records with 584 yards of total offense, 503 yards passing and five total touchdowns in the win over Indiana. Jeremy Gallon set a Big Ten record with 369 yards receiving on 14 catches, two of which went for touchdowns. His 369 yards are No. 2 in FBS history behind Louisiana Tech's Troy Edwards 405 yards in 1998. Michigan rolled up a school-record 751 yards of offense and scored nine touchdowns. Gardner came up two yards shy of a Big Ten record for total offense (Illinois' David Wilson, 585, 1980).
Defensive Players of the Week: Max Bullough and Denicos Allen, Michigan State
The other school in Michigan wins games in a completely different style and fashion than the Wolverines. The Spartans linebackers played well all afternoon and combined on one huge play to give the Spartans the lead for good early in the tigher-than-expected win over Purdue. Bullough finished with 10 tackles, two for a loss and a forced a fumble on a sack that was scooped up by Allen and returned 45 yards for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. Allen finished with eight tackles and the Spartans fifth defensive touchdown on the season.
Team of the Week: Minnesota
Without their head coach, the Gophers were a near two-touchdown underdog on the road against Northwestern. But with Jerry Kill watching from a private suite at Ryan Field, Minnesota proceeded to knock off the division rival Wildcats with an excellent defensive performance. The Gophers controlled time of possession, won the turnover battle (3-0), registered three sacks and held on for the three-point win. The victory was Minnesota's first conference win of the season and puts the Gophers one win away from getting bowl eligible.
Coordinator of the Week: Tracy Claeys, Minnesota
The defensive coordinator-turned-interim head coach deserves a ton of credit for what the Gophers accomplished on Saturday. Minnesota allowed just 328 yards of offense to Northwestern and forced three huge turnovers, including an interception that was returned for a touchdown late in the third quarter that gave the Gophers the lead for good. Everyone is rooting for head coach Jerry Kill to get healthy and a win like this on the road over a good Wildcats team is something this fan base dearly needed.
Freshman of the Week: T.J. Simmons, Indiana
The freshman linebacker from Lakeland (Fla.) posted his fifth game of his career with at least seven tackles by making eight stops, two for a loss, a sack and a QB hurry against Michigan. Simmons is tied for 13th in the Big Ten in tackles and is leading all Big Ten freshman (49 total tackles, seven per game).
• Ohio State pushed the nation's longest winning streak to 19 games with the win over Iowa.
• Brady Hoke has yet to lose a home game as the head coach at Michigan, winning his 19th straight in the Big House this weekend. It was also Michigan's 18th straight victory over Indiana.
• Northwestern's Lou Groza candidate Jeff Budzien set a Big Ten record with his 127th consecutive converted extra point.
• Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon rushed for 142 yards and three touchdowns in the road win over Illinois. Gordon is third nationally with 144.6 yards rushing per game, second with 1,012 yards rushing and trails only Arizona State's Marion Grice and Boise State's Jay Ajayi for the nation's lead in rushing TDs (12).
• The Badgers rushed for 289 yards on 46 carries against the Illini. It was the fifth time UW topped 280 yards rushing this year and the fifth time it rushed for more than 6.0 yards per carry in a game (6.3). As a team, it leads the Big Ten with 24 rushing touchdowns.
• Dueces were wild for Ohio State's Braxton Miller. He completed 22 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. He also carried 18 times for 102 yards on the ground. He had just five incomplete passes and didn't turn the ball over.
• Carlos Hyde chipped in with 149 yards and two rushing touchdowns for Ohio State on 24 carries in the win over Iowa.
• Iowa entered the weekend as the only team in the nation to have yet to allow a rushing TD. It gave up two to Ohio State in second half.