Fans in the Big Ten need to start getting used to — and excited about — the idea of a Michigan State and Ohio State showdown in the Big Ten title game. Both teams stayed unbeaten in conference play with key road victories over division foes. The nation's best defense against a team that hasn't lost a game in two years coached by a two-time BCS national champion?
Here are the Big Ten's Week 12 Superlatives:
Offensive Player of the Week: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
Ohio State scored 60 points but the road win against Illinois was tougher than expected. Hyde was the star of the day for the Buckeyes. He rushed 24 times for 246 yards and four touchdowns, including two fourth-quarter scoring runs of more than 50 yards (51, 55). He also caught two passes for 26 yards and a fifth touchdown through the air. Braxton Miller had a huge day as well (150 passing yards, 2 TD, 184 rushing yards, TD), but Hyde was once again the workhorse of the offense. His 246 yards tied Archie Griffin for the third-highest rushing total in school history (Eddie George, 314; Keith Byars, 274).
Defensive Player of the Week: Kurtis Drummond, S, Michigan State
The Spartans remain on a path headed for Indianapolis with another excellent defensive performance on the road by forcing five turnovers against Nebraska. Drummond was responsible for two of them with an interception and forced fumble in a key Legends Division game. The junior defensive back and team's leading tackler collected 10 total tackles. With a win in either of its last two games or a Minnesota loss in either of its games (they face each other in the season finale), the Spartans will clinch the division.
Team of the Week: Michigan State
The Spartans haven't officially clinched the Legends Division title — they need one more win in either of their last two games (or a Minnesota loss) — but the 41-28 win in Lincoln all but sealed a trip to Indianapolis for Mark Dantonio's bunch. The defense forced five turnovers, Connor Cook provided timely passing for the offense (193 yards, TD, 0 INT) and tailback Jeremy Langford went over 100 yards for the fifth straight time (32 carries, 151 yards, 3 TD). It was a thorough, across the board win for the Spartans and it keeps Michigan State on track to meet Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game — what would be Dantonio's second division title in three seasons.
Coordinator of the Week: Dave Aranda, Wisconsin
The Indiana Hoosiers came into Madison knowing it had to win to make a bowl game. And with an offense averaging 527.1 yards and 43.1 points per game — both second to only Ohio State in the Big Ten — Kevin Wilson thought he had a chance. Aranda's unit made sure that wasn't the case. The Badgers defense held Indiana to just a season-low 224 yards and season-low three points. Indiana had scored no fewer than 13 points in any half all season but were shutout in the first half and kicked just the lone field goal in the second. Wisconsin now boasts the sixth-rated total defense (287.8 ypg) and fifth-rated scoring defense (14.0 ppg) in the nation.
Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
The true freshman got his team to six wins for the second straight season under Bill O'Brien. Hackenberg completed 16-of-23 passes for 212 yards with two total touchdowns in the 45-21 win over Purdue at home. After the Boilermakers closed the gap to seven points to start the second half, the star quarterback led three scoring drives in four possessions to put the game out of reach for the Nittany Lions. That is two non-losing seasons for a team under heavy NCAA sanctions.
Big Ten Post-Week 12 Power Rankings:
W, Illinois, 60-35
W, Nebraska, 41-28
W, Indiana, 51-3
L, Michigan St, 41-28
at Penn St
W, Northwestern, 27-19 (OT)
W, Purdue, 45-21
L, Wisconsin, 51-3
at Ohio St
L, Michigan, 27-19 (OT)
L, Ohio St, 60-35
L, Penn St, 45-21