The Big Ten regular season is in the books. Two teams went undefeated in the league, and those two teams will square off in the 2013 Big Ten Championship Game. Michigan State topped Minnesota with a suffocating defense to finish unbeaten in the league for the first time since 1966. Ohio State rode the star backfield tandem of Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde to defeat Michigan on the road in dramatic and historic fashion. But that wasn't the only excitment in the Big Ten — Penn State's seniors went out as winners, Northwestern finally got a win, Indiana officially improved two years in a row and Bo Pelini had a press conference for the ages.
Here are the Big Ten's Week 14 Superlatives:
Offensive Player of the Week: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Running back Carlos Hyde gets honorable mention for his rivalry-high 226 yards and game-winning touchdown on the ground. But he also nearly gave the game away with a costly fumble while Braxton Miller accounted for five total touchdowns and 286 total yards. Miller rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns, consistently moving his team up and down the field against a solid Michigan rushing defense. Miller's third game with at least 144 yards rushing in a row and his ability to make big plays with both his legs and arm, make him the most dangerous weapon in the league and a potential late-season Heisman contender. If he does something special against Michigan State to push the Buckeyes the national title game on a 25-game winning streak, he would belong in New York despite missing two games and most of a third early in the season.
Defensive Player of the Week: James Morris, LB, Iowa
Ohio State's Ryan Shazier continued his campaign for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors with 14 tackles, 1.5 for loss and half of a sack against Michigan. But his unit gave up 603 yards and 41 points to the 96th-rated offense in the nation. Iowa's linebackers have been excellent all season and in a huge road win over Nebraska, Morris posted one of the best stat lines of the year. He had 10 tackles, his fourth interception of the year, four tackles for loss, one sack and a forced fumble. Cornhuskers workhorse back Ameer Abdullah didn't get to 100 yards for the first time in nine games.
Team of the Week: Ohio State
It took a goal line stop on a two-point conversion with 30 seconds left in a one-point game, but Ohio State beat "That Team Up North" in wild and dramatic fashion. In one of the most exciting games ever played between the Midwestern rivals, Ohio State's dynamic duo on offense outlasted a gusty performance from Devin Gardner and the Michigan offense. The two heavyweights traded blows all game, but Urban Meyer got clutch drives when he needed them from his offense and a huge stop on a the winner-take-all two-point gamble by Brady Hoke. Meyer has won 24 straight games to start his Buckeyes career, tying him with Larry Coker for fourth all-time in NCAA history (Pop Warner, 30; Fielding Yost, 29; Walter Camp, 28). Michigan State and the nation's top defense awaits in Indianapolis with a trip to the Rose Bowl — and maybe more for OSU — on the line for both teams.
Coordinator of the Week: Bill O'Brien, Penn State
Yes, he is the head coach but he is also the offensive coordinator. And what his offense accomplished this weekend in Madison should not be undersold. Penn State scored 31 points and rolled up 467 yards against a Badgers defense that had been allowing 13.8 points and 278.5 yards per game, both were ranked in the top six nationally. Wisconsin had allowed only 19 total points at home in Big Ten play before losing this weekend and PSU was one yard shy of creating the Badgers worst defensive performance of the season (468, Arizona State). For a team that has struggled on the road this year, the Nittany Lions put together their best game of the year in Camp Randall.
Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
Penn State's true freshman phenom played the best game of his young career in the season finale on the road against a ranked Wisconsin team. Hackenberg was brilliant in Madison, completing 21-of-30 passes for 339 yards and a career-high four touchdown passes against a defense that was giving up less than 14 points per game in 2013. He finished the season with 2,955 yards, 24 total touchdowns and, most important, a second straight winning record for Bill O'Brien and Penn State. Hackenberg is as big time a quarterback prospect as the Big Ten has seen in decades, and his legend should only grow during the offeason due to this performance.
Big Ten Post-Week 14 Power Rankings
W, Michigan, 42-41
W, Minnesota, 14-3
L, Penn St, 31-24
W, Nebraska, 38-17
L, Michigan St, 14-3
L, Iowa, 38-17
W, Wisconsin, 31-24
L, Ohio St, 42-41
W, Purdue, 56-36
W, Illinois, 37-34
L, Northwestern, 37-34
L, Indiana, 56-36