Athlon recaps another huge weekend of action in the Big Ten.
Bo Pelini and Nebraska might have turned a corner this weekend. After beating Michigan at home, the Cornhuskers went into East Lansing and snatched a victory from Michigan State to keep control of their Big Ten title hopes. With Michigan nipping at their heels, the Huskers' margin for error is slim, but Taylor Martinez overcame some miscues to lead his team down the field and potentially into the Big Ten championship game.
And what did I tell you about the Indiana Hoosiers? A win over Wisconsin next weekend at home could send Kevin Wilson to the title game as well.
Post-Week 10 Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State - Miller completed 12 of his 20 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns to go with 73 rushing yards on 18 attempts and his 13th rushing touchdown of the season in the easy win over Illinois.
2. Matt McGloin, QB, Penn State - McGloin is playing the best football of his career after throwing for his fifth career 300-yard game (316, 2 TD) in the dominating road win over Purdue. His team's only Big Ten loss was to Miller and the Buckeyes.
3. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska - He made some big mistakes (three interceptions) but also has moments of electricity that can be jaw-dropping. He rushed for 205 yards, threw for 160 yards and scored four times, including the game winner, in the huge road win over Michigan State.
Post-Week 10 Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Mike Mauti, LB, Penn State - He posted five total tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss in the dominating road performance against Purdue — who was held to three points until the final play of the game.
2. Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin - Taylor was off this weekend
3. John Simon, DL, Ohio State - Simon registered one tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack and one pass deflected in the easy win over Illinois.
Post-Week 10 Coach of the Year Standings
1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State - Meyer is now two wins away from his first undefeated season as a BCS head coach. He was unbeaten with Utah in the Mountain West and never went unblemished at Florida. With a sophomore QB and bowl ban, the job he has done in Columbus has been remarkable.
2. Bill O'Brien, Penn State - A sign of a well-coached team is learning from adversity. Penn State faced that last week in the bad home loss to Ohio State, but Coach BoB had his team ready to rebound this weekend against Purdue.
3. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern - His Wildcats were off this weekend and will face two road trips to Michigan over the next two weeks, giving Coach Fitz a chance to contend with O'Brien and Meyer for this award. That is, if Kevin Wilson doesn't win the Leaders Division.
Post-Week 10 Power Rankings
1. Ohio State (10-0, 6-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 10 result: Beat Illinois 52-22
Ohio State had 306 yards of offense, 16 first downs and 31 points at halftime against the overmatched Illini. Braxton Miller continues to make his case for a Heisman Trophy as he totaled 299 (226 passing, 73 rushing) yards of offense and three more touchdowns in the easy 30-point win — a win that gives Ohio State the only 10-0 record in the nation. Carlos Hyde also starred in the Ohio State backfield, rushing for 137 yards and three touchdowns on 18 attempts. A much-needed bye week, obviously OSU's first of the season, sets up Urban Meyer's run at a perfect record. The Buckeyes will face a tough two-game finale to the season: at Wisconsin and that team from up North at home on Nov. 24 so the bye comes at just the right time.
This week: Bye Week
2. Nebraska (7-2, 4-1)
Previous rank: 2
Week 10 result: Beat Michigan State 28-24
Taylor Martinez threw three interceptions, including one in the red zone in the fourth quarter. Yet, the dynamic play maker rallied his team with his legs (205 yards rushing, 2 TD) and his arm (160 yards, 2 TD) as he connected with Jamal Turner with six seconds left to win a huge road test in the Legends Division. Even without Rex Burkhead, Nebraska's top-rated rushing attack rolled up an impressive 313 yards against the league's stingiest run defense. Martinez was brilliant on the final drive of the game, converting on fourth and long and throwing the game winner. The weight of this road win as the frontrunner in the division cannot be overstated. This was a season-defining signature win for the junior quarterback.
This week: Penn State (6-3)
3. Michigan (6-3, 4-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 10 result: Beat Minnesota 35-13
Brady Hoke kept his Big Ten title hopes alive with a road win and The Little Brown Jug will remain in Ann Arbor. And he did all of that without Denard Robinson. Converted wide receiver Devin Gardner, a former four-star quarterback prospect, moved back under center this weekend and he delivered an efficient performance in the Twin Cities. He completed 12-of-18 passes and ran the ball 10 times, accounting for three total touchdowns and 251 total yards of offense. Despite constantly dealing with nagging injuries, Robinson had never missed a game in his Michigan career until this weekend. His "undisclosed injury" is presumed ulnar nerve issue he has dealt with multiple times in his career. He should be back next weekend against Northwestern.
This week: Northwestern (7-2)
4. Penn State (6-3, 4-1)
Previous rank: 4
Week 10 result: Beat Purdue 34-9
After arguably the worst showing of the season, Penn State put together one of its most complete efforts on the road against Purdue. Quarterback Matt McGloin was excellent, throwing for 316 yards and 2 TDs. It was his second consecutive 300-yard passing game (5 career) and his third in the last five games. He has topped the 280-yard mark in four straight games after topping that benchmark only three times in his entire career prior. The Nits showed excellent balance on offense as well, rushing for 191 yards on 39 attempts. The defense pitched a shutout over the final 58 minutes (until Purdue scored on the game's final play) in what was a tune-up for what should be an exciting road trip to Lincoln to face the league's best offense next weekend.
This week: at Nebraska (7-2)
5. Wisconsin (6-3, 3-2)
Previous rank: 5
Week 10 result: Off
Fans in Madison better hope the bye week has helped new-old quarterback Danny O'Brien. This offense has been totally one-dimensional and uninspiring whenever Joel Stave is on the sideline. And Stave is now gone for the year with a broken collarbone. The Leaders Division champion is likely to come from the winner of the Wisconsin-Indiana game next Saturday.
This week: at Indiana (4-5)
6. Northwestern (7-2, 3-2)
Previous rank: 6
Week 10 result: Off
The Wildcats were off this weekend and now face back-to-back road trips into the state of Michigan.
This week: at Michigan (6-3)
7. Michigan State (5-5, 2-4)
Previous rank: 7
Week 10 result: Lost to Nebraska 28-24
Mark Dantonio has had a rough season in East Lansing. Heart-stopping endings have been a regular part of the Sparty diet this season and the loss to Nebraska in the final seconds will go down as the toughest to swallow. A long fourth-down conversion and questionable pass interference call set up the game-winning touchdown for the Huskers and left Dantonio scratching his head. Le'Veon Bell had a solid game, rushing for 188 yards and two scores on 36 carries, but the struggles once again on offense stem from quarterback play. Andrew Maxwell completed just nine of his 27 attempts. His play has been the overriding problem for the Spartans all season, however, the Big Ten's No. 1-rated rushing defense needs to take its share of blame this weekend. They allowed 313 yards to the Huskers — more than 220 yards above its season average. The bye week will be a long two weeks in East Lansing.
This week: Bye week
8. Indiana (4-5, 2-3)
Previous rank: 11
Week 10 result: Beat Iowa 24-21
The Indiana Hoosiers are now in complete control of their destiny in the Big Ten Leaders Division with three to play. Quarterbacks Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld completed 31-of-48 passes with Cameron providing most of the production through the air. The sophomore threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns and led three huge drives in the final period. Coffman threw the game winner with just over 12 minutes to play and then chewed up the clock with two long, eight-play drives — one that went for 58 yards and the other that used up 4:25 of the final 4:43 left on the clock. Wisconsin comes to town next weekend well rested after the bye week, however, starting quarterback Joel Stave won't be playing due to a broken collarbone. With Purdue still on the schedule and Wisconsin having to face Ohio State and Penn State still, there is a legitimate chance Indiana will play in the Big Ten Championship Game.
This week: Wisconsin (6-3)
9. Iowa (4-5, 2-3)
Previous rank: 8
Week 10 result: Lost to Indiana 24-21
Iowa couldn't get its defense off of the field in the fourth quarter and it cost the Hawkeyes the win. After taking the lead early in the final frame, Indiana possessed the ball and converted on third downs — something Iowa couldn't do all game (5-of-14). Indiana easily out-gained the Hawks 473 to 347, giving Kirk Ferentz his third straight loss. The good news for the people of Iowa City is Purdue visits Kinnick Stadium next weekend. The bad news is Iowa will have to beat either Michigan on the road or Nebraska at home to get to bowl eligibility. Both seem like tall orders for this team.
This week: Purdue (3-6)
10. Minnesota (5-4, 1-4)
Previous rank: 9
Week 10 result: Lost to Michigan 35-13
Golden Gophers fans will need to wait one more week to get bowl eligible after losing at home to a Denard Robinson-less Michigan squad. Minnesota heads to Illinois next weekend in what is likely its final shot to get to the postseason as Jerry Kill's team will face Nebraska on the road and Michigan State at home to finish the year. Philip Nelson failed to accomplish much of anything on offense after the game's first touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. The offense finished with just 275 total yards and was outscored 35-6 after the scoring strike. The Gophers lost The Little Brown Jug for the 15th consecutive time at home and the 21st time in the last 22 meetings against the Maize and Blue overall.
This week: at Illinois (2-7)
11. Purdue (3-6, 0-5)
Previous rank: 10
Week 10 result: Lost to Penn State 34-9
The Boilermakers kicked a field goal with two minutes into the first quarter to take a 3-0 lead on Penn State. Danny Hope's team then watched the Nittany Lions rattle off 34 unanswered points to give Purdue a fifth straight loss. Neither quarterback was very effective on offense and the defense allowed at least 29 points for the sixth straight game. A road trip to Iowa will likely keep the losing streak alive, however, an upset win over the Hawkeyes keeps the bowl hopes alive in West Lafayette as Purdue finishes the year at Illinois and hosting Indiana.
This week: at Iowa (4-5)
12. Illinois (2-7, 0-5)
Previous rank: 12
Week 10 result: Lost to Ohio State 52-22
Urban Meyer may think Tim Beckman will have a great career at Illinois, but his first season atop the Illini program will be one to forget. His team was abused by the Buckeyes, allowing 570 yards rushing and 32 first downs to Braxton Miller and company. It was the fifth straight game in which the not-so-Orange Crush defense allowed at least 31 points and was the fourth time this year the opposition scored at least 45 points. On offense, Nathan Scheelhaase threw for only 96 yards on 34 pass attempts as the Illini totaled just 170 yards of offense.
This week: Minnesota (5-4)
by Braden Gall
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