The Big Ten played a lot of dramatic and exciting games in 2014.
Unfortunately, when it came to non-conference contests, the league didn’t win too many of them. However, an entire year of disappointment can all be washed away by two great showings by Ohio State in the College Football Playoff.
But, in the meantime, here are the best and most exciting Big Ten games of the 2014 season:
1. (14) Ohio St 49, (8) Michigan St 37
Nov. 8, East Lansing
There wasn’t a Hail Mary or last-second field goal, but this was easily the most important Big Ten game of the year. Ohio State went on the road and matched the Spartans punch for punch. In the end, J.T. Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott were too much for the defending champs. The win set up the Buckeyes for a run at the College Football Playoff.
2. (13) Ohio St 31, Penn St 24 (2OT)
Oct. 25, State College
Barrett played one of the worst games of his season while Penn State played arguably its best as a team, coming from 17 points back to force overtime. Yet, after two overtimes and four turnovers, Penn State’s offensive line woes eventually cost the Lions the game. Joey Bosa capped a remarkable evening with a game-ending sack on fourth down in double overtime.
3. (25) Minnesota 28, (23) Nebraska 24
Nov. 22, Lincoln
With just minutes left in the game and trailing, it appeared that Nebraska had made the game-winning play. But Jerry Kill’s Gophers, without running back David Cobb no less, once again made an unexpected play. Briean Boddy-Calhoun capped an epic road comeback for Minnesota when he ripped the ball away from Nebraska on his own goal line with 1:19 left in the game. It was Minnesota’s first win in Nebraska since 1960.
4. Nebraska 37, Iowa 34 (OT)
Nov. 28, Iowa City
The Huskers had lost two straight and were trailing 24-7 late in the third quarter when Tommy Armstrong led one of the most improbable comebacks in school history. Armstrong led three touchdown drives over the final 20 minutes, capped off by the game-tying drive that ended with eight seconds left in the game and then threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Kenny Bell in overtime — his fourth of the game.
5. Indiana 31, (18) Missouri 27
Sept. 20, Columbia
The biggest non-conference win and biggest upset of the year — regardless of conference — came from Kevin Wilson’s bunch in Columbia, Mo. Tevin Coleman rushed for 132 yards, Nate Sudfeld was excellent and D’Angelo Roberts scored the game-winning touchdown with just 22 seconds left. The SEC East champs lost just twice in the regular season.
6. (3) Oregon 46, (7) Michigan St 27
Sept. 6, Eugene
Few gave the Spartans a chance to go to Autzen Stadium and win. But through three quarters, everyone in Eugene had respect for Michigan State. The Spartans gave the Ducks all they could take until a late tipped interception landed in the hands of All-American corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. The Ducks surged over the final few minutes, making the game look more lopsided than it actually was.
7. (14) Wisconsin 34, (18) Minnesota 24
Nov. 29, Madison
It’s the most played rivalry in college football and never before was as much on the line when these two got together to end the season. The Gophers jumped out to a 17-3 second-quarter lead before the Badgers rattled off 24 unanswered points and eventually held on for the win and the Big Ten West crown. Melvin Gordon also broke Ron Dayne’s single-season B1G rushing record in the process.
8. (13) LSU 28, (14) Wisconsin 24
Aug. 30, Houston
The Badgers jumped out to a huge lead behind a monster first half from Melvin Gordon. But after trailing 24-7 midway through the third quarter, LSU flipped a switch on defense and stuffed UW the rest of the way. Meanwhile, the Tigers' offense made just enough plays to eke out a four-point win on a neutral field.
9. Rutgers 41, Maryland 38
Nov. 29, College Park
Down 35-10 as the first half was ending, Gary Nova began what would turn out to be the biggest comeback in Rutgers history. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, Nova was leading Rutgers on a game-tying drive. With 6:14 left, the Knights kicked the eventual game-winning field goal, outscoring the Terps 31-3 over the final 32 minutes of play. Ralph Friedgen triumphantly returned to his old stomping grounds in dramatic fashion.
10. West Virginia 40, Maryland 37
Sept. 13, College Park
It wasn’t the prettiest football, but it sure was entertaining. Clint Trickett (511 yds) and C.J. Brown (402 yds of total offense) battled for 60 minutes until West Virginia kicked a 47-yard field goal as time expired to defeat the Terps. These two teams scored in every imaginable way but the Mountaineers were able to overcome four turnovers to win on the road.
The Best of the Rest:
11. (8) Ohio St 31, (25) Minnesota 24
12. Virginia Tech 35, (8) Ohio St 21
13. Rutgers 41, Washington St 38
14. (10) Michigan St 27, (19) Nebraska 22
15. (6) Ohio St 42, Michigan 28
16. Bowling Green 45, Indiana 42
17. Maryland 23, Michigan 16
18. Penn St 26, UCF 24
19. (24) Nebraska 41, Miami 31
20. (20) Wisconsin 59, (16) Nebraska 24
21. Maryland 20, Penn St 19
22. Northwestern 20, (17) Wisconsin 14
23. (16) Wisconsin 26, Iowa 24
24. Minnesota 39, Purdue 38
25. Illinois 28, Minnesota 24