The Big Ten’s wild Saturday came up with some big moments and some huge wins – with three teams becoming bowl eligible. What does it all mean for Penn State, Wisconsin, Maryland, Indiana and Northwestern?
What Does It All Mean for Penn State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Northwestern and Maryland?
Wisconsin 31, Minnesota 17
At the very least, the Badgers are going to the Rose Bowl with a win over Penn State in the Big Ten Championship. If they lose, they’re likely going to the Cotton. Blow out Penn State, and then this gets really, really interesting for a College Football Playoff slot depending on whether or not some big upsets kick in or if the committee loves the idea of putting in the Big Ten champ.
Against Minnesota, it was a sluggish performance, getting down 17-7, but the defense woke up in the second half with four picks of Mitch Leidner and a 21-point fourth quarter to put the game away. It was a 13th straight win over the Gophers, but they were tested.
Penn State 45, Michigan State 12
Michigan State was terrific early on, but it closed out drives with field goals instead of touchdowns, and it left the door open for the Nittany Lions. The Spartans could’ve and should’ve put up 28 points if everything worked right, but that wasn’t the 2016 season for them.
Trace McSorley was brilliant in the second half – finishing completing 17-of-23 passes for 376 yards and four scores as the passing game blew up. Now the Nittany Lions need to match up a big first half with what they do in the second half, and all will be fine.
Can they get into the College Football Playoff? If they blow out Wisconsin, it’ll be tough to keep them out. They’re going to be red hot, they’ll have won the Big Ten Championship, and they’ll have beaten Ohio State.
Indiana 26, Purdue 24
Devine Redding ran Indiana to a bowl game. It was close, and Purdue stuck around in the rivalry game to make it interesting, but the Hoosiers overcame four turnovers – three picks from Richard Lagow – with just enough defense and a few takeaways to go to the post-season for the second straight year. The run D held Purdue to just 42 yards, Redding carried the painful IU offense with 99 yards and a score, and it’s off to a bowl game. The Hoosiers are most likely off to the Foster Farms Bowl in San Francisco or the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit.
Northwestern 42, Illinois 21
Illinois kept pushing, but Northwestern took over with the running game. It’s been Clayton Thorson and the passing attack rolling for the second half of the season, but Justin Jackson came up with 173 yards and three scores on 21 carries, John Moten ran 14 times for 128 yards and two scores, and the Wildcats overcame the scare to get bowl eligible. The Cats are likely to go to the Pinstripe Bowl in New York.
Maryland 31, Rutgers 13
Rutgers fought to make it a game but the Terps were able to pull away with the running game to become bowl eligible. It’s been a miserable second half of the season, and the offense hasn’t quite rolled – the passing game has been non-existent – but Ty Johnson took off for 168 yards on 11 carries and Kenneth Goins ran for 81 yards and a score on just ten carries. The Terps ripped off big run after big run, and now they’re either off to the Pinstripe Bowl in New York or the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit.