Saturday was an exciting day in the B1G. We had a few rivalry games, a couple teams fighting to get bowl eligible, and two teams on probation trying to make statements.
Nebraska 13, Iowa 7: It was a game that set offensive football back for decades, but it was a cold and windy day in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes forced 2 turnovers on the Nebraska side of the field, seemingly ran more plays in Nebraska territory than their own, and could manage 7 points all day. Greg Davis has done more to destroy the Hawkeye offense than any defense they've faced this year, and if he comes back, there might be a revolt among the Iowa faithful. For Nebraska, they punched their ticket to Indianapolis, earning a rematch with Wisconsin, who they beat earlier in the year in Lincoln. After the Huskers got stomped in Columbus, they pretty much had to win out to get to where they are, and they did. Well done, and congratulations.
Northwestern 50, Illinois 14: If you could pick a replacement team to go to Indy over Wisconsin, Northwestern might be it. They've looked really good in going 9-3, and there is no shame in losing to Penn State, Nebraska, and Michigan. The Wildcats are going to a pretty decent bowl, and let's hope they finally break their streak. Illinois, however, is a mess. Tim Beckman seems in over his head, and you wonder if he's going to be back. Illinois cannot have nice things.
Ohio State 26, Michigan 21: Banned from
ATO post season play, OSU did the next best thing--they went 12-0 and beat Michigan. Urban Meyer has set the bar incredibly high for next season, and will be on everyone's short list as a possible BCS title contending team. With Braxton Miller coming back and loaded recruiting classes on the way, OSU has a chance to get back to the top of the BCS next year. For Michigan, this has got to be considered a disappointing year. From 11-2 and a BCS win to 8-4 to losing to two of your three rivals, the Wolverines regressed in Brady Hoke's second year. But he's got some great recruiting classes coming in, and I think this will be an outlier of a season for Hoke when it's all said and done.
Purdue 56, Indiana 35: Kevin Wilson has Indiana pointed in the right direction. 4-8 and a big loss to their main rival may not seem like it, but Indiana was a much better team in 2012. But for a three game stretch where they lost by 4, 3, and 1 point, Indiana would be bowling. You wonder if Tre Roberson hadn't gotten hurt what would've been for the Hoosiers. For Purdue, three wins to get to 6-6 and a bowl is an impressive end to a disappointing season, and one where you wonder if Danny Hope will be back. Bigger and better things were expected of Purdue, but they seemed stuck in neutral, and maybe even moving backwards a bit.
Michigan State 26, Minnesota 10: MSU set out with only one goal in mind, a B1G title and a BCS game. To say they fell short of that goal is an understatement, barely getting bowl eligible in a lackluster win against the Gophers. It will be interesting to see where MSU goes from here--is this just a plateau on the way up for Sparty, or did they peak and are they on the way down? For Minnesota, getting to 6 wins and a bowl is a major turnaround, and quite an accomplishment for Jerry Kill and company. But Kill suffered another seizure yesterday and could not coach the second half. They aren't life threatening, but at some point do they become a distraction for the Gophers?
Penn State 24, Wisconsin 21: To say Bill O'Brien did a good job is one of the biggest understatements of the year. Getting Penn State to 8-4 after the whole off-season and an 0-2 start was one of the more remarkable coaching jobs in the conference. But this was the easy part. As the scholarship reductions take hold and this senior class leaves, O'Brien's coaching expertise will really get put into play. For Wisconsin, this has been a humbling year. 7-5 and a trip to Indy as a third place division team isn't where anyone thought they would be when the year began. Still, a win in the championship game and then the Rose Bowl would paint a really different light on the season. I just don't see either happening, though.
For our new members, Rutgers lost 27-6 to Pitt...PITT...yet are still going to a BCS bowl (if they can beat Louisville Thursday night). Congratulations to the Scarlet Knights. Maryland lost 45-38 to North Carolina, and if certain rumors are to be believed, that might be a B1G conference game in the next three to five years. That's as weird as Maryland's uniforms. That will drop the Terrapins to 4-8 on the year with no post season.