KEEP YOUR FRENEMIES CLOSER: BIG TEN WEEK 12

By Adam Jacobi on November 20, 2017 at 8:05 am
Penn State with the big win

© York Daily Record-USA TODAY Sports

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Ohio State locks up the East half of the Big Ten, and Wisconsin stays undefeated.

NO. 9 OHIO STATE 52, ILLINOIS 14

Ohio State clinched the Big Ten East with this victory (and, spoiler alert, Michigan's loss), and it effectively did so in a matter of minutes. The Buckeyes scored on their first six possessions, all before Illinois even managed a first down. OSU still needs to put away Michigan to keep its playoff hopes alive, but obviously beating Michigan is its own rich, rich reward in Columbus. 

Illinois Week 13: vs. No. 23 Northwestern
Ohio State Week 13: at Michigan

INDIANA 41, RUTGERS 0

Indiana kept its bowl hopes alive with this victory, and we're just not going to put more effort into this recap than Rutgers put into the game so that's all.

Indiana Week 13: at Purdue
Rutgers Week 13: vs. No. 21 Michigan State

NO. 17 MICHIGAN STATE 17, MARYLAND 7

How miserable was the weather in this game? The winning team went 2-for-14 through the air for 20 yards. Michigan State took a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter and never had to look back, thanks to a defense that gave up only 204 yards on the day. MSU's now one win away (over a suddenly listless Rutgers) from wrapping up second place in the East, and a 5-1 division record. That's one hell of a resurgence for Little Brother, and a cold slap in the face to Jim Harbaugh and company in Ann Arbor. 

Maryland Week 13: vs. No. 12 Penn State
Michigan State Week 13: at Rutgers

NO. 5 WISCONSIN 24, NO. 24 MICHIGAN 10

Speaking of cold slaps in the face for Jim Harbaugh, Wisconsin continued its march of dominance by dispatching Michigan at Camp Randall. To be fair, the game was competitive — Wisconsin didn't take the lead for good until the last few minutes of the third quarter — but the end was nigh as soon as Wisconsin DE Andrew Van Ginkel knocked out Michigan QB Brandon Peters with a suuuuper-questionable plant into the turf. 

One more thing about Wisconsin: many people, from Marc Morehouse on down, criticize Kirk Ferentz for unimaginitive play-calling, and rightly so. That said, Wisconsin football's motto might as well be "WE THROW ROCK" ever since Barry Alvarez set foot on campus, and it's as successful as ever, a quarter-century later. Honestly, the tactics in college football are secondary to the execution, and Wisconsin has embraced power running (from the offensive line to the skill personnel) and its permutations to an extent that nobody in the Big Ten, especially not Kirk Ferentz and Iowa, can match. The problem isn't throwing rock — it's throwing a rock that paper can beat.

Michigan Week 13: vs. No. 8 Ohio State
Wisconsin Week 13: at Minnesota

NO. 23 NORTHWESTERN 39, MINNESOTA 0

This week in Big Ten play was rife with stinkers from the losing team, and holy hell Minnesota looked terrible in this one. To Northwestern's credit, this was the Wildcats' most complete win of the year, but come on: it's just Northwestern. 

Demry Croft was the other Big Ten QB who completed two passes this week, and unlike Brian Lewerke, it definitely wasn't in a winning effort; he also threw three interceptions and was responsible for negative-19 rushing yards. Noted boat enthusiast P.J. Fleck will need to figure out his passing game posthaste; rah-rah coaches can energize fanbases, but the Big Ten coaching career graveyard is already filled with MAC imports who promised excitement.  

Minnesota Week 13: vs. No. 5 Wisconsin
Northwestern Week 13: at Illinois

NO. 10 PENN STATE 56, NEBRASKA 44

Has there ever been a game where a team scored 44 points and never, ever, ever, ever threatened to win the game? Saquon Barkley took his very first carry 65 yards to the house, Penn State had 42 points by the break, and Nebraska's defense wore shirts as black as toast. Yes, the Huskers did lead 10-7 in the first quarter; it led to this amazing spike in win probability: 

Win probability

Penn State responded with five straight touchdown drives; Nebraska didn't manage another first down until the second half. The Huskers threw the ball at will in the fourth quarter, with Tanner Lee putting up some incredible garbage-time stats, but even as Nebraska managed 226 yards of offense in their final three touchdown drives (20 unanswered points!!!111), PSU still won the yardage battle 609-466. 

Nebraska's wideouts will be among the most talented Iowa will face this season, and the Josh Jackson-Stanley Morgan matchup will be one we should hope to see for several Sundays to come. Lee remains a random number generator of a quarterback, though, and as long as Iowa can continue to punish opposing quarterbacks' mistakes, the Hawkeyes should wrap Mike Riley's career in Lincoln up with a lovely little L. 

Nebraska Week 13: vs. Iowa
Penn State Week 13: at Maryland


NOTE, IF YOU'RE CURIOUS: The rankings in the headers were CFP poll numbers going into the week, and the upcoming week ranks reflect the AP poll. It's the best we can do at press time.

NOTE, IF YOU'RE STILL CURIOUS: "Press time" is an old publishing term from when news was delivered on paper, and "press time" was the part of the process where the ink was literally pressed onto the page, signaling the ultimate finality of the report on its way to the customer.

NOTE, IF YOU'RE STILL, STILL CURIOUS: No, seriously, they were called "newspapers," and people (often teenagers) would deliver them door-to-door every morning, around 5 a.m. or so. In retrospect the business model is utterly insane, but it held for centuries.

NOTE, IF YOU'RE STILL, STILL, STILL CURIOUS: Yes, we have the internet now, and it has led to a dramatic decrease in the costs of delivering news to customers. As a response, newspapers around the country have laid off most of their senior reporting staff, turning the profession into one that's about as lucrative as assistant-managing a Burger King.

NOTE, IF YOU'RE STILL, STILL, STILL, STILL CURIOUS: The newspaper conglomerates' profits are still healthy, their executives are as comfortable and well-compensated as ever, and they appreciate your concern.

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