1 B1G takeaway from each team in Week 12
Ohio State: Buckeyes look national-championship good
I’m just stating the obvious, because what other takeaway is there after a dominating 56-7 win over No. 7 Michigan State? The No. 4 Buckeyes certainly looked like a national championship-caliber team in racing to a 49-0 halftime lead, scoring on TDs on 6 straight possessions to start the game for the second week in a row. The terrific trio of Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba each went over 100 yards and combined for 5 receiving TDs. CJ Stroud finished with 432 yards and 6 TD passes in 2 1/2 quarters. Best of all, the defense finally looked the part. Kenneth Walker III didn’t get a ton of run with the Spartans trying to preserve him after falling behind big early on, but still. Payton Thorne and Jayden Reed has been a deadly duo, and yet the much-maligned Buckeye defense allowed just 158 passing yards. That’ll do.
Michigan State: Pass defense is a problem
I’m not going to be overly negative here, because when Ohio State is playing like that, what are you going to do? But Michigan State (9-2, 6-2) has to be better defensively. Has to. The Spartans entered the day with the 130th-ranked pass defense, and after allowing 449 passing yards, I’m pretty sure they’re going to end the day with the 130th pass defense. The Spartans were never going to beat Ohio State when they only gain 224 yards, but that’s just a bad day. For this pass defense, it’s been a bad season.
Michigan: This is all you can ask for
OK, Michigan, you did it. All this fan base can ask for is that The Game actually means something with real stakes, and that’s the case. The Wolverines (10-1, 7-1) get to play the Buckeyes with the East Division on the line next week at the Big House. Michigan took care of business in the 59-18 win at Maryland, racking up 503 yards and holding a good Maryland offense to just 359. Cade McNamara was solid, especially when targeting Donovan Edwards, and Hassan Haskins has done his part to carry the Wolverines without backfield mate Blake Corum, who was in uniform for emergency use only. Hopefully he’ll be back against Ohio State.
Wisconsin: West title is within Badgers’ grasp
Exhale, Wisconsin fans. This was an escape. Nebraska looked like the better team for most of the game, but Braelon Allen is just special. The Badgers ought to put him in bubble wrap to make sure he stays healthy. Anyways, though, the Badgers (8-3, 6-2) have won 7 straight and all they need is a win at Minnesota to improbably win the West after a disastrous start.
Purdue: Best season in 15 years all but assured
After being Northwestern 32-14, the Boilermakers (7-4, 5-3) are just a win over last-place Indiana from their best regular season since 2006. It’s hard to believe Aidan O’Connell didn’t begin the season as the starter, because he is playing as well as any QB in the Big Ten not named CJ Stroud. He has 8 TD passes and no INTs in his last 4 games and has passed for over 390 yards in 3 of them.
Northwestern: Evan Hull is a building block
There haven’t been too many bright spots for Northwestern this season, but Hull is going to be a nice complement to Cam Porter next season. Hull finished with 129 yards on 31 touches in the 32-14 loss to Purdue at Wrigley Field, including a rushing score. He is averaging 5 catches per game over the last 3 weeks.
Rutgers: A bowl game is still within reach Pt. I
Even after a dreadful offensive performance in the 28-0 loss to Penn State, the Scarlet Knights (5-6, 2-5) still can become bowl eligible by beating Maryland at home next week. Still, though, Rutgers fans have to be counting down the days to when Gavin Wimsatt is ready to take over. Wimsatt, who was Rutgers’ highest-rated QB recruit ever, left skipped his senior year of high school to come to Rutgers. He played in his third game on Saturday and can play in one more game if he is going to redshirt, as is expected.
Maryland: A bowl game is still within reach Pt. II
Maryland has not met expectations after a good start, so it’s definitely a positive that even after a 59-18 loss to Michigan, it can still make a bowl game with a win next week at Rutgers. The Terrapins have allowed 31 or more points in 7 straight games, and they have only topped 21 once in that stretch.
Penn State: It actually does have a viable backup
One of the recurring storylines this season has been Penn State’s lack of depth at QB, as it has cost it 2 games, but maybe the Nittany Lions (7-4, 3-4) had one all along… they just didn’t know it. Christian Veilleux came off the bench to throw for 235 yards and 3 TDs on 15 of 24 passing in place of the injured Sean Clifford. Penn State was locked in a scoreless tie late in the first half when Veilleux connected with Jahan Dotson for a TD.
Nebraska: The players deserved better
What an effort from Nebraska. And what a final play to lose on. This obviously should have been defensive pass interference, and Nebraska would’ve had 1 final shot at tying (or winning) the game. But add this to the list of frustrating losses. The Huskers (3-8, 1-7) have lost all of their games by single digits, and they really played well against the likely West champion. They out-gained the Badgers 452-397 and if not for 2 long TD runs, they win that game.
Iowa: The same old formula keeps Iowa alive in the West
Iowa managed only 255 yards in the 33-23 win over Illinois, including just 83 passing yards. The Hawkeyes (9-2, 6-2) can still win the West with a victory at Nebraska on Black Friday, plus a Wisconsin loss at Minnesota. But they will have to play much better offensively. Alex Padilla was just 6 of 17 for 83 yards and an INT. On the bright side, Iowa leaned on Tyler Goodson, who tallied 132 yards on 27 carries. It was just Goodson’s third 100-yard game of the season. The Hawkeyes got a kickoff return for a TD and an INT return for a TD to offset gaining just 255 yards.
Minnesota: Still alive in the West Pt. II
The Golden Gophers (7-4, 5-3) can still finish atop the West with a win over Wisconsin next week and an Iowa loss to Nebraska. The good news for Minnesota is that Tanner Morgan had his best game of the season, averaging 9.8 yards per attempt on his way to 196 yards and 2 TD passes. That will come in handy considering Wisconsin is very difficult to run against.
Indiana: This is beyond bad
How do you alienate a fan base after the best, most exciting season in recent history? Follow it up with one of the worst. This is going to be Indiana’s second-worst season in the last 25 years, and that’s saying something. Just disappointing all the way around. Indiana (2-9, 0-8) is stunningly bad and not at all competitive against teams that have had as many injuries as them.
Illinois: Where’s the run game?
Illinois has had some terrific performances on the road this season, but the run game did not make the trip to Iowa City. The Illini finished with just 64 rushing yards, their second-lowest output of the season. Illinois attempted 36 passes and its running backs had only 21 carries.