After this weekend’s action we know that Michigan State will be in the first ever Big Ten Championship Game. That takes some of the drama out of the coming week, but the rest of this past week’s results did set up some more intrigue for this week’s coming games. You have a virtual semi-final between Wisconsin and Penn State in Madison. First off, let’s take a look back at this past week in the Big Ten.
Iowa 31, Purdue 21
Not much else can be said except that the Boilermakers were ill-prepared on Senior Day for the third year in a row. Stupid mistakes again cost them. In 2009 it was a defensive touchdown given up on the first play from scrimmage. Last year it was a number of mistakes that handed the Bucket back to IU. This year they had no offensive cohesion and seemed uninterested in covering one of the Big Ten’s best receivers or tackling one of its best running backs.
Michigan 45, Nebraska 17
This may have been the biggest win for us this weekend, as now Michigan can possibly claim an at large BCS berth if they beat Ohio State. Doing so would put them at 10-2 with one of its losses to another possible BCS team. The win over Notre Dame could pay dividends if both make it into the top 14 in the BCS standings. The only problem now for Michigan is a seven game losing streak to Ohio State, and the Buckeyes would love to deny the Wolverines a big pay day.
Northwestern 28, Minnesota 13
There ain’t no party like an Evanston party and now the Wildcats are bowl eligible before facing Michigan State this week. Should they lose, I have a proposal for the possible ninth bowl slot as long as Purdue beat Indiana: Purdue plays Northwestern as a pre-game to the Big Ten championship game. The winner gets to go to Detroit as the Big Ten’s weakest bowl team, but strongest chance of not embarrassing the conference with a loss to MAC team.
Michigan State 55, Indiana 3
Indiana’s offense has some unique dynamics, but it has still not scored more than 20 points in five of seven Big Ten games. It’s defense, conversely, has given up at least 34 points in each of the last six games. With Michigan beating Nebraska this win sent the Spartans to the Big Ten Championship game.
Wisconsin 28, Illinois 17
Early on it looked like Ron Zook would save his job with a stunning upset of the Badgers that would hand the Leaders Division to Penn State. then Montee Ball got there. 224 yards and two touchdowns later Ball had his 30th TD of the season, Wisconsin was in the Leaders’ Division final against Penn State, and Illinois saw its offense disappear again to clinch a five game losing streak after a 6-0 start.
Penn State 20, Ohio State 14
I have a theory that if Ohio State loses to Michigan they will agree to decline a bowl bid. At 6-6, it would not be a good bowl, and I think they will try to self-impose a punishment to get the NCAA off their back. After all, is it better to miss a meaningless bowl after a 6-6 season or to have the NCAA mandate you miss a bigger bowl like USC is sure to miss this year?