Big Ten recap: Nebraska downs U-M, still in Legends race with MSU
As the MSU football team took a bye week to catch its breath, the rest of the Big Ten carried on this weekend, providing matchups that could be strong indicators of how the conference will wrap up.
Multiple teams made moves to jockey for a spot in the Big Ten Football Championship Game while others looked to move into bowl eligibility or salvage their respective season with a win.
The No. 14 Spartans (8-1 overall, 5-0 Big Ten) travel to Lincoln, Neb., this weekend to take on Nebraska (7-2, 4-1) for a primetime matchup with a potential trip to the Big Ten championship game on the line.
Here’s a look at the weekend’s action and what the game means in the context of the postseason.
Nebraska 17, Michigan 13
Legends Division (Conference, overall)
Michigan State (5-0, 8-1)
Nebraska (4-1, 7-2)
Minnesota (4-2, 8-2)
Iowa (3-3, 6-4)
Michigan (2-3, 6-3)
Northwestern (0-5, 4-5)
Ohio State (5-0, 9-0)
Wisconsin (4-1, 7-2)
Penn State (2-3, 5-4)
Indiana (2-3, 4-5)
Illinois (0-5, 3-6)
Purdue (0-5, 1-8)
In a showdown with major Legends Division implications, Nebraska edged the Wolverines (6-3, 2-3) with a late touchdown on a shovel pass by quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. to running back Ameer Abdullah to earn a 17-13 victory at Michigan Stadium.
The game sets up a winner-takes-all matchup between MSU and Nebraska next weekend, as the victor likely will take the Legends Division and make a trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship game.
Both the Spartans (2011) and Huskers (2012) previously have appeared in the Big Ten championship game, but both fell to Wisconsin. Meanwhile, the Wolverines fell at the Big House for the first time under head coach Brady Hoke and are knocked out of the race for the Big Ten title.
Minnesota 24, Penn State 10
Despite the ongoing health issues of Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill, the Golden Gophers (8-2, 4-2) keep finding ways to win, defeating Penn State 24-10 for the team’s fourth-consecutive victory.
By defeating the Nittany Lions (5-4, 2-3), Minnesota secures the program’s best record in more than a decade and suddenly are in the discussion for a Legends Division title.
A surprisingly-relevant matchup in the weekend after Thanksgiving, the Spartans host the Golden Gophers in their final regular season game of the season on Nov. 30 at Spartan Stadium.
Wisconsin 27, BYU 17
Running back James White led the way with two rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown to propel Wisconsin to a 27-17 non-conference victory against BYU.
The No. 17 Badgers now sit in second place behind Ohio State in the Leaders Division with three games to play.
Wisconsin takes on Indiana, Minnesota and Penn State to close out the season and can put themselves in a strong postseason bowl if they win out. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes also have three games to play against beatable opponents in Illinois and Indiana before the annual showdown with Michigan.
Iowa 38, Purdue 14
Although out of the Legends Division title picture, Iowa earned bowl eligibility with a 38-14 romp over Purdue this weekend.
With the loss, the Boilermakers fall to 1-8 on the season and are one of three teams in the Big Ten without a conference win along with Illinois and Northwestern.
Indiana 52, Illinois 35
With one of the most intriguing offenses in the Big Ten, Indiana powered its way through Illinois in a 52-35 rout on Saturday.
Wide receiver Cody Latimer erupted with 11 catches for 189 yards and three touchdown in the winning effort.
The remaining road will be difficult for Indiana, as the Hoosiers have to travel to Wisconsin and Ohio State in back-to-back weeks before closing out the season with Purdue.