Big Ten Conference News and Notes

11:45 AM, Nov 26, 2012   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -

ILLINOIS: The 2012 season mercifully came to an end for the Fighting Illini over the weekend as they suffered their ninth straight loss and 14th in row against Big Ten competition in dropping a 50-14 decision at Northwestern. The first year of Tim Beckman's tenure in Champaign certainly didn't go according to plan as UI's only win came over FCS foe Charleston Southern in week three. Back to the Northwestern game, Illinois committed four turnovers, including three interceptions, and it was guilty of eight penalties for a loss of 88 yards. The Illini amassed just 242 yards of total offense, compared to 450 for the Wildcats, and they held possession of the football for less than 23 minutes. Nathan Scheelhaase completed 9-of-14 passes for a mere 91 yards, and Donovonn Young led the rushing attack with 74 yards and a TD on 11 carries. Mike Svetina (12) and Akeem Spence (11) both logged double-digit tackles in the setback.

INDIANA: The Hoosiers dropped a 56-35 decision at Purdue on Saturday, assuring that the Old Oaken Bucket would stay in West Lafayette for at least one more year. It was the highest scoring affair in the 115-game series between the two intrastate rivals, and saddled Indiana with a three-game losing streak to end the 2012 season. IU only won four games all year, two of which occurred in conference, and it has only beaten Purdue three times in the last 16 meetings. The Hoosiers led 21-14 at the break, but gave up a whopping 42 points in the second half. Stephen Houston gained 158 yards and became the first Indiana player since October of 2007 to score three TDs in a game as he finished with a career-high 253 all-purpose yards in the setback. Houston also had a team- high 12 catches for 95 yards. Chase Coffman threw for 348 yards and a TD, but he was picked off three times. He did add a one-yard rushing TD. Indiana piled up 512 yards of total offense, but permitted 558 yards to the Boilermakers, and the Hoosiers were flagged nine times for a loss of 44 yards. Greg Heban logged nine tackles in the loss, seven of which were unassisted, and he returned an interception 70 yards, setting up Indiana's third TD of the game.

IOWA: The Hawkeyes lost at home to Nebraska on Friday afternoon, 13-7, putting the wraps on a season that saw them go just 4-8 overall and 2-6 in the Big Ten. Iowa ended the campaign on a six-game losing streak. The Hawkeyes actually outgained the Cornhuskers, 130-92, in the first half, and forced a pair of turnovers, but they couldn't muster much in the way of offensive production in tallying just 200 total yards on 63 plays (3.2 ypp). Mark Weisman did his best to keep the home team in contention, rumbling his way to 91 yards on 29 carries. James Vandenberg played the final game of his collegiate career and threw for just 92 yards in completing fewer than half of his 24 pass attempts. The Iowa defense did a tremendous job against the pass (63 yards), but gave up 200 rushing yards while pouncing on a pair of fumbles and logging two sacks. James Morris (13) was one of three Hawkeyes to record double-digit tackles in the contest, and he had two of the team's five TFL.

MICHIGAN: The Wolverines took a 21-20 lead into the locker room at halftime of Saturday's showdown with bitter rival Ohio State, but failed to put another point on the scoreboard over the final 30 minutes and lost to the Buckeyes as a result, 26-21. Michigan generated just 279 yards of total offense, with only 108 coming on the ground, and converted former starting QB Denard Robinson accounted for 67 of them on one long TD run near the end of the first half. Robinson finished with 122 yards and a TD on 10 carries, and Devin Gardner threw for 171 yards with a TD and an interception. Receivers Jeremy Gallon and Roy Roundtree combined for nine catches, 159 yards and a score. The UM defense surrendered 396 total yards, including 207 on the ground as the Buckeyes repeatedly ran the football (52 attempts). Desmond Morgan led the Wolverines defense with 11 tackles, while Jake Ryan finished with nine stops and he forced a pair of fumbles as well. In all, Michigan logged four sacks, and coach Brady Hoke's club will await its postseason destination after finishing 8-4 overall and 6-2 in conference.

MICHIGAN STATE: Le'Veon Bell ran for a career-high 266 yards and a TD to help lead the Spartans to a 26-10 win at Minnesota on Saturday in the regular- season finale for both teams. The win improved Michigan State to 6-6 on the season and 3-5 in conference, and the team awaits information about a potential bowl bid. Dan Conroy booted four field goals for the Spartans, who outgained the home team by a staggering 421-96 margin. The Golden Gophers tallied just four net rushing yards, and they threw four interceptions, two of which landed in the hands of MSU's Johnny Adams. The Spartans logged seven TFL, only two of which were labeled as sacks. Andrew Maxwell completed just 13-of-29 pass attempts for 143 yards with a TD and two picks, as Bennie Fowler was clearly his favorite target as he finished with seven grabs for 101 yards and a score.

MINNESOTA: The Golden Gophers lost more than just a football game in their season finale over the weekend, as head coach Jerry Kill apparently suffered yet another seizure and spent the second half of the 26-10 setback to visiting Michigan State in the locker room. With respect to the actual game, the Golden Gophers tallied just four net rushing yards, and they threw four interceptions in totaling a dismal 96 yards of total offense. Freshman Phillip Nelson really struggled under center, converting just 10-of-23 passes for 61 yards with three picks. Derrick Wells recorded 12 tackles to lead the team, while Troy Stoudermire finished with 10. The Gophers came up with two interceptions, one of which was returned 33 yards for a score by Aaron Hill in the opening quarter for the team's only TD. Despite ending the season with two straight losses, and setbacks in three of their last four and six of their last eight, the Gophers have the requisite six wins needed to receive a bowl bid.

NEBRASKA: The Cornhuskers turned up the intensity on defense at Iowa last Friday, holding the Hawkeyes scoreless over the final three quarters and to only 200 yards of total offense in what turned out to be a 13-7 Nebraska victory. The win propelled the Huskers into this week's Big Ten Championship Game where they will take on the Wisconsin Badgers. Nebraska rushed for 200 yards in the contest, as all five of the team's primary ball carriers finished with at least 40 yards. Rex Burkhead led the way in his return from injury with 69 yards and a TD on 19 carries. Taylor Martinez had a tough time battling the Iowa City wind, throwing for just 63 yards on 8-of-14 passing, and he added 41 yards on 16 totes in the running game. Alonzo Whaley posted a career-high 11 tackles and had an interception as well, and Eric Martin logged three TFL, including a sack, for the Nebraska defense, which allowed just 3.2 yards per play.

NORTHWESTERN: The Wildcats captured the Land of Lincoln Trophy by virtue of their 50-14 rout of visiting Illinois over the weekend, the win being Northwestern's ninth of the season, and its fifth in eight Big Ten bouts. The victory was also huge for head coach Pat Fitzgerald, as he tied Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf's school record for career wins at 49. Eight different Wildcats recorded points in the game, including six different TD scorers. Venric Mark put the wraps on a terrific regular season as he rushed for 127 yards and a score, giving him 1,310 yards for the year -- the seventh-best single-season rushing tally in school history. Kain Colter was nearly perfect in completing 9-of-11 passes for 102 yards and three TDs, while adding 88 yards and a score on 14 totes. Overall, NU churned out 450 yards of total offense, while holding the Illini to 242. Chi Chi Ariguzo pace the 'Cats with 11 tackles, 10 of which were solo efforts, and one of his two TFL was a sack. The Northwestern defense came up with four turnovers, including three interceptions. Next up for the Wildcats is a bowl game that has yet to be announced.

OHIO STATE: The Buckeyes put an exclamation point on the sixth perfect regular season in their storied history by knocking off hated rival Michigan in Columbus on Saturday, 26-21. Ohio State can not play for the Big Ten title or go to a bowl game, but that won't stop Urban Meyer, his staff, players and OSU fans everywhere from celebrating. Braxton Miller was an efficient 14-of-18 for 189 yards and a TD, that going to Corey Brown who finished with a career-high 95 receiving yards. Carlos Hyde was the Buckeyes' top rusher with 146 yards and a TD, giving him four 100-yard games for the season, and Miller wound up with 108 yards on 20 carries, but had to settle for 57 net yards as he was sacked four times. Drew Basil booted four field goals in the game for Ohio State, one in each quarter. The OSU defense was also credited with four sacks in the game, and it came up with four turnovers, including three fumbles. Michigan totaled just 279 total yards, and the Buckeyes were led by Zach Boren's nine tackles, one of which was a sack, and he fell on a loose ball as well.

PENN STATE: On an emotional day in Happy Valley, the Nittany Lions earned a hard-fought 24-21 win over the Wisconsin Badgers in a game that required overtime to decided the outcome. Paying tribute to injured star LB Michael Mauti, and playing its final game of the season as NCAA sanctions prevent it from participating in a bowl game, Penn State battled back from a 14-7 halftime deficit thanks to a productive day from several players, including kicker Sam Ficken who hit field goals from 23, 32 and 37 yards, the last being the game-winner in overtime. Zach Zwinak was a man possessed for PSU, churning out a career-high 179 yards and scoring a TD on 36 carries, while Matt McGloin threw for an even 200 yards and a TD in hitting 19-of-37 pass attempts. Jesse James made the most of his three catches, turning them into 90 yards and a score. The PSU defense, sans Mauti, gave up 111 yards and a TD to UW's Montee Ball, who became the NCAA's all-time TD leader, but came up with three sacks. Two of those belonged to Jordan Hill (career-best 12 tackles), who was an absolute monster at the line of scrimmage. Glenn Carson notched 13 total tackles, nine of which were solo efforts, to lead the Lions who finished coach Bill O'Brien's first season at 8-4 overall and 6-2 in conference.

PURDUE: The Old Oaken Bucket is staying in West Lafayette following the Boilermakers' 56-35 win over visiting Indiana on Saturday. The victory was big for another reason as well, as Purdue evened its record at 6-6, thus gaining the requisite number of wins to be eligible for a bowl game. It was also PU's 13th win in the last 16 meetings with its in-state rival, and the highest scoring affair in the 115-game series. Sixth-year senior QB Robert Marve threw for a career-high 348 yards and four TDs. Akeem Shavers also got in on the fun, scoring three TDs in a span of 4 1/2 minutes in the fourth quarter, twice on long pass plays (73 yards, 26 yards), and he finished with 126 yards rushing and 99 yards receiving. Will Lucas led the PU defensive stand, what there was of one, with nine solo stops, three TFL, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Overall, the Boilermakers came up with four turnovers, including three interceptions. Despite qualifying for the postseason for the second straight year, coach Danny Hope was fired on Sunday. The Boilermakers went just 22-27 overall and 13-19 in the Big Ten under Hope, who replaced the retired Joe Tiller in 2009.

WISCONSIN: In a game in which Montee Ball became the NCAA's all-time TD leader, the Badgers came up just short in their bid to claim win number eight on the season as they dropped a 24-21 overtime decision at Penn State on Saturday. It was the third OT loss of the season for Wisconsin (Michigan State and Ohio State being the others), and it saddled the team with an even 4-4 ledger in league play. Ball scored his 79th career TD in the first quarter, passing Miami-Ohio's Travis Prentice for first place on the NCAA's all-time list. Ball finished the game with 111 yards on 27 carries, while Curt Phillips completed half of his 25 pass attempts for 191 yards, two TDs and one interception. The UW defense was battered by Penn State RB Zach Zwinak (179 yards, one TD), and allowed 200 yards and a score to QB Matt McGloin. The Badgers did not force a turnover, and only recorded two sacks as part of their five TFL on the day. Ethan Armstrong was one of three UW defenders with double-digit tackles, which also included Mike Taylor who made 10 of his 11 stops without any assistance. The Badgers will play Nebraska this Saturday in the Big Ten title tilt.

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