Big Ten Football 2012
Big Ten Football Recap - Week 5
Big Ten Week 5 Football Results
Iowa 31, Minnesota 13
Ohio State 17, Michigan State 16
Penn State 35, Illinois 7
Nebraska 30, Wisconsin 27
Purdue 51, Marshall 41
Northwestern 44, Indiana 29
In the first week of Big Ten Conference games, the league that got socked in non-conference competition had the chance to get healthy by pitting its best teams against each other. The Ohio State Buckeyes gained more health than anyone else after a fairly wacky week of action.
Ohio State's journey to East Lansing, Mich., to take on the Michigan State Spartans was going to reveal a lot about the two teams. Ohio State's suspect defense and Michigan State's balky offense both needed to show that they could compete at a higher level, and when the smoke cleared in a close, tense game that involved a fairly high-quality fourth quarter, the Buckeyes – under first-year head coach Urban Meyer – were able to raise their gray helmets aloft in triumph, displaying the kind of mental toughness that augurs well for the program next season, when the constraints of postseason ineligibility are lifted in Columbus.
This game was sealed by Ohio State's offensive line, which won battles in the trenches against the Spartans' vaunted defensive front in the final four minutes. Leading by only one point, the Buckeyes were able to run out the clock and not give the Spartans a chance to swipe the win with a field goal from strong-legged kicker Dan Conroy, who banged through two kicks of 45 yards or longer in this contest. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller got dinged up in the second half, but he played through pain to lead the Buckeyes to the finish line by converting three first downs in those final few minutes.
However, while Ohio State's offensive line sealed the game, this tilt was ultimately decided by the inability of Michigan State's offense to get out of its own way. The Spartans dropped numerous passes deep in Ohio State territory. Another completion to the Ohio State 10 in the second half was wiped away by a penalty. Quarterback Andrew Maxwell offered some flashes of brilliance, but nothing approaching the consistency coach Mark Dantonio needed from him. Michigan State needed three Ohio State turnovers to remain competitive in this game. Ohio State won more battles up front than the Spartans did; when given a lifeline by Buckeye turnovers, Michigan State's offense did not answer the call, muddling the picture in the Big Ten Legends Division.
In the other spotlight game of week five, Nebraska authored a familiar tale of déjà vu. One year ago, the Huskers trailed Ohio State by 21 points in a home night game before coming back to win. The second-half surge marked the Huskers' biggest comeback in their illustrious history. Mindful of that 2011 Houdini act, the Huskers pulled off yet another mini-miracle in 2012 against the Wisconsin Badgers.
Nebraska looked listless and lost for the first two and a half quarters against Wisconsin, as the Badgers – who had been one of the nation's biggest disappointments through the first three games of the season – took a three-possession lead and silenced a large throng at sold-out Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb. However, just as soon as the outlook seemed bleak for the Big Red, Nebraska got off the deck. The Huskers scored 17 points in the final nine minutes of the third quarter and shut out Wisconsin over the final 25 minutes of play, earning a three-point win that – with Ohio State's and Penn State's postseason ineligibility hovering over the league – made Purdue the current (and new) favorite in the Big Ten Leaders Division. Nebraska, for its part, made itself more of a factor in the Legends race.
Elsewhere in the league, Iowa won the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy by beating Minnesota. Northwestern fended off Indiana in a shootout to move to 5-0 for the season. Penn State looked impressive and Illinois did not in a 28-point rout for the Nittany Lions in Champaign, Ill.
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