Big Ten Football 2012
Big Ten Football Recap - Week 8
Big Ten Week 8 Football Scores
Wisconsin 38, Minnesota 13
Ohio State 29, Purdue 22 (OT)
Penn State 38, Iowa 14
Nebraska 29, Northwestern 28
Navy 31, Indiana 30
Michigan 12, Michigan State 10
In a critical week for the members of the Big Ten Conference, the quality of football was not exactly impressive, but the significance of results could not be stated with enough urgency.
When you look at some of the matchups that were on display in week eight, it's obvious that the consequences were substantial. Start with Iowa City, Iowa, where the homestanding Iowa Hawkeyes – fresh off their win over the Michigan State Spartans the week before – were trying to consolidate momentum and their place at the top of the Big Ten Legends Division. Standing on the opposite sideline was a bunch of Penn State Nittany Lions who wanted to enter their game against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Oct. 27 with an unbeaten conference record. A significant swing was going to take place, one way or the other, in this cross-divisional matchup. These two-game differentials mark the difference between division championships and forgettable seasons. Sure, Penn State can't represent the Big Ten in the league's championship game on Dec. 1 in Indianapolis, but the Nittany Lions can still win the Big Ten Leaders Division crown, and that's what they were gunning for against Iowa.
Penn State's determination was evident from the first few seconds of Saturday night's contest.
The Nittany Lions have outscored the opposition 66-0 in the first quarter this season, and they rang up a 14-0 lead by the time 15 minutes had come and gone in Kinnick Stadium. Penn State didn't let up after that point in time; coach Bill O'Brien's club motored to a 24-0 halftime lead and amassed a 31-0 bulge after three quarters. Penn State dominated in the trenches, outrushing Iowa by a count of 215 yards to 20. PSU quarterback Matt McGloin completed just under two-thirds of his 38 passes for 289 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, leaving Iowa in the dust.
Penn State will indeed get to face Ohio State with an unblemished conference record. The same thing can be said for the Buckeyes, who took a harrowing route to the winner's circle on Saturday against Purdue. Ohio State didn't just fall behind Purdue, 22-14; it did so without starting quarterback Braxton Miller, who got knocked out of the game in the third quarter with an injury that is still being evaluated even now. Ohio State's defense allowed Purdue to control the ball, and as a result, the Buckeyes' offense was sluggish even during the possessions in which Miller was able to perform.
With 47 seconds left, Ohio State got one last possession at its own 39, but without any timeouts. Backup quarterback Kenny Guiton had not been able to move OSU's offense, so the Buckeyes' chances of maintaining an unbeaten season were decidedly grim. Yet, just when the chips were down, Guiton responded. He hit a 39-yard pass to Devin Smith on the first play of Ohio State's drive. Later, after a pass interference penalty on Purdue gave OSU a first and goal at the Boilermaker 2, Guiton found Chris Fields for a touchdown with three seconds left. Guiton still needed a tying two-point try, but he got it when he hit Jeff Heuerman on a well-designed misdirection pass. The Buckeyes gained a tidal wave of momentum in overtime, and they quickly scored a touchdown to take a seven-point lead. They stopped Purdue on four plays, and the dream of a 12-0 season remained alive for head coach Urban Meyer.
In Ann Arbor, Mich., the battle for the state of Michigan unfolded in supremely dramatic fashion. Michigan, just out of field goal range and trailing 10-9 with 18 seconds left, struck gold in the form of a 20-yard pass from its inconsistent quarterback, Denard Robinson. The strike to receiver Drew Dileo moved the ball to the Michigan State 21, setting up an ice-veins 38-yard field goal by Brendan Gibbons with five seconds left. Michigan snapped a four-game losing streak to Michigan State and took sole ownership of first place in the Legends division.
Finally, Nebraska denied Northwestern in a battle for Legends division positioning. The winner was going to get second place while the loser was going to fall into fourth. Northwestern led, 28-16, midway through the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats – who have blown many double-digit second-half leads under current head coach Pat Fitzgerald – once again failed to hold the fort. Nebraska scored two touchdowns thanks to quarterback Taylor Martinez, and they held on for the win when a 53-yard Northwestern field goal missed in the final seconds of regulation.
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