Big Ten: Weekend-rewind-111411

Weekend rewind: Big Ten

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
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Team of the week: Purdue. By beating Ohio State for the second straight time at home, the Boilermakers put themselves in position to make a bowl game for the first time since 2007 if they can beat either Iowa or Indiana in the final two weeks. Shoutouts to Nebraska for winning in a tough environment and Michigan State for exorcising its road demons as well.

[+] EnlargeRobert Marve
Sandra Dukes/US PresswireRobert Marve and Purdue moved to 5-5 overall with a 26-23 overtime victory over Ohio State.
Game of the week: Purdue 26, Ohio State 23. Just by going into overtime, this one would have taken the honors. There was much drama at the end, as the Buckeyes scored with 55 seconds left on a spectacular play by Braxton Miller, who hurdled prone center Mike Brewster while avoiding pressure before finding Jordan Hall across the field for a touchdown. Purdue had a chance to get within field goal range at the end of regulation but threw an ill-advised interception. A big sack by Dwayne Beckford and a tackle just before the sticks by Ricardo Allen put Ohio State at 4th and 1 on the Purdue 16 in the first overtime possession. Luke Fickell played it safe with the field goal instead of relying on his powerful running game to get one yard. That didn't work, and it might cost Fickell his job.

Biggest play: Lavonte David's stop of Silas Redd on 4th and 1 from the Penn State 37 with 1:49 left. The Nittany Lions trailed 17-14 and had all the momentum after scoring two touchdowns to get back in it, and they handed the ball to their best player on the game's biggest play. But Nebraska's star defender was better and made a great, everything-he-had tackle. That play was an illustration of why David is the Big Ten's best linebacker.

Best calls: Michigan State led 31-7 in the third quarter, but Mark Dantonio wouldn't take his foot off the gas. He called for a reverse pass, which Keshawn Martin completed for a 28-yard gain, and later in the drive the Spartans pulled off a fake field goal. You could say the plays didn't mean that much because Michigan State still ended up with just three points on that drive, and Iowa stormed back for two straight touchdowns afterward, perhaps angered by the trick plays. But I loved the fact that Dantonio signaled to his team that they were going for the kill on the road, a place where the Spartans have struggled the past couple of years. They'll need that attitude to finish off the season strong and get to Indianapolis.

Best catch: If you didn't see Iowa receiver Marvin McNutt's one-handed, on-the-run catch against Michigan State, go YouTube it now. Or check out this photo illustration. It's quite likely the catch of the year from the league's top receiver.

Big Man on Campus (Offense): Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson. So this guy has been pretty good, huh? He earned his third Big Ten player of the week award for his nearly-perfect performance against Minnesota, in which he completed 16-of-17 passes for 178 yards and four touchdowns. He was 13-of-13 in the first half, and his 94.1 completion percentage ranks as the fourth highest in a game in Big Ten history.

Big Men on Campus (Defense): Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short and Michigan defensive end Ryan Van Bergen. Half of Short's tackles against Ohio State were sacks, as he had a career-high three of those to help slow down the Buckeyes. It's his second weekly award of the season. Van Bergen had seven tackles, including a career-high 2.5 sacks, as Michigan held Illinois to just 37 yards rushing.

Big Men on Campus (Special teams): Nebraska's Brett Maher and Purdue's Bruce Gaston. Maher averaged 45 yards per punt on eight punts, placed five inside the 20-yard line and had a booming 61-yarder to pin Penn State deep late in the game. He also drilled a 41-yard field goal. Gaston blocked Ohio State's extra point attempt with 55 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Best moment: The midfield prayer between Penn State and Nebraska players after the coin toss. After a horrible week, this was a tremendous gesture by both sides to recognize the seriousness of the situation. I don't mind admitting I had goosebumps watching the scene unfold from the press box as the crowd of more than 107,000 fell to a hushed silence. Nebraska assistant coach Ron Brown, the former director of a statewide Fellowship of Christian Athletes, led the prayer. You can listen to what he said to the players here.

Funniest moment: After beating Minnesota to claim Paul Bunyan's Axe, Wisconsin players -- led by Nick Toon, Montee Ball and Aaron Henry -- grabbed the axe and pretended to chop down one of the Gophers' goal posts. Then they ran to the other side of the stadium and did it to the other goal post. Minnesota didn't like it, but to the victors go the spoils. You can see it at the beginning and end of this video. And take note, Iowa-Iowa State and Michigan State-Penn State: this is why you create cool trophies.

Worst hangover: This category is officially retired for the season. There's no way anything can match what happened at Penn State.

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BIG TEN SCOREBOARD

Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12