EAST LANSING, MI - OCTOBER 22: B.J. Cunningham #3 and Keith Nichol #7 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrate Nichol catching a game-winning 44 yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins #8 as time ran out to defeat the Wisconsin Badgers 37-31 at Spartan Stadium on October 22, 2011 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/Getty Images)
Fun night, huh? Can't say so much for the day games. Illinois derped it up in West Lafayette. Minnesota continues its march toward being the worst team ever in Big Ten football history. And Indiana helped Iowa regain its confidence, something the Hoosiers are usually good at doing for downtrodden teams.
Game of the Week:
This game was so good, it would have likely been the national story Sunday morning had Oklahoma not pooped its pants at home against Texas Tech. All appeared on track for a Wisconsin beatdown of Michigan State. The game went from SPARTY NO at 14-0 Wisky, to SPARTY YES when MSU ran off 23 unanswered, then SPARTY NO as the home team's two-touchdown lead vanished, and finally a final SPARTY OH OH YES when Kirk Cousins launched a Hail Mary that was picked out of the crowd by Keith Nichol. The play was initially ruled short of the goal line, as Badger defenders pulled Nichol back away from the plane. An official review correctly showed the ball crossed the line, and Michigan State is now on track to cruise through to the Big Ten title game. Wisconsin falls for the first time this year, allowing Penn State to surge into the Leaders/East/Pig Division lead.
Michigan State Player of the Game: Kirk Cousins threw for for 290 yards, three touchdowns, including the game winner. He wasn't the sole star of the show, but he was the catalyst for MSU's epic win.
Wisconsin Player of the Game: Despite Russel Wilson's two intrceptions, he still made the Badger offense move in the clutch, throwing for 223 yards and two touchdowns. Wilson also ran for the game-tying touchdown with 86 seconds left in the game.
The Rest:Nebraska Cornhuskers (6-1, 2-1) @ Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-6, 0-3)
Final Score: Nebraska 41, Minnesota 14
TCF Bank Stadium had more Nebraska fans in it than Minnesota fans. That's not all shocking, considering Nebraska fans travel as well as any base in the nation, and Minnesota is absolutely atrocious this season. The Huskers did what they had to do, rushing for almost 350 yards, with Rex Burkhead tallying 117 yards and a score on the ground. The Gophers fell behind 34-0 at the half. It was all over.
Minnesota Player of the Game: MarQueis Gray threw for 122 yards, and ran for 67 more and a touchdown.
Nebraska Player of the Game: Rex Burkhead paced the running game with 117 yards and a touchdown.
Hmm, that 13-3 win over Iowa's looking better by the week. Not that Indiana is a functional football team this season; maybe slightly better than Minnesota. The Hawkeyes torched the Hoosiers for 456 total yards, including 253 passing by James Vandenberg. His favorite target was Marvin McNutt, who became Iowa's all-time leading receiver. Marcus Coker rumbled for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Indiana started true freshman quarterback Tre Roberson, who played well in a dual-threat role.
Iowa Player of the Game: Marvin McNutt averaged 30.7 yards per reception, totally 184 yards and three touchdowns.
Indiana Player of the Game: Tre Roberson completed 16 of 24 passes for 197 yards, one touchdown, while leading the Hoosiers ground attack with 84 yards rushing.
Speaking of wins that look better as the season progresses, how about them Boilermakers? Purdue was up 21-0 for much of the game, until the Illini battled back for two scores, giving the home crowd one big queasy feeling in their guts. After giving Penn State all it could handle the week before, Purdue proved it's steady improvement this season is no fluke. Illinois, on the other hand, is hurdling to earth in a fiery ball of turd. The Fighting Zookers lost badly now two weeks in a row, one embarrassment to Ohio State, the other to a much less talented team (than OSU) in Purdue.
Purdue Player of the Game: Purdue's offensive line protected TerBush from Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, who led the nation with 10 sacks and was tied for the lead with five forced fumbles. Mercilus was held without a sack.
Illinois Player of the Game: Jason Ford finished with 152 yards of total offense, including 83 rushing and a touchdown, and 69 receiving yards.