#4 Iowa 28, Nebraska 20
Thanks to 140 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 17 carries by Jordan Canzeri and a stingy defense racking up four interceptions off of Nebraska's Tommy Armstrong Jr., Iowa secured its first 12-0 mark in school history and kept their College Football Playoff prospects alive with a victory in Lincoln against their fairly newly-minted end of season rivals.
What This Means For Iowa (12-0 overall, 8-0 in B1G): With Michigan State having taken care of business at home against Penn State, next weekend's Big Ten Championship becomes a de-facto play-in game for the College Football Playoff. For one more week at least, Hawkeye fans can continue to dream the improbable dream.
What This Means For Nebraska (5-7, 3-5): Normally, this loss would have marked the end of a disappointing 2015 season for the Huskers and a disappointing debut season for head coach Mike Riley. However, given that we live in the era of 'everyone gets a trophy,' Nebraska will likely be one of a handful of 5-7 teams who will play in a bowl game, thanks to the fact that there are 40 bowls games and not enough teams that have the six wins required for bowl eligibility (as of this post, there are only 75 bowl eligible teams for 80 slots, and only three more teams next weekend will have a chance at reaching bowl eligibility). On that note, I will gladly link back to this post the next time anybody tries to convince me that bowl games are a reward for having a good season.
#8 Ohio State 42, #10 Michigan 13
The much anticipated Harbaugh-Meyer I fight started out as a close affair, with the Buckeyes clinging to a 14-10 lead at halftime. The second half however, saw OSU's offense run all over the Michigan defense and the OSU defense bottling up Michigan's run game and getting their hands quite often on Jake Rudock to the point where Wilton Speight had to sub in for an injured Rudock. Ezekiel Elliott and J.T. Barrett were a dynamic duo in this one, rushing for a combined 353 yards and five TD's. Shout-out also goes to Michigan's Jehu Chesson, who caught 8 balls for 111 yards and a TD in a losing effort.
What This Means For Ohio State (11-1, 7-1): Buckeye fans are surely asking themselves where the hell this performance was last weekend, because we would otherwise be talking about how they are another B1G Championship Game win away from having a crack at winning a second consecutive national title. As it stands though, the mothership is projecting OSU in the Rose Bowl. Not a bad consolation, if you ask me.
What This Means For Michigan (9-3, 6-2): Considering most Michigan fans probably expected a 7-5 or 8-4 season in Jim Harbaugh's first year, it's hard for them to be that disappointed in how this season has gone overall. Still, a loss like this has to leave a bitter taste in everyone's mouth (players, coaches, and fans) heading into their upcoming bowl game. Nonetheless, having a chance to end Year One of the Harbaugh era with double-digit wins is a pretty good position to be in.
#16 Northwestern 24, Illinois 14
Justin Jackson ran for 172 yards a touchdown an the Wildcats' gritty, hard-nosed, defense took care of the rest. Illinois actually drew first blood in this contest on a Wes Lunt touchdown run and also cut a 21-7 deficit in half when Clayton Thorson threw a pick-six to Jason Monheim late in the third quarter. Jack Mitchell however, sealed the deal with a field goal midway through the fourth quarter to put Northwestern back up by more than one score.
What This Means For Northwestern (10-2, 6-2): Northwestern's win caps off its first 10-win season since the 2012 campaign that saw the Wildcats end a several decades-long winless drought in bowl games. A destination to a warm-weather New Year's Day game (i.e. Citrus Bowl or Outback Bowl) is in the cards for Pat Fitzgerald's crew.
What This Means for Illinois (5-7, 2-6): Despite the loss, Illinois' season may not quite be over yet, thanks to the lack of bowl eligible teams right now. More importantly for Bill Cubit, he was given a 2-year deal to remain the head coach of the program, effectively removing the 'interim' tag from his title. This does not sit well with our SBN Illini brethren at The Champaign Room, who argue that this move shows Illinois doesn't care about football.
Indiana 54, Purdue 36
At 5-6 and desperately seeking to seal bowl eligibility for the first time in nearly decade, Indiana came storming out of the gate and never really looked back as Nate Sudfeld delivered four TD's and 350 yards through the air on just 18-for-29 passing while Devine Redding led the ground attack with 144 yards on 22 carries and a TD. The Hoosier defense also racked up four turnovers. Austin Appleby threw for 332 yards and a pair of TD's but also a pair of interceptions for Purdue in a losing effort.
What This Means for Indiana (6-6, 2-6): In his fifth year heading the program and having come oh-so-painstakingly-close the last couple of seasons, Kevin Wilson has finally gotten Indiana to go bowling for the first time since 2007. While some of us here at BSD selfishly hoped that IU would be dumb enough to fire Wilson so PSU could scoop him up as a replacement to John Donovan at offensive coordinator, it's hard not to feel happy for long-suffering Hoosier football fans.
What This Means for Purdue (2-10, 1-7): A brutal season came to a merciful end for Darrell Hazell, who ended up firing several assistants on Sunday, including PSU defensive coordinator Bob Shoop's brother, John, who was the offensive coordinator for the Boilermakers the past couple of seasons.
Maryland 46, Big Ten Powerhouse Rutgers 41
In perhaps their best offensive performance conference play, BTPR's Chris Laviano tossed for four touchdowns and 344 yards passing, Leonte Carroo caught 7 balls for 183 yards and a touchdown, and Paul James rushed for 71 yards and a TD. It was all for naught though, as BTPR ultimately blew a 24-3 lead and allowed Maryland to claim its first and only victory in B1G play in the process. Brandon Ross, who finished with 178 yards and three TD's, scampered 80 yards for the Terps' game-winning touchdown with about 4:30 to play in the game.
What This Means For Maryland (3-9, 1-7): No matter how poorly things have gone overall, it's always a nice feeling to end your season on a winning note, and that's exactly what the Terps have done going into the offseason as the players, recruits, and fans await to see who will take over the program's head coaching spot on a permanent basis.
What This Means for BTPR (4-8, 1-7): This game was the final nail in Kyle Flood's coaching coffin, as he and Athletic Director Julie Herrmann were both dismissed on Sunday. Patrick Hobbs, the current dean of Seton Hall's law school, will reportedly be the new AD. Already, rumors are swirling about former BTPR legend Greg Schiano having been offered the job, although Hobbs has denied this and claimed that no offers have been made, yet. Whoever takes over this program has to deal with an uphill battle against the rest of the B1G East from a facilities, talent, and recruiting standpoint. At the very least though, the AD is already beginning its tire fire extinguishing process.
Wisconsin 31, Minnesota 21
The Badgers were able to retain Paul Bunyan's Axe for the 12th consecutive year as Dare Ogunbowale (155 yards rushing and one TD) and Taiwan Deal (90 yards rushing and two TD's) led a ferocious ground attack and the Wisconsin defense made life miserable for Minnesota's Mitch Leidner, who only completed 16 of his 37 passing attempts and threw for a TD and three interceptions.
What This Means for Wisconsin (9-3, 6-2): A likely New Year's Day bowl destination is in the cards for Paul Chryst's crew, not bad considering they were without Corey Clement for a good chunk of the season. As Iowa and a resurgent Northwestern program have shown, the B1G West could be a tougher terrain to navigate than once imagined for Wisconsin.
What This Means for Minnesota (5-7, 2-6): As with Illinois and Nebraska, there is a possibility the Gophers could be one of the 5-7 teams that fills up a bowl slot, but it remains to be seen. In perhaps more surprising news, head coach Tracy Claeys has dumped a couple of his fellow long-time Jerry Kill assistants.