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Big Ten Conference Corner: Rivalry week eve

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One last week for all the marbles

Michigan v Indiana Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

We’re heading into the final week of the regular season and the Big Ten West is still up for grabs. Minnesota and Wisconsin will face off with that title on the line, while in the East, of course, Michigan and Ohio State will face off in The Game.

No. 8 Penn State 17-28 No. 2 Ohio State. The Ohio State Buckeyes won by their narrowest margin all year, but it was a win nonetheless. The Penn State Nittany Lions made things interesting with a 17-point third quarter, but they didn’t really have a whole lot going offensively in this one. PSU’s QBs combined to complete 16 of 28 passing attempts for just 128 yards and an INT. Meanwhile, PSU’s ground game gained just 99 yards on 37 carries. Justin Fields was characteristically sharp for the Buckeyes, save for two fumbles, and J.K. Dobbins ran for 157 yards and two TDs.

No. 10 Minnesota 38-22 Northwestern. If you would have told me at the start of the season that the Minnesota Golden Gophers would control their own destiny in the Big Ten West and be in the conversation for a New Year's Six Bowl, I would have told you that you’d lost it. But, here we are. With their win over Northwestern, Minnesota has a win-and-they’re-in for the Big Ten Championship game opportunity on their hands next week against Wisconsin. Tanner Morgan completed 15 of 23 passing attempts for 211 yards, four TDs, and an INT in the Gophers win over the Northwestern Wildcats. Northwestern, meanwhile, just looked bad—and I’m starting to wonder about Pat Fitzgerald’s job status. Hopefully he can turn things around in Evanston.

Illinois 10-19 No. 17 Iowa. The Iowa Hawkeyes put up a rare 19 spot against the Illinois Fighting Illini, and no a safety was not involved. After trading TDs in the first quarter, Iowa and Illinois apparently decided they were only going to score field goals for the rest of the game. Iowa held a 13-7 lead at halftime, and the teams alternated FGs in the fourth quarter—one for Illinois and two for Iowa. Both teams are bowl eligible, though Illinois would be helped by a win over Northwestern next weekend. Iowa finishes out their regular season with Nebraska.

Michigan State 27-0 Rutgers. The Michigan State Spartans managed to beat the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, though it was by the smallest margin of victory by any Big Ten team against Rutgers so far this year. Brian Lewerke completed 21 of 30 passing attempts for 239 yards, three TDs, and an INT. Elijah Collins ran for 109 yards, but no Spartan rusher found the endzone on the day. Michigan State must beat Maryland next week to even think about a bowl game, owing to their 5-6 record. Personally, I will be cheering for the Terps, and that game kicks at 3:30 p.m.

Nebraska 54-7 Maryland. Speaking of the Maryland Terrapins, things did not go well for them against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Nebraska scored all 54 points before the Terps even got on the board in garbage time as the result of a 58-yard run by Javon Leake. Four Terps attempted passes on the day, seven of which were completed for a grand total of 57 yards. Meanwhile, Adrian Martinez completed 16 of 25 passing attempts for 194 yards, two TDs, and an INT, in addition to running for 94 yards and another TD for Nebraska. The Huskers need to beat Iowa next week to have a shot at a bowl game.

Purdue 24-45 No. 12 Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Badgers just needed the win this week to stay alive in the Big Ten West, and they got it in characteristic Wisconsin fashion. Jonathan Taylor ran 28 times for 222 yards and one TD, though he did have two fumbles. Jack Coan was good, if unspectacular, completing 15 of 19 passing attempts for 203 yards, 2 TDs, and an INT. The Badgers need to win next week against Minnesota to secure a share of the Big Ten West title. If they do that, they will be heading to Indianapolis as the West representative in the Big Ten Championship game as a result of holding the head-to-head tiebreaker. If they lose, Minnesota will claim the Big Ten West outright.