BY MICK MILER
BIG TEN INSIDER
Ohio State has taken their turn at the top, which means in this turbulent season, that they must also take their turn falling from the top as well. While the computer rankings will take care of the task now, we can turn our attention to what is usually the game for all of the Big Ten marbles: Michigan and Ohio State. In a weekend where the outcomes of their games would have no bearing on their title tilt at the Big House, pride remained on the line for their opponents as they came up with big wins of their own. Bowl eligibility for some clubs remained up in the air coming into this week, let’s look which teams reined it in, and which are left out in the rain.
Illinois 28 (1) Ohio State 21
The Fighting Illini did just that until the final gun, fighting, and wreaking havoc at the Horseshoe and knocking off the number one Buckeyes. Quarterback Juice Williams threw for only 140 yards, but hit on four touchdown passes while their vaunted rushing attack did their thing to the tune of 260 yards, including 70 from Williams, who kept many drives alive with his legs, converting on third downs and on a fourth down play with inches to go on their own 34-yard line with over six minutes to play. Buckeye quarterback Todd Boekman played an uncharacteristic sloppy game, throwing three interceptions against an Illini defense that was stout against the run as well, holding a hot Chris “Beanie” Wells to 70 yards rushing. Illini wide receivers Jacob Willis and Marques Wilkins both caught one pass each, but made them count as both were for touchdowns of 33 and 31 yards respectively.
Up Next: Illinois invites Northwestern; Ohio State is at Michigan
Wisconsin 37 (13) Michigan 21
In a game without its marquee names at halfback, this was a knock-down, drag-out hit fest in which the home team laid the biggest smack down. Back-up Badger Zack Brown ran for 108 yards on 27 carries and two late touchdowns that locked up the win for Wisconsin. Quarterback Tyler Donovan spent the day being hit by the Michigan pass rush, but did not take a sack and was clutch throughout -- scrambling (49 yards rushing and a touchdown) and buying time. He hit wide receiver Paul Hubbard seven times for 134 yards and tight end Travis Beckham six times for 106 yards and a touchdown. Wolverine quarterback Chad Henne threw three passes, one for an interception, and was pulled as his shoulder would not allow him to continue while halfback Mike Hart did not play, in an obvious move to save him for next week.
Up Next: Wisconsin motors to Minnesota; Michigan hosts Ohio State
Penn State 31 Temple 0
Half back Reggie Kinlaw rushed for a personal best 168 yards (moving him over 1,000 yards for the season) and a touchdown while quarterback Anthony Morelli threw for a pair of scores to Jordan Norwood in the first quarter amongst his three touchdown passes and 260 yards. A fierce Nittany Lion defense held the Owls to four yards rushing on the day, the result of four quarterback sacks of Temple sophomore quarterback Vaughn Charlton. Where a Temple game usually draws 30,000 fans, this game with Penn State turned into a home away from Happy Valley for the Nittany Lions as nearly 70,000 fans turned out at Lincoln Financial Field.
Up Next: Penn State travels to Michigan State
Iowa 21 Minnesota 16
The Hawkeyes reach bowl eligibility with their sixth win as running back Albert Young ran for two touchdowns in the first half and quarterback Jake Christensen added a touchdown pass. Iowa got out to a 21-10 first half lead, which turned out to be enough to hand the Gophers their tenth loss of the year. Young ran for 92 yards on the game on his 21 totes while Damien Sims contributed another seven carries for 58 yards to control the clock in the second half. While the Iowa defense did not register a sack, they held the Gopher running game in check as Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber led them with 70 yards rushing and could not mount any kind of threat until a late 22-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker brought them within five points with 1:38 left.
Up Next: Iowa hosts Western Michigan; Minnesota welcomes Wisconsin
Michigan State 48 Purdue 31
The Spartans reached bowl eligibility with a big win over the Boilermakers in West Lafayette as the two squads combined for 52 first-half points. Wide receiver Devin Thomas caught 10 passes, setting a school season record with 68, for 110 yards while bruising running back Jehuu Caulcrick scored twice, giving him 20 rushing touchdowns, also a new school mark. Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter threw for 344, one touchdown and rushed for a score, but was sacked three times and intercepted twice. Spartan signal-caller Brian Hoyer completed 71 percent of his passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns, one each to tight ends Kellen Davis (two yards) and Eric Andino (4 yards).
Up Next: Michigan State plays host to Penn State; Purdue is in Indiana
Northwestern 31 Indiana 28
Northwestern eked one out in Evanston to win their sixth game and become bowl eligible in the process. Wildcat quarterback C.J. Bacher threw a three-yard touchdown pass in the last minute, spoiling a Kellen Lewis five-yard score to James Hardy that had given the Hoosiers a four-point lead with just over five minutes to play. Lewis also had a 70-yard touchdown called back in the third quarter as replay showed he had gone beyond the line of scrimmage before passing. Northwestern running back Tyrell Sutton paced the Wildcat attack with 33 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown while Hardy led the Hoosiers with 107 yards on seven receptions and two touchdowns.
Up Next: Northwestern are at Illinois; Hoosiers host Purdue
PHOTO CREDIT: UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS