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Sunday Spin: Amazing Scene At PSU

Welcome to Sunday Spin!

Nebraska's Will Compton blasts PSU's Stephfon Green

We hope to make this a weekly recap on what happened in Big Ten football. Plus, we’ll share the first word on what’s next for each Big Ten school.

OK, here we go with the week in review:

Nebraska (19) 17, Penn State (12) 14

* What Happened – After a week of turmoil in State College – including the arrest of former assistant Jerry Sandusky on child sexual abuse charges and the firings of 46-year head coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier – Penn State hosted Nebraska for an emotional game at Beaver Stadium.

The Huskers (8-2, 4-2) kept their hopes alive in the Legends Division by jumping out to a 17-0 lead and holding off a late charge by the Nittany Lions (8-2, 5-1), who maintained their Leaders Division lead despite suffering their first conference loss. Trailing 17-14, Penn State’s Silas Redd was stopped on fourth down at its own 38-yard line with 1:49 left. Nebraska LB Lavonte David, potentially the Big Ten defensive player of the year, smacked Redd just inches shy of the first-down marker.

In a show of unity, players from both teams came together before the game and shared a prayer and a moment of silence. Penn State fans chanted “We are … Penn State!” throughout the game in support of their troubled program and university. Afterwards, acting-PSU president Rod Erickson praised the players for "how much courage, how much heart, and how much character" they had displayed.

Rex Burkhead ran for 121 yards and a touchdown for Nebraska before the Nittany Lions scored 14 points on two second-half touchdown runs by Stephfon Green.

Click here for Nebraska coach Bo Pelini’s remarkable comments from the postgame press conference.

The pregame prayer, led by Nebraska assistant Ron Brown, was one of the most poignant and extraordinary scenes in Big Ten football history. The teams came together in a showing of solidarity for one another and support for the victims of Sandusky’s alleged crimes. If you missed it, click here for the video of the pregame ceremonies.

“It was unprecedented in the history of college sports what we had here today,” said PSU interim head coach Tom Bradley, a longtime Paterno assistant finishing the season as the head coach.

* What We Learned – Penn State played without Joe Paterno as its head coach for the first time since 1965. It was quite a different scene than two weeks earlier, when PSU defeated Illinois and Paterno set a new Division I wins record with his 409th win. His son, PSU assistant Jay Paterno, worked the game. But the Lions were without wide receivers coach Mike McQueary, who was placed on administrative leave. McQueary witnessed an incident of alleged abuse by Sandusky on a minor in the PSU football facility in 2002 … Penn State maintains a one-game lead over Wisconsin in the Leaders Division. They will meet in the season finale on Nov. 26. PSU can clinch a tie for the division with a win at Ohio State next week … Nebraska remained one game behind Michigan State in the Legends with two games left. If they end up tied, Nebraska would get the Big Ten title game berth because of a head-to-head win over MSU. If Nebraska finishes 10-2 and fails to make the title game, the Huskers could be a strong BCS at-large consideration. A loss by Houston or Stanford would help that cause … This was a surreal and subdued scene after Paterno’s ouster and the controversy and turmoil surrounding Penn State all week. Hopefully, it will help the healing process ... This was a match-up of two of the top five winningest teams in college football history with Nebraska fourth (now with 845) and Penn State tied with Ohio State for fifth (825). NU faces another such match-up next week at all-time wins leader Michigan (891).

* What’s Next – Nebraska visits Michigan next Saturday. Penn State travels to Ohio State next Saturday.

* More Coverage – Click here for coverage of Nebraska-Penn State from Huskers Illustrated. Click here for more coverage from Huskers Illustrated.

Click here for coverage of Nebraska-Penn State from Lions 247. Click here for more coverage from Lions 247.

Michigan State (13) 37, Iowa 21

* What Happened – One year after a humbling 37-6 loss at Iowa City, Michigan State (8-2, 5-1) returned to the scene of that loss and turned the tables on Iowa (6-4, 3-3). The Spartans jumped out to a 31-7 halftime lead and cruised to the win.

MSU QB Kirk Cousins threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns, while WR B.J. Cunningham caught a pair of TD passes for the Spartans. MSU snapped a seven-game losing streak at Iowa dating back to 1989.

"We came here with an idea that we were going to have to weather the storm or be the storm," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "To be able to push through the discouragement last year is a sign of progress and a sign of maturity."

James Vandenberg threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns for Iowa, which lost its first home game of the season.

"We left the door open way too many times in all three phases (of the game)," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "If you play a good team like Michigan State, it's going to be tough to win if you're not playing well."

* What We Learned – MSU remains in the driver’s seat in the Legends and should be favored against Indiana and Northwestern the next two weeks … Iowa WR Marvin McNutt was stellar in his final home game for the Hawkeyes with eight catches for 130 yards, becoming the program's leader in career receiving yards with 2,635 … But the Hawkeyes never got the ground game going against MSU’s stingy defense. Iowa only got 57 yards rushing from RB Marcus Coker, the Big Ten's leading rusher entering the game … Iowa got as close as 13 points late in the third quarter, but lost the ball on downs with 10:16 left … MSU got 112 yards and a touchdown from RB Le’Veon Bell and also converted a fake field goal with a 24-point lead … Iowa trails MSU by two games in the division with two to play.

* What’s Next – Michigan State hosts Indiana (1-9, 0-6) next Saturday. Indiana was idle this past Saturday. Iowa visits Purdue next Saturday.

* More Coverage – Click here for coverage of Michigan State-Iowa from the Voice Of The Hawkeyes. Click here for more coverage from the Voice Of The Hawkeyes.

Click here for coverage of Iowa-MSU from the Spartan Tailgate. Click here for more coverage from Spartan Tailgate.

Purdue 26, Ohio State 23 (OT)

* What Happened – Purdue (5-5, 3-3), playing to get a step closer to its first bowl bid since 2007, shocked visiting Ohio State (6-4, 3-3). The upset loss all but knocks OSU out of the Leaders Division race, trailing Penn State by two games with two games left.

The Boilermakers dominated the game, leading 17-7 at halftime before Ohio State rallied to tie it at 20-20 with 55 seconds left on a fourth-down touchdown pass from Braxton Miller to Jordan Hall. Purdue’s Bruce Gaston blocked the PAT kick and the game went to overtime.

In overtime, OSU had the ball first and, after LB Dwayne Beckford sacked Miller, the Buckeyes settled for a field goal. Purdue QB Robert Marve converted a pair of third downs and ended it with his own 1-yard touchdown run on a sneak, touching off a massive onfield celebration by the Boilers and their fans.

“Obviously it’s disappointing to lose,” said OSU coach Luke Fickell. “That’s the number one thing we talk about, whether it takes us out of contention for our ultimate goals or whatever. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs and our guys have fought through a lot of things.”

Purdue coach Danny Hope, on the hot seat somewhat, improved to 14-20 in his third year at Purdue and also moved to 2-1 against Ohio State.

“I’m really happy for Robert Marve,” Hope said. “He made a great play there in overtime (with a pass) and then a great sneak to get in the end zone and win the game. It’s a great story with a great ending today.”

* What We Learned – Ross-Ade Stadium may as well be named Waterloo (or Kryptonite) as far as Ohio State is concerned. The Buckeyes are 2-4 in their last six trips to West Lafayette. They lost back-to-back road games at Purdue for the first time ever … OSU’s string of six straight Big Ten titles is all but dead. They were positioned to rep the Leaders if they won out and if Penn State lost another game, which happened with Nebraska’s win at PSU. Now, OSU needs wins over PSU and Michigan and also needs Illinois to beat Wisconsin and Wisconsin to beat Penn State to get to the Big Ten title game … Miller made the play at the end to put his team in position to win. Now about the other 55 minutes. He was tentative and took sacks when he needed to be more decisive. That also happened in the OT … Marve took over at quarterback midway through the game and paid huge dividends. My guess is Danny Hope stays with Caleb TerBush as the starter, but he won’t hesitate to go to Marve … OSU couldn’t run it and didn’t pressure the Purdue passers, either. Marve and TerBush combined for 234 yards passing … OSU has four losses for the first time since 2004, when the Buckeyes finished 8-4.

* What’s Next – Ohio State hosts Penn State next Saturday. Purdue hosts Iowa next Saturday.

* More Coverage – Click here for coverage of the OSU-Purdue game. Click here for more coverage from Bucknuts.com

Michigan (22) 31, Illinois 14

* What Happened – Michigan (8-2, 4-2) jumped out to a 17-0 third-quarter lead and coasted to the win at Illinois (6-4, 2-4). It was another huge game for Michigan RB Fitzgerald Tousssaint, who had 27 carries for 192 yards and a touchdown. QB Denard Robinson missed some time due to a bruised wrist, but he threw for 92 yards and rushed for 30 yards and two scores. Backup QB Devin Gardner hit Martavious Odoms for a 27-yard touchdown as well.

The Michigan defense is coming into shape. The Wolverines held the Illini to 37 yards rushing on 33 attempts (1.1 average per attempt). Illinois didn’t cross midfield until the third quarter.

The Illini twice got the UM lead down to 10 points in the second half, but Toussaint’s 27-yard TD run with 2:24 left put it out of reach.

Illinois opened the year 6-0, but has now lost four straight. Illinois’ last win was Oct. 8 at Indiana (41-20). It gets no easier with high scoring Wisconsin coming to town next Saturday.

"We are in a funk for some reason and it is something, particularly on the offensive side of the football, that we have not seen since I have been here," Illini coach Ron Zook said.

* What We Learned – Michigan’s defense really is improving. This was the sixth time in 10 games UM held its opponent to 14 points or fewer. It happened once last year … The Michigan win sets up a showdown with Nebraska at The Big House next week. The winner will keep hope of a Legends Division title alive, although that team also needs Indiana or Northwestern to upset Michigan State … Gardner has become an insurance policy for Michigan as Robinson’s run-first game puts him in harm’s way quite a bit … Nobody will confuse Toussaint, at 5-10, 195 pounds, with past UM bruising backs like Tyrone Wheatley or Anthony Thomas. But he is definitely getting the job done and has taken quite a bit of the load off Robinson … Michigan reached eight wins for the first time since Lloyd Carr’s last season in 2007 (9-4).

* What’s Next – Michigan hosts Nebraska next Saturday. Illinois hosts Wisconsin next Saturday.

Wisconsin (16) 42, Minnesota 13

* What Happened – Wisconsin (8-2, 4-2) kept Paul Bunyan's Axe for the eighth straight year with an easy win at Minnesota (2-8, 1-5). The Badgers outgained the Gophers 461-156 in total offense, rolling up 283 yards on the ground.

RB Montee Ball broke the Big Ten's single-season touchdown record and now has 27 TDs in 10 games. He had 23 carries for 166 yards and two scores. QB Russell Wilson was also on top of his game, completing 16 of 17 passes for 178 yards and four touchdowns. Nick Toon had eight catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns.

The Badgers led 28-6 at the half and hardly looked back.

It was a tough day for Minnesota QB MarQueis Gray. His mobility was limited due to a bad back and he probably had his mind on something else his girlfriend gave birth to twin boys on Friday. Gray ended up 6 for 14 passing for 51 yards and ran 19 times for 68 yards. In one bright spot, UM got a 96-yard kick return touchdown from Duane Bennett.

* What We Learned – Man, who do you give the Big Ten offensive player of the year award and the league MVP trophy to? It’s either Ball or Wilson. Maybe Ball can get the offensive award and Wilson can be the league MVP. Maybe that makes the most sense. They both deserve All-American consideration, for sure … Ball took over the Big Ten rushing lead. He now has 1,254 yards on the year. Iowa’s Coker is next at 1,158 … With losses by Penn State and Ohio State, Wisconsin controls its own destiny for the Big Ten Leaders Division title and championship game berth. If the Badgers win out against Illinois and Penn State, they will go to the title game … When Wisconsin gets inside the 20, it’s a good thing. The Badgers are No. 1 nationally in the red zone with 45 TDs in 52 trips … UW’s eight straight wins over Minnesota are the most for the Badgers in the nation’s longest series since it began in 1890 … The previous Big Ten mark of 26 TDs was shared previously by Pete Johnson (Ohio State, 1975), Anthony Thompson (Indiana, 1988) and Ki-Jana Carter (Penn State, 1994). Ball is 12 scores behind Barry Sanders' NCAA record of 39.

* What’s Next – Wisconsin visits Illinois next Saturday. Minnesota visits Northwestern next Saturday.

* More Coverage – Click here for coverage of Wisconsin-Minnesota from Badger 247. Click here for more coverage from Badger 247.

Northwestern 28, Rice 6

* What Happened – Playing at home, Northwestern (5-5, 2-4) needed a nonconference home win over Rice (3-7) to keep hopes of a postseason berth alive. The Wildcats moved on top 21-0 at the intermission and secured the win. A victory over Minnesota or Michigan State – both at home – would give NU an unprecedented fourth straight bowl bid.

The pitch-and-catch tandem of QB Dan Persa and WR Jeremy Ebert was unstoppable. Persa threw for a career-high 372 yards and four touchdowns, while Ebert set a personal best with seven catches for 208 yards and two scores. One of those was a 90-yarder – the second longest pass play in school history. Persa also hit his sometimes platoon mate at QB, Kain Colter, with a TD pass.

* What We Learned – Ebert’s two TD catches give him 10 for the year, tying him with Iowa’s McNutt for the Big Ten lead. He stands two TD catches shy of the school single-season record of 12 set by D’Wayne Bates in 1996 … Rice was coming off a wild 41-37 win over UTEP, where the Owls put up 671 yards total offense. But Rice was held to 254 yards here and lost for the fourth time in five games … NU was its own worst enemy with three turnovers, two coming on Persa interceptions.

* What’s Next – Northwestern hosts Minnesota next Saturday.

Big Ten Standings

Leaders Division

Penn State (8-2 overall, 5-1 Big Ten)
Wisconsin (8-2, 4-2)
Ohio State (6-4, 3-3)
Purdue (5-5, 3-3)
Illinois (6-4, 2-4)
Indiana (1-9, 0-6)

Legends Division

Michigan State (8-2, 5-1)
Michigan (8-2, 4-2)
Nebraska (8-2, 4-2)
Iowa (6-4, 3-3)
Northwestern (5-5, 2-4)
Minnesota (2-8, 1-5)

Nov. 12 Games

Purdue 26, Ohio State 23 (OT)
Michigan State (13) 37, Iowa 21
Nebraska (19) 17, Penn State (12) 14
Northwestern 28, Rice 6
Michigan (22) 31, Illinois 14
Wisconsin (16) 42, Minnesota 13
Indiana idle

Nov. 19 Games

Nebraska (17) at Michigan (20), noon (ESPN)
Wisconsin (15) at Illinois, noon (ESPN2)
Indiana at Michigan State (12), noon (Big Ten Network)
Iowa at Purdue, noon (Big Ten Network)
Minnesota at Northwestern, noon (Big Ten Network)
Penn State (21) at Ohio State, 3:30 p.m. (ABC regional; ESPN reverse mirror)

Nov. 25 Game

Iowa at Nebraska, noon (ABC)

Nov. 26 Games

Ohio State at Michigan, noon (ABC or ESPN)
Michigan State at Northwestern, noon (Big Ten Network)
Illinois at Minnesota, 3:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Purdue at Indiana, 3:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Penn State at Wisconsin, 3:30 p.m. (ABC or ESPN)

Dec. 3 Game

Big Ten Championship Game (Leaders Division champion vs. Legends Division champion) at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, 8 p.m. (FOX)

Picks Recap

During Week 11, I was 20-8 straight-up. The losses were by Syracuse (to South Florida), Texas (to Missouri), Cincinnati (to West Virginia), Ohio State (to Purdue), Boise State (to TCU), UCLA (to Utah), Arizona State (to Washington State) and Stanford (to Oregon … yes, I was on the wrong side of the biggie for the second week in a row). I am now 212-54 straight-up for the year.

I was 14-14 against-the-spread. I am now 137-113-4 ATS for the year.

We will do it again for Week 12 on Thursday.

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