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Sunday Spin: Three Still In Hunt

Welcome to Sunday Spin!

Wisconsin (with Russell Wilson) and Penn State (with Stephfon Green) will battle for the Leaders Division title. Michigan State (with Kirk Cousins) has already won the Legends crown.

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.

Over this past weekend, Michigan State clinched at least a tie for the Legends Division title and has already secured its spot in the first-ever Big Ten championship game, set for Dec. 3 at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium. MSU leads Michigan by one game going into the final weekend of the season. But even with a loss to Northwestern and a Michigan win over Ohio State, MSU would still go to the title game with a head-to-head win over Michigan.

The Leaders Division title will be decided this Saturday as Penn State visits Wisconsin. PSU holds a one-game lead over Wisconsin and has earned at least a tie for the division title. But the Badgers would get the Big Ten championship game berth with the head-to-head win.

OK, here we go with the week in review:

Michigan (20) 45, Nebraska (17) 17

* What Happened – Michigan (9-2, 5-2) put it all together and vanquished a quality opponent before 113,718 fans at The Big House. QB Denard Robinson accounted for 243 yards total offense and four touchdowns in leading Michigan to the win. Robinson completed 11 of 18 passes for 180 yards and two scores with an interception and also had 23 carries for 83 yards and two scores.

RB Fitzgerald Toussaint had 29 carries for 138 yards and two touchdowns as well for Michigan. The Wolverines outgained Nebraska 418-260 in total yardage.

“It's probably as well as we've played in all three phases," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said.

Nebraska (8-3, 4-3) committed four turnovers in the loss, allowing Michigan to pull away after holding a 17-10 halftime lead.

“You can’t play that way on the road and hope to win,” said Nebraska coach Bo Pelini.

* What We Learned – Michigan is playing its best football at the right time. The Wolverines can’t reach the Big Ten championship game because of their earlier loss to Michigan State. But if they can defeat Ohio State, they could be in line for a BCS berth at best or either the Capital One or Outback Bowl at worst. If UM makes a BCS bowl, it would be its first since a spot in the 2007 Rose Bowl. The Big Ten has had two BCS teams each year since 2005 … Michigan hasn’t defeated Ohio State since 2003, a span of seven straight losses. As this Nebraska game wound down, long-suffering Michigan fans chanted, “Beat Ohio.” … Robinson now has 33 rushing touchdowns in his career, putting him sixth on the UM career list … This was Nebraska’s first visit to Michigan since 1962. Michigan now holds a 4-2-1 all-time edge against Nebraska … Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead was held to a season-low 36 yards and didn't score for the first time this season. QB Taylor Martinez was 9 of 23 for 122 yards with a TD and a fumble, one of a season-high three for the Cornhuskers … Nebraska kicker/punter Brett Maher had a big day as he hit a 51-yard field goal, two extra points and averaged 50.5 yards on six punts with four going inside the 20-yard line.

* What’s Next – Nebraska hosts Iowa on Friday. Michigan hosts Ohio State next Saturday.

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

Click here for coverage of Michigan-Nebraska from Wolverine 247. Click here for more coverage from Wolverine 247.

Penn State (21) 20, Ohio State 14

* What Happened – Penn State (9-2, 6-1) jumped out to leads of 10-0 and 17-7 and held on for dear life against mistake-prone Ohio State (6-5, 3-4). The Nittany Lions had 327 yards total offense – including 239 rushing – in the win.

PSU quarterback Matt McGloin, victimized for a pair of pick-six interceptions in a 38-14 loss at OSU last year, completed 10 of 18 passes for 88 yards with an interception for Penn State, which won its first game since a scandal involving former assistant Jerry Sandusky and the firing of 46-year head coach Joe Paterno rocked the program.

Senior Stephfon Green had 16 carries for 93 yards with two touchdowns for PSU, while Silas Redd had eight carries for 63 yards, while Curtis Drake popped off 50 yards on just three carries.

"I challenged the guys on the team to show a lot of character and resolve and they did,” said PSU interim coach Tom Bradley, who earned his first win in two games since replacing Paterno. “I challenged them before the game, we talked about the last two teams to win here were '78 and '08. I wanted to know how you're (the team) going to be remembered."

OSU quarterback Braxton Miller was 7 of 17 passing for 83 yards with a touchdown and also matched his career-high with 105 yards rushing and a touchdown on 19 carries. Boom Herron had 76 yards on 18 carries for the Buckeyes.

“I'm disappointed to lose at home on senior day,” Herron said. “We came into the game
wanting to go out with a bang. Obviously that just didn't' happen. It was emotional before and after the game. Every time you take a loss it's hard but especially on senior day. "

* What We Learned – Ohio State’s string of six straight Big Ten championships has come to an end. It was actually over before the Buckeyes took the field when Wisconsin defeated Illinois earlier in the day … The Buckeyes exhibited poor tackling, committed two fumbles in their own end of the field, had poor clock management late in the game, saw a receiver drop a key deep pass and had wholesale issues on the offensive line. Other than that, OSU was flawless … The victory is only the second for Penn State in 10 trips to Columbus as a Big Ten member since the Lions joined the conference in 1993 … Receiver DeVier Posey, playing his first game after serving a 10-game suspension, had four catches for 66 yards for OSU … The five losses are the most for Ohio State since Jim Tressel’s first team in 2001 finished 7-5 … The Buckeyes played amid much speculation that Urban Meyer will be introduced any day as OSU’s new coach.

* What’s Next – Ohio State visits Michigan next Saturday. Penn State visits Wisconsin next Saturday.

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

Click here for coverage of OSU-PSU from Lions 247. Click here for more coverage from Lions 247.

Michigan State (12) 55, Indiana 3

* What Happened – Michigan State (9-2, 6-1) picked up two trophies for the win over Indiana (1-10, 0-7). The Spartans grabbed the Old Brass Spittoon as well as the Legends Division crown. But MSU coach Mark Dantonio does not want his team to rest on its laurels.

"The journey isn't over -- we still want to finish this off," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "But I want to congratulate the senior class for winning 35 games -- the winningest class in the history of Michigan State football."

MSU racked up 470 yards total offense with QB Kirk Cousins completing 16 of 23 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns. His fellow senior, B.J. Cunningham, had six catches for 132 yards and two scores. MSU led 34-3 at halftime and tacked on three more scores – one on an 86-yard interception return – in rolling to the win.

* What We Learned – By beating Northwestern, MSU can reach double digits in wins in consecutive seasons for the first time ever. It would also be just the fourth time MSU has ever had 10 wins in a season … On the flip side, Indiana reached 10 losses for the fourth time in school history and first time since 2003, when the Hoosiers finished 2-10 for coach Gerry DiNardo … IU has lost nine straight games this season and the Hoosiers’ lone win this year is over I-AA South Carolina State … A win in the conference title game would send MSU to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1988.

* What’s Next – Michigan State visits Northwestern Saturday. Indiana hosts Purdue next Saturday.

* More Coverage – Click here for coverage of Indiana-MSU from the Spartan Tailgate. Click here for more coverage from Spartan Tailgate.

Click here for coverage of Indiana-MSU from Inside Indiana. Click here for more coverage from Inside Indiana.

Iowa 31, Purdue 21

* What Happened – Iowa (7-4, 4-3) got 273 yards passing and three touchdowns from QB James Vandenberg in denying host Purdue (5-6, 3-4) a chance to become bowl-eligible.

WR Marvin McNutt hauled in nine passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns for the Hawkeyes, while RB Marcus Coker had 139 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.

Iowa led 21-14 at halftime before a 38-yard Mike Meyer field goal and a 51-yard TD strike from Vandenberg to McNutt allowed Iowa some breathing room.

A week after playing the hero in Purdue’s overtime win over Ohio State, QB Robert Marve threw a pair of costly interceptions and lost a fumble at the goal line. With 1:27 left, Marve appeared to score a touchdown that would have made the score 31-28 when he scrambled left and dove for the end zone, extending the ball toward the pylon before fumbling.After a review the ball was ruled to have been fumbled forward at the pylon resulting in a touchback. Iowa took possession of the ball and took home a win.

“There were a lot of plays that maybe weren’t the prettiest but the bottom line is the guys played hard and got the job done,” said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. “We’re just thrilled to get the victory.”

* What We Learned – Purdue still has to be favored to become bowl-eligible with a win at rival Indiana on Saturday. The question is whether there will be enough bowls out there to accommodate as many as 10 bowl-eligible Big Ten teams. Purdue hasn’t been to a bowl since 2007 … Saturday’s win marked the first time the Hawkeyes won outside Iowa City during the regular season since narrowly escaping Bloomington with an 18-13 win over Indiana Nov. 6 of last season … The Hawkeyes outgained the Boilermakers 408-286 in total offense. WR Antavian Edison caught nine passes for 97 yards and Ralph Bolden ran for 71 yards for Purdue on Senior Day.

* What’s Next – Iowa visits Nebraska on Friday. Purdue visits Indiana next Saturday.

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

Wisconsin (15) 28, Illinois 17

* What Happened – Wisconsin (9-2, 5-2) fell behind host Illinois (6-5, 2-5) 17-7 at halftime before pulling the rug out from under the upset-minded Illini.

Illinois outgained Wisconsin 301-285, but had four costly turnovers (three interceptions and a fumble) to open the door for the Badgers’ second-half comeback.

"I told them at halftime, this is going to be one of the greatest memories you'll ever have because you were in such an adverse situation, and then come up and be triumphant," said UW coach Bret Bielema.

RB Montee Ball had 164 of his 224 yards and two of his three touchdowns in the second half for the Badgers, who stayed alive in the Leaders Division race.

* What We Learned – Illinois is bowl-eligible but the Illini have not won since an Oct. 8 victory at Indiana. Coach Ron Zook bristled at talk about his job status last week. He should be on high alert for more such questions after this collapse. In fact, DE Michael Buchanan exchanged words with an Illinois fan clamoring for Zook’s firing after the game … Wisconsin cashed in a fumble by Illinois WR Darius Millines and an interception by QB Reilly O’Toole into touchdowns in the second half … With as many as three games left, Ball is up to 30 touchdowns. He is within striking distance of Barry Sanders’ NCAA single-season touchdown mark of 39. He leads the nation in scoring and is second nationally in rushing with 1,466 yards …Wisconsin whittled Illinois’ lead in the all-time series here to 36-35-7.

* What’s Next – Wisconsin hosts Penn State next Saturday. Illinois visits Minnesota next Saturday.

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

Northwestern 28, Minnesota 13

* What Happened – Northwestern (6-5, 3-4) won for the fourth straight week, going up 21-10 at halftime and coasting to the win over visiting Minnesota (2-9, 1-6).

Northwestern QB Dan Persa completed 22 of 31 passes for 216 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

* What We Learned – Minnesota QB MarQueis Gray ran for 147 yards and a touchdown and threw for 124, but completed just 9 of 21 passes and got picked off once. RB Duane Bennett finished with a season-high 127 yards rushing, 78 in the first half … NU’s Brian Peters intercepted a Gray pass in the end zone to avert a possible Gophers touchdown … The victory made Northwestern bowl-eligible. If the Wildcats are selected for a bowl, it would be the first time in school history NU has made it to a bowl in four straight years.

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

Big Ten Standings

Leaders Division

Penn State (9-2 overall, 6-1 Big Ten)
Wisconsin (9-2, 5-2)
Ohio State (6-5, 3-4)
Purdue (5-6, 3-4)
Illinois (6-5, 2-5)
Indiana (1-10, 0-7)

Legends Division

Michigan State (9-2, 6-1)
Michigan (9-2, 5-2)
Nebraska (8-3, 4-3)
Iowa (7-4, 4-3)
Northwestern (6-5, 3-4)
Minnesota (2-9, 1-6)

Nov. 19 Games

Michigan (20) 45, Nebraska (17) 17
Wisconsin (15) 28, Illinois 17
Michigan State (12) 55, Indiana 3
Iowa 31, Purdue 21
Northwestern 28, Minnesota 13
Penn State (21) 20, Ohio State 14

Nov. 25 Game

Iowa at Nebraska (22), noon (ABC)

Nov. 26 Games

Ohio State at Michigan (17), noon (ABC)
Michigan State (11) 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 (20) at Wisconsin (15), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Dec. 3 Game

Big Ten Championship Game: Leaders Division champion (Penn State or Wisconsin) vs. Legends Division champion (Michigan State) at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, 8 p.m. (FOX)

Picks Recap

During Week 12, I was just 14-11 straight-up as there were a ton of upsets (think Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oklahoma, Clemson, Nebraska, Southern Miss, Texas and Florida State from the BCS top 25). I am now 226-65 straight-up for the year.

I was a decent enough 15-10 against-the-spread. I am now 152-123-4 ATS for the year. I’m 29 games over .500. I am very close to clinching an above .500 mark for the season. I’ll probably pick 24 or 25 games next week, 10 to 15 for the championship week and all 35 bowl games.

We will do it again for Week 13 on Thursday.

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