The final weekend of the Big Ten regular season had myriad story lines worth following, including a Big Ten West division championship game, the battle for the Old Oaken Bucket, a blossoming East Coast rivalry and, of course, a team from Ohio playing a team from a state above Ohio.
I know Thanksgiving weekend can be a whirlwind of family, food and falling asleep during football (the three "Fs," as I call them), so we are here to let you know about what you may have missed or chosen to ignore (*glares at Penn State vs Michigan State*).
Big Ten East
S&P+ rank: 85th overall, 82nd offense, 85th defense
Week 14 result: W, Indiana 23, Purdue 16
Biggest strength: YOOOOOOOO INDIANA WON A GAME AND TEVIN COLEMAN DIDN'T EVEN PLAY HIS BEST GAME! While I send someone to pick out all of your coffins since you've surely dropped dead from this news, let it first be known that the Hoosiers battled back against an archrival and claim their first conference victory. Coleman rushed for 130 yards, bringing his season total to 2,036 and becoming the 18th player in FBS history to do so. Shane Wynn caught six passes and moved into a tie for second on Indiana's all-time reception list. Forced four turnovers. International arms dealer Zander Diamont scored the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard QB run with under 30 seconds to go.
Biggest weakness: Let's let Indiana have this week to celebrate, although Diamont still didn...*gets dragged away from laptop by giant hook*
Remaining schedule: Not bowl-eligible. Goes into next season on a one-game winning streak, though! Longest in the Big Ten among teams from Indiana.
S&P+ rank: 58th overall, 63rd offense, 49th defense
Week 14 result: L, Rutgers 41, Maryland 38
Biggest strength: Dominating first halves. Rolled up 281 rushing yards, including two guys (C.J. Brown at 107 and Brandon Ross at 108) going over 100 yards. Ross had two scores as well. Brown accounted for three total touchdowns (one rushing, two passing) and 195 yards passing to go with his impressive rushing total. Recovered two fumbles.
Biggest weakness: Forgetting that there there is a second half after the first half. Gave up 491 yards to Rutgers, of all teams, and committed nine penalties for 70 yards. Will Likely couldn't cover more than one person at once, smh. Lest you forget who the offensive coordinator is for Rutgers, allow me to remind you. It's Ralph Friedgen! Former Maryland coach who was fired after a 9-4 season and a bowl victory! Oh man...
Remaining schedule: The Terps are bowl-eligible and will await their fate. Here are SB Nation's updated bowl projections.
S&P+ rank: 53rd overall, 70th offense, 40th defense
Week 14 result: L, Ohio State 42, Michigan 28
Biggest strength: Drake Johnson had 74 yards and two touchdowns and even completed a pass for 18 yards! Devin Funchess had seven catches for 108 yards. Continues to play, regularly, a guy with the last name of Butt.
BUTT! Michigan's Devin Gardner throws his first road TD pass of the year to tight end Jake Butt. It's tied at 7 in Columbus.— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) November 29, 2014
Biggest weakness: Still has Brady Hoke as head coach. Could only stop J.T. Barrett when he was in an air cast on the sideline. Rushing defense was bad. Turned the ball over twice. Still has Brady Hoke as head coach. Don't throw it to Jake Butt on every single play so ESPN has to say "butt" 1,000 times a broadcast.
Remaining schedule: Hopefully winning the press conference when its announce the next coach this offseason. Press conference is currently installed as a 5.5-point favorite to beat Michigan.
S&P+ rank: 11th overall, 15th offense, 11th defense
Week 14 result: W, Michigan State 34, Penn State 10
Biggest strength: Jeremy Langford had two touchdowns, but only averaged 3.9 yards per carry. R.J. Shelton returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, but why wasn't it 95 yards? Won 10 games, but who did they really beat? Only allowed 38 rushing yards, but why give up any? I figure if we get enough out there about Michigan State not being good enough, it might not take a spot from Wisconsin in New Year's Eve/Day bowl. It's a foolproof plan.
Biggest weakness: The offense wasn't explosive, but it didn't really need to be. MSU kind of dominated. Yards per carry of 2.9 yards is pretty bad, though. This is a really big concern and hopefully MSU addresses it by the bowl game.
If you need proof you can complain about anything at any time, here you go. RT @MSofMind: Drummond pick 6 drop Count: 3— The Only Colors (@TheOnlyColors) November 29, 2014
Remaining schedule: Most certainly bowl-eligible. If every team loses this weekend, MSU could sneak into the Playoff, but again, every team would have to lose.
S&P+ rank: 2nd overall, 1st offense, 10th defense
Week 14 result: W, Ohio State 42, Michigan 28
Biggest strength: J.T. Barrett had an excellent game before he broke his ankle. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns, including a 44-yard run on 4th-and-1 to ice the game. Soft hands in the secondary.
OSU's biggest strength is basically just being the exact opposite of Michigan at this point. That was an annoying sentence to type.
Biggest weakness: Only having two Heisman candidates at quarterback on the roster. WHAT GIVES, CARDALE JONES? Committed nine penalties for 84 yards. This:
Kids are gonna be kids but… Not great, Bob. RT @isaacisaginger: Rushing the field after beating a 5 win ❌ichigan....no. Come on— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 29, 2014
Remaining schedule: Oh nothing important, just a conference title game matchup with the BEST DAMN TEAM IN THE WORLD! WOOOOOOOO ON WISCONSIN! O$U SUXXXXXXX! YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE ANYONE NAMED BUTT ON YOUR TEAM!
S&P+ rank: 33rd overall, 91st offense, 12th overall
Week 14 result: L, Michigan State 34, Penn State 10
Biggest strength: Penn State's defense is so good. The Nittany Lions are second in the country in rushing yards allowed per game. Christian Hackenberg owes everyone on that defense a Rolex when (if?) he gets an NFL contract. Although he does seem to care about Penn State.
Hackenberg says "This is where I wanna be. This is a team I love, a group of guys I love, a university I love. Wdnt rather be anywhere else"— David Jones (@djoneshoop) November 30, 2014
Maybe I should revisit my thoug...naw.
Biggest weakness: There is a lot to deconstruct here. Hackenberg completed fewer than half of his passes for no touchdowns and one pick, WOOF. The team ran for 38 yards. Like, in the whole game, that's how many it rushed for. Everyone on Penn State's offense should be running sprints until Christmas break. Turned the ball over twice. Went 1-for-3 on fourth down.
Remaining schedule: Bowl-eligible! Good for the seniors on this team that have been through a lot. See! I can be nice to Penn State sometimes.
S&P+ rank: 62nd overall, 42nd offense, 80th defense
Week 14 result: W, Rutgers 41, Maryland 38
Biggest strength: Battling back from 25 =-point deficits. Slingin' the dang ball all over the field. Gary Nova threw for 347 yards and four touchdowns and had three (!!!) receivers over 100 yards (Janarion Grant, Leonte Carroo, Andre Patton). I'm pretty sure Wisconsin doesn't have three receivers over 100 yards on the season. Carroo and Patton both had two touchdowns as well. Went 8-of-14 on third downs.
Biggest weakness: Turned the ball over twice while not forcing any turnovers. Started a bit slowly, but it was mostly fireworks and pizza and other awesome things for Rutgers.
Maryland hadn’t had a bad loss all season. This one qualifies in spades, obviously.— Testudo Times (@testudotimes) November 30, 2014
Maryland begs to differ on the "awesome things" statement.
Remaining schedule: Bowl-eligible,and you know New York City's Big Ten team will travel well. Attractive to bowls the country over.
Big Ten West
S&P+ rank: 82nd overall, 73rd offense, 89th defense
Week 14 result: W, Illinois 47, Northwestern 33
Biggest strength: Somehow, the winner of this slap-fight would become bowl-eligible, and the Illini is your slap-fight champion of Illinois and the Big Ten! Congratulations, Tim Beckman. Reilly O'Toole had a monster game, gaining 147 yards through the air AND on the ground with three total touchdowns. Josh Ferguson ran for 95 yards and two touchdowns and freshman Mike Dudek caught seven passes for 63 yards and a touchdown. Forced five (!) turnovers and returned a pick for a touchdown.
Biggest weakness: Had two place kickers play. What the hell? Both of their longs were 33 yards, so its not like one of them was the long kicker. I'm very confused by this and I demand answers. Other than this, Illinois played alright, I guess.
Remaining schedule: BOWL GAME! BECKMAN DID IT! And with ringing endorsements like this, how can the Illini not be excited for next season?
I understand why people aren't happy that Beckman will be back next year, but what did you really expect AD Mike Thomas to do?— The Champaign Room (@Champaign_Room) November 30, 2014
S&P+ rank: 66th overall, 76th offense, 51st defense
Week 14 result: L, Nebraska 37, Iowa 34
Biggest strength: Recovering the first ever (?) BUTTPUNT! Getting Nebraska head coaches fired despite not beating Nebraska. Going 10-for-20 on third down. Tevaun Smith had 71 yards and a receiving touchdown. Picked off two Nebraska passes.
Biggest weakness: Turned the ball over four times. Can't win at home.
Under .500 in Kinnick since 2012. $12.1 million over that time.— GwydionCa$hleeWalton (@HS_BHGP) November 28, 2014
Averaged 2.8 yards per carry as a team. Was winning 24-7 in the third quarter and didn't win.
Remaining schedule: Bowl-eligible, but no major holidays coming up in Iowa.
Christmas is canceled.— Adam Jacobi (@Adam_Jacobi) November 28, 2014
S&P+ rank: 42nd overall, 45th offense, 42nd offense
Week 14 result: L, Wisconsin 34, Minnesota 24
Biggest strength: David Cobb had 118 yards and a touchdown. Mitch Leidner had two rushing touchdowns. Able to make it off the field after losing its 11th straight game to Wisconsin without causing a major brawl. And, uh, not a whole lot more than that.
Biggest weakness: *cracks knuckles* Leidner only had 95 passing yards while completing five passes on 18 attempts. Purposefully tried to injure Melvin Gordon.
Melvin Gordon said the Minnesota player twisted his ankle on purpose. Said he knew it right when it happened. Play/game was over. #Badgers— Evan Flood (@Evan_Flood) December 1, 2014
It is worse now.
Somebody remind me Kill's record when leading at halftime?— The Daily Gopher (@TheDailyGopher) November 29, 2014
Couldn't guard Rob Wheelwright, which is just, I can't even, man. I can't even.
Remaining schedule: Some bowl in Texas where they'll probably lose to West Virginia or someone stupid like that.
S&P+ rank: 26th overall, 28th offense, 35th defense
Week 14 result: W, Nebraska 37, Iowa 34
Biggest strength: The Huskers showed some resilience in coming back and beating Iowa after losing two straight games in the Quadrangle of Hate.
The trophy for this is a steaming poo. RT @jdmill: And Iowa goes 0-3 in the 2014 Quadrangle of Hate.— Chris H. (@GoAUpher) November 28, 2014
Ameer Abdullah averaged 8.2 yards per carry and Tommy Armstrong, Jr. tossed four touchdown passes. Bo Pelini finally didn't lose four games in a season as the head coach of Nebraska.
Biggest weakness: Firing a coach who never won less than nine games in a season. Terrible time of possession, but that didn't really seem to matter. Most importantly, I hope this isn't true.
Worst part: During super-secret lunch, @FauxPelini told me he'd prob shut it down if not-fake Pelini got canned. Pls reconsider!— Teddy Greenstein (@TeddyGreenstein) November 30, 2014
Remaining schedule: A bowl game with @FauxPelini coaching from Twitter.
S&P+ rank: 72nd overall, 95th offense, 50th defense
Week 14 result: L, Illinois 47, Northwestern 33
Biggest strength: Justin Jackson had 130 yards and two touchdowns. He could be the next great undervalued Big Ten tailback. Only losing this game by 14 points while turning the ball over five times is pretty strong. Talking trash from the bottom of the bin.
Biggest weakness: YOU ARE TREADING ON THIN ICE, FITZGERALD!
BTW, Fitz took a needless shot at bloggers after the game, saying recruits shouldn’t "waste their time" reading them. Why antagonize?— Teddy Greenstein (@TeddyGreenstein) November 30, 2014
Just about everything else. Had three different guys throw the ball with Trevor Siemian out. One of those guys, Matt Alviti, was 1-of-3 for -3 yards. He's got a bright future in whatever it is he's majoring in. Northwestern is a good school.
Remaining schedule: Ummm, none?
S&P+ rank: 74th overall, 85th offense, 61st defense
Week 14 result: L, Indiana 23, Purdue 16
Biggest strength: Senior running back Akeem Hunt saved one of his best performances for last, rushing for 171 yards and an 82-yard touchdown against IU. Paul Griggs kicked three field goals. There, uh, wasn't much else good...
Still can't believe we pretty much gave up ahead 13-3. Defense folded. Offense did nothing.— Travis Miller (@HammerAndRails) November 29, 2014
Biggest weakness: Austin Appleby threw 80 interceptions (maybe it was only three, who can remember?) and averaged 3.5 yards per pass attempt. I guess if he completed every pass he threw it would enough for a first down on every drive, though. Unfortunately he did not. At least there is optimism in West Lafayette.
Darrell Hazell: 4-20 in two years. 2-20 vs. FBS teams. 1-15 vs. B1G. 0-8 vs. B1G at home. 0-2 vs. IU #facts.— Travis Miller (@HammerAndRails) November 29, 2014
Oh. *tugs collar nervously*
Remaining schedule: Seriously? With UAB disbanding its football program, maybe Purdue has some thinking to do.
S&P+ rank: 12th overall, 13th offense, 14th defense
Week 14 result: W, Wisconsin 34, Minnesota 24
Biggest strength: I don't want to alarm anyone, but Joel Stave was most certainly a strength this week. Two-hundred-fifteen yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. If that's not an ideal stat line for a Wisconsin quarterback, I don't really know what is. Obvi Melvin Gordon was a strength. Corey Clement was good, too, and Alex Erickson had a beautiful game (five catches, 160 yards). The defense was superb as usual, but we need to keep that on the down-low so no one tries to hire Dave Aranda away from us.
Biggest weakness: I stand by this.
BREAKING: FIRE KENZEL DOE INTO THE SUN— Drew Hamm (@drewhamm5) November 29, 2014
I think it would be fun to be an astronaut. Slow starts are great and all, especially when you come back from them, but I'd wager getting down by 14 to Ohio State in the first half won't end well for the Badgers.
Remaining schedule: Big Ten Championship Game. Perhaps you've heard of it? Wisconsin has participated in it three of the four times it has ever happened? No? Well, watch Fox on Saturday night and you'll see.
I know that this post is all in good fun and we like to crack jokes at other's expense, but occasionally you have to take a step back. I hope everyone will take a moment to keep Ohio State's Kosta Karageorge's family in their thoughts.