MADISON, Wis. – Ohio State clinched one title, and kept its slim hopes for another alive.
The sixth-ranked Buckeyes won the Leaders Division crown outright Saturday, beating Wisconsin 21-14 on Carlos Hyde’s 2-yard scoring run in overtime. Buckeyes safety Christian Bryant batted down Curt Phillips’ pass on fourth down to preserve the win.
Ohio State (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten) is ineligible for the postseason as part of its punishment for NCAA violations under former coach Jim Tressel. The best the Buckeyes can hope for is to finish the regular-season unbeaten, then have the teams above them all lose at least once to give them a shot at playing spoiler for The Associated Press title.
We have a saying, A team that refuses to be beat won’t be beat,’ Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. Somehow, someway.
Wisconsin, meanwhile, blew its chance to show it deserves its spot in next month’s Big Ten title game. The Badgers (7-4, 4-3) are third in the Leaders Division, but they’ll be playing for a trip to the Rose Bowl because neither the Buckeyes nor Penn State are eligible for the postseason. No one else in the division will even finish with a winning record.
I’m sure winning in Indy and going to the Rose Bowl and winning there would erase all the losses we’ve had, Montee Ball said. Because that’s our goal.
At least the Wisconsin fans got to see Ball get the major college record for career touchdowns in his final home game. Or, part of the record anyway. Ball scored his 78th TD in the second quarter, tying the mark set by Travis Prentice of Miami (Ohio) in 1999.
But he fumbled what would have been the record-breaker with 2:46 left in regulation.
NORTHWESTERN 23, MICHIGAN STATE 20: In East Lansing, Mich., Jeff Budzien kicked a 27-yard field goal with 7:30 remaining, and the Wildcats were able to hold on to this fourth-quarter lead.
Trevor Siemian threw for 165 yards, including a 41-yard pass to Dan Vitale that helped set up the winning kick. The Wildcats (8-3, 4-3 Big Ten) then forced a punt near midfield, and by the time Michigan State (5-6, 2-5) got the ball back at its own 20, there was only 1:29 left.
No. 16 NEBRASKA 38, MINNESOTA 14: In Lincoln, Neb., Taylor Martinez threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns to Kenny Bell while becoming the Cornhuskers’ all-time passing leader.
The Cornhuskers (9-2, 6-1), who came from behind in the second half in four of its first five Big Ten wins, scored on four of their first six possessions against the Gophers (6-5, 2-5).
Nebraska can clinch the Legends Division title – and a berth in the conference championship game against Wisconsin on Dec. 1 – with a win at Iowa on Friday or a Michigan loss at Ohio State on Saturday.
Martinez passed 36 yards to a wide-open Bell for the Huskers’ first touchdown, and they later connected for a 30-yarder along the sideline.
No. 23 MICHIGAN 42, IOWA 17: In Ann Arbor, Mich., Devin Gardner accounted for six touchdowns to help the Wolverines.
The Wolverines (8-3, 6-1 Big Ten) weren’t stopped on offense by the hapless Hawkeyes (4-7, 2-5) until Gardner threw an interception early in the fourth quarter.
Gardner threw three touchdowns and ran for three scores. He became the first Michigan quarterback to account for six TDs since 1983 when Steve Smith had as many passing and rushing scores at Minnesota.
Denard Robinson played after missing two-plus games with nerve damage in his right elbow. Robinson started at running back and took some snaps at QB, but didn’t throw a pass.
Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint appeared to break his left leg on his team’s first drive.