Game of the Week
Ohio State 42, Michigan 41
With the bizarre ending to the Iron Bowl, this game was swept aside to a degree. It’s sad, as this was a fantastic game that went down to the wire, almost costing the Buckeyes their BCS shot. Ohio State dominated the Wolverine defense, with their vaunted running game account for 393 yards. Carlos Hyde had 226 of those yards and a TD on 27 carries, but had a costly fumble in the fourth quarter that gave a reeling Michigan team new life. Braxton Miller ran for 153 yards and 3 scores, and also passed for 133 yards and 2 scores, despite completing just 6 of 15 passes and throwing an interception. The real star on the day though, wore blue, as Devin Gardner was outstanding in his final home game in The Big House. Gardner completed 32 of 45 passes for 451 yards and 4 scores, and also ran for another TD and some key first downs when they needed to move the chains. What made this even more impressive was how he absorbed the beating given to him by the Buckeyes, even playing most of the last two quarters on an injured ankle. Sadly, it was his last play that will be remembered most, as he threw an ill-advised pass on the potential game-winning 2-point conversion that was intercepted by Tyvis Powell. The ensuing onside kick was recovered by Ohio State, who just needed to snap once in victory formation to continue their 24-game winning streak.
Team of the Week
Iowa deserve a nod here too, but the Nittany Lions were immensely impressive in taking down a Wisconsin team that were playing at a high-level and had BCS aspirations. Not any more. The Penn State defense did an outstanding job slowing down Wisconsin’s running game, forcing them out of their comfort zone and into the hands of quarterback Joel Stave. The sophomore passed for 339 yards and 3 TDs, leading Wisconsin to a 14-7 lead, but also threw 3 interceptions in the second half, including one of the Badgers final drive (by Ryan Keiser). The real story of the day was PSU’s freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who showed great poise and looked like a cagey veteran in passing for 339 yards and 4 TDs, completing 21 of 30 attempts. The most telling statistic of the day (apart from the score)? Wisconsin hadn’t allowed a play of over 51 yards all season – they gave up 4 of over 52 to the Lions, including 3 passes by Hackenberg.
Offensive Player of the Week
Tre Roberson, Indiana
There were a ton of great performances over the weekend, with a number of quarterbacks going north of 300 yards and firing 4 TDs, but Tre Roberson gets the nod for utterly shredding Purdue, both through the air and on the ground. Roberson led Indiana to their most ever points against the Boilermakers, passing for 273 yards and 6 (count ‘em) TDs on 25 of 37 passing, while rushing for 154 yards on 21 carries. He also threw 2 interceptions, but they had zero impact on the game.
Defensive Player of the Week
James Morris, Iowa
There were plenty of fine defensive performances on the last week of the regular season, but Morris was all over the field in the Hawkeyes surprising beatdown of Nebraska. Not only did he have 10 tackles, but 4 were in the Cornhuskers backfield, including a sack. He also forced a fumble, broke up a pass, intercepted another and threw in a QB hurry for good measure. The whole Hawkeye defense deserves plaudits for its efforts, but Morris led the charge with his playmaking skills.
Special Teams Player of the Week
Justin DuVernois, Illinois
The final result may not have gone in Illinois’ favor, but that certainly isn’t the fault of their punter, who made life difficult for Northwestern when given the chance. He punted 5 times for 231 yards, and 3 landed inside the 20. Of his 5 punts, 2 were returned for 0 yards, 1 was fair caught was and 1 (66 yards) was downed at the 2. The only blemish was a 22-yard return that helped set up a FG at the end of the first half.
Play of the Week
Cody Latimer, Indiana
Not one of those flashy 50+ yards TDs that were rampant this weekend, but it was an outstanding play nonetheless. With the Hoosiers up 28-9 and camped on the Purdue 27, Tre Roberson threw a loose pass that looked to be picked off by the Boilermakers at the sideline. Instead, Latimer leaped over cornerback Antoine Lewis and stole the ball away, got his feet down and dived into the endzone, barely getting the ball inside the pylon. It has to be seen to be believed, so enjoy!