As the 2015 season nears the end and new predictions form and contenders step forward, here are the takeaways from Week 11 of Big Ten Conference play.
1. J.T. Barrett was Shaky in Return From Suspension
The week off for Ohio State University quarterback J.T. Barrett did not aid the signal caller in his performance. Barrett posted pedestrian numbers, going 15 for 23 for 150 yards and one touchdown.
2. Rudock, Chesson Shined for Wolverines
University of Michigan could not rely on its stingy defense forever.
Fortunately, its offense came through when the team needed it the most. Jake Rudock’s career game he had against Rutgers was not a fluke, as he shattered those number with 440 yards and six touchdown passes in a 48-41 double overtime victory over the Indiana University Hoosiers. Four of Rudock’s touchdown passes went to the Liberian native, Jehu Chesson. Chesson’s four touchdowns tied the Wolverines’ single game record that was last set by Derrick Alexander in 1992.
3. Jordan Howard Gashed Top-Ranked Defense
Heading into the matchup with Indiana University, the Michigan Wolverines’ rush defense was ranked third in the nation, averaging 80 rushing yards allowed per game.
However, Hoosiers’ running back Jordan Howard had more than three times that amount in the game, totaling 238 rushing yards and three total touchdowns.
Howard, the second-leading rusher in the Big Ten, was a nightmare for Michigan’s defense, as he averaged nearly seven yards every time he carried the ball. Expect big things to come for Indiana next year if Howard decides to stay in college for his senior year.
4. No Cook, No Problem for Spartans
With the way Michigan State University’s defense was playing, it was an intelligent move for head coach Mark Dantonio to bench him for precautionary reasons. The Spartans’ defense held University of Maryland to one touchdown and forced five turnovers, while Tyler O’Connor relieved Cook with one touchdown pass in the Spartans’ 24-7 victory.
With Michigan State set to face the top-ranked Ohio State next week, Cook should be healthy for that game thanks to Dantonio resting him in a cupcake game.
5. Beathard, Daniels Jr. Held off Minnesota in Shootout
If you’ve been following University of Minnesota Golden Gophers all season, you would know that they keep it close with top competition. The Hawkeyes were no exception.
The Gophers overcame a 13-point deficit, but ultimately the phenomenal rushing efforts from LeShun Daniels Jr. and C.J. Beathard were too much for Minnesota, as they combined for 245 rushing yards and five touchdowns in the Hawkeyes’ 40-35 victory. The win gave Iowa its first-ever 10-0 start in school history.
6. Northwestern Survived Another Close Game with a Victory over Purdue: After suffering a two-game losing streak, the Northwestern University Wildcats are now on a three-game winning streak. During that span, the Wildcats have won by a combined 11 points. Northwestern gashed the Boilermakers’ defense for 250 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a 21-14 cliffhanger. Justin Jackson led the team with 116 yards and two touchdowns. The win put the Wildcats closer to a prestigious bowl game with their 8-2 record.
7. Cornhuskers Kept Their Bowl Hopes Alive with Win Over Rutgers
After dethroning unbeaten Michigan State last week, The University of Nebraska picked up where it left off in a 31-14 victory over the Scarlet Knights. Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw three touchdown passes, while tight end Cethan Carter had a rushing and receiving touchdown.
Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano could not get the offense rolling, as the Cornhuskers defense swarmed him for six sacks. The Cornhuskers need only one more win to become bowl eligible for the eighth season in a row.