After all the chaos and surprises of the regular season, the Big Ten Championship Game is set. Ohio State and Wisconsin will meet in the championship game for the third time in six seasons. The Buckeyes could make the College Football Playoff even with a loss, while Wisconsin will make a good bowl game regardless of the championship game’s result.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten)
The Buckeyes continued their dominance over rival Michigan, cruising to a 56-27 win for their eighth straight win of the series. Running back J.K. Dobbins and quarterback Justin Fields once again provided the offense for the Buckeyes. Dobbins ran for 211 yards and four touchdowns, while Fields threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns. Ohio State avoided an injury scare, as Fields looked like he suffered a severe knee injury in the third quarter, but came back seven plays later to throw another touchdown. The Buckeyes will face Wisconsin for the Big Ten Championship.
2. Wisconsin Badgers (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten)
The Badgers spoiled Minnesota’s Big Ten Championship and playoff hopes with a 38-17 win. Wisconsin secured the Big Ten West title and Paul Bunyan’s Axe behind star running back Jonathan Taylor and quarterback Jack Coan. Taylor rushed for two touchdowns and had a receiving touchdown with a total of 115 yards. Coan was 15-22 and threw two touchdowns in one of his best performances of the season. Wisconsin will look to take down undefeated Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game.
3. Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten)
Penn State spent most of the game in a tight battle against Rutgers, leading 13-6 in the fourth quarter. The Nittany Lions pulled away in the fourth, scoring two touchdowns en route to a 27-6 win. Running back Journey Brown was a huge part of Penn State’s win, totaling 103 yards and three touchdowns.
4. Minnesota Golden Gophers (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten)
In one of their most important games in program history, the Golden Gophers were able to take an early lead via a 51-yard touchdown pass by Tanner Morgan. Minnesota struggled to score after this, as the Badgers’ defense recorded five sacks and forced two costly turnovers. Wisconsin outscored Minnesota 38-10 after this touchdown, as the Golden Gophers could not stop Jonathan Taylor or Wisconsin’s passing attack. Minnesota lost its chance for a Big Ten title and a playoff spot, but still recorded one of its best seasons in recent memory.
5. Michigan Wolverines (9-3, 6-3 Big Ten)
The Wolverines got dominated by Ohio State once again in the Jim Harbaugh era, as he remains winless against Ohio State. Michigan kept it close throughout the first half, trailing 28-16 at halftime. Ohio State was able to pull away in the second half, outscoring Michigan 28-11. Michigan could not stop Fields and the dynamic Ohio State offense, giving up 577 yards and 56 points. It's another 9-3 season for the Wolverines, and one must wonder how much longer Michigan fans can tolerate coming up short.
6. Iowa Hawkeyes (9-3, 6-3 Big Ten)
The Hawkeyes won another tightly contested game against rival Nebraska, 27-24. Iowa got off to a quick start, holding a 24-10 lead midway through the third quarter. Nebraska tied the game after senior running back Wyatt Mazour scored on a 9-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Nate Stanley led the final drive for Iowa, and a couple of 22-yard passes set up Keith Duncan’s 48-yard goal as time expired. The Hawkeyes won despite Stanley throwing for less than 100 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. The rushing game was terrific though, as the Hawkeyes ran for 225 total yards.
7. Indiana Hoosiers (8-4, 5-4 Big Ten)
The Hoosiers played a thrilling double-overtime slugfest against Purdue in a 44-41 win. Indiana was up 28-10 with three minutes left in the third quarter, but late in the fourth Purdue tied the game at 31 after quarterback Aiden O’Connell’s 20-yard touchdown pass and a two-point conversion. Indiana and Purdue exchanged touchdowns in the first overtime, but the Hoosiers held Purdue to a field goal in double overtime. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey ran in the final score from a yard out, sealing Indiana’s victory. Ramsey was impressive, throwing for 337 yards, three touchdowns and added two rushing touchdowns as well.
8. Illinois Fighting Illini (6-6, 4-5 Big Ten)
Northwestern earned its first Big Ten win of the season with a 29-10 upset over Illinois. The Wildcats were up 17-10 in the third quarter, and used two touchdowns to take control in the fourth quarter. The Fighting Illini were held to 160 total yards, only 14 rushing yards and turned the ball over twice.
9. Michigan State Spartans (6-6, 4-5 Big Ten)
The Spartans gained bowl eligibility after outlasting Maryland 19-16. Maryland took a 16-13 lead late in the third quarter, but Michigan State tied the score at 16 with a field goal. The Spartans then took the lead with a 74-yard drive which set up the go-ahead 33-yard field goal. It was not a pretty performance from the Spartans, as quarterback Brian Lewerke threw two interceptions and barely beat a team that had lost its previous four games by 31 or more points.
10. Nebraska Huskers (5-7, 3-6 Big Ten)
The Huskers failed to become bowl eligible Friday, losing another close game against Iowa. Nebraska was able to score 24 points and rally against Iowa, despite the poor performance of quarterback Adrian Martinez. Martinez threw for only 50 yards and had an interception. The Huskers got their points from a field goal, a Luke McCaffrey touchdown pass, an interception return and a Wyatt Mazour touchdown run. The Husker defense could not stop the Hawkeyes’ final drive after tying the score at 24, giving up the go-ahead field goal. Nebraska will miss out on the postseason for the third consecutive year, its longest drought since the 1960s.