Rapid recap of the week that was: Ohio State starting quarterback J.T. Barrett had plenty of time to relax on the bench in an Illibuck Trophy blowout. Wisconsin defeated Michigan at Camp Randall to give the College Football Playoff Committee something to think about come Tuesday. Northwestern and Indiana cruised to easy wins over Minnesota and Rutgers. Penn State rolled all over Nebraska. Purdue upset Iowa at Kinnick. Michigan State defended Spartan Stadium’s last game of the season, beating Maryland by a couple of touchdowns.
Big Ten Top Performers
Wisconsin punt returner/cornerback Nick Nelson
The first points of Wisconsin’s 24-10 win over Michigan were scored by Badgers punt returner and cornerback Nick Nelson. The transfer from Hawaii let the punted ball bounce through traffic — he then scooped it up and dodged a bunch of Michigan tacklers for the 50-yard score.
Nick Nelson with a sneaky 50-yard punt return to put Wisconsin (-6.5) up 7-0 in the 1st quarter. pic.twitter.com/rvRVHO8AbN— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) November 18, 2017
Nick Nelson was as good a cover corner as there was on the day, deflecting passes in the red zone against Michigan targets Donovan Peoples-Jones and Kekoa Crawford. This was a complete performance by the junior in two phases of the game.
Northwestern tight end Garrett Dickerson
Garrett Dickerson had his best game of the 2017 season, and he scored two touchdowns in his last home game as a Northwestern Wildcat. The big end zone target capitalized on some tough running by fellow senior Justin Jackson.
Happy Senior Day, @Senor__Nueve!— Northwestern On BTN (@NUOnBTN) November 18, 2017
The @NUFBFamily Super-Back scores to give the 'Cats a two-score lead: pic.twitter.com/VaAsDBRdGV
Northwestern demolished the Minnesota Golden Gophers, a game that was over by halftime with the score 25-0. The Cats head into the Land of Lincoln Trophy game against Illinois on a six-game winning streak.
Indiana running back Morgan Ellison
The Indiana Hoosiers have struggled to run the ball all year. Against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in an hours long rain delay, freshman Morgan Ellison was extremely efficient with the ball in his hands. He scored two touchdowns, including one that went for 45 yards.
Indiana Rushing Leaders: Morgan Ellison & Cole Gest— IUSTV Sports (@IUSTVsports) November 18, 2017
Ellison had 15 carries for 149 yards and 2 TDs.
Gest had 23 carries for 104 yards and a TD.
Indiana thrashed Rutgers 41-0 and are just one win away from bowl eligibility.
Ohio State backup quarterback Dwayne Haskins
Ohio State winning the game by 38 points was the least surprising beatdown of the entire day. The real winner in the battle for the Illibuck was Ohio State backup freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
Dwayne Haskins’ statline against the Fighting Illini: 5-for-8, 77 yards passing, one touchdown and no interceptions. At one point Haskins had a lost fumble, and Urban Meyer promptly put J.T. Barrett back in the game to prove a point. Meyer ultimately went back to Haskins, not wanting to risk his starter one week before The Game.
No matter how many practices and reps Haskins gets on a weekly basis leading up to game day, no experience is as useful as taking live snaps against actual opponents in a real game. Haskins feasted on his opportunity. He made mistakes yes, but he also threw some real nice passes:
Ben Victor hauls in his 2nd touchdown reception of the day on this beautiful throw from Dwayne Haskins to make it 52-7, Ohio State. pic.twitter.com/C98ZAO1tLm— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 18, 2017
With J.T. Barrett graduating in the spring, Dwayne Haskins is the Ohio State heir at quarterback moving forward. He has all of the tools to be a big-time play maker in Columbus for years to come.
Purdue quarterback Elijah Sindelar
The Purdue Boilermarkers’ passing offense was lights out in Iowa City. Quarterback Elijah Sindelar was on fire and found receiver Anthony Mahoungou over and over again in an upset win over the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Mahoungou put up monster numbers, but just look at the touch and pinpoint accuracy on these Elijah Sindelar passes. Pure beauties:
Can't throw it better than Elijah Sindelar does on this @BoilerFootball TD. pic.twitter.com/SCvw5yRxf8— Purdue On BTN (@PurdueOnBTN) November 18, 2017
And this one:
Seems like @AM4_Life enjoys Kinnick Stadium quite a bit.@BoilerFootball is up two scores on Iowa! pic.twitter.com/KtuyXlqLEF— Purdue On BTN (@PurdueOnBTN) November 18, 2017
Purdue and Indiana close out the regular season next week at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette for the Old Oaken Bucket. The Hoosiers have won the last four in a row over the Boilermakers.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley
Penn State Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley got back on track in a blowout win versus Nebraska. Barkley had three touchdowns and over 133 yards rushing by halftime in Happy Valley.
One of Saquon Barkley’s touchdown runs went for 65 yards:
We've seen @saquonb21 do this a time or two.@PennStateFball grabs the early lead over Nebraska. pic.twitter.com/Jll5egH4kx— Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) November 18, 2017
Penn State had a complete, balanced game on offense — something we’ve come to expect from the Nittany Lions, especially at home. Quarterback Trace McSorley and tight end Mike Gesicki played well in a rout.
Penn State ends the regular season at Maryland next week.