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B1G Ten Tour: Latest News & Notes
Posted Nov 27, 2012

At the conclusion of each week’s games, CFN’s Phil Harrison puts the previous weekend of Big Ten football under the microscope, and looks ahead through binoculars to see what’s in store for the upcoming weekend. Time to wrap the last week in a bow.

By Phil Harrison
Follow me@PhilHarrisonCFN

BIG MAN ON CAMPUS - Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State
Bell has been curiously missing from Big Ten notoriety since early in the year, but he made a statement on Saturday. Against Minnesota, Bell ran for a career high 266 yards and a touchdown on 35 carries to lead the Spartans to a 26-10 victory. It was Bell’s third 200-yard rushing game of this season as well as his career. His 35 carries also gave him 350 rushing attempts for the year, and 387 all-purpose attempts for the year--both top ten single-season marks for the conference. With the win, Sparty is now bowl-eligible, though that is little consolation for the disappointment this season.

12-0. Need we say more? uh, sure. Not only did the Buckeyes cap off only their sixth undefeated season in history, but it came at the expense of their arch-rival. Ohio State will not be going to Indy, and will not be going bowling, but the fact that the team stayed focused and motivated in a season in which there wasn’t much to play for will never get enough credit. A foundation has been laid to the chance at some special things in Columbus.

Where did this come from? Purdue looked like the Purdue everyone thought it’d be at the beginning of the year. The offense was clicking (although every offense seems to click against the Hoosiers), the defense made some key stops, and the Boilermakers dominated their rivals on the way to bowl-eligibility. Sadly, it wasn’t enough to spare Danny Hope his job, but it at least left a palatable end to a promising season gone rogue for Purdue fans.

Illinois has had a monopoly on this spot nearly all year. It was evident that Tim Beckman’s crew gave up on the season just shortly into the Big Ten campaign got under way. The team has not had nearly enough punch on offense to make up for the ineptitude on defense, and such was the case on Saturday. The “in-fighting” Ilini gave up half-of-a hundred points and over 450 yards of total offense to Northwestern to make us all pause for a moment of silence to end a season to forget in Champaign.

12. Illinois- There’s nothing left to be said other than the season is mercifully over.
11. Minnesota-Things have fallen steeply since the beginning of the year.
10. Iowa- Where does the Iowa program go from here?
9. Indiana-Well maybe the Hoosiers aren’t quite ready to compete consistently.
8. Purdue- Saturday was a good end to a sour season.
7. Michigan State- Who else saw Sparty struggling to make a bowl this year?
6. Wisconsin- Snakebitten, but a shot for redemption comes this weekend in Indy.
5. Northwestern- If MSU was the most disappointing, the ‘Cats are the opposite.
4. Michigan- Mistakes doomed the Wolverines Saturday. Better luck next year.
3. Penn State- O’Brien deserves tons of credit for keeping this team competitive.
2. Nebraska- Congrats to the ‘Huskers on the Legends division crown. Off to Indy.
1. Ohio State-Great season for a team that kept finding a way to win (them all).

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State - It remains to be seen if Miller will get an invite to New York or not. The sophomore QB won’t win the whole deal, but there is no denying that he is an unbelievable talent that should be set up as one of the favorites next year. If his passing can improve in the offseason, look out.

2. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin - Ball will never get the credit he should because he’s a running back in a great system flowing with milk and honey in Madison. Still, Ball really turned things on at the end of the year to get back on the fringe of Heisman thoughts. He probably won’t make it to New York, but he has had a great career. We wish him luck on Sundays.

Well we know what’s on tap for next week. It’s time to crown a champion in Indianapolis. Nebraska was supposed to take the league by storm last year but instead saved its best for a year in which it surprised folks a little by finishing ahead of league favorite Michigan in the Legends division. The ‘Huskers have offense to burn and will be going against an all-around solid Wisconsin team that made its way to Indianapolis because both Penn State and Ohio State are paying penance for past sins.

But don’t let that fool you. The Badgers have more than enough talent and coaching to play with (and beat) the Cornhuskers. The two already met this year in a classic 30-27 comeback win for Nebraska and we shouldn’t be surprised to see much of the same on Saturday night. The key will be how successful the Badgers are at controlling the tempo via the ground game. Nebraska was able to hold the vaunted rushing game of the Badgers in check in the first meeting and you can bet that Wisconsin will try to correct some execution in the sequel.

Game on.

Phil is the lead Big Ten columnist for CFN.Follow him @PhilHarrisonCFN