Around the Big Ten: Week 16 (Football)

Story posted December 18, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Alex Rocco

The Big Ten enters championship weekend and there have been schedule changes to allow the teams not in the championship to play one more game.

Three games have been canceled this weekend: Purdue vs. Indiana, Michigan vs. Iowa and Michigan State vs. Maryland.

In the East division, No. 11 Indiana finished with a 6-1 record, Maryland finished with a 2-3 record, Michigan had a record of 2-4 and Michigan State finished the season 2-5.

In the West division, No. 16 Iowa finished with a 6-2 record and Purdue had a 2-4 record.

Despite the cancellations, there are still four games this weekend.

No. 14 Northwestern (6-1) vs. No. 4 Ohio State (5-0)

The championship matchup is set and it features arguably the two best teams.

After going 3-9 last season, nobody expected just one season later that Northwestern would be playing in the championship game. However, here they are.

The Wildcats are led by their defense, which is allowing just around 15 points per game. Defensive backs Brandon Joesph and Greg Newsome II have been excellent. Joseph has five interceptions and Newsome II has nine pass deflections this season. Linebacker Paddy Fisher has registered 65 tackles and an interception.

Everyone expected Ohio State to be in this game, and after some rule changes, here they are.

The Buckeyes offense is electric, led by Heisman Trophy candidate Justin Fields. Fields through the air has 1,407 yards, 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions, as well as 239 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the season.

Receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave have been nothing short of dominant this season. Wilson has 34 catches 572 yards and five touchdowns and as for Olave, he has 36 catches 528 yards and five touchdowns.

Nebraska (2-5) vs. Rutgers (3-5)

Nebraska enters this week after a disappointing 24-17 loss to Minnesota and has now lost three out of its last four.

The Cornhuskers offense has struggled mightily all season as they have gotten inconsistent quarterback play from Adrian Martinez and Luke McCaffrey. The defense has been solid and has been led by cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt.

Rutgers is coming off a huge 27-24 win in overtime over Maryland and has now won two of their last three.

Quarterback Artur Sitkowski was solid last game, passing for 108 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Bo Melton had 35 receiving yards as well as 62 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

Minnesota (3-3) vs. Wisconsin (2-3)

Minnesota has won three of its last four and is playing great football.

The Golden Gophers will lean heavily on running back Mohamed Ibrahim who has recorded 925 yards and 15 touchdowns this season.

Wisconsin has been extremely inconsistent this season and has lost the last three games. Look for quarterback Graham Mertz to have a big game if the Badgers want to come away with a win.

Illinois (2-5) vs. Penn State (3-5)

The Fighting Illini have lost two straight and are not playing good football. To make matters worse, they enter this game without a head coach as former head coach Lovie Smith was fired after last week’s 28-10 loss to Northwestern.

Illinois will also be without top receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe as he entered the 2021 NFL Draft. This game will be extremely tough for Illinois as Penn State has been playing great football recently.

After losing the first five games of the season, the Nittany Lions have won three straight. Last week they defeated Michigan State 39-24.

Quarterback Sean Clifford played well, passing for 232 yards as well as two touchdowns. Clifford would add 48 yards and another touchdown on the ground.

Receivers Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington were excellent. Dotson had 8 catches for 108 yards as well as an 81-yard punt return touchdown. Washington totaled 95 yards on 4 catches and would find the endzone twice.

 

Alex Rocco is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email afr5646@psu.edu.