Penn State 49 Michigan 18
With a share of the Big Ten title and the Rose Bowl bid on the line, Penn State played its best game of the season. Defensively, they completely shut down Javon Ringer in holding him to 42 yards. And Darryl Clark was outstanding in the passing game, throwing for 341 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. In the cold and snow of central Pennsylvania, roses were blooming. Four years ago the recruiting class that included prep standout receiver Derrick Williams as its highlight arrived in Happy Valley to a program that had fallen on hard times, suffering losing seasons in four of the previous five years. The result? From 2005-08, Penn State won two co-championships, both times claiming the league's automatic BCS bid. They've gone to another New Year's Day game (Outback '06), they've split their four games with Ohio State and finally got over the Michigan jinx. Yes, it's fair to say Joe Paterno answered all his critics.
Michigan State wasn't ready for a championship-type game, as the blowout losses to both Ohio State & Penn State show, but this is still a program that made huge strides this year. After an '07 campaign that saw them get back into a bowl and reclaim respect, they will make it to a New Year's Day game this year. All that's left to decide is whether Orlando or Tampa is their 1/1 destination.
Ohio State 42 Michigan 7
The Buckeyes toyed with the Wolverines for a half, leading only 14-7 at intermission, but then pounded their rivals into submission. Chris Wells and Daniel Herron combined for 214 yards on the ground and OSU won a share of its fourth straight league title. They didn't get the help they needed elsewhere--not only did Penn State take the spot in Pasadena, but Oregon State kept its Cinderella season going by nipping Arizona. As discussed earlier this week, if the Beavers win the Pac-10, USC will be pushed into the at-large BCS pool and get the major bowl bid that otherwise has the Buckeyes' name on it. Michigan can just be glad basketball season's here--they got a big upset of UCLA at Madison Square Garden earlier this week.
Iowa 55 Minnesota 0
Shonn Greene put the finishing touches on his MVP year and the Hawkeyes stunned the Gophers, not so much with the win, but with its size and scope. Minnesota did nothing on the ground, netting only seven yards overland. The Hawkeyes finish at 8-4 and showed that Kirk Ferentz is still one of the best bosses in the league. After a strong start, the Gophers lost three rivalry games in rapid succession. After having a New Year's Day bowl within their grasp, all that's left to see now is how far they fall down the postseason ladder.
Northwestern 27 Illinois 10
NU pulled away in the fourth quarter, scoring the game's final ten points and consigning the Illini to a losing season. The Wildcats were led by C.J. Bacher's 22/33 for 230 yards passing, including 111 of them to receiver Eric Peterman. With their ninth win, NU kept itself in the mix for an Outback Bowl bid. Like Iowa and Ohio State, they need to root for Oregon to beat Oregon State next week, to get the Buckeyes into the BCS and open up bowl spots down the ladder.
Purdue 62 Indiana 10
The Boilermakers made sure Joe Tiller's retirement gift was one to remember. In a year where they haven't played well, particularly well in his trademark area of offense, they lit up the board on Saturday. Curtis Painter threw for 448 yards and the team led 41-3 at halftime.
Wisconsin 36 Cal-Poly 35 (OT)
The Badgers should have lost this game. Cal-Poly missed two extra points in regulation, resulting in a 29-29 tie that created overtime. Then they missed a third one in the extra period, enabling Wisconsin to score on the final OT possession and escape with the win. The Badgers gave up 276 yards on the ground in the narrow escape.
Syracuse 24 Notre Dame 23
Notre Dame suffered a disastrous loss at home to a school that's been a train wreck all year long. ND blew a 23-10 lead in the fourth quarter, and were again unable to run the ball or stop the run. Jimmy Clausen played well--22/39, 291 yards 2 TDs-0 INTS. But when you're outrushed 170-41, it's hard to beat anybody. ND will now finish 6-6 after an expected loss at Southern Cal next week. This loss is worse then the Navy game a year ago. That one got all the attention because of Notre Dame's long winning strek against the Middies. But Navy is a good program today, while Syracuse is awful. This one's going to leave a poor taste in the mouths of even the strongest backers of Charlie Weis.