Outlook rosy after Badgers roll
Wisconsin savors 3-way tie in Big Ten
Another week, another jaw-dropping blowout for No. 5 Wisconsin.
This one, though, earned the Badgers a share of the Big Ten title and gave them the inside track on the Rose Bowl berth.
Wisconsin routed Northwestern, 70-23, at Camp Randall Stadium yesterday, and will split the conference championship three ways after Ohio State and Michigan State won earlier in the day.
The Badgers (11-1, 7-1) appear likely to get the Rose Bowl berth, which will be determined by the Bowl Championship Series standings. Wisconsin entered the weekend ahead of Ohio State, which beat Michigan, and Michigan State, which won at Penn State.
“From Day 1 since I got here, that’s all anybody’s been talking about, the Rose Bowl, the Rose Bowl, the Rose Bowl,’’ said Badgers safety Aaron Henry, twirling a rose in his hand. “And you have to be a Big Ten champion in order to get that spot in the Rose Bowl, and we definitely took care of that tonight.’’
Wisconsin’s victory made it four straight by 20 points or more — and yesterday’s wasn’t even the most lopsided because it beat Indiana, 83-20, Nov. 13. And it was the third time this season the Badgers scored 70 points or more.
Montee Ball rushed for 178 yards and four touchdowns for the Badgers. Scott Tolzien was 15 of 19 for 230 yards and four touchdowns, including a pair to wide receiver Nick Toon.
Venric Mark returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown for Northwestern (7-5, 3-5).
Ohio St. 37, Michigan 7 — Jordan Hall broke the game open with an 85-yard kickoff return and the No. 8 Buckeyes’ defense stymied the visiting Wolverines, stretching their mastery in “The Game’’ to seven straight.
The Buckeyes (11-1, 7-1) picked up two celebration penalties after touchdowns but had a lot to celebrate: A share of a record-tying sixth Big Ten title and, most likely, a Bowl Championship Series berth.
Terrelle Pryor had two TD passes and Dan Herron finished with 175 yards on 22 carries.
It was another stumble for Michigan (7-5, 3-5) under coach Rich Rodriguez, now 0-3 against the Buckeyes and just 15-21 overall with the Wolverines.
Michigan’s sterling quarterback, Denard Robinson, was hampered by an injured left (non-throwing) hand. He played little more than a half, running for 105 yards on 18 attempts and completing 8 of 18 passes for 87 yards. He came into the game second nationally in total offense at 343 yards per game.
Pryor completed 18 of 27 passes for 220 yards with one interception and flipped scoring strikes of 7 yards to Dane Sanzenbacher and 33 yards to DeVier Posey while coach Jim Tressel improved to 9-1 against the Buckeyes’ archrivals.
By locking up a share of the Big Ten title, Ohio State matched its record of six set by Woody Hayes’s teams of 1972-77.
Michigan St. 28, Penn St. 22 — Edwin Baker ran for 118 yards and a touchdown and the No. 11 Spartans (11-1, 7-1) claimed a share of their first Big Ten title since 1990 by edging the host Nittany Lions. Now, they have to wait and see whether it’s good enough for the Rose Bowl.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for 152 yards and two touchdowns to B.J. Cunningham, and the defense held off a fourth-quarter charge by penalty-prone Penn State (7-5, 4-4).
Bowl questions aside, coach Mark Dantonio’s crew can relish an 11-win season and the end of an eight-game road losing streak to Penn State after its first win in Happy Valley since 1965 — the year before Joe Paterno took over as head coach.
TCU 66, New Mexico 17 — Andy Dalton threw three TD passes before leaving with an elbow injury and the No. 4 Horned Frogs capped their second straight undefeated regular season with a second consecutive Mountain West title after a rout of the visiting Lobos.
The next stop for BCS-busting TCU could very well be the Rose Bowl. TCU (12-0, 8-0) had been jockeying with Boise State for a possible Bowl Championship Series appearance and got a major boost from Nevada, which knocked off the previously unbeaten Broncos Friday night to clear the Frogs an easier path to Pasadena.
Fullback Luke Shivers scored twice on short runs and reserve quarterback Casey Pachall passed for one TD and ran for another as TCU, as expected, dominated New Mexico (1-11, 1-7). Dalton is expected to be fine.
Stanford 38, Oregon St. 0 — Andrew Luck threw four touchdown passes to set a school season record and the No. 7 Cardinal (11-1, 8-1 Pac-10) stated their case for a berth in the Bowl Championship Series by routing the visiting Beavers (5-6, 4-4).
Stepfan Taylor ran for 115 yards and a touchdown and Doug Baldwin caught two TD passes for Stanford, which set a school record for wins. Now Stanford needs to wait a week to learn its bowl fate, hoping for an at-large berth in the BCS with Oregon having already clinched the Pac-10’s automatic berth.
Luck (21 of 30, 305 yards) broke the Stanford record of 27 TD passes in a season, held by John Elway and Steve Stenstrom, when he connected with Tyler Gaffney on a 52-yard scoring strike on the opening play of the fourth quarter.
Oklahoma 47, Oklahoma St. 41 — Landry Jones matched the school record with 468 yards passing and threw two long touchdown passes in a wild finish to the Bedlam game in Stillwater as the No. 14 Sooners beat the 10th-ranked Cowboys to forge a three-way tie atop the Big 12 South.
Jones threw an 86-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Kenney, then answered Justin Gilbert’s kickoff return score for Oklahoma State (10-2, 6-2) with a 76-yarder to James Hanna 29 seconds later as the Sooners (10-2, 6-2) survived to likely earn a spot in the Big 12 title game.
The division will be decided based on who comes out ahead in tonight’s latest Bowl Championship Series standings between the two in-state rivals and Texas A&M. Entering the weekend, Oklahoma State was ninth, Oklahoma 13th, and A&M 17th.
Missouri 35, Kansas 7 — Blaine Gabbert directed scoring drives on the first two possessions and later scored on a 1-yard run, leading the host No. 15 Tigers (10-2, 6-2 Big 12) past the Jayhawks (3-9, 1-7).
Utah 17, BYU 16 — Brandon Burton blocked Mitch Payne’s last-second, 42-yard field goal attempt to lift the No. 23 Utes (10-2, 7-1 Mountain West) past the visiting Cougars (6-6, 5-2).
Minnesota 27, Iowa 24 — Duane Bennett’s touchdown run with 4:31 left helped the host Gophers (3-9, 2-6 Big Ten) beat the No. 24 Hawkeyes (7-5, 4-4) for the first time in four years and only the second time in 10 seasons.
Mississippi St. 31, Mississippi 23 — Chris Relf threw for a career-high 288 yards and three touchdowns as the No. 25 Bulldogs (8-4, 4-4 SEC) beat Ole Miss (4-8, 1-7) in the Egg Bowl in Oxford.