Big Ten Football 2012
Big Ten Football Recap - Week 10
Week 10 Big Ten Football Scores:
Week 10 Big Ten Football Scores
It was a week of remarkable comebacks and plot twists in the Big Ten Conference, and when the smoke cleared, a proud program just might have found the blessed turn of events that will enable it to become a major player on the college football scene in due time.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers have not won a conference championship since 1999, when they took home the Big 12 title in a win over the Texas Longhorns in that year's Big 12 Championship Game. The Cornhuskers made the national championship game of college football in 2001, but they didn't win the Big 12 that year. They actually didn't even win their own division that year, losing to the Colorado Buffaloes, 62-36, in a battle for the Big 12 North Division championship. In 2006, 2009, and 2010, Nebraska reached the Big 12 Championship Game yet again, but on all three occasions, the Huskers were stopped by opponents from the Big 12 South Division. Oklahoma fended off Big Red in 2006 and 2010, while Texas narrowly escaped against the Huskers in a tense and taut 2009 tilt. Nebraska just isn't the presence on the college football landscape that it used to be, and entering this season, it seemed that the Huskers were once again going to play second fiddle to Michigan and Michigan State in the Big Ten Legends Division.
However, Nebraska beat Michigan on Oct. 27, setting up an early-November moment of truth against the Michigan State Spartans. Nebraska has fallen short under head coach Bo Pelini precisely because it has not dealt well with prosperity. Just when the Huskers seem to be turning the corner or close to it, they take a step backwards and find a way to squander an advantage. This seemed to be the case against Michigan State through the early minutes of the fourth quarter. Yet, the Spartans – a team that has historically found improbable ways to lose close games but chased away those demons the past two seasons – regained their uncanny ability to crumble in the crucible of crunch time.
Michigan State's first big mistake came, amazingly enough, on an interception of Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez, who was mistake-prone for most of the afternoon in East Lansing, Mich. The Spartans ran back a Martinez interception for an apparent pick-six and a 30-14 lead that – with the point after touchdown – would have become a 31-14 lead, a three-possession advantage. Early in the fourth quarter, a three-possession lead would have represented an insurmountable deficit for Nebraska. However, the return was called back by an illegal blocking penalty, and that was the first in a series of events that gave Nebraska a fighting chance.
The Huskers then got the ball back and scored a touchdown to slice Michigan State's lead to three points at 24-21. However, when Martinez inexplicably threw short of the sticks on a fourth-down pass with 3:12 left, Michigan State took over and gained one first down. The Spartans failed to convert what would have been a game-sealing first down with 1:27 left, but they still drained Nebraska of its timeouts and forced the Huskers to mount a long march to get into field-goal range.
Yet, everything broke Nebraska's way in the final minute. On fourth and 10, Michigan State jumped offside, giving the Huskers a free play that they converted into a 38-yard pass that put the ball on the Spartans' 20-yard line. After two incomplete passes, Nebraska got a break on third and 10 when a pass interference call was made on MSU cornerback Darqueze Dennard, the same man who intercepted Martinez several minutes earlier. Nebraska got a first and goal at the MSU 5 and scored on a five-yard pass from Martinez to Jamal Turner with six seconds left. Nebraska now controls the Legends division and has to be seen as the favorite to win the Big Ten right now.
In the other wild game of the day, Indiana came from 14 points down to stun Iowa. The Hoosiers, if they can beat Wisconsin at home this upcoming weekend, could amazingly gain the inside track to the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 1. It's that kind of a year in the Big Ten. Ohio State and Penn State were strong in wins over Illinois and Purdue, but since those two schools are ineligible for the postseason, Indiana really could sneak in the back door. It's hard to believe, but it's true.
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