STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Sam Ficken hit a 37-yard field goal in overtime, and Wisconsin’s Kyle French attempt from 45 yards went wide left to seal Penn State’s 24-21 win Saturday in an emotional season finale in Happy Valley.
The Nittany Lions (8-4, 6-2 Big Ten) could have ended it for good a play earlier, but linebacker Glenn Carson dropped a potential interception.
Still, the Beaver Stadium faithful celebrated anyway after French’s miss on Senior Day capped a challenging year that began with landmark sanctions from the NCAA for the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.
Quarterback Curt Phillips found Jeff Duckworth for a 4-yard touchdown pass with 18 seconds left for Wisconsin (7-5, 4-4) to make it 21-all and send the game into overtime.
Badgers star running back Montee Ball ran for 111 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries, and set the NCAA record with his 97th career score.
Michigan State 26, Minnesota 10: At Minneapolis, Le’Veon Bell rumbled for a career-high 266 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown to put the game away, leading Michigan State to a victory over Minnesota to secure a spot in a bowl game.
Bell carried 35 times on a cold afternoon and Dan Conroy made four of his five field-goal attempts, three of them from 43 yards or longer, to help the Spartans (6-6, 3-5 Big Ten) wear down the Gophers (6-6, 2-6).
Minnesota played the second half without coach Jerry Kill on the sideline. The team didn’t immediately give a reason.
Aaron Hill’s 33-yard interception return for a touchdown gave Minnesota a lead it kept for more than 18 minutes in the first half, but Jordan Wettstein’s season-long 48-yard field goal was the only offensive score for the Gophers, who had a season-low 96 total yards -- and just 4 yards rushing. Philip Nelson threw three interceptions, two by Johnny Adams, and was replaced in the fourth quarter by Max Shortell, who was picked off too.
Purdue 56, Indiana 35: At West LaFayette, Ind., Akeem Shavers’ big fourth quarter helped Purdue hold onto the Old Oaken Bucket.
The senior running back scored three times in 4½ minutes, twice on long pass plays, to break open a close game, giving the Boilermakers a win over archrival Indiana.
The win made Purdue (6-6, 3-5 Big Ten) bowl eligible for the second straight year, the first time that has happened since 2006-07, and helped Purdue hold onto the Bucket – the trophy in this annual in-state series.
But the bigger question – whether coach Danny Hope will keep his job – may not be answered for at least 24 hours.
Speculation about Hope’s future has been swirling since the Boilermakers went on a five-game losing streak at the start of conference play. Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke had said earlier that he would wait until the end of the season before making a decision.