Big Ten

Purdue lets 18-point lead slip away but still scores huge win over Spartans


Purdue lets 18-point lead slip away but still scores huge win over Spartans

Despite blowing an 18-point lead, the Boilermakers were big winners on Tuesday night.

Purdue got monstrous performances from Rapheal Davis and A.J. Hammons and recovered after a fierce charge by Michigan State for a big 82-81 overtime win in West Lafayette.

Davis scored 24, and Hammons had 19 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks as the Boilers squeaked out their biggest win of the season to date to move ahead of the Spartans and into fourth place in the Big Ten.

It was all Purdue in the first half, with the Boilers getting a massive contribution on both ends of the floor from Davis. The reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year did his usual job shutting down the opposition, silencing Bryn Forbes — who hit seven first-half 3-pointers last weekend at Michigan — to the tune of just two points and also doing noticeably well when infrequently assigned to Denzel Valentine. But Davis also poured in 19 points, passing his season high in scoring in just 20 minutes and hitting an eye-popping five triples in the first half.

Davis’ offensive outburst was just the biggest part of a marvelous shooting performance by the Boilermakers in the first half, as they shot 62.5 percent from the field, going 6-for-8 from behind the 3-point line. Meanwhile, the Purdue defense snuffed out Michigan State’s offense, the Spartans shooting a woeful 31.4 percent from the field and going just 4-for-13 from 3.

[MORE BIG TEN: Alone in first place, Hawkeyes firing on all cylinders]

But the Spartans came out firing in the second half, flipping the game's script in an instant. Valentine hit three consecutive 3-pointers in a 45-second span to bring what was a 16-point halftime lead down to six not even four minutes into the period. A few minutes later, Alvin Ellis III provided a big spark off the bench for Michigan State, combining a 3-pointer with three straight free throws to make it a three-point game, and the deficit was just a point by the midway point of the second half. A Deyonta Davis dunk tied the game at 59, and the Spartans had their first lead on a Matt Costello layup a minute later.

The two teams went back and forth from there until a Matt McQuaid triple with about five minutes to play put Michigan State in front by three. A Valentine layup made it a four-point Spartan lead, but then the offense shut off for the visitors. Two Hammons free throws and a pair of Caleb Swanigan buckets knotted the game at 72. Each side had a chance to win in regulation, though Swanigan and Valentine each cast up awful shots, sending the game to overtime.

Michigan State's basket-less stretch — which lasted the final four and a half minutes of regulation — extended into overtime, as well, and Purdue took advantage, building a modest lead on made free throws until Forbes hit his only 3 of the game to make it a one-point affair with under three minutes to play. After a three-point play from Vince Edwards made it a four-point Purdue lead, Kenny Goins and Valentine each hit a shot to tie the game at 81 with 12 seconds left. But with Purdue trying to prevent a second overtime, Valentine was whistled for a foul on Davis, who made his first free throw to untie the score but missed the second. The rebound, though, ended up in Hammons' hands, and the Boilermakers literally held on for a victory.

[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Purdue gear right here]

The Boilers won the rebounding battle but turned the ball over 16 times. They also blocked 11 shots, scored 22 of their points from the free-throw line and had a 14-8 edge in second-chance points despite the Spartans grabbing more offensive rebounds.

While Davis and Hammons starred for the Boilermakers, Valentine was the high man for the Spartans, nearly recording another triple-double with 27 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. Costello finished with 11 points, and McQuaid scored 10. Forbes' rough night made a big difference, as he scored just seven points on 3-for-11 shooting.

The win was a gigantic one for Purdue, which improved to 20-5 overall and 8-4 in the conference. The Boilermakers earned their first win this season over a ranked foe, previously losing matchups with Maryland, Iowa and Butler. Next up is a Saturday road trip to Michigan.

Michigan State dropped to 20-5 overall and 7-5 in the league with the defeat. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak. Next up is another big one this weekend against Indiana.

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Weeks will separate a perfect 10-year anniversary where Northwestern will play at Wrigley Field for one of its regular season games in the upcoming years.

Back on Nov. 20, 2010, the Wildcats battled it out with Illinois, known as the “Wrigleyville Classic,” which saw the Illini take a 48-27 win.

Even though it’s still two years out, Northwestern still planned ahead and announced its opponent for its game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 7, 2020, against Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“Obviously an exciting opportunity for our football program to come back to Wrigley Field, one of the Cathedrals of sporting venues in the world,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When I announced it to our team, they were absolutely ecstatic.”

“The opportunity to play at Wrigley field is unique to us, being Chicago’s Big Ten team, and to have the chance to come down and play in an atmosphere like we did a few years back was a bowl game type atmosphere, and I look forward to this special opportunity.”

This game though will be a little different than it was back in 2010. Both the Wildcats and Illini played toward the west end zone due to a tight squeeze near the right field wall due to box seats that were added down the third base line.

Now, Northwestern and Wisconsin do not have to worry about that problem because the bullpens have since moved to the outfield.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney spoke at a news conference earlier on Tuesday at Wrigley.

“So excited to welcome back Northwestern to Wrigley Field to talk about football again,” Kenney said. “We had an incredible experience with them back in 2010."

Kenney also mentioned new seating is on a temporary platform that can all be removed and the dugout tops can be removed as well, and the field will expand west, to allow for a longer field.

With a sellout crowd in the last go around for the Wildcats, don’t be surprised for another sellout at the Friendly Confines.

See how they stack up: Week 12 college football top 25 rankings


See how they stack up: Week 12 college football top 25 rankings

With Week 12 in the books, here’s my top 25:

1. Oklahoma (10-1)

Still the team with the best resume in the country, no one can compete with OU’s wins over TCU, Ohio State and Oklahoma State, the latter two coming away from Norman. Baker Mayfield might not be a choir boy, but he’s the best player in the nation.

2. Miami (10-0)

You might think that being down 28-14 to Virginia in the second half was cringe-worthy, but the Canes made up for things by storming back with 30 unanswered points. Now they finally have to go away from South Florida for the first time since almost losing to North Carolina last month.

3. Alabama (11-0)

Tide gonna roll. But this Cupcake Weekend in the SEC has got to stop. While teams in other conferences are slugging it out against rivals, Bama gets to take a day off against Mercer? It’s just not fair. Also, Bama’s schedule is so soft, there’s no way it deserves to be the No. 1 team in the country.

4. Georgia (10-1)

The Dawgs should wrap an 11-1 regular season this weekend against Georgia Tech. But the SEC title game presents a kind of no-win scenario: undefeated Alabama or Auburn, who throttled Georgia earlier this month.

5. Wisconsin (11-0)

You didn’t need Wisconsin to do what it did to Iowa and Michigan to prove it had one of the best defenses in the country — but that sure didn’t help. Stockpiling national love with those two wins, a win in the Big Ten title game figures to make the Badgers a Playoff lock.

6. Clemson (10-1)

Why’d Kelly Bryant have to go and get hurt for that Syracuse game? The Tigers would be No. 1 and the undisputed best team in the country. Still, though, a win over Miami in the ACC title game ought to get the champs back into the Playoff.

7. Auburn (9-2)

Great job pounding Louisiana-Monroe, Tigers. You shall not escape the wrath over Cupcake Weekend in the SEC. That dumb game aside, Auburn and Alabama will meet in a titanic Iron Bowl this weekend with a trip to the SEC title game on the line — and perhaps a Playoff spot, as well.

8. Ohio State (9-2)

Not that pummeling Illinois is any big deal, but the Buckeyes are still alive in this thing and look like a team capable of making some Playoff noise. First, Ohio State has to win The Game and then the Big Ten title game to knock out undefeated Wisconsin.

9. Notre Dame (9-2)

Out of the Playoff chase thanks to that loss at Miami, Notre Dame squeaked by Navy this past weekend. Hope a New Year’s Six bowl game is enough for the Irish. We know it’s not enough for those ND fans. So maybe join a conference? Just saying.

10. TCU (9-2)

The Frogs can still make their mark on the Playoff race, even if they can’t get in themselves. The Big 12 title game will almost surely be TCU’s attempt at revenge on Oklahoma. Unfortunately, if revenge does come, it will probably cannibalize the conference’s Playoff hopes, too.

11. Penn State (9-2)

Why Penn State gave up 44 points to Nebraska, I do not know. What I do know is that probably no one cared because Penn State is going to go down as the most inconsequential 10-2 team of all-time. Such a bummer considering the preseason expectations for both the team and Saquon Barkley.

12. USC (10-2)

Yeah, I guess there’s still a way for USC to make the Playoff, but it’s hard to imagine that madness unfolding, even in the oft-mad college football. The Trojans get the winner of the Apple Cup in the Pac-12 title game.

13. UCF (10-0)

Finally we get our much-anticipated UCF-USF showdown this weekend. Make it count, Knights. This is probably gonna be Scott Frost’s last regular-season game in Orlando.

14. Washington (9-2)

It’s hard to say who has the edge in the Apple Cup, but certainly the stakes are high, with the winner going off to play USC in the Pac-12 title game. Can either team make the Playoff? Well, probably not, no.

15. Washington State (9-2)

Is this it for Mike Leach on The Palouse? He could be a hot candidate this offseason and leave for perceived greener pastures. Winning the Apple Cup would go a long way toward making that happen.

16. Mississippi State (8-3)

A win in the Egg Bowl means a 9-3 regular season for the Bulldogs with their three losses coming against three top-10 teams.

17. Oklahoma State (8-3)

Poor Okie State has been so good all year and had two losses to the two best teams in its conference, and then it went and lost to K-State for some ridiculous reason. The Mullet deserved better in 2017.

18. Northwestern (8-3)

The Cats are the fourth-best team in the Big Ten, simple as that, with wins over Michigan State and Iowa and conference losses to Wisconsin and Penn State. As commendable an effort as you’ll find in a highly competitive league. Plus, Fitz’s team is on a six-game win streak that could end up extending to eight.

19. Stanford (8-3)

Already with a win over Washington, Stanford could close the regular season with two wins over top-10 teams in its final three games. Also Bryce Love is back in the groove after back-to-back 100-yard games.

20. Memphis (9-1)

The Tigers have lost just one game all season, to the best Group of Five team out there. Heck of a season by Memphis.

21. Michigan State (8-3)

A 17-7 win over Maryland couldn't have been the most exciting way for anyone to spend their weekend. Sparty's had a mighty fine season, though, considering how badly things went in 2016.

22. LSU (8-3)

The SEC has seemingly gotten increasingly better as the year has progressed, with LSU and Mississippi State making for a solid-enough middle tier. But remember when LSU lost to Troy? That wasn’t good.

23. South Florida (9-1)

If not for that loss to Houston, USF’s showdown with UCF this weekend would be for Group of Five supremacy. Even without that, though, this should be a highly entertaining affair.

24. Virginia Tech (8-3)

The Hokies have a chance to salvage their tumble at the close of the season with a win at Virginia. But given how well the Cavs played at Miami this past weekend, a VT win is no sure thing.

25. Iowa State (7-4)

I understand the math and all, but can't the Big 12 just suspend its rules and send Iowa State to the title game? We all want to see the OU-ISU rematch. Why are you preventing us from being happy, Big 12?