This looks like a good week in Big Ten play. We only have one huge mismatch among the conference games, and that is Purdue-Ohio State. All the other games are between teams close to each other in the standings. When it comes to fulfilling the seven bowl commitments this will be a big week for that. Purdue is all but mathematically eliminated. The same can be said for Illinois with a loss this week. Everyone else needs a big win this week to start thinking about the postseason.
A quick side note, Hammer & Rails is now taking over the Americas, thanks to the news of Maggots8 reporting the Marcus Green signing with Boca Juniors in Argentina. Juan, we definitely would appreciate your updates. You are always welcome here.
Delaware State (1-3) at Michigan (4-2) Noon, Big Ten Network
Tate Forcier is likely to play, but it shouldn't matter. Michigan could play Terry Tate, Office Linebacker at quarterback and win this game by five touchdowns.
Yes, I referenced 2003. I rule. Michigan 45, Delaware State 3
#7 Ohio State (5-1, 3-0) at Purdue (1-5, 0-2) Noon, Big Ten Network
I can't shake this good feeling I have had this week. I really don't get it. I have a feeling we're going to pull this thing off tomorrow. It is not strong enough to officially call the upset, but I have said all along that we would win a game this year that we had no business winning. I also said the losing streak against ranked teams would end. This may be our only chance against a ranked team too, so why not now?
FACT: We have played tot eh level of our competition so far. We have played well and come up just short against Oregon and Notre Dame. We have played down to the level of Northern Illinois, Northwestern, and Minnesota.
FACT: We had no business being in last year's game in Columbus, yet we were.
FACT: The OSU passing game isn't great, so if we can stop the run like we did last year, who knows?
FACT: Something good has to happen to this program sometime. What if tomorrow is that day?
Honestly, I expect this game to be like the last two in the series. Our defense will play good enough to win, but Ohio State's offense will shut us down completely. Combine that with the inevitable sack kick of a turnover and Ohio State will win comfortably. Ohio State 27, Purdue 7
Northwestern (4-2, 1-1) at Michigan State (3-3, 2-1) Noon, ESPN2
Outside of Towson, Northwestern has perfected winning ugly this year. With Illinois and Indiana still on the schedule they have to feel relatively confident about getting to six wins, but stealing one from Sparty would be impressive. Michigan State, in the meantime, has picked itself up after a 1-3 start.
Even in defeat Michigan State has looked better. One overthrown pass (vs. Notre Dame) and one onside kick (vs. Central Michigan) are all that stands between 5-1 right now. This can still be a conference championship season for Michigan State. They have their two most difficult conference games left at home and all they need is an Ohio State loss. Kirk Cousins seems to be settling in at quarterback as well. As that position stabilizes, so will the Spartans. Michigan State 30, Northwestern 20
#11 Iowa (6-0, 2-0) at Wisconsin (5-1, 2-1) Noon, ESPN
Bucky's 5th Quarter Preview (None posted yet)
I wish Wisconsin had pulled off the upset last week because it would have made for a great atmosphere in Madison. I don't know how Iowa does it, but if they win tomorrow they have a real shot at going 12-0. Ricky Stanzi is quietly having a productive season. Their running game is serviceable, and that defense knows how to win close games.
Wisconsin also has to face that they might have been exposed a little bit last week. They are another team that has learned to win close game, but they haven't played real competition outside of Ohio State, and in that game they made a ton of mistakes. Because of that, I have to go with Iowa. The Hawkeyes have made fewer mistakes so far and seem more complete. Iowa 21, Wisconsin 14
Minnesota (4-2, 2-1) at Penn State (5-1, 1-1) 3:30pm ABC
The Daily Gopher Preview (none posted, unless you love college hockey)
I have to admit something. I used to really like Minnesota. When I went to the 2005 game in Minneapolis it was one of the most friendly road crowds I have been around. The last two years, however, I have seen their fans become pricks a little. It's pissing me off some. Last year there was the Minnesota guy in front of me that cheered when Curtis Painter got hurt. This year Purdue was automatically dismissed as unworthy before we even got off the bus. This is a team on the rise, but they are getting a little too cocky this early.
Snow is expected in Happy Valley tonight. Aside from making me want to move to Florida that much faster, it could make for a cool atmosphere. This game should be more entertaining than the one I am purposely ignoring in the same time slot. Even then, I still expect a Penn State rout. Penn State is due for a good game against a real team, and I think it comes this week. Penn State 31, Minnesota 17
Illinois (1-4, 0-3) at Indiana (3-3, 0-2) 7pm Big Ten Network
This could be a playoff game where the loser gets to battle Purdue for the rights to last place in the Big Ten. Illinois is entering a two-game stretch in the Hoosier state. If they go 0-2, they will officially be done. That road game at Cincinnati in late November looks worse and worse for them. They can't score in a women's prison with a fistful of pardons, and the defense is struggling.
Indiana has looked bad the last two weeks, but they have at least looked good at some point this year. A win here and they can still hope for a bowl game, though they embarrassed themselves in the Big Ten by not bothering to show up at Virginia last week. Seriously guys, a forfeit would have been better. Indiana 24, Illinois 10