Will there be a close game this week in the Big Ten? Penn State and Illinois have the week off, presumably to re-create their eye-bleeding offensive display from last week. The rest of the games appear to be severe mismatches with clear favorites. If any of those favorites lose, their Big Ten title hopes are basically done. It could make for a pretty dull day around the league, but will anyone care with LSU playing Alabama at night?
Indiana (1-8, 0-5) at Ohio State (5-3, 2-2) Noon, Big Ten Network
Instead of placing a wager on the final spread of this game can we bet on the number of rushing yards Dan Herron and Braxton Miller will rack up? I think the duo can top 300 with ease. A few weeks ago I thought maybe Indiana could steal this game. Their offense was developing and Ohio State's offense was beyond awful. I didn't think it would be pretty, but I thought maybe the Hoosiers could get a few breaks and steal this one. I don't think that anymore with as bad as Indiana's offense has looked.
Tre Roberson hasn't been bad for IU. They are taking their lumps, but with Demarlo Belcher being kicked off the team Indiana will be starting 14 freshmen and six sophomore on Saturday. If anything, they have one of the league's most experienced teams in a few years. For now, they are going to get the living crap beaten out of them against most teams. Ohio State 48, Indiana 17
Minnesota (2-6, 1-3) at Michigan State (6-2, 3-1) Noon, Big Ten Network
For a team that expected to finish the season 1-11 you have to think Golden Gophers fans are elated that they get to keep Floyd. Anything else they get out of this year would be a bonus. That is what the Daily Gopher is saying, at least:
A week ago at this time I was filled with dread about Minnesota's football team. I was despondent, apathetic, and had pretty much given up on the 2011 season. Not the program or the coaches or the players, but just the season. I was chalking it up to a tough first season that many good coaches have had in their first year at a new school before turning it around. For the second straight year I was glad not to be going to the Iowa game, missing not the fans and the blowout loss. Sure I was wrong last year, but barring a miracle I wouldn't be upset to miss a sure beating this year.
And then the miracle happened, and Minnesota beat Iowa.
Looking for a second straight miracle might be a little too much. Michigan State was flat out awful on offense last week, but they couldn't ask for an easier closing slate of Minnesota, Northwestern, Indiana, and Iowa. They're going to be heavily favored in all of those games (except maybe Iowa), so that leaves them cheering for Michigan to beat Nebraska so they would hold the tiebreaker in the Legends Division. The real question is, can they hold serve as expected and make it to Indy? This week they should, at least. Michigan State 42, Minnesota 14
Michigan (7-1, 3-1) at Iowa (5-3, 2-2) Noon, ESPN
As expected, Our Most Hated Rival will have wideout Keenan Davis and halfback Mika'il McCall back this week, but this was defense that struggled to slow down Minnesota last week in crunch time. What is Denard Robinson going to do against them?
Maize N' Brew Dave has a few ideas for Wolverine fans headed to Iowa City:
Incorporated in 1973, Iowa City was previously a collective of mud farming, sheep rapists that banded together for low cost health insurance. With the expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, the locals figured it was better to incorporate in order to begin the bilking process, and thus a city was born.
Unsurprisingly, the name of the city took some time to finally reveal itself. Upon incorporation, it was actually named "Cooter's Place" after the local bar/jail/speed-dating-hall. Then after several changes referencing male genitalia, a riot or two, and state intervention the final name was announced in 1982, Iowa City. Sadly, during the naming period, the city ground to a financial halt as no one knew what to put on their letterhead and commerce in the city was non-existent. The cost in lost revenue and productivity in naming the town over that nine year span has been estimated in the hundreds.
Well now! That should fan the flames a little. Michigan 31, Iowa 21
Northwestern (3-5, 1-4) at Nebraska (7-1, 3-1) 3:30pm Big Ten Network
I still think Northwestern has one upset left in them this season. With Rice and Minnesota left on the schedule they are going to need that upset too if they are going to make a bowl game. The offense was certainly working last week, but against Indiana is one thing. Against Nebraska in Lincoln is completely different. According to Nebraska's Corn Nation, This game is of the right to be called NU:
Twenty years ago in national college football forums, NU was Nebraska. Or at least that's the way it seemed. In Nebraska, it was NU. And online, nobody talked about any other schools that began with an N. But over time, Gary Barnett started working a miracle, and suddenly Northwestern football started to become relevant nationally. And suddenly, posts started appearing online that referenced NU that made absolutely no sense... until you realized that they were talking Northwestern football instead of Nebraska football.
This game really comes down to the state of the Nebraska defense. Are they finally putting it together, as evidenced last week against the Spartans, or will the Cornhuskers give up yards in bunches against a Northwestern offense that regained its confidence last week? I think Nebraska is putting it together, but that's just me. Nebraska 34, Northwestern 21
Purdue (4-4, 2-2) at Wisconsin (6-2, 2-2) 3:30pm, ABC/ESPN
Remember two weeks ago when I said I had a good feeling about the Illinois game and called the upset? Well, I have a good feeling about this week. Still, I am not brave enough to call for an upset. On paper, this may be the most lopsided game of the week. Even Ohio State-Indiana has the potential to go drastically wrong if something happens to Miller and the Hoosiers get a few breaks. Wisconsin can run or pass. It doesn't make a difference. They should be able to do whatever they want. In turn, our only hope is to get a few turnovers and control the clock with the running game. I have my doubts that we can do either.
Football can be a strange game though. You never know what can happen. Maybe the Badgers will be totally demoralized from the last two weeks. Maybe we'll take the opening kickoff, make a 15-play 80 yard drive that milks the clock, then surprise them with an onside kick to further weaken their defense with another power drive. Maybe the entire Wisconsin roster will come down with a case of food poisoning and we waltz to a win. The bottom line is that it is going to take an awful lot of things to go right for us to even have a chance. I don't think it will happen, but you never know. Wisconsin 45, Purdue 10.