Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
In Week 9 B1G football action, home field advantage looks to play a huge role in deciding close games. Also, watch for the good teams to continue to break away from the rest of the pack.
Tomorrow's B1G play should be awesome. I sure am hoping so, anyways. For one thing, this is the first week of the season that all 12 teams are playing and they're all locked up in conference battles. Like I said, awesome.
Also, this week Michigan and Nebraska hope to gain their bowl eligibility like Northwestern and Wisconsin as they square off for the Legends lead. In addition, Iowa, Michigan State and Minnesota all look for their fifth win as they creep closer to going bowling themselves this year.
While the B1G has been somewhat of a disappoint so far this season, expect all six of the matchups this weekend to be tough and entertaining. Each of these games features opponents of at least fairly similar caliber, and no win should come easily.
Hopefully, it will be a weekend to set the conference's prestige within the FBS back on the right track. After all, I think this is what B1G football should be most known for: inter-conference parity, power running, stiff defense, tough crowds.
The Big Ten is a tough conference. I just hope this weekend it can show it.
Indiana (2-5, 0-3) at Illinois (2-5, 0-3), Noon, Big Ten Network
This game features two teams who are each in funks right now. To be honest, neither of these squads are very good, but a win for either of them could surely change that. A loss, on the other hand, will send one team further on an out-of-control death spiral. This should still be a good game, as the teams are pretty evenly matched. I like IU's sophomore starting QB Cameron Coffman, but Nathan Scheelhaase is back to 100% from injury as the Illini return home and come off a bye week. The momentum seems to blatantly in Illinois' favor.
Illinois: 27, Indiana: 21
Iowa (4-3, 2-1) at Northwestern (6-2, 2-2), Noon, ESPN2
To me, this matchup only looks mildly exciting. Iowa's running game is awesome behind Mark Weisman. But, their QB play from James Vandenberg this season has been awful. And let's not forget AIRBHG (Clock's ticking, Weisman!). Neither of these teams' defenses are great, but Northwestern has the clear edge on offense. Their running attack is amazing this year, averaging almost 200 yards and 3 TDs on the ground. Nuff said. Northwestern protects their house again.
Northwestern: 24, Iowa: 20
Michigan State (4-4, 1-3) at No. 25 Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1), 3:30 PM, ABC/ESPN2
This is a game that I don't think will be as close as some might suspect. Wisconsin is undefeated at home this year. They are rolling after three straight easy wins. Michigan State is definitely in a rut this year, and it has become apparent that Andrew Maxwell is no Kirk Cousins. Not even close. Additionally, Montee Ball needs 6--that's right 6--more rushing touchdowns to single-handedly set a new all-time NCAA career rushing TDs record. And, with the semi trucks of O-Linemen he gets to run behind all of the time, expect that number to drop even more as he gets into the end zone multiple times against Sparty in Camp Randall.
Wisconsin: 35, Michigan State: 21
Purdue (3-4, 0-3) at Minnesota (4-3, 0-3), 3:30 PM, Big Ten Network
Purdue will head into TCF Bank Stadium for the second time ever tomorrow. And, it looks like they will also leave with their first win in the stadium after the game. With Minnesota starting true freshman Philip Nelson at Quarterback, Purdue's solid defense should shine and wreak havoc on the Gophers' O. On the other side of the ball, it's all about which Caleb TerBush shows up in Minneapolis. I'm banking on the good TerBush playing again on Saturday. If that happens, expect all of the offensive weapons to do their thing and help bring the Boilers a W.
Purdue: 28, Minnesota: 21
Ohio State (8-0, 4-0) at Penn State (5-2, 3-0), 5:30 PM, ESPN
This game should certainly be interesting. While both teams are having very good seasons, neither team's 2012 campaign really matters for anything other than moral victories and the sheer enjoyment of playing football. Having said that, I still expect this to be an entertaining game. Penn State should play well at home, but Braxton Miller seems to be fully recovered from his injury last week. With #5 back at the helm, I forsee the Buckeyes continuing to ride their undefeated wave and come away with a win.
Ohio State: 31, Penn State: 17
No. 22 Michigan (5-2, 3-0) at Nebraska (5-2, 2-1), 8:00 PM, ESPN2
This is probably the most anticipated game of the week within the conference. At least, it should be! The winner of this matchup will not only earn their bowl eligibility, but they will also either steal or maintain the lead of the Legends Division. The game should also be a very exciting one to watch, with two great QBs and high-powered offenses going head to head. Expect Denard Robinson and Taylor Martinez to tear apart each other team's defensive squads both with their arms and legs. At the end of the day though, I see Nebraska defending their home turf in a close one.
Nebraska: 31, Michigan: 28