The penultimate week of the regular season can see our Championship game pairings locked up with very little to play for in terms of the conference in the final weekend. Ohio State will win the Leaders Division with a win over Indiana or a Wisconsin loss. Michigan State has already won a share of the Legends Division and will go to Indianapolis with a win or a Minnesota loss.
We also cannot forget the Big Ten Game of the Year as Illinois heads to Purdue in the "Someone HAS to win" Bowl.
Illinois (3-7, 0-6) at Purdue (1-9, 0-6) Noon, Big Ten Network
The Champaign Room Preview
You have two lousy defenses going against a lousy offense and a mediocre offense. What is not to love? Both defenses are bad enough that both offenses should be able to move the ball. In Purdue's case though, the offense might be bad enough to actually make the Fighting Illini offense look good though.
I believe Purdue is going to win though. Call it blind faith at this point, but the Illinois defense is by far the worst we have seen all year long. The last two weeks against Iowa and Penn State there have been moments of actual competence by the offense. I think against one of the worst run defenses in the country Purdue will finally be able to run the ball and both Akeem Hunt and Brandon Cottom will have a big day. I say this mostly because if we can't run on Illinois, we can't run on anyone. Purdue 30, Illinois 28
No. 13 Michigan State (9-1, 6-0) at Northwestern (4-6, 0-6) Noon, ESPN
Sippin' On Purple Preview
It has gotten so bad for Northwestern fans that Sippin' On Purple has already written about how they are the Final Destination of college football programs and every loss through 2015 is mapped out. This is a fanbase in need of some healing! I still can't believe this was my pick to win the Big Ten. It certainly looked good for about three quarters of that Ohio State game. What a difference one play makes though. Ohio State has been on a rampage since and Northwestern has fallen harder and faster than Purdue after The Fumble.
While I would like to see the Wildcats win to potentially give the Big Ten another bowl eligible team, The Spartans have been on a tear since the Notre Dame game, which I wish they could get back. They have the best defense in the country and get better every week. They'll clinch their trip to Indianapolis. Michigan State 24, Northwestern 7
Michigan (7-3, 3-3) at Iowa (6-4, 3-3) Noon, Big Ten Network
Fortunately, the rest of the nation will get this game on Big Ten Network, while the Purdue-Illinois game is relegated either to an overflow channel or aired in Illinois in Indiana. I don't think any team has won more ugly than Michigan, however. They are 7-3, but easily could be 3-7 if not worse.
Iowa is kind of good though. I was shocked to see they have a top 10 defense nationally and they do have a win over Minnesota, who might be the third best team in the conference with the tear they are on. Iowa was at least competitive with Michigan State and Ohio State and is only giving up 18.7 points per game. Given how bad the Wolverines have looked lately, give me the Hawkeyes. Iowa 20, Michigan 14
Indiana (4-6, 2-4) at No. 3 Ohio State (10-0, 6-0) 3:30pm, ABC
To reach bowl eligibility in a year where it should have been easy for them the Hoosiers have to take the nation's worst defense into Columbus and end the nation's longest active win streak in front of 110,000 people. Oh, Ohio State is only fourth nationally in rushing and in points scored. Good Luck! They have a better chance of surviving if they kidnap Liam Neeson's daughter.
The Buckeyes have no business losing this game, but if Indiana can shake off the bad offensive game of last week and return to their passing juggernaut some crazy things could happen. I don't think it will be crazy enough that they beat Ohio State because the Indiana defense is incapable of stopping them, but IU could score enough to at least make it look close. Ohio State 63, Indiana 35
Nebraska (7-3, 4-2) at Penn State (6-4, 3-3) 3:30pm, Big Ten Network
It is hard to get excited about this game. Two years ago it was the first Penn State home game after the bombshell of the Sandusky scandal. Last year Nebraska was at least playing for the Division crown and Penn State was in the middle of a nice finishing kick to a lost season. Now? Now it is a bowl team against a sanctioned team and both have looked flawed.
I guess the biggest thing to look for is the Bo Pelini firing watch, as it really seems like he could be gone after this season when many expected the Cornhuskers to roll to at least another Divisional crown. The Nittany Lions are still playing hard for pride, and that can mean a lot in State College. It should make for a close one. Nebraska 24, Penn State 21
No. 19 Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1) at No. 25 Minnesota (8-2, 4-2) 3:30pm ESPN
Well, well, well! The Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe has quite the backstory to it this year. If Northwestern can turn it around against Michigan State the Golden Gophers will actually control their destiny for the Rose Bowl after an 0-2 Big Ten start. The Badgers still have an outside shot at getting an at large BCS bowl, but the screwjob in the desert will likely get in their way.
This could be the fastest game of the day, as both teams love to run it. As you know, the Badgers ran for 554 yards last week and barely needed to pass against Indiana. Minnesota just can't pass very well, but they are getting it done and have won four in a row. Wisconsin has won the Axe nine times in a row coming into this one, which is a record in the series. Minnesota still leads all-time 58-56-8 though.
I believe in Minnesota. I think they keep it alive for another week. Minnesota 24, Wisconsin 23