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Week 10 Big Ten Preview

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Perhaps the biggest storyline of the week in conference play is that heavyweights Ohio state and Penn State have the week off. Many people are already saying Penn state is in the clubhouse with an undefeated season, but I wouldn’t be too hasty in declaring that. In 2000 we followed our own huge win over Ohio State with a bye week. People were already putting us in Pasadena, but we crapped the bed in a three touchdown loss at Michigan State two weeks later. Only Iowa upsetting Northwestern on the same day bailed us out. Penn State goes to Iowa in a week in a game that feels very similar to that Purdue-Michigan State game. Penn State is a better team though, and I think they’ll do fine.

Elsewhere, we will officially have our first team eliminated from the postseason in the Michigan-Purdue loser on Saturday. The Iowa-Illinois game is critical for bowl positioning (and maybe Illinois’ bowl hopes in general). Indiana steps out of conference to face Central Michigan, officially making us worried if they dispatch the Chips with ease. Other than that it makes for a very boring week with the championship mostly decided and the air taken out of the Northwestern-Minnesota game.

Michigan (2-6, 1-3) at Purdue (2-6, 0-4) Noon, Big Ten Network

To quote Cartman, CRIPPLEFIGHT!!!!

I think I am one of the few people left that believes we can win this game. We’re awful. Michigan is awful. This has the potential to be a 10 turnover slopfest where neither team wants to win. I am slightly encouraged by the fact that among our 6 losses, they have come to six teams that will be playing somewhere in the postseason. Michigan cannot say the same thing. They do have two losses to team that are currently undefeated in Utah and Penn State.

Our offense will be better. It has to be better. Even if Siller plays he will be better after a week of practice. If Painter plays I think we have a better shot of winning, but we’re not totally screwed if Siller plays because of his ability to runt he ball. Mostly I am confident because the Michigan offense is already awful and may be missing its one playmaker. The game may end up being reminiscent of Jim Colletto’s final win, a 9-3 ugly game over a much better Michigan team in 1996. Somehow I think we’ll find away to stay alive one more week. I am picking us only because the defense has played well in a few games and Michigan will turn it over close enough to get some points. At least as a bonus I'll get a chance to meet up with Maize N' Brew for a beer. Purdue 13, Michigan 6

Central Michigan (6-2) at Indiana (3-5) Noon, Big Ten Network

Indiana’s nearly dead postseason hopes have sudden life after the Hoosiers upset Northwestern last week. As a result, I want to bang my head against a wall knowing Indiana has more wins against ranked teams in the last five years than we do. All that stands in Indiana’s way is Central Michigan, a home game against struggling Wisconsin, and the Bucket game. Oddly enough, Central Michigan could be the toughest of the three. The Chips are hungry to get a BCS team, and very nearly did so against us.

Indiana’s victory last week was probably more the result of injuries and Northwestern blowing the game than anything. Indiana hasn’t seen anything like Dan LeFevour, and Central Michigan’s defense is better than most people think. Indiana’s offense is still awful with nearly no running game to speak of. This could turn into a fun shootout, but that’s even more in favor of Central Michigan. The chips may be better than Ball State, and we know what the Cardinals did in their visit to Bloomington. Central Michigan 38, Indiana 30

Northwestern (6-2, 2-2) at # Minnesota (7-1, 3-1) Noon, ESPN or ESPN2

This appeared to be a really good game before Indiana ruined things. The winner would have been a team that had an outside chance at Pasadena if Penn State stumbles along the way. Now Minnesota is playing for a Florida bowl while Northwestern with their poor attendance is playing to avoid Detroit. Northwestern could finish at 7-5, yet be passed over for bowls because of its attendance issues. It is because of that factor that we have our only realistic chance of missing out on Detroit if we win these last four games.

Minnesota appears to be a team of destiny. To go from 1-11 to 11-1 is an incredible turnaround no matter who they have played. With a little more help they can dream of Pasadena Even without winning the Big Ten. It would happen this way: Penn State wins out and goes to the National title game. Ohio State loses one more game (say Illinois) to fall to 9-3 and 6-2 in the conference. With an open Rose Bowl slot and anxious Gopher fans clamoring for a return to 1962 you had better believe the Rose bowl committee would pick them for Pasadena over Ohio State and keep the Big Ten/Pac 10 tradition. All they need to do is win the next four and Goldy can pack for California. It begins Saturday. Minnesota 31, Northwestern 23

Wisconsin (4-4, 1-4) at # Michigan State (7-2, 4-1) Noon, ESPN or ESPN2

Thanks to Penn State, Michigan State is once again alive for Pasadena. I originally thought this game could decide the Big ten title, but Wisconsin did not cooperate. Confidence is at all time high in East Lansing after Sparty shed the "Little Brother" moniker in style last week. They also proved they are a dangerous team because they can balance the running of Javon Ringer and the passing of Brian Hoyer. Even if we get past Michigan Saturday I think our bowl hopes die in east Lansing.

Wisconsin salvaged a bit of its season last week by beating Illinois in Madison. A bowl bit is all but assured now with Indiana and Cal Poly left on the schedule, but it is still a disappointing year for a team that expected to contend for the national title. Things still aren’t working totally smoothly, and going to Michigan State is not the way to work them out. Michigan State 24, Wisconsin 14

Iowa (5-3, 2-2) at Illinois (4-4, 2-3) 3:30 ABC

If Purdue is going to go anywhere for the holidays they had better cheer for Iowa Saturday. We need to get three teams non-eligible for the postseason even if we win the last four. Winning the last four eliminates Michigan and likely Indiana (they’ll at least get loss #6 at Penn State). The third team can be Illinois, but to do so they have to lose this game. We then must hope for Ohio state and either NW or Western Michigan to beat them and two teams go to the BCS. It’s bleak at the moment, but that is all that is preventing me from going over to basketball coverage totally.

Iowa can do it too. Shonn Greene has quietly had possibly the best season of any Big Ten running back. Considering the conference has Beanie Wells, Evan Royster, Javon Ringer, P.J. Hill, and Kory Sheets that’s a pretty good crowd to stand out from. It really all depends on which Illinois team shows up Saturday. They seem to do better at home, but Iowa hasn’t exactly been awful on the road. Iowa 21, Illinois 17

Quickie National picks:

# 7Texas Tech 41, #1 Texas 38 -
Home field advantage and the Red Raiders are due. This cannibalistic conference will get them before its over.

#8 Florida 21, #6 Georgia 14 - And two loss Georgia starts whining again about how they deserve to be in the title game without even winning their division.

Miami 21, Virginia 13 - Welcome back to the ACC race, Canes. Please make the game I am going to in two weeks worth something!