The Big Ten schedule gets going this week, and we're sitting out the party. With four ranked teams (Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin) starring at us from my schedule poster this week I can't think of a better time to sit out. I am kind of glad to have the week off, anyway. Now that we're six weeks away from basketball season, it gives me another week of hope before Northwestern dashes those hopes.
This is the rare week with only two Big Ten early games. Since Purdue is locked into the noon kickoff slot for the rest of the season (besides Northwestern) it makes me feel like I can watch more important football games with my Saturday. One of those noon games features our next two opponents.
Northwestern (4-0) at Minnesota (1-3) Noon, ESPN
I know we're desperate, but the folks over at the Daily Gopher find themselves in our shoes from last season with a 1-3 non-conference record. They are even discussing the chances that Tim Brewster saves his job. The good news is that when the Golden Gophers come to Purdue in two weeks there is an excellent chance they will be a dead team walking. That makes for a supposed easy win, but it means nothing unless we beat Northwestern next week.
The Minnesota needs to be a win because a loss likely means we're finishing dead last in the Big Ten. Sippin' On Purple is right. These guys are awful right now. They just got destroyed by Chad Spann, Me'co Brown, and Northern Illinois. We at least made a game of it late last year against the Huskies. The Wildcats should roll in this one, even on the road. Good, I want them confident at 5-0 and possibly ranked while facing Purdue. It makes us primed for our first road win over a ranked team since Wisconsin 2003. Northwestern 31, Minnesota 14
Purdue (2-2) vs bye
I know we're not playing this week, but the news has been so bad when related to football that I expect something to go wrong. I asked my Twitter followers what would be some of the worst injuries we could suffer this week. Here are some of the best responses:
Ryan Kerrigan - This is the consensus guy we can least afford to lose, so naturally he was brought up a lot. I saw Legionnaire's Disease, Mesothelioma from asbestos at Mackey Arena (prompting a call to the TV hotline for legal advice), the Boilermaker X-tra Special running over his foot and breaking it in pre-game, and Ebola.
Rob Henry - Broken foot from the 30-yard line. Also, gets strained eyes studying the playbook, making it impossible to see receivers beyond 10 yards.
Carson Wiggs - Throwing is back out while organizing a mass team dance for SHOUT at homecoming.
Justin Siller - Leprosy for his legs
J.B. Gibboney - in the words of John Wadas, "JB Gibboney tears ACL, out for season. However, this injury is met with much rejoicing."
Peters Drey - Crohn's Disease, making for a messy center exchange.
T-Mill - Out with Tweetfinger.
Potential Recruit - Torn ACL when coach Hope hands them a Purdue cap.
Ricardo Allen - Crabs
So yeah, we're a little pessimistic at the moment. It surprises me we haven't seen official word on Robert Marve yet. As much as I want to see the team wrapped in bubble wrap and put away for safety, we need to just work on things and get better this week. That's all we can do. From there it's a matter of hoping for the best.
The bubble wrap idea is great for basketball though. Too much can happen in the next six weeks, as we saw last year with Lewis Jackson and Sandi Marcius.
#2 Ohio State (4-0) at Illinois (2-1) Noon, Big Ten Network
Ohio State is flat out crushing people lately. Hail to the Orange is pointing to our win over the Buckeyes last season for hope, but that's probably as far as it is going to go for the Fighting Illini. I think their loss to us was a one-time thing because OSU simply doesn't lose games to non-BCS level opponents. Why are we the only team that has done that in the last six years? They take care of business, and they have looked far better than I expected. They only looked a little shaky against Miami, as four Jacory Harris interceptions had a lot more to do with that victory than some people think. Ohio State 42, Illinois 13
#19 Michigan (4-0) at Indiana (3-0) 3:30pm ESPNU
This is one game where I wish both teams could lose. If the Hoosiers pull off the upset Michigan fans will begin freaking out. Unfortunately, that would make a bowl game all but certain for Indiana and it may even draw them a ranking. Neither team has shown much of a defense yet in playing severely overmatched opponents. I do thank Michigan and Denard Robinson for beating Notre Dame, however.
Ben Chappell has quietly put together a very good season. He may be the most underrated quarterback in the conference. As long as Indiana's offense keeps firing as it is, they have a fighting chance in every game. All they need to do is figure out how to stop, or at least slow down, someone. The Crimson Quarry points out that Indiana's 9-51 all-time record against Michigan is fraught with peril, but there is reason to hope. I think this is a fun shootout like last year's game, but Michigan has a little more in the end. Michigan 38, Indiana 35
#11 Wisconsin (4-0) at #24 Michigan State (4-0) 3:30pm ABC/ESPN
This is a huge game for the Spartans. Win it, and they can look at a potential run to Pasadena with no Ohio State on the schedule. The Badgers haven't been as sharp of late, but John Clay is still pounding the rock. Bucky's 5th Quarter even points out that the coaching staff is limiting his carries.
The Only Colors has another solid early preview up of this one, noting that the Badgers have struggled against the run. Could this open holes for Edwin Baker and Le'Veon Bell, who have been very effective for the Spartans? The truth is, I like watching Sparty play this year. Good things come to ballsy teams that suffer through hardships. May the football gods bless them for having the stones to make Notre Dame cry and because of Mark Dantonio, who returns to coach from the box this week. Michigan State 27, Wisconsin 24
#22 Penn State (3-1) at #17 Iowa (3-1) 8pm ESPN
Our new most hated rivals host the Nittany Lions for the first time since ruining their perfect season two years ago. There has been a lot of discussion about Iowa on the site this week. I welcome the people from Black Heart Gold Pants, as it is nice to have a conference rival in football that is actually competitive against us. The Hawkeyes lead the conference by far in terms of having snarky, yet well thought out commentary from its fans.
Black Shoe Diaries is making a big deal out of this game, which is really more of a rivalry than the forced Iowa-Purdue series. BHGP is busy counting down all the Iowa wins over Penn State. When it comes down to this game, never trust the freshman quarterback on the road against a ranked team. Iowa 24, Penn State 17