Purdue is on a bye this week, and I am taking advantage by traveling to Miami for the first time in 18 months. Mrs. T-Mill wanted to see her Hurricanes this weekend, so we'll be at Miami-Georgia Tech tomorrow.
Back in the Big Ten, we have the first full week of conference play, centered around GameDay's visit to Ohio State at Northwestern.
Penn State (3-1, 0-0) at Indiana (2-2, 0-0) Noon, Big Ten Network
Penn State has never lost to Indiana, and this may be the best chance for the Hoosiers since the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten. Indiana has had a week off and they still have a pretty good passing game, something that Penn State was vulnerable to when they played Central Florida a few weeks ago. It is also a home game for IU, and the Hoosiers likely need this game if it wants to go to any bowl game. Indiana is not going to win any of its four road games at Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin, or Ohio State. Therefore, they need to go 4-0 at home against Penn State, Minnesota, Illinois, and Purdue.
Unfortunately, Kevin Wilson is ascribing to the Danny Hope/Gary Nord Memorial QB rotation plan between Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson. At least those two bring something different to the table in that Roberson is a lethal runner. What this comes down to is what games against Indiana always come down to. The Hoosiers cannot stop the run. Zach Zwinak has eight rushing TDs on the season and will crack double digits after this one. Penn State 37, Indiana 28
Illinois (3-1, 0-0) at Nebraska (3-1, 0-0) Noon, ESPNU
We get the Cornhuskers next, and there is apparently a developing quarterback controversy developing in Lincoln, as Tommy Armstrong will get the start over Taylor Martinez tomorrow. The Fighting Illini also need to worry about their own quarterback, as Randy Gregory (remember him?) has said he hopes he can take out Nathan Sceelhaase. Who knew there would be such simmering hatred between Nebraska and Illinois? This will make the West Division incredibly exciting as we go forward.
This will be an interesting game to watch because Nebraska fans are losing their shit right now because they are 3-1, but melted down against a good UCLA team. The defense has been a major question mark all season long and Illinois under Bill Cubit's direction found an offense in the non-conference. Yes, Illinois is on a 14-game Big Ten losing streak, but I think they are good enough to end it this week. Illinois 31, Nebraska 30
Michigan State (3-1, 0-0) at Iowa (4-1, 1-0) Noon, ESPN2
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Like Illinois, Iowa has been a bit of a surprise in terms of having a competent offense so far. They got Floyd back home safe last week thanks to a power running game led by Mark Weisman, who is pretty much taunting AIRBHG at this point. Weisman is second in the Big Ten in rushing with 615 yards for the Hawkeyes and leads the league with 119 attempts. That is 40 more attempts than the second guy in the entire conference.
The Spartans are far from set at quarterback. Against Notre Dame the Irish strategy was to keep punting back to Michigan State and wait for their offense to screw things up. They still have that great defense, however. That will make this a low scoring game that could go multiple overtimes like last season did. I think that favors Iowa. Iowa 21, Michigan State 17
Minnesota (4-1, 0-1) at Michigan (4-0, 0-0) 3:30pm, ABC
This is one of the most lopsided rivalries in the Big Ten. This is the 100th meeting between Minnesota and Michigan with the Little Brown Jug as the trophy since 1903. Michigan holds a 72-24-3 edge in the series and have lost only once since 1986 and only three times since 1967. That's a 38-3 record since 1967.
The Wolverines may be the worst 4-0 team in the country, however. No one can figure them out and they are lucky as hell to be 4-0 without losses to Akron and UConn, who are two of the worst teams in the country. Does that mean the Golden Gophers get the Jug back for the first time 2005? Well, their last two victories in the series cam in Ann Arbor and the Wolverines don't exactly inspire confidence right now. If they had played better against Iowa last week I would pick them, but they didn't. Michigan 24, Minnesota 20
Ohio State (5-0, 1-0) at Northwestern (4-0, 0-0) 8pm, ABC
It is the nation's longest winning streak at 17 games going against a Northwestern team that has won seven in a row in its own right. Many people have already handed the Buckeyes the Leaders Division title after beating Wisconsin last week, but it would have been much different had the Badgers not fallen asleep on the final play of the first half. I still say Kenny Guiton is the better quarterback over Braxton Miller, but Miller looked good last week.
I think Northwestern is going to have a special season too. I think they are the favorite to win the Legends Division because of the weaknesses that Michigan, Michigan State, and Minnesota have shown. The Wildcats have quietly played the most consistent football in the conference so far and they will pull the upset on Saturday night. Northwestern 31, Ohio State 30