Inexplicably, Purdue can still be alive in a wild and crazy Big Ten West with a victory this weekend. If Maryland upsets Iowa in addition to Purdue beating Minnesota the Boilers will be within a second Iowa loss and second Minnesota loss of controlling their own destiny in the West. The Boilers would need to win out and finish 6-2 in the league, which is highly unlikely, but hey, it's a shot, at least.
Once again, there are only five games in the league this week, but it should be an interesting week.
Iowa (5-1, 2-0) at Maryland (4-2, 1-1) Noon, ESPN2
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Iowa is winning games about as ugly as they can, but the way things stand at the moment, they are pretty much in control of the West. This is their last crossover game and with Illinois still on the schedule they will at least reach bowl eligibility. When you think about it, avoiding the loss at Purdue was pretty big because it meant they don't have a black mark on their record. Both of these teams lost big non-conference rivalry games, but haven't been too bad otherwise. Ferentz-ball is ramping up after the win over Indiana last week, and it could result in a date in Indianapolis. Iowa 27, Maryland 21
Purdue (3-4, 1-2) at Minnesota (5-1, 2-0) Noon, BTN
I have had a good feeling about this game since before the season. Over at the Daily Gopher there has been some discussion about my view of "Minnesota not being a good passing team" and they have some merit. They are rated very low because they don't get a lot of yards per game, but it is still an effective passing game because they simply choose not to pass very much. The ground games moves the ball and when Minnesota does choose to pass, it is effective. Just because Navy doesn't pass much doesn't mean they are a bad team.
That said, the ground game is the key. Minnesota is very good on the ground and this is the first game of the closing stretch of five games in which we will face four of the top seven rushers in the country (David Cobb, Ameer Abdullah, Melvin Gordon, and Tevin Coleman). Purdue doesn't need to completely shut the ground game down, but holding them in the 120-150 yards range would certainly help a lot.
The biggest thing I fear is a regression. Purdue has played pretty well in the last two games offensively. Defensively, it played very well against Iowa, but struggled the last two weeks, especially on third down. If the offense can keep moving while the defense returns to the form it showed against Iowa the Boilers have a shot to win. This is still a young team, and young teams lack consistency. I think Purdue shows that lack of consistency and falls short just because they're due for a bad game, honestly. Minnesota 31, Purdue 20
Michigan State (5-1, 2-0) at Indiana (3-3, 0-2) 3:30pm, ESPN
I will let you guys have fun with this one. The new Indiana starting quarterback is a true freshman that was redshirting as recently as three days ago and is the son of a soap opera star. No, Zander Diamont is not this guy, but Crimson Quarry thinks he is exactly what IU football needs. If he is, he takes the reigns and Nate Sudfeld doesn't become the starter when he returns next year. What IU really needs is Tre Roberson not leading Illinois State and Brock Spack. The Hoosiers are going to die on Saturday. They have Tevin Coleman and... that's really it. Michigan State 45, Indiana 17
Rutgers (5-1, 1-1) at Ohio State (4-1, 1-0) 3:30pm ABC/ESPN2
After seeing a bit of Virginia Tech last night I have no idea how they beat Ohio State. I also have no idea how Ohio State has managed to have both of their byes so far. The Buckeyes still have an outside shot at making the playoff, but they pretty much have to crush skulls the rest of the way in order to make it. Even then, the Virginia Tech loss at home is far more of anchor than Michigan State losing a shootout at Oregon. They'll probably win this against a punchless Rutgers team, but they don't have a real game left until going to Michigan State in November, and even then, Sparty is the only real team they play. Ohio State 45, Rutgers 17
Nebraska (5-1, 1-1) at Northwestern (3-3, 2-1) 7:30pm, BTN
For the record, since BTN is covering this game and not ESPN or ABC, Northwestern is footing the bill for lights being brought in. Just thought I would mention that one. I really don't what to think about Northwestern now. Were their wins over Penn State and Wisconsin flukes? Are Penn State and Wisconsin just not that good? This has been a ridiculously fun series to watch since the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten, so look for it to be a little closer than expected. Nebraska 31, Northwestern 21