The biggest game of the week is, of course, the Penn State at Ohio State game. That will go a long way towards deciding the second half of the Big Ten championship game. I say the second half because the first half is already decided. Wisconsin already has a 2-game lead in the west with the tiebreakers already in hand over Nebraska and Northwestern in second place. Assuming the Badgers beat Illinois, Purdue beats Nebraska, and Michigan State beats Northwestern, Wisconsin can lock up the division as early as next week thanks to tiebreakers in their favor.
The East is not as simple, with Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State all sitting at 4-0. They will have their own blood feuds over the next few weeks to sort it all out.
In terms of bowls everyone is technically still alive. Illinois is in the worst shape as the only team with five losses. Purdue likely needs a win this week to keep realistic hopes alive. Rutgers (if it loses at Michigan) and the Indiana-Maryland loser could also be at 5 losses.
Wisconsin (7-0, 4-0) at Illinois (2-5, 0-4) Noon, ESPN
Illinois certainly looks like the dead team walking this year. They are last in rushing in the conference and second to last in offense ahead of only Rutgers. Also, this is the conference’s worst run defense against the best run offense. Only mercy might keep Wisconsin under 500 yards. Wisconsin 48, Illinois 10
Rutgers (3-4, 2-2) at Michigan (5-2, 2-2) Noon, BTN
Am I crazy for thinking Rutgers has a chance here? The defense really is not that bad. What is holding them back right now is their offense, which really only made two plays against Purdue. Michigan has not set the world on fire offensively and if the Scarlet Knights can force a couple of turnovers and make a couple of plays, this could get interesting. Sure, Michigan should win, but this is a pair of offenses that are really struggling right now. Michigan 24, Rutgers 7
Penn State (7-0, 4-0) at Ohio State (6-1, 4-0) 3:30pm, FOX
If Ohio State could do everyone a favor and eliminate this whole “Penn state for the playoff” crap that would be great. The last thing the Big Ten needs is a good Penn State in the playoff. Unfortunately, they are a legitimate good team. This is a major test on the road and the Buckeyes have been lying in wait. They have crushed everyone since losing to Oklahoma and are ready. Ohio State 31, Penn State 27
Michigan State (6-1, 4-0) at Northwestern (4-3, 2-2)
Suddenly Northwestern looks like we expected them to all season. They were solid against Iowa last week and they get a Michigan State team that is winning ugly. The Spartans are going to strangle teams. They are not afraid to win 10-9, as seen last week when they scored late and still gave Indiana a chance up 8 instead of running out the clock up 1. The Spartans should do something similar again this week. Michigan State 17, Northwestern 13
Indiana (3-4, 0-4) at Maryland (3-4, 1-3)
This is the make-or-break game of the year for Indiana. Because they still play Wisconsin and we all know they can’t finish against a ranked team they need this one to assure a chance at bowl eligibility before the Bucket game. Maryland has the worst defense in the conference at 36.7 points per game, but Mike Debord is allergic to offense. He has a great talent in Simmie Cobbs, but Indiana is 13th in rushing still. The Terps have lost 3 in a row and are starting to show their injury issues. Indiana 27
Minnesota (4-3, 1-3) at Iowa (4-3, 1-3) 6:30pm, Fox Sports 1
Black Heart Gold Pants Preview
PIG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s the annual Floyd of Rosedale game where Iowa and Minnesota fight over a bronze pig. Both teams were undefeated in the non-conference, but have struggled against anyone not named Illinois in Big Ten play. Overall Iowa has looked better though. They have just not been able to finish games. Iowa 27, Minnesota 24
Nebraska (3-4, 2-2) at Purdue (3-4, 1-3)
I said all week that we were going to turn things around and beat Nebraska and I am sticking to it. For having just lost to freakin' Rutgers I am strangely optimistic. I think it is because the performance in Piscataway was an aberration compared to the previous 6 games. I think Brohm gets this team ready for a defense that is worse than what the Scarlet Knights had. I think the team is pissed too. They know they missed an opportunity based on everything they said this week. On the other end, Nebraska looks lost. I think we get it done playing at home at night. Purdue 34, Nebraska 27