Road To Glendale 2011: Big Ten Favorites Hit the Road in Week Seven
As part of BCS Know How’s 2010 college football season preview, we will be breaking down each week’s most important games that could have BCS and postseason implications in “Road to Glendale 2011.″
Let’s move on to Week Seven, where the Big Ten has two marquee matchups on the slate.
Arkansas at Auburn: Saturday Oct. 16, TBA
There’s no denying it—in 2010, the SEC West is absolutely loaded, and it could be any one’s division.
This midseason matchup might feature two undefeated or once-defeated SEC West squads still jockeying for conference positioning as the season turns the corner towards the home stretch.
Arkansas will be coming off a hellacious early-season SEC schedule, faced with taking on Georgia and Alabama on back-to-back weekends before taking on Texas A&M at home the week before this marquee SEC showdown.
If the Razorbacks are undefeated at this point, they would likely be favored to take the SEC West crown and this game at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium. However, it's possible that the Tigers will welcome Arkansas to their house with an undefeated record of their own.
Which Big Ten road favorite is more likely to lose?
Unlike the Razorbacks, the Tigers do not take on the cream of the SEC crop until later on in the season, and a victory here could propel them towards showdowns with the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide that could decide the conference title contenders.
Auburn will be hard-pressed to replace some significant holes at quarterback, running back, and defensive line, but by the time Week Seven rolls around the Tigers hope to have the wrinkles in their system worked out.
Arkansas, on the other hand, comes into the season very confident with its quarterback Ryan Mallet, who could be a strong Heisman contender when the Razorbacks take the trip to Auburn.
Iowa at Michigan : Saturday Oct. 16, 3:30 p.m. ET
The Wolverines come into the 2010 season with guarded expectations following an underwhelming 5-7 record in the ’09 season, including a very disappointing 1-7 showing in Big Ten play.
If coach Rich Rodriguez wants to cool down his coaching hot seat even a little bit, he’s going to have to come into this Week Seven matchup with a good record. Luckily for Rodriguez, the Wolverines’ first six games this season are winnable (although far from guaranteed) with matchups against the likes of Notre Dame and Connecticut.
If Rodriguez and Michigan can come into this meeting with Big Ten co-favorites Iowa with an undefeated or one-loss record, hopes will be high in Ann Arbor for an upset.
However, standing in its way will be a tested and experienced group from Iowa, led by quarterback Ricky Stanzi and a deep group of running backs. The experience of the Hawkeye offense will prove especially vital in this matchup, as questions have become concerns on the defensive side of the ball for the Wolverines.
On offense the Wolverines can put the Hawkeye defense to the test, especially by utilizing Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier, a dynamic combination of quarterbacks for the Wolverines.
Ohio State at Wisconsin: Saturday Oct. 16, 7:00 p.m. ET
If Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema ever had a shot to prove he could get his Badgers over the hump and make a BCS bowl, it seems like 2010 might be the year.
Along with welcoming back most of the core from the ’09 team that tied for second in the Big Ten, the Badgers were gifted a fortuitous schedule, welcoming conference favorite Ohio State to Camp Randall in what should be a classic Big Ten-style football showdown.
Badger running back John Clay has the ability to batter even the best defenses, and by the middle of October he could be among the early Heisman favorites. A strong performance here would only further his candidacy, especially if he can lead his team to break the national title hopes of the Buckeyes.
It wont be easy though, no matter how excited the team and the crowd in Madison might be.
Ohio State has a Heisman hopeful of its own in quarterback Terrelle Pryor and a shockingly good and experienced defense that has few, if any, holes.
The Buckeyes will be a tough test for any team this season, but Wisconsin could be the team to knock the Buckeyes off the national title track and leave Columbus without a national title shot for another season.
Other Games of Note : Texas at Nebraska, Oregon State at Washington, Southern Methodist at Navy, BYU at TCU, Middle Tennessee at Georgia Tech.
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