The Big Ten is really starting to get into their conference scheduling. Unfortunately for them, the B1G is down this year and there are few marquee games left, especially following the showdown last week. With Wisconsin off for the week, however, the high-profile game won't be there, but that doesn't mean there won't be interesting, close games.
Nonetheless, here's a preview of this week's games and who I think will be the winners.
Wisconsin - Talk about getting a statement win. With all of America watching, Wisconsin gave Nebraska a formal welcome to the B1G with a good ole fashioned whooping. Russell Wilson looks more and more like the Heisman favorite (he is in my book) with 1500+ yards and 16 total TDs to just 1 INT. The even better news for the Badgers is things only get easier from here on. They have to travel to MSU and Illinois, but neither will be as high profile as this last game was. The B1G is their's to lose.
Michigan State - Talk about a statement win possibility gone awry. Ohio State has looked as bad as I've ever seen them offensively and Michigan State could only manage a three point victory? Kirk Cousins was doing everything he could to let Ohio State escape with a win. If MSU could have just held on the final minute and shut out OSU at home, that'd still be a statement win. In the end, they won in The Horsheshoe. But it could have been an even bigger win for them
The IU-PSU game was hard for any football fan to watch. Nothing was pretty about it, but IU had a chance at the end of the game to get a win. The hail-mary pass was caught at the end, but came up five yards short. IU is learning and the QB switch is something I support. Dusty Kiel (Gunner's older brother) is a better fit for the system and keeps Gunner happy.
The one positive for IU is this is Illinois' first road game of the year. How they managed that schedule is impressive, as they are one win away from a bowl bid now with games against Purdue and Minnesota left. They still don't have my complete vote of confidence and likely won't until they play Michigan. Speaking of which, their two hardest games left are against Michigan and Wisconsin, both at home. Whoever did their scheduling this year needs a medal. And a bonus.
IU is improving, but Illinois is good. Illinois wins 34-13
Minnesota, oh Minnesota. I didn't have faith in you and predicted 48-0 against Michigan, thinking I was being harsh. Way to make me look nice. There was no pass game. There was no run game. There was (clearly) no defense. The drop-off in talent for them is incredibly significant. That being said, this is their last winnable game, if you can call it that.
Purdue has some controversy of its' own, however. Robert Marve, their starting QB this spring, was pulled at the end of the Notre Dame game for, as the coach said, "not playing in the system." So what'd Marve do? What any smart college kid does: take it to Twitter. Surprisingly, the coach had no problem with it. But Purdue is a mess.
This game is a must-not-watch. It'll be close, but it'll be ugly. Purdue 17-10.
Well, Penn State's offense was all sorts of bad, at least QB-wise. I'm not sure who's calling the plays on offense, but someone should tell them to run. Every play. Silas Redd racked up 129 yards on 29 carries against IU. But more importantly, the two-headed QB was 16 of 36 for 271 yards and 1 TD, which came on a broken tackle big play.
Given how bad Iowa looked it's last two weeks, this bye week couldn't have come at a more perfect time. Despite their play, they have just one loss and could still (realistically) win their division. And with back to back games against IU and Minnesota, this is a big stretch for them to get things figured out.
Iowa wins this game rather easily, 27-7
Michigan, oh Michigan. Why must you be so mean? 59 points? Really? Way to lay the lumber. The most surprising thing from that game, however, is that Denard Robinson only had 220 yards total and 3 TDs. That's actually great news for Michigan as they can put up 59 points without Robinson having a monster game. And lucky for them, they get another awful defense to tee off on.
As for Northwestern, they had Illinois right where they wanted them, down 28-10 with seven minutes left in the third. Illinois outscored them 28-7 over the next 22 minutes and got out of the game with a big W. The positives for Northwestern though is that Dan Persa looked solid with 4 TDs. The negatives is he had just 123 yards on 10 completions. There's work yet to be done.
Michigan will tee off on another poor defense, this time 41-0
Welcome to the B1G, Nebraska! Oh what's that? You weren't expecting a good team? Tough luck. The defense looked pathetic against Wilson and Co., surrendering 486 yards and forcing just one turnover. And Taylor Martinez looked as bad as I thought he might. Wisconsin forced him to pass and he obliged, throwing 3 INTs. The good news out of all this though? They get Ohio State.
Which brings me to the never ending saga in Columbus. Just when they thought things would get a little easier and the Buckeyes would gain some weapons, they all get further suspended for at least the Nebraska game. And the egg they laid at home against MSU was historically bad, mustering just 178 total yards on offense. Things won't be better this weekend as they travel to a team that's hungry for revenge.
Nebraska gets back to it's winning ways, and it'll be bad. 38-7