Big Ten Week 7 Forecast: Michigan State Spartans Edge Michigan Wolverines
As Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio leads his team onto the field at Spartan Stadium tomorrow, they may be stepping into a trap. But I don't think MSU will lose.
Welcome to Week 3 of the Big Ten conference schedule, which features the undefeated Michigan Wolverines traveling to East Lansing to face the 4-1 Michigan State Spartans. I can almost hear play-by-play legend Keith Jackson starting the TV broadcast with his trademark: "Hello, everybody!"
Meanwhile two teams, Nebraska and Minnesota, headed in opposite directions have this weekend off, while we take a look at five conference games. They include the:
- Big Ten College Football Game of the Week (CFGotW)
- Chiller (sometimes called a "trap" game)
- Snoozer (the game you couldn't get me to watch)
- Big Ten Player To Watch
- Etc. (the rest of the Big Ten games)
Immovable Object (Spartan Defense) Conquers Irresistible Force (U-M Offense)
There are several ways to spin the Big Ten College Football Game of the Week (CFGotW).
We could talk about the immovable object (the Michigan State defense) overpowering the irresistible force of the Michigan offense. After all, the swarming Spartans (pictured) lead the Big Ten in total defense giving up an average of 3.2 yards per play. (Michigan's defense is sixth with a 5.4 yard average.)
The Michigan offense isn't too shabby. They are second only to Wisconsin in total offense in the conference and average 7.4 yards per play. (Michigan State is sixth with a 5.6 average.)
We could talk about two uniquely talented quarterbacks. Michigan's Denard Robinson has effectively executed an offense built around his tremendous athletic ability, but he's a work in progress as a passer. Michigan State's Kirk Cousins orchestrates an offense that prefers to run first, but he's been effective throwing the football.
There is the sardonic Mark Dantonio, seeking to beat Michigan for the fourth year in a row as MSU's head coach, pitted against first-year Michigan head coach Brady Hoke.
Two nationally ranked teams will square off to determine who will be the front-runner in the Big Ten's Legends Division. I believe Michigan State will win because they are playing at home and Spartan running back Le'Veon Bell will have a great game.
Michigan State 24, Michigan 20.
BIg Ten Player To Watch: Michigan State Running Back Le'Veon Bell
Le'Veon Bell (pictured) has been the Spartans' most effective running back this season and is due for a breakout game in the Big Ten. What better scenario is there than to run for over 100 yards against arch-rival Michigan?
Bell may not be among the top 10 rushers in the conference, but he's the type of straight-ahead, hard-running back that could pound through the Michigan defense.
And if Bell succeeds in running the ball against the Wolverines, then fellow running backs like Edwin Baker and Larry Caper will also make it difficult for the Michigan offense to spend much time on the field.
Chiller Game: Iowa Narrowly Beats Northwestern
Two teams that suffered disappointing losses last weekend face off in Iowa.
The Hawkeyes lost to Penn State in a low-scoring game, and Northwestern couldn't keep pace with Michigan at home.
I am going with the home team and think wide receiver Marvin McNutt will be the difference maker in this game. McNutt is only behind Illinois' A.J. Jenkins and Michigan State's B.J. Cunningham in pass receiving. He has caught 29 passes for 436 yards and four touchdowns.
It will be a close game, especially if Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa plays well.
Iowa 27, Northwestern 22.
Snoozer Alert: Wisconsin Wallops Indiana
Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Montee Ball have received a lot of well-deserved attention this season for their stellar performances, but let's not forget running back James White.
White (pictured) is No. 9 in rushing in the Big Ten. He has the best yards per carry average (5.9) among all the running backs in the conference.
Indiana's secret wish is they end this game without any serious injuries and prevent the Badgers from scoring 50 points.
Wisconsin 49, Indiana 6.
Etc. Games: Illinois Beats Ohio State and Penn State Polishes off Purdue
One of the most interesting elements of the Ohio State-Illinois game will be watching Fighting Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase throw to wide receiver A.J. Jenkins.
The two players have combined for 815 yards and seven touchdowns in six weeks. Scheelhaase is only behind Wisconsin's Russell Wilson in passing efficiency, and Jenkins leads all Big Ten receivers with 46 catches.
Ohio State is a team in disarray, and they are playing away from Columbus.
Illinois 24, Ohio State 14.
Yawn. Purdue is traveling to Happy Valley to play Penn State.
The Nittany Lions have the second-best defense in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers beat Minnesota last weekend.
Penn State 17, Purdue 7.