Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
A couple of games this week could help determine who goes to Indianapolis for the second Big Ten Championship game.
Purdue (3-3, 0-2) at Ohio State (7-0, 3-0)
line: Ohio State -18.5 The Buckeye defense ended up struggling last week against Indiana, and, to be fair, before then--averaging 400 yards overall given up per game, and 277.7 passing yards--107th in the FBS. The Purdue offense will probably try to take advantage of those un-OSU-like statistics, and of the void injured starting linebacker Etienne Sabino leaves, but it probably be enough. A once-promising Purdue offense has sputtered in recent weeks, only getting 213 yards versus their manhandling by Michigan and Wisconsin the last two weeks.
likely winner: Ohio State Buckeye QB Braxton Miller is ranked 7th in the FBS in rushing yards (130.3 per game) and he'll likely pad that stat this week. The Boilermaker defense itself is no true threat to Miller, as they gave up over 450 yards last week versus a Badger team who entered the matchup 90th in the nation in rushing. An unforeseen good thing for Purdue? They aren't playing at home, where they've been blown out the last few weeks. The bad news is that they'll be playing in the Horseshoe, not the friendliest of venues in good years. May be a high scoring affair, but despite the final score, the Buckeyes should dominate.
Minnesota (4-2, 0-2) at Wisconsin (5-2, 2-1)
line: Wisconsin -17.5 This line is a little surprising, given how disappointing the Badgers have been for much of the year, and the fact that both teams come in with similar records. This weeks game, though, is in Madison, which means we're likely to see a pretty one-sided game, especially since it looks like Minnesota's better starting quarterback, MarQueis Gray, may still be out with his recurring ankle injury. On the other side of the ball, Montee (really, Cari? AGAIN?) is may be finally living up to his senior-season hype, after running for a career-high 247 yards on 29 carries in the Badgers' win at Purdue last week.
likely winner: Wisconsin Jerry Kill will be on the sideline after his latest seizure, sustained after the loss to Northwestern, but it probably won't matter too much. The Badgers look poised to head to the B1G conference championship game after their victory last week, quarterback woes be damned. Wisconsin should take this one running away.
Michigan State (4-3, 1-2) at Michigan (4-2, 2-0)
line: Michigan -10 Players on both sides of the field in this game don't know what it's like for the Wolverines to beat the Spartans, riding a four game losing streak, including two in the Big House. Last year, starting Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson was unable to finish the game due to injury, and was underwhelming in his limited time (9 of 23 for 123 yards, 1 INT, 1 TD, 4 sacks). This year, though, momentum is on the other side, with Michigan State coming off a disappointing 2-OT loss at home versus Iowa, and Michigan coming off of a dismantling of Illinois.
likely winner: Michigan Supposedly, there's reminders of Spartan's recent dominance in this rivalry in the Michigan locker room. Emotion may be a factor, but it shouldn't get the better of the Wolverines, who've turned around their season since losses to now-top-five Alabama and Notre Dame. The better-than-the-past-few-years Wolverine defense should be able to keep a sputtering MSU offense, led by underachiever Andrew Maxwell, in check, but the most intriguing part of this game should be the Michigan offense, led by Robinson, versus the much-lauded Spartan D. I think it'll be closer than the line, but home field advantage gets the monkey off of the Wolverines' back.
Nebraska (4-2, 1-1) at Northwestern (6-1, 2-1)
line: Nebraska -6.5 The Huskers come into this game off of a bye, while the Wildcats barely escaped Minnesota with a win last week. Nebraska has had some issues on offense with turnovers this year, 15 total--ranking dead last in the conference in that category; despite that, Nebraska still leads the Big ten in rushing yards, scoring, and total offense. They're up against one of the conference's perenially strong offenses in Northwestern, who got into more of a groove last week versus the Golden Gophers than they were allowed the week before at Penn State.
likely winner: push This could be the highest scoring game in the conference this week as both defenses are decent, but both offenses can be dangerous. This game could be one of two this week (the mitten game being the other) that helps determine the winner of the Legends division in the conference.
Indiana (2-4) at Navy (3-3)
line: Navy -2.5 Don't let their record fool you: this Hoosier team iks no pushover, and they'll go down swinging, as evidenced by their furious almost-comeback versus Ohio State last week. Navy, too, is looking a little better now than they did after beginning the season 1-3 and their dismal 0-12 loss to San Jose State. The Midshipmen finally started to get footing on offense two weeks ago in their win over Air Force, and turned it up more last week versus Central Michigan. Their defense, though, continues to be suspect, so...
likely winner: Indiana The Hoosiers have a potent offense of their own, and though the game may be close, the odds are bound to catch up with Indiana sooner or later, and why not a breakthrough win versus Navy? Kevin Wilson is on his way to turn around the IU program, and though this wouldn't help them in the Leaders division race, this could boost the Hoosier confidence down the stretch.
Illinois vs BYE
It can't get much worse for the Illini than it's been, right? RIGHT?
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