We're now in the second week of conference play and will once again take a look at what's happening around the Big Ten. Last weeks slate was pretty entertaining, with Purdue almost coming back from three touchdowns in East Lansing, Indiana almost upsetting Ohio State (before that horrendous snap), Wisconsin's rally falling just a tad short against Iowa and Nebraska absolutely failing clock management. Hopefully today will be as entertaining as well.
The Game of the Week is...Northwestern at Michigan?
So...who would have guessed that in week six Northwestern would be undefeated and ranked just outside of the top 10? Who would have guessed Michigan would be a top 20 team with only one loss to a Utah team that demolished Oregon (in Eugene) by 42 points? And who would have guessed that the most prominent conference game through this weekend would have been between the Wildcats and Wolverines?
Now the question is if Pat Fitzgerald can actually beat Jim Harbaugh, something he never accomplished against Brady Hoke. If recent history repeats today the game should be entertaining as their last three matchups have came down to the last play, with two overtime games and Northwestern losing last years game on a failed two point conversion. Last year could be a good sign for today's game as well as both teams were tied at zero at the half and scored a combined 19 points. Neither team this year has done much offensively and both teams have taken care of business thanks to their dominating defense, so expect a low scoring and old school Big Ten dog fight this afternoon.
And It Might Pale Next When...
Iowa travels to Evanston to face off against Northwestern at noon next weekend. The Wildcats are currently ranked 13th in the AP Poll and if they win at #18 Michigan, especially considering it's Michigan, it could sneak them into the top ten. Especially if some of the undefeated teams ahead of them start dropping games. As for Iowa, the Hawkeyes are undefeated and now ranked 22nd in the AP Poll. Their opponent today is Illinois in a winnable home game. If the Hawkeyes win they'll be 6-0 and, worst case scenario, a top 20 team set to face another undefeated team that could be in the top 10.
Of course the Big Ten could have a more nationally prominent game if the Wolverines beat Northwestern today. Knocking off an undefeated top 15 program would inch the Wolverines closer to a top ten ranking and the fact that they''ll be hosting a Spartan program that will most likely be in the top five next week would be the biggest conference game of the season up to that point easily. It'd also create even more Jim Harbaugh and Michigan are back headlines, with the Michigan State game likely being a better representation to determine if Michigan is really back or just beating up on lesser teams.
So...Maryland and Rutgers
Maryland basketball hit the ground running when they joined the Big Ten. As for their football program, as well as Rutgers, both did enough to hold their own last season. Well this year Maryland have crashed and burned, especially after being demolished in back to back weeks by West Virginia and Michigan. Now with everyone more or less assuming coach Randy Edsall is finished his Terps get to travel to the #1 team in the nation today as they face the Buckeyes. Ouch. As for Rutgers? Well they're still dealing with their mess of a season (especially off the field) and now get a primetime home game that will likely end with them getting wrecked by a top five Michigan State team. Not a very good draw for the Scarlet Knights.
|12:00||ESPNU||Illinois at Iowa||Iowa 34 Illinois 13|
|ESPN2||Indiana at Penn State||Penn State 20 Indiana 16|
|BTN||Maryland at Ohio State||Ohio State 38 Maryland 17|
|3:30||ESPN||Minnesota at Purdue||Minnesota 31 Purdue 24|
|BTN||Northwestern at Michigan||Michigan 20 Northwestern 13|
|ABC/ESPN2||Wisconsin at Nebraska||Wisconsin 28 Nebraska 24|
|8:00||BTN||Michigan State at Rutgers||Michigan State 38 Rutgers 20|
Last Weekend's Predictions: 4-3
Current Record: 46-13