Wake up, it's game day. No really, Ann Arbor is hosting Gameday this morning as Michigan hosts Michigan State in one of the day's biggest games. Oh, and Iowa kicks off at noon in their biggest challenge until their season finale, meaning a win at Northwestern could put the Hawkeyes on pace to go 12-0. Weiiiird.
Battle for Michigan
Ah, exactly what everyone predicted. For Michigan to enter this game ranked just outside of the top ten, only losing to a Utah team that beat Oregon on the road by 42. Their opponent as they host Gameday for the first time in the Harbaugh Era? Much hated Michigan State, undefeated and ranked seventh in the nation. The Spartans have interestingly been coasting throughout conference play so far, giving Purdue and Rutgers chances for upsets, and this will be their most difficult test of the season, even more so when you realize how far the Ducks have fallen since traveling to East Lansing.
As underwhelming as State has been, I'm still a firm believe that Michigan is part massive overachiever and part really, really good defense. When facing off against teams like Northwestern, Brigham Young and Oregon State, that's probably more than enough. Sooner or later, though, the offense is going to need to make it's own plays and not rely so heavily on the defense. That means when facing a team like Michigan State they're going to need a little more from Jake Rudock, who to be fair, has settled pretty well into his game manager role. I think Michigan has the defense to probably win here, especially at home and with Gameday, but when everything is said and done, if Rudock drops back and has to throw it today it's easy to see the Spartans defense making enough plays to remain undefeated. It'll be a lot more entertaining and closer than the last two seasons, but I still think the Spartans find a way to sneak out a victory here today.
The B-Card Is Kind of Depressing Today
We've got two really good games today and thankfully they're at different time slots so you'll be set from noon to around seven or so. Besides that? Well, it's not pretty. The Iowa and Northwestern showdown is definitely a 'good' game, but that's mainly because of the reality surrounding Iowa. Somehow, someway, Iowa has made it to 6-0 and today's trip to Ryan Field is the most difficult game until the Friday season closer at Nebraska in late November. In between these two games are a bye, home games against Maryland, Minnesota and Purdue, plus a road trip to Indiana. Barring an upset, which if I had to put money on it, I'd say one is coming, Iowa should be 11-0 heading into the finale if you approach their schedule from a logical standpoint. Of course that's never a good thing when it comes to football and predicting the next month or so, so who knows. Either way, this game has serious implications, but if Northwestern's offense is still asleep at the wheel this could be a painfully dull game to get through.
As for the B-card noon game, I'll touch on that below. The main game of the day is Michigan and Michigan State, but if you're looking for something else you could see a Minnesota team void of any consistent offense playing a Nebraska team that finds ways to lose games in the closing seconds seemingly every week. If things continue the ending will probably be worth watching. Then you have a Rutgers and Indiana game, which will be straight up ugly if Nate Sudfeld can't go for the Hoosiers. Either way with Indiana losing to Ohio State and Penn State, the luster surrounding their team has kind of slipped. This game is one the Hoosiers need if they want to inch towards bowl eligibility though, especially since their two other winnable games (Maryland, Purdue) are both on the road.
Closing out the night is Ohio State and Penn State. Several years back and this could have been worth seeing, but it's hard to get interested in this game now considering how much better the Buckeyes are, even more so as they're starting to get up to speed as of late.
Please Make It Stop
As a Purdue fan I'd prefer to never see Wisconsin on the schedule again. Purdue hasn't played them close since Sean Robinson was forced to start a game and his trio of turnovers (setting up 21 points for the Badgers) was the deciding factor. I'm pretty sure whenever the Boilers face off against the Badgers I just tune it out all together because bad things typically happen. Even more so when you realize the direction the program is heading under Darrell Hazell. The team went from getting blown out by good teams to getting blown out by bad teams under Hazell and it's never a good thing when you're 2.5 years into your tenure at a school and every single one of your 'best' games is a close loss. I actually miss Danny Hope even more nowadays and if Purdue doesn't right the ship in a hurry, I think at the very least Hazell's staff is going to go through a massive shakeup if Purdue gives him a fourth year in charge.
|12:00||ABC, ESPN or ESPN2||Iowa at Northwestern||Iowa 24 Northwestern 13|
|BTN||Purdue at Wisconsin||Wisconsin 45 Purdue 17|
|3:30||ABC, ESPN or ESPN2||Michigan State at Michigan||Michigan State 20 Michigan 13|
|ABC, ESPN or ESPN2||Nebraska at Minnesota||Nebraska 20 Minnesota 17|
|BTN||Rutgers at Indiana||Rutgers 24 Indiana 20|
|8:00||ABC||Penn State at Ohio State||Ohio State 34 Penn State 16|
Last Weekend's Predictions: 7-0
Current Record: 53-13