It's Halloween and this is the second to last Saturday before we will have college basketball. It's a decisively light slate this weekend, even nationally as there were ten games on Thursday and Friday (likely to avoid Halloween as college students might have other ideas of what to do today). The Big Ten slate isn't overly thrilling, either, especially with a slow noon start.
We've got a Rutgers team coming off of a blowout home loss to the Buckeyes, now traveling to Madison to face the Badgers. Another bottom feeder in the Big Ten, Illinois, will travel to a Penn State team that has been anything but enjoyable to watch, while a Nebraska team probably realizing firing Pelini was a mistake right now will travel to a Purdue team that hasn't done anything since Danny Hope was in town. Oh, and Nebraska won't have their starting quarterback, though one has to wonder if Purdue can take advantage, especially if they dial down the offense to a painfully conservative mess of plays like they did versus Wisconsin before the bye. Even the afternoon game is lackluster, with the only worthwhile reason to watch Iowa and Maryland being the possibility of the Hawkeyes reaching 8-0. Things potentially pick up at night when Michigan travels to Minnesota, though that game is more interesting because of the narratives for both teams more so than their actual style of play.
Can Iowa go undefeated?
Coming off of a bye, the Hawkeyes will now have five more regular season games to get through if they want get into the Big Ten Championship game and a chance for the college football playoffs. Their most difficult remaining game will be at the end of November when they travel to Nebraska, but this weeks game is against a free falling Maryland program in Iowa City. Maryland looked a lot better versus Penn State, but this is a road game and one has to wonder if the Terrapins are going to pack it in sooner or later. Regardless, the Hawkeyes blew through Northwestern in their last game and should be capable enough to win here. I have a sinking feeling that one of these games the Hawkeyes are going to inexplicably drop, just because, but I don't think it's going to be this one.
Wolverines look to bounce back
Prior to this week it was assumed things were going to get ugly inside of TCF Bank Stadium. Michigan had dropped their opener to Utah, but looked like they were about to get inside the top ten and give the Spartans their first loss. That rivalry game would have been huge because at 6-1 the Wolverines would have became legitimate playoff contenders, especially with a weak slate coming up featuring Minnesota, Rutgers, Indiana and Penn State. When everything was said and done, if the Wolverines could hold down the fort against Ohio State in the last week of the season, they would likely had to get past either Iowa or Wisconsin and they would inexplicably be playing for a title in Harbaugh's first season. Of course that didn't pan out, with the whole punt fiasco and what not.
Regardless, Michigan should be able to win out until the Ohio State game, could find their way back into the Big Ten title game (especially if they can beat the Buckeyes and if Ohio State knocks off Sparty) and possibly have an outside chance of a playoff spot if everything pans out perfectly. It probably won't happen, but there's no reason for Michigan to not win the next four games, even if they are on the road three of the next four weeks. This Gopher game was expected to be a beatdown blood bath, especially considering how Michigan lost last time out, but now there's a potential possibility that Minnesota will come out fired up trying to play for their recently retired head coach Jerry Kill. Unfortunately for Minnesota, though, their offense is a mess and if they can't score against the Wolverines they're (obviously) not going to win.
|12:00||ESPN2||Illinois at Penn State||Penn State 27 Illinois 17|
|ESPNU||Nebraska at Purdue||Nebraska 34 Purdue 17|
|BTN||Rutgers at Wisconsin||Wisconsin 31 Rutgers 24|
|3:30||ABC / ESPN2||Maryland at Iowa||Iowa 27 Maryland 16|
|7:00||ESPN||Michigan at Minnesota||Michigan 27 Minnesota 10|
Last Weekend's Predictions: 4-1
Current Record: 63-14