It's the tenth week of the Big Ten season and the last one before college basketball officially tips off. That also means we're getting into the thick of things this season and all 14 Big Ten teams will be playing throughout the day. Things start off slowly, in typical noon game fashion, with Illinois-Purdue and Penn State-Northwestern kicking things off early. The afternoon slate has a potential upset with Iowa traveling to Indiana, easily the early day highlight as the other two 3:30 games are Rutgers traveling to Michigan and Wisconsin facing a decimated Maryland programs.
Things could pick up in prime time, or be a pair of blowouts. Michigan State travels to Nebraska and if the Cornhuskers perform similar to how they did last week, things could get ugly. On the flip side the Spartans have typically played down to their opposition so it wouldn't be a huge surprise for Nebraska to hang around. The same could happen on ABC when Minnesota faces Ohio State if the Gophers can play like they did versus Michigan. Of course if they're still around late versus Ohio State maybe they'll have better clock management this time around instead of blowing 17 seconds on a bad passing play from the one yard line.
Can Iowa stay undefeated?
First things first, Talking To Your Kids About An Undefeated Iowa.
Iowa is surprisingly 8-0, with their most difficult games all behind them. While a road trip to Nebraska might be a potential problem, on paper the road trip to Bloomington should be the most difficult game for the Hawkeyes over the next three weeks. The Hawkeyes have looked impressive throughout most of the season and they should be fully capable of dealing with an Indiana team that doesn't play defense. That being said, though, the Hoosiers have an offense that can keep them around in any game and if Iowa's offense stutters at all, that could cause problems.
Indiana is a weird team as there's signs of competency and then there are signs of the traditional Hoosiers of old. We've seen the Hoosiers almost upset Ohio State, hang around with Michigan State and build a massive second half lead over Rutgers. We've also seen that same team blow said huge lead over Rutgers, be held to 7 points against Penn State and have to take advantage of quite a bit of luck to beat FCS opponent Southern Illinois. So what team will we get today? Honestly, who knows. If Indiana could simply play defense they'd be one of the better teams in the Big Ten, but without a competent defensive unit you have an Indiana team that needs a near perfect offensive performance to win a game. Even if the Iowa game is in Bloomington, it's hard to get on board with Indiana here.
Purdue goes for two in a row
The Boilermakers were struggling once again this season and things weren't expected to change much last weekend when they hosted Nebraska. Well to the surprise of many, Purdue took a 42-16 lead into the fourth quarter before allowing Nebraska to make things interesting. When everything was said and done Purdue won 55-45, picking up Hazell's second Big Ten win in his third season. Now Purdue will face an Illinois team that they beat last season (Hazell's first conference win). That Illinois team has had an interesting season so far, with Tim Beckman being fired right before the season. Things haven't gone well for the Illini outside of a one point home win over Nebraska, but they're still 4-4 and likely hoping to sneak into a bowl game with six wins.
The question now is if Purdue can win their second game in a row. On paper they have enough offensive fire power to beat this Illinois team, but consistency has been a major issue for the Boilermakers. If we get the Purdue team that showed up for the first three quarters of the Nebraska game, second half of the Michigan State game or most of the Marshall / Bowling Green games, it's hard to see them not winning here. If we get the other Purdue team that rears it's ugly head time and time again? Well then things could sour quickly. With reports surfacing that Hazell will be back next season it could go a long way if Hazell can add another win to his resume. Even more so as a loss at home to a lowly Illinois program will likely lead to a visibly upset and frustrated fan base.
|12:00||BTN||Illinois at Purdue||Purdue 34 Illinois 31|
|ESPNU||Penn State at Northwestern||Penn State 24 Northwestern 20|
|3:30||ESPN||Iowa at Indiana||Iowa 31 Indiana 20|
|BTN||Rutgers at Michigan||Michigan 38 Rutgers 17|
|BTN||Wisconsin at Maryland||Wisconsin 27 Maryland 13|
|7:00||ESPN||Michigan State at Nebraska||Michigan State 30 Nebraska 13|
|8:00||ABC||Minnesota at Ohio State||Ohio State 35 Minnesota 17|
Last Weekend's Prediction: 4-1
Current Record: 67-15