It’s officially the beginning of October and all 14 Big Ten programs will be playing throughout the day, meaning conference play is finally fully underway (after several byes last week). The Big Ten currently has three top ten programs, though one of them is somewhat unexpected (Wisconsin). Oh, and that Wisconsin team is now staying in the state of Michigan after upsetting the Spartans and will now face off against the Michigan Wolverines on ABC this afternoon.
Michigan and Wisconsin highlight the day
Yep, this is pretty clearly the highlight of the day and once again few people seem to buy into the possibility of a Wisconsin win (they’re currently 11 point underdogs). The Badgers opening win over LSU has lost a lot of weight over the past month and almost losing to Georgia State did them no favors, but beating Michigan State in their house 30-6 was about as good of a win as you could get. Regardless, Michigan is Michigan and with the team playing much better under Jim Harbaugh then what they ever did with Brady Hoke, it’s easy to see why there’s a massive amount of hype.
Today’s game should be the last test for the Wolverines until the end of the month, with the next three weeks involving a road trip to Rutgers, bye week and home game against Illinois. Or in other words, Michigan could be right at the top of the nation when they travel to East Lansing two days prior to Halloween for what would be a massively hyped game only potentially overshadowed by a top five showdown against Ohio State in Columbus.
Michigan didn’t exactly look great against Colorado, benefiting from the Buffaloes woefully inept special teams unit, but they bounced back with authority in their 49-10 dismantling of Penn State. Wilton Speight has been thriving under center for the Wolverines, while De’Veon Smith, Chris Evans, Ty Isaac and Karan Higdon have all shown that they can be capable weapons in the rushing game. As for Wisconsin, their offense isn’t lighting up the score board and that could be a problem in Ann Arbor. The Badgers did benefit from four Michigan State turnovers last week (the Spartans actually out gained them 325-317), so if Michigan can take care of the ball they should be able to give Wisconsin their first loss of the season.
Can Michigan State and Penn State bounce back?
Will the real Sparty please stand up?
Michigan State, coming off of an impressive 2015, didn’t exactly set the world on fire in their 28-13 opening win over Furman, immediately followed by a bye week. With expectations somewhat tempered, the Spartans naturally opened up a 36-7 lead at Notre Dame before almost allowing the Irish to come back from a 29 point deficit. Hosting Wisconsin last week, following the Badgers lackluster win against Georgia State, many expected Michigan State to start rolling.
Well that didn’t happen. Instead the Spartans were embarrassed on their own turf and now are looking to bounce back and get things rolling once again. Luckily they face an Indiana team that should provide them a great opportunity for a win today. Hoosier quarterback Richard Lagow is no Nate Sudfeld and Indiana hasn’t exactly impressed, struggling through three quarters with Florida International and losing last week at home against Wake Forest.
Things will be a bit tougher for Penn State as they look to forget about a 39 point loss at Michigan. We can talk about how head coach James Franklin has somehow stumbled into a massive amount of hype despite beating no one at both Penn State and Vanderbilt, but even ridiculously high standards at Penn State won’t have him on the hot seat (at least as of right now). Losing to Minnesota could complicate things somewhat, but with a schedule that includes Maryland, Purdue, Indiana and Rutgers, plenty of wins are still on the table.
The game today is actually pretty relevant as Minnesota, considered a Big Ten West Division sleeper by some, has underwhelmed considerably so far this year, knocking off Oregon State and Colorado State by seven points in each game. If Minnesota wants to prove they are for real, winning at Penn State and then knocking off Iowa next week would be a good start. Minnesota’s passing offense isn’t exactly surging at the moment, so if Penn State can slow down the rushing attack led by Rodney Smith, the Nittany Lions should be in good shape.
Oh, and relevant video:
|12:00||ESPNU||Northwestern at Iowa||Iowa 20 Northwestern 10|
|BTN||Rutgers at Ohio State||Ohio State 52 Rutgers 10|
|03:30||BTN||Purdue at Maryland||Maryland 34 Purdue 20|
|ABC||Wisconsin at Michigan||Michigan 27 Wisconsin 20|
|ESPN2||Illinois at Nebraska||Nebraska 34 Illinois 10|
|BTN||Minnesota at Penn State||Penn State 20 Minnesota 17|
|08:00||BTN||Michigan State at Indiana||Michigan State 38 Indiana 17|
Last Week’s Predictions: 4-3
Current Record: 31-10