The Big Ten will highlight the night this weekend with the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes traveling to the #8 Wisconsin Badgers. The game will be the ABC primetime game and Madison will also be hosting Gameday. With the Big Ten currently fielding four of the top ten teams, it’s safe to say that the “reemergence” of the Big Ten will likely be a key storyline this Saturday.
Battle of two top ten teams
Wisconsin may be the eighth ranked team in the nation, but the question is are they actually a top ten caliber team? On one hand they have beat two top ten teams (at the time) in LSU and Michigan State, though both of those wins have lost a lot of appeal over the last few weeks. Then of course you have the debacle against Georgia State, leading to Wisconsin being immediately counted out heading into their games in East Lansing and Ann Arbor. That seven point loss against the Wolverines is where it gets interesting.
The highlight of said loss, and really the Badgers in general, is their defense is very, very good. There’s two problems when considering Ohio State, though. First is the fact that Michigan’s reliance on a physical ground game meant that Wisconsin’s stout run defense was in good position to keep Michigan in check. Even if the Badgers slow down Ohio State tonight, the reality is Ohio State should still be capable of scoring points. That’s the problem Wisconsin is going to be facing tonight.
One has to wonder how the Michigan game would have fared if Wisconsin could have passed the ball at all. Sure, Michigan has a great defense, but so does Ohio State. Last time out freshman Alex Hornibrook hit 9 of his 25 attempts for a measly 88 yards while also throwing three interceptions. That won’t cut it here, especially for a team outside of the top 100 in yards per rushing attempt. The Badgers have produced a ton of impressive backfields over the years, but so far the running game hasn’t quite taken off.
Wisconsin will have the advantage of playing at home and are also coming off of a bye, but the Buckeyes have one of the top defenses in the nation and Wisconsin hasn’t shown the ability to consistently produce on offense. Mix that with a loaded Ohio State offense that is capable of scoring a ton of points and the Badgers will have their hands full. Wisconsin is going to need a ton of help tonight if they want to pull off the surprising upset.
Slow start to the day
If you’re looking for some early action today in the Big Ten then you might be in for a rough start. Personally I would be fine (emphasis on would because I’ll be stuck at work until 2:30) as Purdue plays Iowa, but for a lot of people the only way the noon slate will be enticing is if it involves your team.
On ESPN2 we have an underwhelming Iowa team that should still be good enough to take care of Purdue, though one has to wonder if the final score will be 14-7 (the final score of Iowa wins overs Rutgers and Minnesota, both on the road as well). On ESPN News you’ll get a 1-4 Illinois team (that just lost to Purdue at home) traveling to a Rutgers team that was embarrassed on a national scale to the point where the football program may have became a bigger punchline then the basketball team. The highlight is probably Minnesota and Maryland, but the Terrapins have benefited from a relatively easy schedule and Minnesota’s inability to pass the ball has led to some ugly football.
Even at 3:30 things might not get that much better. There’s some potential in a rapidly rising Nebraska team traveling to Indiana, but there’s just as big of a chance of a Cornhusker rout. In East Lansing an offensively inept Michigan State team faces Northwestern in a game that could be entertaining, but I feel like the Spartans will get things somewhat back on track at the expense of the Wildcats. Either way it’s a relatively slow slate of games until the primetime matchup between Ohio State and Wisconsin.
|12:00||ESPNU||Minnesota at Maryland||Maryland 24 Minnesota 20|
|12:00||ESPN2||Iowa at Purdue||Iowa 31 Purdue 13|
|12:00||ESPN News||Illinois at Rutgers||Rutgers 24 Illinois 20|
|03:30||ABC / ESPN2||Nebraska at Indiana||Nebraska 31 Indiana 20|
|03:30||BTN||Northwestern at Michigan State||Michigan State 20 Northwestern 13|
|08:00||ABC||Ohio State at Wisconsin||Ohio State 27 Wisconsin 13|
Last Week’s Predictions: 4-2
Current Record: 40-14