While this weekend’s slate of games might seem a tad vanilla, especially compared to what we got last week with Ohio State and Wisconsin, there’s still seven games today and plenty to prove throughout the day.
This Saturday marks the coaching debut for interim head coach Gerad Parker, who leads the Boilermakers against Nebraska. Last year the Boilers came out swinging to upset Nebraska, but this year the game is on the road against an undefeated, top ten program. Also of note, Iowa will try to regain some momentum and Wisconsin will attempt to avoid a let down in a noon showdown, while Michigan State will try to save their season tonight with a road game against Maryland.
The real highlight of the day, sort of, is Penn State hosting the Buckeyes in primetime on ABC. I say sort of because...
Another chance for James Franklin
Penn State head coach James Franklin does not beat good teams:
The thing Franklin hasn’t done is beat a team that finished ranked — even going back to his time at Vanderbilt — let alone any of the elite programs at the top of his own Big Ten East. He’s never beaten a Power 5 team that finished with nine or more wins, according to ESPN’s Chris Fallica.Franklin’s first two years brought a combined 0-6 record against Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State.
Franklin has made a career of beating so-so and bad teams dating back to his tenure at Vanderbilt. Mix that with a Penn State team that doesn’t exactly have the most prolific offense and hasn’t shown the ability to compete with the top teams of the Big Ten and you’re going to have a problem when you’re facing off against Ohio State. The Buckeyes have shown a few flaws the last few games, but they still have one of the most talented offenses and defenses in the nation. And if last weekends game is any indication, Ohio State showed that they can still win on the road versus good teams even when they spend a good chunk of the game under-performing.
The Nittany Lions will have the decisive home advantage here, but they are clearly out skilled and out coached by Ohio State and they will need a colossal effort if they want to pull off a massive upset and pick up a defining win for Franklin.
Call me crazy, but I’m taking Iowa over Wisconsin
Wisconsin was kind of a hard read coming into last week. Sure, they beat LSU and Michigan State, but both wins lost a lot of value in the weeks following. Then of course they almost lost to Georgia State. So do we put a ton of value on the team barely losing to Michigan and Ohio State? Maybe, but the problem is their offense isn’t rolling and if they can’t field a more competent offense then it’s going to be hard to beat the top teams of the Big Ten. Of course Iowa has regressed from last season, but that was somewhat anticipated.
As disappointing as their season has been for the fan base, there is still plenty of talent at hand for Iowa and the fact that they’re hosting the Badgers in a classic letdown game gives them a perfect opportunity for a big win and a chance to regain some momentum heading forward. Wisconsin has had to deal with two crushing losses to the top two teams in the Big Ten, both times because their offense couldn’t get the job done. Unless Wisconsin can suddenly develop a passing attack, or if their running game can build from last week’s improvement, it’s going to be hard to score against a solid Iowa defense.
Of course Iowa needs to score some points as well, but with the game taking place in their own backyard I’m going to call for the Iowa upset early today.
One more chance for Michigan State
For the most part the Spartans don’t lose very often in the Big Ten. That’s why starting the season 0-3 in Big Ten play is so weird for this team. Even more so the fact that they gave up 54 points at home against Northwestern, a team that scored only 7 points against FCS opponent Illinois State and didn’t hit 54 points until their fourth game of the season.
Now at 2-4 Michigan State needs a win tonight at Maryland. A loss here would drop them to 2-5 and require them to go 4-1 over the last five games if they want to reach a bowl game. And while Illinois and Rutgers remain on the schedule, as well as a winnable game against Penn State, there are still two games against Michigan and Ohio State to worry about. The Spartans offensive woes have been detrimental this season and if they suffer a fifth straight loss they’ll most likely end up missing a bowl this season for the first time since 2006. It should probably be noted that that was the last season John Smith was here and led to the hiring of Mark Dantonio, who has not missed a bowl game since arriving to East Lansing.
|12:00||ESPN||Wisconsin at Iowa||Iowa 20 Wisconsin 17|
|12:00||ESPNU||Rutgers at Minnesota||Minnesota 24 Rutgers 17|
|12:00||BTN||Indiana at Northwestern||Northwestern 24 Indiana 20|
|03:30||BTN||Illinois at Michigan||Michigan 45 Illinois 13|
|03:30||ABC / ESPN2||Purdue at Nebraska||Nebraska 41 Purdue 24|
|07:30||BTN||Michigan State at Maryland||Michigan 20 Maryland 17|
|08:00||ABC||Ohio State at Penn State||Ohio State 34 Penn State 16|
Last Week’s Predictions: 3-3
Current Record: 43-17