We’re only a couple of weeks from the official start to the college basketball season, but until then Saturdays are going to be dominated by college football.
Things definitely got interesting last weekend when Penn State somehow found a way to upset Ohio State, thanks to a pair of blocked kicks. The loss is basically the first legitimate win James Franklin has had versus a good team, dating back to his tenure at Vanderbilt. Will the Nittany Lions continue to build on their huge win in prime time? Maybe, but this week it should be an easier challenge with a noon game against Purdue in West Lafayette.
As for Ohio State, the loss stings but it’s not the end of the world. As long as the Buckeyes can take care of business the rest of the way they’ll be fine, especially as they’ll have to knock off Michigan in the season finale and then whoever they draw from the West division in the conference title game. Like Penn State, the Buckeyes get a more manageable draw this weekend when they host Northwestern.
The most interesting pair of games being played in the conference today actually take place at opposite ends of the day. Kicking off early at noon, Michigan travels to Michigan State to face off against their hated rival. Sure, Michigan has been playing really good this year and Michigan State is seemingly in free fall mode, but a rivalry game is a rivalry game and we’ve seen countless outings where inferior teams compete and even pull off some inexplicable upsets. Michigan on paper could easily win this in blow out fashion, but you never know. It should also be mentioned that the Spartans have won seven of the last eight games in the series. Hopefully we’ll have an entertaining game like last year:
Later on in the night will be an interesting game between Nebraska and Wisconsin. The Badgers do have a pair of losses in conference play already, but those came against Michigan and Ohio State. The problem is that this leaves them two games behind an undefeated Nebraska team. Even more problematic as Nebraska really has only one more major test after the Badgers, with the team set to travel to Columbus next weekend. Of course there is a road trip to Iowa, but the Hawkeyes have underwhelmed this year.
So if the Badgers want to find a way to get into the Big Ten Title game they’re going to need a huge win at home against Nebraska. That’s definitely feasible as the Cornhuskers haven’t exactly set the world on fire on their way to a 7-0 record. Last weekend the team struggled with Purdue, which followed up a five point win over Indiana. So far their best win is either a 24-13 win at Northwestern or a three point win at home against Oregon, a game that isn’t looking too enticing nowadays.
If the Badgers can establish their run game, find some sort of passing offense and cut back on the detrimental turnovers...they are fully capable of winning today. Nebraska just seems to find a way to win this year, but they’ve looked beatable and there’s a good chance Wisconsin will be the first team to finally do it.
Also on the docket today are two more games, with Minnesota facing off against Illinois and Maryland traveling to Indiana. Minnesota hasn’t been an entertaining team this year, but they’re definitely the superior team compared to Illinois. As for Maryland and Indiana, that could be interesting as both teams have shown signs of competency before looking like a train wreck shortly after.
The Terrapins could use a win here to get to bowl eligibility, though they have a home finale against Rutgers that will provide another opportunity (November starts with road trips to Michigan and Nebraska, with a home game against Ohio State in between). As for Indiana, at 3-4 they need three wins and that makes this more or less a must win for the Hoosiers. Indiana’s offense hasn’t looked very good, which is unfortunate for the team as their defense has finally shown signs of life this season. If they fall to 3-5 it’s going to be a difficult road to bowl eligibility.
|12:00||BTN||Minnesota at Illinois||Minnesota 24 Illinois 20|
|12:00||ESPN||Michigan at Michigan State||Michigan 34 Michigan State 23|
|12:00||ABC | ESPN2||Penn State at Purdue||Penn State 38 Purdue 20|
|03:30||ESPNU||Maryland at Indiana||Maryland 27 Indiana 24|
|03:30||ESPN||Northwestern at Ohio State||Ohio State 38 Northwestern 17|
|07:00||ESPN||Nebraska at Wisconsin||Wisconsin 23 Nebraska 20|
Last Week’s Predictions: 4-3
Current Record: 47-20