Thursday, October 12, 2006

Week Seven - Get Gamm Previews ...

Ohio at Illinois
Purdue at Northwestern
Iowa at Indiana
Minnesota at Wisconsin
Ohio State at Michigan State
Michigan at Penn State (Tiebreaker)

Ohio at Illinois
This is the 14th contest between the Big Ten and its little brother MAC this season. So far, the older, bigger, stronger brother is 13-0. This is the first of four more chances to stun big brother with a blow to the chops, and perhaps the best remaining shot. Ohio is 3-3 and Illinois is 2-4. The Illini had a great chance to come into this game riding a three game win streak but lost on a late field goal to Indiana last week and now need this to try and secure another win before facing Penn State, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Purdue over the following four weeks. I like where Zook has the Illini heading, but it will be a slow process despite the big win in East Lansing two weeks ago. Make it Big Ten 14, MAC 0. Illinois 30 - Ohio 24.

BuckeyeNation says ... The Illini try to get back on the winning track after the heart-breaking loss to Indiana at home. Here's thinking the "Juice" will be too much for the Bobcats. Illini 23 - Ohio U. 14

Purdue at Northwestern
The number one scoring offense (Purdue, 33.5 ppg) meets a middle of the pack scoring defense (Northwestern 24.7 ppg) in a battle on the lakeshore this Saturday. The forecast calls for breezy conditions with comfortable temperatures, which benefits the home team. Why? Purdue leads the conference in passing offense and likes to heave it around. Northwestern ranks dead last in scoring offense and total offense and when it does have success with the ball, it often takes place when Tyrell Sutton totes the pigskin. Sutton was hurt last week at Wisconsin. Seeing the picture?

Both teams got crushed on the road last week, and only one has a legitimate shot at a bowl game this season. That is Purdue, but with this week's tilt in Evanston - and with games coming up with Wisconsin, Penn State and even Michigan State - the Boilermakers need to win now if they want to entertain thoughts of a better bowl come holiday season. I think the Wildcats will play inspired ball early and that Purdue will still be a little stung from the walloping in Iowa. But when push comes to shove, Purdue should and will win this game going away. Purdue 42 - Northwestern 23.

BuckeyeNation says ... The Boilers are smarting from the ambush they experienced in Iowa City. The Wildcats are still hurting from the loss of Randy Walker. To make matters worse for NU, Tyrell Sutton was injured last week. The Boilers earn a much-needed road win. Purdue 28 - Northwestern 23

Iowa at Indiana
Iowa is back and feeling good about itself after dismantling Purdue at home a week after the crushing loss to Ohio State. The Hawkeyes will need help to win the Big Ten, but have at least a semi-favorable schedule most of the rest of the way. Neither of these teams has much of an offense to write home about and there isn't a ton separating the defenses either. Iowa is surely the better team and surprisingly ranks second in the conference in an area that was supposed to be the biggest weakness heading in to the season - passing offense. Indiana is okay against the pass but softer than fresh Wonder Bread against the run. Seems like a perfect time for Iowa to get that ground game figured out in this tune-up before a huge road trip to Ann Arbor. Iowa scored 42 against a bad Purdue defense and might rack up 50 against a not much better Indiana D. Iowa 45 - Indiana 17.

BuckeyeNation says ... The Hawkeyes rebounded nicely after the disappointing home loss to OSU. The good times continue as the Hawks invade Indiana, and the Hoosiers don't notice too much after getting their win at Champaign the week before. Iowa 38 - Indiana 14

Minnesota at Wisconsin
Ah the Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe. This is the second Bunyan trophy to be contested in the past two weeks (MSU vs. Michigan is the other). Minnesota still has to be haunted by the late collapse that cost them the beloved trophy in Minneapolis last fall. Oh and the Golden Gophers are still shocked that they lost due to a missed PAT in overtime against Penn State last weekend. And my fellow Spartans thought Michigan State was the only team that found new excruciating ways to lose every season!

The Gophers are in their usual predicament at this time of the year. Good, strong offense, balanced even this year (passing slightly better than rushing) ... seive of a defense. Minnesota ranks next to last in passing, rushing and total defense and is only surviving because of the positive turnover margin they posses. Wisconsin is nothing flashy, but when are they? They just go out and find a way to win games. At 5-1 so far, the Badgers are still right in the mix for a shot at the Big Ten title. Only because it is a rivalry game, do I see this one staying close. Wisconsin 27 - Minnesota 24.

BuckeyeNation says ... The annual grudge-match for Paul Bunyan's Axe takes place in Madison with the Badgers on an upsurge. The Gophers ghive it the old college try, but come up short.
Wisconsin 42 - Minnesota 34

Ohio State at Michigan State
I know, last week or so I said that Michigan State would win one of the two games between Michigan and Ohio State. I still want to believe that, but at the rate Michigan State is losing playmakers (Ringer, Trannon, Kellen Davis, left guards galore, and dinged up defensive stars like Ryan and Herron) and the rate that water is flooding the boat makes a huge upset seem highly unlikely. Then again, that is why they play the game. Just ask the 1998 Buckeyes who blew a sizable second half lead against the Spartans, in Columbus no less, when ranked number one.

If the MSU fans are into the game early, it could inject some life into this team. The players are helping John L. Smith (or so they claim) fight for his job and a win in this one would be huge given the way the schedule eases up over the next four games. Okay, okay, all that talk is fine, but obviously this comes down to what will happen on the field. Michigan State has the horses to compete with OSU but I am not sure they have the jockey to win the race. The green and white pass defense is struggling (big shock) and the pass rush is non-existent. The question is, who becomes a bona fide Heisman candidate - Ginn or Smith? Spartan fans, at least we have basketball season AND the Tigers! Ohio State 38 - Michigan State 20.

BuckeyeNation says ... Everyone in Columbus has been wary of this game since the beginning of the season. However, the banged-up Spartans are in the throes of a 3 game losing streak with the nation's Number 1 team in town. Drew Stanton looked good at times in his visit to Columbus last year, but the loss of Javon Ringer makes the challenge that much tougher for MSU. I will be at this game cheering on the Buckeyes, looking for the Troy to Ginn (or Gonzo) Show to perform an encore. Buckeyes 32 - Spartans 13

Michigan at Penn State
Think back a season ago. Penn State was undefeated and in control late against Michigan. The Wolverines were in dire need of another big win to try and turn their season around. Chad Henne found Mario Manningham in the back of the endzone on the final play of the game and the Wolverines ended Penn State's national title hopes. Fast forward one year. The shoe is on the other foot. Michigan is unbeaten and looking to stay that way until a season ending battle with Ohio State. Penn State is a little down from last season but is 2-1 in the conference and things ease up a bit after this game.

The Nittany Lions flat out love to play at night. The fans will be decked out in all white and Beaver Stadium will literally sway with each roar from the crowd. Michigan hates to play at night, or at least Coach Carr does. Michigan will also be without field stretching wide receiver extraordinaire and last year's hero Mario Manningham. Manningham will certainly don the number one for Michigan after this year and in my mind might be the best receiver ever to play for the maize and blue, and that is saying a lot. He'll be missed. Mike Hart will have to take every yard he can get as you know JoePa will sell out to stop him first and foremost. This Michigan team isn't flashy and gets it done on defense, but something tells me there will be an upset this day in the Big Ten and this will be it... Penn State 23 - Michigan 20.

BuckeyeNation says ... The Wolverines have had the Lions number for quite some time. UM suffered a blow with hotshot (Ohio traitor) Mario Manningham's surgery. PSU will try to reprise the atmosphere they ambushed OSU with last year with another "white-out" game. While the Lions will roar, UM will escape with a big road win in Happy Valley. Michigan 28 - Penn State 24

1 comment:

A.G. said...

You know, coaches and teams (MSU in my case) always take a beating for penalties. I found this part of Dave Revsine's column (ESPN.com) quite intriguing...

Despite his team's perfect record, Rich Rodriguez has found a few things to be concerned about this week -- most notably, his teams' ongoing issue with penalties. The Mountaineers had 11 for 132 yards in last week's win against Mississippi State and are the ninth most-penalized team in America. But, bucking conventional wisdom, the numbers tell us that might not be such a big deal.


25-30: The 10 least penalized teams in the nation (based on penalties per game) are a combined 25-30. It's a group that includes Memphis, Northwestern, Stanford and Vanderbilt.


29-26: The 10 most penalized teams in America (based on penalties per game) are a combined 29-26. In other words, the teams with the most penalties are doing better than the teams with the fewest penalties.


The bottom 10 includes not only the undefeated Mountaineers, but also undefeated Florida, which, as it turns out, is the most penalized team in the country.